pastry for beginners from bourke street bakery – the ultimate baking companion


Ever wished you could make your own pastry? Or sourdough bread? Or croissants for that matter?

Well my friends, do I have the book for you.

As soon as I heard that the guys from Bourke Street Bakery in Sydney’s Surry Hills had a cookbook out – it just had to become part of my collection. Luckily it turned up last month as one of my Birthday gifts.

To say that I adore this book is a massive understatement. It totally delivers on the promise of being the ultimate baking companion. Visually it is a stunning book with Alan Benson’s page licking photography. There are recipe of all the breads from the bakery from their classic sourdough to potato bread to their lovely fig and barberry fruit bread – they’re all there.

The pastry section is just as comprehensive with 6 base pastry recipes including croissant pastry. To give you an idea of just how inspirational this book is – I made three pastries (puff, savoury shortcrust and sweet shortcrust) all in the one weekend. AND each was the best I’ve ever made in its class. I now have a new go-to recipe source for all my pastry needs.

Then there are the chapters on how to use your new found pastry skills. Savoury pies, tarts and sausage rolls (that I’ve avoided ordering at the bakery for fear of becoming addicted) are all included. The list of sweet tartlets – one of my all time favourite Bourke Street products – goes on and on. So far I’ve played the chocolate ganache and the classic ginger brulee tracks to very appreciative crowds and have a stash of tartlet cases in the freezer ready for the next entertaining opportunity.

I haven’t yet experimented with the ‘more sweets‘ section of cakes, cookies and the like but from the pictures, I know there are some treats in store.

This week I thought I’d share the empanadas with you. Easily the best type of pastry to experiment with if you are dipping your toes in the sea of make-it-from-scratch. They don’t require and fancy tins or food processing machines so you won’t need to buy anything before you try. And boy are they good. Light and crisp without being fatty – the perfect thing to encase a hearty filling be it vego or carnivore.

Pick up your own copy of Bourke Street Bakery – The Ultimate Baking Companion by Paul Allam and David McGuinness via fishpond.com.au – Australia’s answer to Amazon by clicking on the link below.
Bourke Street Bakery

For international readers – unfortunately Amazon isn’t yet selling this book – but fishpond.com.au do ship anywhere in the world – it’s just going to take a little longer to get to you. All measurements are in cups as well as ounces and grams.

[if you purchase from this link I get a small cut – so feel free to shop to your hearts content]

my first pastry – empanada dough
makes approx 12
Adapted from Bourke Street Bakery – the ultimate baking companion.

If you have never made pastry before, I highly recommend starting with empanadas. Certainly less time consuming than puff pastry and less finicky than shortcrust. The other beautiful thing is that you don’t need a food processor or any pie or tart tins to make it. Perfect for people who like to keep their kitchen equipment to a minimalist level.

Store bought puff pastry or filo will work with the fillings below – if you aren’t brave enough to try making your own dough.

The guys from Bourke St use traditional suet as their fat of choice – I have substituted in the more readily available butter (adjusting for the fact that butter contains about 20% water of course).

3 cups (450g / 1lb) plain flour
1 1/2t sea salt
200mL (7 fl oz) water – a little over 3/4C
1t white vinegar
1 egg
60g (2oz) butter, corsley grated or finely chopped

Place flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Make a dam in the centre and add the remaining ingredients. Stir until well combined and then turn onto a lightly floured bench top. Knead for 3-5 minutes until the dough looks like a nice smooth ball or until you get sick of it. Cover tightly with cling wrap and allow to rest in the refrigerator for at least an hour but preferably 2.

Divide the dough in half and roll** out on a lightly floured surface until it is large enough to cut out 6 circles approx 14cm (5 1/2in) diameter. Using a saucer or small plate as a guide, cut out 6 circles. Repeat with the remaining dough. You are now ready for filling.

**If you don’t own a rolling pin just use a wine bottle or any similar sized round bottle.

vegetarian empanadas

Inspired by Bourke Street Bakery – the ultimate baking companion.
makes 12

I’ve adapted these quite a bit from the book – subbing in canned chickpeas for dried, ditching the tomato and boiled eggs and doubling the eggplant.

1 quantity empanada dough
2 medium eggplant, cut into 2cm chunks
4T olive oil
2 brown onions, peeled & finely diced
1 400g (14oz) can chickpeas, drained
1t paprika
120g (4oz) goats cheese
1 small handful coriander leaves, chopped
milk, for glazing

Preheat a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add oil and allow to warm up then add eggplant cubes and stir fry until golden and starting to soften. If they start to stick you may need to add a little more oil. Add onion and continue to cook until onion is soft and eggplant is melting. Stir through chickpeas and paprika and season to taste. Allow to cool. Stir though crumbled goats cheese and coriander.

Preheat oven to 250C (500F). Take your empanada circles and place 2-3T filling in the centre of each. Using a pastry brush (or your fingers) brush a little milk around the edge of half the circle. Fold dough over to form a half moon and roll the edges together to form a good seal. Brush (or use your fingers like I do) milk over the surface of each and transfer to 2 trays lined with baking paper and generously sprinkled with flour.

Reduce oven to 230C (450F) and bake for 20minutes or until golden. Serve hot.

beef empanadas

beef empanadas

Inspired by Bourke Street Bakery – the ultimate baking companion.
makes 12

Again, I couldn’t help myself and had to simplify the recipe. Gone are the suet, raisins, green olives and parsley and included is a tin of tomatoes. If I had some pinenuts handy they would have been lightly toasted and added along for the ride.

2T olive oil
2 brown onions, peeled & finely diced
1-2 large red chilli(s), finely diced and seeded if you like
750g minced (ground) beef
1 400g (14oz) can tomatoes
2t paprika

Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium and cook onion and chilli until soft and lightly browned. Increase the heat to high and add beef. Cook stirring until beef is well browned then add the tomatoes and paprika. Simmer until the sauce is reduced to a good filling consistency – not to sloppy. Allow to cool.

Preheat oven to 250C (500F). Take your empanada circles and place 2-3T filling in the centre of each. Using a pastry brush (or your fingers) brush a little milk around the edge of half the circle. Fold dough over to form a half moon and roll the edges together to form a good seal. Brush (or use your fingers like I do) milk over the surface of each and transfer to 2 trays lined with baking paper and generously sprinkled with flour.

Reduce oven to 230C (450F) and bake for 20minutes or until golden. Serve hot.

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