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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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{ 23 comments… add one }
  • Paul 6 October, 2009, 9:47 am

    Bourke St bakery makes the best sausage rolls in the universe! Does this book have their actual recipe?

  • Ange 6 October, 2009, 5:27 pm

    These look fabulous. I am a bit of a pastry addict myself & have heard about the legendry Bourke Street Bakery – might need that book in my collection too

  • jules 7 October, 2009, 5:54 pm

    hey paul
    it sure does – and the puff pastry that they use.

    highly recommend the book – it’s the best baking book I’ve come across – even better than rose bakery

  • jennifer 8 October, 2009, 3:54 pm

    You can almost taste the pastry just looking at the fantastic photos – particularly appealing on a cold Sydney day! Am not a great pastry-maker, but your easy-to-follow instructions have almost convinced me to give these a try!

  • jules 8 October, 2009, 8:35 pm

    jennifer –
    you have to try these – they really are a great introduction to pastry making – and you’re right – perfect for the type of weather we’re having at the moment

  • Ren 9 October, 2009, 8:19 am

    Hi Jules

    I’ve got the book (the cover sucked me in!). Have you or will you attempt the sourdough? I read the sourdough section and it scared me!!! Maybe you can give it a start and we’ll follow!.

  • jules 9 October, 2009, 10:18 am

    hey ren

    I know what you mean about the sourdough section.

    I’ve tried the olive oil bread but am thinking I need to leave the sourdough for when I have the time to give it the love it needs. To be honest I’m a little wary of trying to get a starter going. My last attempt about 5 years ago following a Jamie Oliver recipe still makes me feel a little uneasy when I think about it.

    If anyone has some positive sourdough stories I’d love to hear them

  • Trisha 10 October, 2009, 8:12 am

    Jules, thank you! I have been knacking my brains for a good empanada pastry and this is perfect!!! THANK YOU!

  • jules 10 October, 2009, 12:10 pm

    pleasure trisha
    happy to help!

  • spice and more 12 October, 2009, 1:35 pm

    wow those look amazing. I was trying to resist buying this book (I have a serious cookbook addiction)…but now after reading this I am going to have to go and get this book for sure! I love the BSB stuff. And as for sourdough – don’t be scared, give it a go. I have recently started experimenting with it and it is much, much easier than I would have expected. I no longer feel compelled to drive half way around Sydney to artisan bakeries for their sourdough bread – the bread I am making at home is as good if not better (big call I know…but confirmed by others). Ask someone who has starter to give you some and just go from there. Mine lives in a jar in the fridge and I feed it once a week or whenever I take some out for baking. Very easy and so much nicer and more rewarding than yeast baking. Ok, getting off my soap box now….

  • tian 15 October, 2009, 8:18 am

    i think bsbakery has amazing flavour combos, both savoury and sweet.
    but i always find their tart crusts uhm unusual. it’s not quite shortcrust, it’s not quite puff pastry either. it has odd, almost texture-less, almost tasteless layers?

    what do you think?

  • jules 16 October, 2009, 4:30 pm

    spice & more
    I know what you mean about a cookbook addiction but really you’ll love this book

    and thanks so much for your insights into sourdough making – you’ve made it sound so easy and have given me some hope.

    tian – I agree with you on the flavour combos – they are amazing
    and I can see where you’re coming from on the tart crusts but I love how they’re not too sweet and actually contrast the filling sweetness – and I love the layers..

  • Melissa Freebody 20 October, 2009, 3:25 pm

    Have been checking out this book for a couple of weeks now, very inspiring!!!!. Great of you to share a recipe with all. Call me dum but what is a T a teaspoon or tablespoon? Am looking forward to whipping up a batch of these Empanadas for my family to try over the weekend,

    Kind Regards and thanks again


  • Mel 20 October, 2009, 3:27 pm

    Just call me Mel!

    Re previous comment.

  • gaga 21 October, 2009, 2:31 pm

    I just came back from argentina and we ate sooo many empanadas. These look fantastic!

  • Chef Chuck 23 November, 2009, 11:50 pm

    Wow, much can be learned in our epicurean lives !! I must get this book!
    Those empanadas must be some tasty items, your photos are fabulous!
    Thanks for sharing :)

  • Jenny 12 November, 2010, 11:18 am

    Recently while visiting Sydney I was introduced to the BS Bakery delights. Now back in NZ the book is not available at present. Would anyone have the recipe for their mouth watering frangipani creme brulee tarts? I would love to make them. Thanks

  • Adriana 8 March, 2012, 5:20 am

    Your empanadas look SO gorgeous.

    Also, someone stole your pic… http://www.funandfoodcafe.com/2011/06/empanadas-empanada-recipe.html

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