Vanilla puffs with milk ice-cream


  • Serves 12 people

Cronuts have made big waves and for every doubting Thomas, there's a hundred devotees. This recipe takes a similar concept - it involves deep-frying a layered yeasted dough, but it's given a beautiful lactic kick with the addition of crème fraîche. We've made a milk ice-cream to fill the puffs, but store-bought is just fine.

  • 80 ml (1/3 cup) lukewarm milk
  • 80 gm caster sugar
  • 14 gm (1 tbsp, 2 sachets) dried yeast
  • 200 gm crème fraîche, at room temperature
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • Scraped seeds of 1½ vanilla beans
  • 425 gm (3½ cups) plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 150 gm softened butter
  • 100 gm pure icing sugar, sieved
  • For deep-frying: vegetable oil
  • Milk ice-cream
  • 1.5 litres Jersey milk
  • 160 gm caster sugar
  • 2 vanilla beans, split and seeds scraped
  • 125 ml (½ cup) pouring cream
  • 1 tbsp liquid glucose
  • 1 titanium-strength gelatine leaf, softened in cold water for 5 minutes
01   Mix milk, sugar and yeast in a large bowl, then stand in a warm place until foamy (4-5 minutes). Add crème fraîche, egg and seeds of 1 vanilla bean, and whisk to combine (it’s okay if small lumps of crème fraîche remain), then add 385gm flour and 1 tsp sea salt, and mix to form a soft dough. Knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth (1 minute), then place dough on a tray lined with baking paper and refrigerate until firm (30 minutes to 1 hour).
02   Meanwhile, beat butter and remaining flour in a bowl, then set aside at room temperature. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to a 20cm x 45cm rectangle, then spread evenly with butter mixture. With a short edge nearest you, fold down the top third of pastry and fold the bottom third up, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Repeat rolling, folding and chilling another 3 times, then refrigerate until required (it can be refrigerated overnight at this stage).
03   For milk ice-cream, stir milk, sugar and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves, then simmer, stirring often to stop mixture catching on the bottom, until reduced to 1 litre (30-40 minutes). Stir in cream and glucose, squeeze excess water from gelatine and add to milk mixture, stir until dissolved, then strain into a bowl and refrigerate to chill (1-2 hours). Churn in an ice-cream machine and freeze until required. Makes about 1 litre.
04   Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface to 5mm thick, then cut out twelve 7cm-diameter rounds and place on a tray lined with baking paper, leaving 2cm-3cm between each. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and stand until risen by half (30 minutes). Meanwhile, combine icing sugar and remaining vanilla seeds in a bowl, rubbing with your fingers to disperse vanilla evenly, then spread on a tray.
05   Heat oil in a saucepan or deep-fryer to 180C. Deep-fry pastries in batches, turning occasionally, until golden and cooked through (4-5 minutes), then drain on paper towels and dust with vanilla icing sugar. Halve puffs and sandwich a scoop of milk ice-cream in each then serve, dusted with extra vanilla icing sugar if desired.
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