Anna's sweet desire

Sweet Street, by Anna Polyviou, published by Murdoch Books, distributed by Allen & Unwin,  $45
Sweet Street, by Anna Polyviou, published by Murdoch Books, distributed by Allen & Unwin, $45
Anna Polyviou, the punk princess of Australian pastry, wants to get people into the kitchen whatever their skill level is.

In Sweet Street, she has the off-the-charts-complicated desserts she created for Master Chef challenges - remember Anna's mess or her firecracker - alongside quick sugar fixes such as Da Bomb using ingredients in the cupboard.

''It's about all levels of cooks getting into the kitchen and giving it a go. I don't want you to leave this cookbook on the coffee table or lose it among all the other books on your shelves; I want it to be given as a gift and I want it to get dirty.''

She urges people to try recipes out to impress their friends and family. And there is plenty of inspiration from twists on family favourites like trifle, afternoon teas or a knockout dessert.

Polyviou also turns ''savoury'' treats such as burgers and sandwiches into sweet treats like the Matcha Club Cake and PB and J Choux Burger and does ''3some'' or three ways to use recipes such as panna cotta.

The book is a milestone for Polyviou, who in the past few years has won numerous awards for her pastry work, including Tourism Accommodation Australia's Chef of the Year in 2017.

Many might recognise her trademark mohawk - in the book styled pink - from her appearances on MasterChef Australia and Family Food Fight. Think Anna's Tower of Terror.

There is a handy glossary to explain the some of the specialist equipment and ingredients needed as well as basic recipes for pastry creme and tempering chocolate.

 

Photos: Supplied
Photos: Supplied
Butter my scones

These scones are a winner - people come to the hotel before 11am waiting for them, or double their order to take them away. I bake them twice - for 11am and then again at 2pm, as we have afternoon tea until 5pm. Soak the sultanas up to a week ahead, ready to make the scones.

Serves 15-20
400g plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for dusting
50g caster (superfine) sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
120g unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 eggs
160ml buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 egg yolk, whisked

Earl Grey tea sultanas
3 tsp loose-leaf Earl Grey tea
100g sultanas (golden raisins)

Method
In a small saucepan, bring 250ml (1 cup) of water to the boil over high heat. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the tea leaves. Stir while infusing for 3 minutes. Strain the tea through a fine sieve, reserving the liquid and discarding the tea leaves.

Put the sultanas in a heatproof bowl. Pour the tea over the sultanas, cool and store in the refrigerator covered with plastic wrap until needed. You can keep the sultanas soaking in the tea for up to 1 week.

To make the scones, put the dry ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add a pinch of salt and the butter, then beat on low speed for 5 minutes until the mixture is crumbly.

Whisk together the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla bean paste. Gradually add this mixture to the flour mixture. Mix on high speed for 23 minutes, until the dough comes together and there are no crumbs in the bottom of the bowl.

Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured work surface and divide it into two halves. Gently knead one portion of dough into a rectangle shape and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside to rest for 10 minutes.

Lightly knead the sultanas into the remaining dough portion, form into a rectangle shape and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside to rest for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190degC. Lightly spray two baking trays with baking spray.

Roll out each dough portion to a thickness of 2cm. Use a 5.5cm circle cutter to cut out discs. Try not to touch the dough, as this makes it shrink: just hold the side of the cutter ring and push down.

Arrange the scones, flat side up, on the prepared baking trays. Brush the tops of the sultana scones with the egg yolk and lightly dust the tops of the plain scones with the extra plain flour. Set aside for 1 hour to allow the gluten to relax.

Bake the scones for 15 minutes, until just golden. Wait a couple of minutes, then eat them straight away, served with clotted cream and your favourite jam.

High-life twist: I always give each scone a pat as I place it on the tray: I believe the extra TLC helps them rise better. High heat is a must, as you want them to cook quickly; slightly undercook them, as they continue cooking once out of the oven.

 

Cherry on top

I grew up with this quick cake recipe: Mum learned it from a lady at work and ended up making it for every occasion. For birthdays, kitchen teas, a Sunday family lunch: the occasion didn't matter. It's just whipped cream and chocolate biscuits, with a cherry on top to finish it.

Serves 6

Ingredients
500ml (2 cups) pure (pouring) cream (35% fat)
20g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste
1 packet chocolate-flavoured biscuits (cookies)
6 glace cherries with stems

Method
Combine the cream, icing sugar and vanilla paste in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk until semi-firm.

Lay one biscuit down on a tray and put 1 tablespoon of whipped cream on top. Put another biscuit on top of the first one and top with whipped cream. Continue to make a stack of four biscuits and cream.

Dollop the cream on top of the last biscuit.

Finish the creation with a cherry on top, then refrigerate for 12 hours before serving to allow the cream to soak into the biscuits.

Quick twist: You can make this as a big cake in a loaf (bar) or round tin, and use chocolate sprinkles or anything you like. Blitz any remaining biscuits in a food processor and sprinkle the crumbs on.

 

Galaktoboureko mesa-sto-sini (in a tray)

This is my favourite Greek dessert: one of those things that taste better straight out of the oven with syrup poured over. My mother would always tell me off for attacking the tray before it had cooled down.

This recipe is completely Mum's: I haven't adjusted it nor have I added my French training. This is what I grew up with and I want you to experience a little part of me too. You'll come across loads of different recipes for this dish, but in my eyes this is the perfect way - Mum's way.

Serves 20

Ingredients
600ml milk
2 Tbsp vanilla sugar (from the supermarket)
2 eggs
70g caster (superfine) sugar
125g fine semolina
25g unsalted butter
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
375g packet frozen filo pastry (about 20 sheets)
400g unsalted butter, melted

Syrup
1kg caster (superfine) sugar
1 cinnamon stick
10 whole cloves
juice of 1 lemon

Method
Combine all of the syrup ingredients in a medium saucepan with 750ml (26 fl oz/3 cups) of cold water and bring to the boil. Stir until the sugar has dissolved.

Refrigerate the syrup until completely cool. The syrup is best made the day before so that it is really cold when you pour it on to the hot galaktoboureko.

Put the milk into a medium saucepan with the vanilla sugar and bring to the boil.

Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs and caster sugar until pale in colour and well combined. Add the semolina to the egg mixture and continue whisking until well combined.

When the milk has come to the boil, add the semolina mixture. Whisk for a further 5 minutes over medium heat until the mixture has thickened.

Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and lemon zest. Set aside at room temperature until needed.

Preheat the oven to 165degC. Lay the filo sheets on a clean work surface, cover with a clean tea towel (dish towel) that has been slightly dampened with cold water. This is so the thin sheets of filo don't dry out.

Lightly brush a deep-sided 20cm x 30cm x 4cm baking tray with melted butter.

Lay 1 sheet of filo in the base of the baking tray and brush with a little melted butter. Top with another filo sheet and lightly brush with melted butter. Repeat with another 8 filo sheets and melted butter. Make sure that the filo sheets overhang the sides of the dish so it holds in the semolina custard.

Pour the semolina custard into the baking dish. Repeat the layering with the remaining filo sheets and the remaining melted butter.

Use a small sharp knife to score the top of the galaktoboureko into 20 rectangles. Brush with the remaining melted butter and sprinkle a little water over the top. Bake for 60 minutes or until golden.

While the dish is still hot, pour the cold syrup over it.

Mum's twist: Make sure to cut the filo layers to shape before baking, but don't cut right to the bottom: if it hasn't been done before baking you won't be able to do it after. When cooking the semolina custard, make sure you keep whisking so that it doesn't catch on the bottom of the saucepan.

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