Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thousand Leaves Torte

My bravura baking number. Don't start it now for Thanksgiving. It requires more time than you probably have.

You need:

Cinnamon Pastry (recipe to follow)
Custard Filling (recipe to follow)
6 tbsps sugar
1 cup applesauce
1 tsp lemon juice
sliced almonds or grapes or chocolate buttons for top decoration (or all)

Cinnamon pastry:

3/4 cups butter
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
3-4 tbsps cold water

Cut butter into flour, salt and cinnamon until the batter looks like little droppings. Sprinkle in water, a little at a time, and toss with a fork (or scrunch in your clean hand) until all flour is moistened and pastry almost cleans the sides of bowl. Add more water if this doesn't happen. Gather pastry into a ball. Chill it in the fridge for half an hour or more.

Custard Filling

1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp corn starch
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1 egg, slightly beaten to make it all gooey
1 tsp vanilla (or use vanilla sugar as part of the 1/4 cup sugar)
1/2 cup chilled whipping cream

Mix sugar, cornstarch and salt in saucepan. Stir in milk slowly. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until it thickens and boils. Keep boiling and stirring for about a minute longer.

Stir at least half of the sauce slowly into the egg. Then reverse by stirring that mixture back into the saucepan. Let come to a boil and stir for about a minute. Remove from heat and add vanilla (if you use vanilla sugar you can add it here also).
Cover and let cool. Put into the fridge to get chilled. Beat the whipping cream until stiff and fold into the custard. Do the last part (with the cream) just before you are ready to decorate. The custard you can make up to a day earlier.

Apple sauce recipe (right before the decorating moment):

Open a jar of the apple butter, add the 1 tsp of lemon juice to it. Taste-test. Adjust if needed.

Putting it all together:

Heat the oven to 425 American degrees. Divide the cinnamon pastry into six equal parts. Roll each of these out into a round circle (about seven inches in diameter). Place on cookie sheets and prick the circles all over with a fork. Sprinkle each with one tablespoon of sugar. Bake until light golden brown (watch them, they burn fast). About 12-15 minutes. Cool on wire racks (or if you don't have them you are in for a hell of a struggle and lots of broken pieces but they taste as good broken). Note: Unless your oven is vaster than mine you have to do these in relays and it takes quite a lot of time. A day before the planned eating is best.


Get a nice cake stand (flat-bottomed) and put the ugliest of the pastry circles on it. Spread with 1/3 applesauce mix. Add a second layer. Spread with 1/2 cup of custard-cream mix. Continue this way until you have no more pastry to add to the stack. Use the remaining custard sauce to cover the top before decorating it with almonds or such. I also cover the sides because mine are always ragged. Refrigerate before eating at least two hours. This is important.

Serve and watch it disappear in one second. Weep because of the work involved. It's very rich, by the way, so slice into very thin slices.