What's in Season?

Bostocks

Bostocks

bostocks
bostocks
bostocks

If you run into me in the streets these days, there's a 90% chance I'll be lugging a bag full of tarts and pastries. Perhaps couple fresh loaves of bread wedged in my purse. In fact, my infamous mini fridge is more often than not brimming with an eclectic collection of dough scraps, crèmes and ganache. I am admittedly a bit of a hoarder by nature, but the truth is, I will never become one of those cooks who throw out trays of perfectly fresh food because "that's just how things are".

Come Saturday morning and I'm faced with a bunch of random ingredients. Naturally I resort to my trusty cookbook collection for inspiration. And sure, I found something in Tara O'Brady's Seven Spoons Cookbook that would use up exactly three of my salvaged goods. It's an exhilarating feeling of the combination of purging and creative juices flowing.

Bostocks, or brioche aux amande, are essentially a toast version of pain perdu (or French toast). Instead of soaking up a creamy eggy emulsion, stale bread slices serve as a carrier for an infused syrup, then topped with a fluffy almond cream. When baked, the center is less custardy than its cousin, and has a gentle chew underneath a crispy layer of flaked almonds. In fact, it is quite sturdy and portable as a meal to-go, and unsurprisingly, a weekend stay-at-home breakfast champion.

Bostocks

Makes 6-8 pieces. Adapted from Seven Spoons Cookbook.

Tara's recipe uses an orange blossom water infused syrup, which I substituted with a thinned out jam concoction.

6-8 slices of stale bread (Challah, brioche, pain de mie), around ¾ - inch thick
½ cup orange jam
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1-2 tablespoons water to thin out jam, as needed
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Almond cream (recipe follows)
Slivered almonds, to sprinkle
Powdered sugar, as needed

  1. To make the jam syrup, in a small saucepan, stir together orange jam, maple syrup and water. Heat on medium-low heat until the jam dissolves, adding a teaspoon water at a time, until the mixture reaches a thick syrupy consistency. Add butter and stir to combine.
  2. To assemble the bostocks, preheat an oven to 375℉. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then arrange bread slices on top. Generously brush the syrup all over the slices, until saturated.
  3. Using a small offset spatula, spread around two tablespoons of almond cream onto each slice, all the way to the edges. Sprinkle with slivered almonds, gently pressing them down with the palm of your hands. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until the almond cream is gently puffed up and the edges are golden brown. The bottom of the bread should be deeply toasted. Allow to cool slightly on the tray, then dust with as much powdered sugar as you wish.

Almond Cream

Makes around 300g.

82 g butter, at room temperature
80 g sugar
pinch of salt
82 g almond flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
12 g cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon rum, optional

  1. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, salt and almond flour until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
  2. With the paddle running on low, slowly add the egg, until fully incorporated.
  3. Add the cornstarch and mix to combine, then incorporate the vanilla extract and rum (if using). Use the almond cream immediately, or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 1 week. Chilled almond cream must be refreshed by paddling until light and fluffy before using.
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