Episode 8, GBBO 2015, Signature Bake

Cream Horns

Cream horns, or cream rolls, have many different variations and have been adopted by several different countries. Apparently invented in Austria in the 1600s, they are known there as Schaumrollen or Schillerlocken.

Friedrich Schiller

Schaumrollen translates to “foam rolls,” which is understandable, given their frothy fillings of whipped cream or, sometimes, meringue. But Schillerlocken is a bit more obtuse. Literally “Schiller’s curls,” the name was reportedly inspired by the German playwright, poet and philosopher Friedrich Schiller, whose luxurious golden locks must have been the envy of many an 18th-century woman.

From Austria, these light and airy pastries traveled around Europe and from there to other parts of the world. They were purportedly brought to America from the Austro-Hungarian Empire by the Mennonites. The British introduced them to India, where they are still a nostalgic favorite, judging by the articles and recipes I found online.

The key to a good cream horn is a crisp outer shell made from puff pastry, so it’s best not to fill them until right before serving or the cream filling will seep into the pastry and make it soggy. Two of the bakers in the Great White Tent used full puff pastry, and three used rough puff (or, as Paul Hollywood calls it, cheat’s rough puff.) Paul said he prefers full puff, but even his cream horn recipe uses rough puff, and he liked Nadiya’s cream horns even though she used rough puff pastry, so I thought I could get away with it.

Following Paul’s cheat’s rough puff recipe, however, I came to the conclusion that it’s not that much easier than full puff pastry. When I have the time, I actually enjoy making full puff pastry. I find all that rolling and folding (as well as the chilling time) relaxing. This time around, though, I wanted to get it done in a hurry. But I realized that, although it involves fewer “turns,” once you’ve spent the time grating the butter, you might as well just fold it in as a block.

I didn’t want to invest in cream horn molds, so I took a cue from Flora, who said when she practiced making cream horns at home she simply wrapped ice cream cones in aluminum foil. Brilliant! And they worked like a charm.

Ultimately, I was disappointed in my pastry. Perhaps I took them out of the oven too soon, but I really do think that full puff pastry would have resulted in lighter, flakier, crisper horns.

Still, I was happy with my fillings. Cream horns are so reminiscent of ice cream cones that I wanted the fillings to reflect my childhood memories of licking ice cream, trying to catch every last drip before it slid down the side of the cone.

My first flavor is a classic, Neapolitan, those three simple flavors — chocolate, vanilla and strawberry — that, when melded together, make your tongue dance with joy. I enhanced the ice cream cone motif by dipping the tops of the pastry “cones” in chocolate and chopped nuts, similar to the frozen Drumsticks that are so popular here in America. 

The second flavor I chose is a personal favorite, peaches & cream, mostly because my mom would make homemade peach ice cream with the puree she made when the peach harvest was bountiful. She would bring home what she called a lug of peaches, and those we didn’t eat whole, with peach juice dripping down our chins, were cut up and frozen, pureed, or baked into pies.

Like several of the Bake-Off contestants, I used my favorite method of stabilizing whipped cream by incorporating mascarpone cheese. It adds body and a rich, buttery mouth feel without overpowering the cream and other flavors.

To achieve the Neapolitan filling, I first infused the cream with vanilla. (It helps to do this the night before to allow the cream to chill after heating it on the stove and to give the flavors more time to infuse.) Then I made a simple, vegan strawberry “curd,” which is basically strawberry coulis thickened with cornstarch. (This can also be made a day or two ahead of time.) After whipping the cream with the mascarpone and powdered sugar, I divided it into thirds, folding the strawberry curd with one third, mixing another third with a tablespoon of cocoa powder, and leaving the other third plain vanilla.

In order to pipe the three flavors together in a swirl pattern, I piped a row of each onto a piece of plastic wrap, then rolled them all up together, twisted the ends, snipped off one end, and inserted the whole thing into another piping bag. I then piped the cream into the pastry horns that I had dipped in chocolate and chopped peanuts, topping each off with half a maraschino cherry.

For the peaches & cream filling, I used a similar method to the strawberry cream above, but simply pureed a few fresh peaches, strained them to remove most of the liquid and stirred the remaining pulp into the mascarpone-stabilized whipped cream, a tablespoon or two at a time, until it reached my desired consistency — slack enough to pipe yet stiff enough to hold its shape. After filling the other half of the pastry horns, I garnished each with a small peach slice.

Despite my slightly underbaked pastry, the cream horns held their shape and didn’t get soggy, even after being stored in the fridge for a day or two. In the future, though, I would (a) use full puff pastry, (b) make sure to bake them until they’re deeply golden brown, and (c) fill them right before serving. (The mascarpone cream keeps rather well in an air-tight container or pastry bag in the fridge. I like to pop the pastry bag into a large canning jar with a lid and keep it refrigerated until I’m ready to use it.)

These cream horns would make wonderful treats for a child’s birthday party (instead of cupcakes, perhaps?) or a light dessert for a summer cookout. Make all the elements the day before, and simply fill the horns an hour or two before serving. 

Neapolitan Cream Horns and Peaches & Cream Horns

Recipe for pastry adapted from TheGreatBritishBakeOff.co.uk
Credit for strawberry curd: ChocolateMoosey.com

For the molds:

  • 24 cream horn molds or cone-shaped ice cream cones (or, if you have fewer than 24, bake in batches)
    • For the rough puff pastry:

      • 3 c. all-purpose flour
      • 3 c. bread flour
      • ¼ t. salt
      • 10 T. unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small dice
      • 1-1¼ c. cold water
      • 1 c. + 6½ T. unsalted butter, frozen and grated
      • 1 egg, beaten, for brushing
      • Sugar, for sprinkling

        For the peaches & cream filling:

        • 2 large, fresh peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced
        • 1/2 t. lemon juice, plus more for brushing
        • 1 ½ c. heavy whipping cream
        • 8 oz. mascarpone cheese, softened
        • ½ c. powdered sugar
        • 12 small mint leaves for garnish, if desired

        For the Neapolitan filling:

        • 1 c. strawberries, cleaned and hulled
        • 2-4 T. sugar
        • 2 T. lemon juice
        • 1 T. cornstarch
        • 2½ oz. dark chocolate
        • 1 T. butter
        • ½ c. roasted, salted peanuts, chopped
        • 1½ c. heavy whipping cream, divided
        • ½ vanilla bean
        • 8 oz. mascarpone cheese
        • ½ c. powdered sugar
        • 1-2 T. cocoa powder
        • 6 maraschino cherries, halved

          Directions

          1. First, if you don’t have cream horn molds, wrap each of the ice cream cones in foil and grease them lightly. (I used Nancy Birtwhistle’s lining paste.*)
          2. To make the pastry, mix the flours and salt together in a bowl. Rub in the diced, chilled butter using your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add just enough water – a few tablespoons at a time — to bind the ingredients together and form a dough.
          3. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a long rectangle measuring about 10 by 16 inches. Turn the dough, if necessary, so that the short end is closest to you and scatter half of the frozen butter over the bottom two-thirds of the dough. Fold down the top third of the dough (so that it covers half of the frozen butter) and fold up the bottom third.
          4. Turn the dough 90 degrees and roll it out into a rectangle again. Scatter the remaining butter over the bottom two thirds and fold as before. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for 20 minutes.
          5. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide the chilled dough in half, place half back in the fridge and roll out the other half on a lightly floured work surface into a rectangle measuring about 24 by 12 inches. (If the butter is oozing out the edges, fold the dough in thirds one more time and refrigerate another 20 minutes, then roll out again.)
          6. Cut the pastry into 12 long strips, each ¾-inch wide. Starting at the pointed end of a foil-wrapped ice cream cone (or cream horn mold), wrap a pastry strip all around it in a spiral, overlapping as you go, so there are no gaps. Place the pastry-wrapped cone on a prepared baking sheet. Repeat to cover all 12 cones. Chill for 20-30 minutes before baking.
          7. Heat the oven to 350°F. Roll out the other half of the dough as before, cut into 12 strips, and wrap the other 12 cones. Place on prepared baking sheet and chill for 20-30 minutes. (If you are baking in batches, wait until the first batch of horns is baked and cooled, then remove them from the molds and prepare the second batch.)
          8. Before baking, brush the pastry horns with beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar. Bake in the preheated oven for 15–20 minutes or until they are golden brown and crisp. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Once cooled, carefully remove the molds.
          9. To make the peach filling: Reserve four slices of the peaches for garnish, brush them with lemon juice, and refrigerate. Puree the remaining peach slices in a blender or food processor. Stir in lemon juice and pour into a fine-mesh sieve placed over a bowl.
          10. Using a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk mascarpone until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar and whisk until fully incorporated. Pour in cream and whisk, starting on low speed and gradually increasing, until stiff peaks form.
          11. Using the peach puree remaining in the sieve, fold 2-3 tablespoons into the cream mixture. Add more to taste, as long as the consistency is still pipeable. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe into half the cream horns. Cut the reserved peach slices into small segments and garnish each of the filled horns with a small peach segment and a mint leaf, if desired.
          12. To make the strawberry curd: In a blender, puree the strawberries with 2 tablespoons of sugar. In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice and cornstarch together until smooth. Add to the blender and puree until fully combined. Taste and add remaining sugar, if needed.
          13. Place a fine-mesh sieve over a medium saucepan. Strain the puree and discard the seeds. Cook over medium heat until puree starts to boil. Once boiling, cook and stir until it starts to thicken, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until ready to use. (Can be made a day or two in advance.)
          14. Melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave. Pour the chopped peanuts onto a small plate. Dip the wide ends of 12 cooled pastry horns into the chocolate, then dip them in the peanuts. Set aside to cool until chocolate is set. (TIP: If some of the horns have gaps in them, brush the inside with melted chocolate to seal the holes. This will help prevent the cream from oozing out the sides.)
          15. To make the infused cream, split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds with the back of a knife. Place vanilla seeds, pod and cream in a small saucepan and place on medium heat until it comes to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 2 minutes, then remove from heat and let stand for 30 minutes. Chill in fridge for at least 30 minutes (or overnight).
          16. Pour the infused cream through a fine sieve into a mixing bowl. Add the mascarpone to the bowl. Stir mascarpone and cream until combined and the mixture is smooth.
          17. Using a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk mascarpone cream mixture until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar and whisk until fully incorporated. Pour in remaining cream and whisk, starting on low speed and gradually increasing until stiff peaks form. Transfer one-third of mascarpone cream into another bowl, and another third into a piping bag. Keep one-third in the mixing bowl and add 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder. Whisk until fully incorporated. If it’s not chocolatey enough, add another tablespoon of cocoa and whisk until incorporated. Transfer to another piping bag.
          18. To the mascarpone cream in another bowl, add strawberry curd, a tablespoon or two at a time, until desired color and flavor is achieved. Transfer to a third piping bag.
          19. Fit a large piping bag with a star tip. Lay out a piece of plastic wrap the length of the piping bag onto your work surface. Pipe the strawberry filling in a line down the length of the plastic wrap, leaving a 2-inch margin at each end. Pipe the chocolate filling next to it, and pipe the vanilla filling on the other side. Bring the long edges of the plastic wrap together, creating a tube with the three flavors of cream in the center. Twist the ends together.
          20. Snip off one end of the plastic wrap tube and insert it into the piping bag, snipped side down. Squeeze the bag from the top to make sure all the colors come out together. (Practice making a few swirls on a plate until you achieve the desired effect.) Fill the chocolate-dipped cream horns with the tricolor filling. Top each with a maraschino cherry.
          21. Serve immediately. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.

          *To make Nancy Birtwhistle’s lining paste, mix together equal parts (by weight) of vegetable shortening (Crisco), flour and vegetable oil. Store in refrigerator.

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