This month's Dinner and a Movie is hosted by Susan of Sticky Gooey Creamy Chewy, and she has chosen one of my favourite movies of all time - Breakfast at Tiffany's!
I adore this movie, despite its darker subtext - it is quirky and funny and sad all at the same time. Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly is just gorgeous in it, and her wardrobe is devine (after all, it was designed by Hubert de Givenchy). George Peppard is also remarkably young and clean cut and handsome in this movie - although he is a "kept man", his character, Paul Varjak, is just the sort of guy you could happily bring home to mother.
One of my favourite scenes has to be the mad party in Holly's apartment, to which the police are eventually called. There are so many memorable moments in that one scene, you cannot look away.
Breakfast at Tiffany's opens with Holly arriving at Tiffany's in New York in a taxi at 5am, where she proceeds to window shop while sipping a coffee and nibbling on a danish. Apparently, Audrey wanted to lick an icecream cone instead, because she hated pastries, but the director, Blake Edwards, insisted on the danish - and the rest is history.
Inspired by that memorable opening scene, I have made Apricot Danish in the form of the apricot twists from Great Coffee Cakes, Sticky Buns, Muffins & More by Carole Walter.
These delicate pastries tasted absolutely devine, and smelled heavenly fresh out of the oven. There is a little fussing around involved in making the danish pastry, but once you have that up and running, the rest is not too taxing.
I made a half measure of Carole's danish pastry recipe, and only half of that again is required to make the apricot twists (I froze the rest for another day). The half recipe for the danish pastry (on page 258 of the book) is as follows:
1/8 cup plain flour
1/6 cup warm water
1/6 cup + 1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon instant yeast
2 1/2 cups plain flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter, softened
2 eggs, cold and lightly beaten
1/2 cup ice water
Line an 8 inch square metal baking pan with 2 long strips of glad wrap, laid at right angles to each other.
Put the butter and flour in an electric mixer bowl, and beat for 10-15 seconds or until the butter is just smooth. Spoon the butter into the prepared baking pan, spooning it into each corner before covering the rest. Spread the butter in an even layer over the base of the pan, and refrigerate while you make the pastry.
Warm a small bowl by running it under hot water. Pour the warm water into the warmed bowl, and stir in 1/2 teaspoon of sugar. Sprinkle the yeast over the top of the water, and allow the mixture to stand in the covered bowl, without stirring, for 5 minutes. Remove the cover, stir the mixture with a fork, then allow it to stand for a further 3 minutes.
Put the flour, remaining sugar and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer and mix briefly on low speed to combine. Add the butter to the flour mixture and mix for 30 seconds.
Combine the eggs with the ice water in a small bowl, then add to the flour mixture and mix on medium speed for around 1 minute or until a rough dough is formed.
Line a cookie sheet with baking paper.
Take the butter out of the fridge; it should be firm but pliable.
Turn the dough out onto a floured work bench, and roll it into a 10" x 18" rectangle, with the short side running parallel to the bench top.
Centre the block of butter on top of the rolled dough. Pick up the lower edge of the dough and fold it into the middle of the butter, then do the same with the top edge of the butter, so that you have folded the dough into 3, like you fold a letter to place it into an envelope. Pinch the edges of the dough together to seal them.
Flour the bench top, and turn the dough 1/4 turn to the right. Press the top of the dough to flatten it. Roll the dough into a 12" x 22" rectangle, flipping it once or twice as you roll and continuing to reflour the bench as necessary to avoid sticking. (If the dough sticks, use a metal or plastic pastry scraper to lift it off the bench without undoing your hard work.) Remove any excess flour with a pastry brush, then fold the dough into 3, like a letter, by folding the lower and upper edges into the middle. Press the dough to seal the layers. Place the folded dough onto the paper-lined cookie sheet, cover it with another piece of baking paper, and refrigerate it for 15-20 minutes.
Remove the dough from the fridge, flour your benchtop, and place the dough onto the floured bench with the open seam to the right. Roll the dough into a rectangle measuring 12" x 22", flipping and flouring as before. Once again, remove any excess flour with a pastry brush before folding the dough into 3, then pressing it with your hands to flatten it, place it back on the paper-lined cookie sheet, cover with another piece of baking paper, and return it to the refrigerator for another 15-20 minutes.
For the last time, remove the dough from the fridge, and repeat the rolling and folding process described above before placing the folded dough back onto the cookie sheet, covering it with another layer of paper, and returning it to the fridge to rest overnight.
110g dried apricots
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons apricot jam
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon almond essence
Chop the apricots roughly. (The recipe does not say this, but the apricots did not disintegrate after cooking, and the whole apricots are too bulky to use for filling.) Put the apricots, water and jam into a small saucepan, and bring to the boil before reducing the heat, covering the pan and allowing the mixture to simmer for 18-20 minutes or until the apricots are very soft.
Remove the pan from the heat, and stir through the brown sugar and almond essence. Mix with a fork until smooth. (This didn't work for me - I ended up whizzing it in the food processor for a short burst.) Set the filling aside to cool.
1/2 of the danish pastry recipe given above
1 quantity apricot filling
1 beaten egg (for egg wash)
2 tablespoons sparkling sugar
1 quantity sugar syrup (recipe below)
2 tablespoons sparkling sugar
1 quantity sugar syrup (recipe below)
Line two cookie sheets with baking paper.
On a floured bench, divide the dough into two. Roll one half of the dough into a rectangle measuring 18" x 7" (again, use a pastry scraper to lift the dough from the bench if it sticks). Prick the rolled dough with a fork at 1" intervals.
Spread half of the apricot filling lengthwise over half of the dough, leaving a margin of 1/2" from each edge. Brush the far edge of the dough with egg wash, then fold it over the half of the dough spread with the filling, and press the edges to seal. Trim any excess dough as necessary.
Cut the filled dough into strips which are 2" wide. In the centre of each strip, make a 2" slash, like a buttonhole, and thread the top edge of each strip through that slash to form the twist. Place each twist on the lined baking trays, and push each end of the twist towards the centre so that it is slightly curved, like a bow tie.
Repeat the above with the second half of the dough.
Cover the twists with a teatowel and place in a warm place to rise for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 220 degrees Celsius. Uncover the twists and brush them with egg wash and sprinkle with sparkling sugar. Bake the twists in the oven for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to 190 degrees Celsius and continue to bake them for another 10 minutes or until golden brown, rotating the trays top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking.
While the twists are baking, make the sugar syrup:
Put 1/2 cup of water and 1/4 cup of sugar into a small saucepan. Bring to the boil on the stovetop, then reduce the heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Use the syrup while it is hot.
Once the twists have finished baking, remove them from the oven and immediately brush them with the hot sugar syrup.
The twists can be served warm or cold, and keep stored in foil for 2-3 days.
To see the roundup of recipes inspired by Breakfast at Tiffany's, check Susan's blog on 25 July.