Tapenade twists

It’s time, guys. It’s time for the savoury bake.

It’s been 8 months and 23 bakes and no savouries have been attempted.

Until now.

This particular recipe has been on my radar for a while. I was going to make it a month or so ago, but I could not for the life of me find tapenade. I later learned it was super easy to make, but I would much rather just buy a small jar of it than go and gather ingredients to make a huge amount of it myself.

Since I told myself my next recipe had to be of the savoury persuasion, I went to the grocery store on the way home from work with the sole purpose of finding tapenade. Deli section? Nothing. Olive and condiment aisle? Nothing. I even checked the canned vegetables section, just in case, and—you guessed it—nothing.

I figured I could go home and try to make parmesan ones. Or maybe do another recipe entirely. Or not do a recipe at all. But then I told myself this was a goal I had to do so I was going to do it, darnit.

That’s when I decided to at least try my hand at the puff pastry recipe and see where that left me.

I’ve never made puff pastry before. I’ve only ever purchased it from the frozen aisle at the grocery store and rolled it out and, even then, that has maybe been twice—at most. I once wrapped a dark chocolate bar with puff pastry. That was delicious. I had very little hope that homemade puff pastry would compare, but I figured I could give it a go and see what happens.

The puff pastry recipe in this book is found alongside the sausage roll recipe, but to make it homemade for the first time and then do all the work of making sausage roll filling as well seemed like too high of stakes (I don’t think that grammatically makes sense—oh well).

So I decided to try a lower stakes recipe of the tapenade twists with my first go at this puff pastry.

First thing’s first, sift the flour.

Actually that’s a lie. First thing’s first is freezing a block of butter to make it hard enough to grate into the flour. But I forgot to take a picture of frozen butter.

Alas it did freeze and I was able to grate it into the sifted flour and salt.

It’s worrying how much this looks like grated mozzarella. I love grated cheese. I’m of the opinion that it’s gratedness makes it tastier, so any time I have to grate mozza for a pizza or anything, I will always be sure to pick up handfuls of grated cheese and drop them in my mouth. It took a lot of self-control not to do that same thing automatically with this butter.

The next step is very clear, which I am very thankful for. I was watching a GBBO recently and I cannot imagine doing these recipes as technical challenges. Recipe book Mary and Paul are very detailed, telling me exactly how to toss the grated butter with the flour with a round-edged knife to make sure it’s coated and not clumpy. Presumably the technical challenge instructions would be “mix” or something even more vague like “combine.”

Next up, I have to mix lemon juice into ice cold water which, stupidly, I attempted to make by putting a cup of water in the freezer. I later remembered that I have ice cubes in the freeze that I could put into the water. Silly me. That worked much more quickly.

And then mix until you make a “shaggy-looking” dough.

My very serious question: what on earth is a shaggy-looking dough? Is this shaggy? I’m assuming the shagginess comes from a lack of overmixing. I assume that’s a bad thing. I would assume that would make a flatter pastry or something. Less puffy. So I mixed until everything was combined, plopped it on the clingfilm, wrapped it up and chilled it.

*one hour later*

I pulled it out of the fridge and hoped it was chilled enough because I was quickly running out of evening.

Mary and Paul wanted me to roll out the dough into a 12×35 centimetre rectangle. So precise.

I have no idea if that’s the correct dimensions. I was too tired to pull out my measuring tape and be precise.

Then I had to fold it in thirds.

Then I had to pinch the “open” sides together but not the fold.

Is that right?

No idea. Time to let it chill again.

*one hour later*

During that hour, I decided to try another grocery store because I also realized I was out of coffee filters and really wanted a coffee the next morning. So I changed from my home loungewear into public space loungewear and went off in search of tapenade.

“Why didn’t you just ask someone at the grocery store?” you may wonder.

“Because I don’t like talking to people,” I would tell you. “Especially strangers.”

Instead, I was just the woman loitering around the deli section.

I looked at the specialty sauces by the fancy cheeses and found hummuses (hummusi?), pestos, baba ganoushes (baba ganoushi?), and salsas. I looked by the less than fancy cheeses. I looked by the condiments. I then went back and double-checked the original specialty sauces and found it! Tapenade.

There were two kinds—neither of which were black olive based, which is what the recipe called for. There was a green olive tapenade and a green olive and red pepper tapenade (very Christmasy). I picked up the green olive one and walked halfway to the cashier before realizing I don’t love olives. I like them with things. I like them on pizza. I like them in a salad. But I prefer black olives to green anyway. So I did a mid-step U-turn and went to switch to the green olive and red pepper tapenade.

You may think I’m a tapenade expert at this point, but fun fact: I have no idea how to pronounce it. The other day I googled how to pronounce it so that, if I was left choiceless and had to ask someone in the grocery store, I would not embarrass myself like how I first pronounced “quinoa” about 7 years ago before it became such a big deal.

Tah-peh-nad.

Is that right? According to a pronunciation video on YouTube, yes. However, it’s still one that I say with great hesitancy like when you want to say “sauvignon blanc” without sounding like a snob.

Moral of the story? I got the filling for the twists.

It was at this point that I actually read ahead to see what the twist formation entailed. You hear twists you think a stick, right? That’s how I’ve made savoury twists once before when I was in high school (with purchased puff pastry, of course). I cut strips and twisted them. A twist.

Nope. This one is a little more complicated.

First I had to roll out the dough into a 40×30 centimetre rectangle. (So specific!)

Then I had to put the filling on the pastry dough.

And get it right to the edge.

Then I had to know where the middle of the dough was (without cutting through it) and roll each long edge to meet in the middle. Again, the long edge / short edge confusion got to me but I figured if this was to make 40 twists, it must be this way:

Then I was to cut it with a sharp knife so as not to drag the dough and put them on the baking sheet with one coil twisted to create an “S” shape.

Two things made that difficult:

  1. I have terrible knives that are not sharp enough despite the fact that I have regularly tried to sharpen them.
  2. The oily tapenade made them super messy and difficult to shape.

But I soldiered on and made a note to myself to spring for a good quality knife. (I can see into the future, though, and I just know that if I do get a good quality knife, I’ll be too used to dull knives and somehow chop off a portion of my finger.)

How do they look? Not bad, not bad. I have no idea how this will all go down. I have low expectations for the puff of this pastry.

This is the second baking sheet with the ones that, shall we say, have more personality:

Time to pop them into the fridge to chill them again as the oven preheats.

*about 12 to 15 to 16 1/2 minutes later*

I had to bake them until “a good golden brown” (whatever that means). And, as expected, the puff isn’t as major as I thought. But they still look pretty passable:

And, might I add, they taste pretty good too:

If you’re not serving them right away, you’re supposed to store them in a cool place (NOT the fridge) in an airtight container and then heat them up before serving.

My office has no oven, so I hope the toaster oven is big enough!

UPDATE: People really enjoyed it. One person who isn’t a fan of olives told me she still liked it because it wasn’t too olivey. Another person told me she liked that I bring stuff to work that she’d never make herself. Another person asked me if it was worth the work because my last bake was not, but I informed him, yes, this one wasn’t as terrible as the Battenberg fiasco.

If I ever make these again for an outside-the-office event, I’ll include the brandy.

(Side note, my need-to-buy list is worrying: sharp knives and brandy.)

‘Til next time!

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