Camomile & Honey Millefeuille...

I have a new obsession. Well, not quite new actually, but I seem to go in and out of phases with flavours and ingredients (apart from chocolate, that's a lifelong phase) with some suddenly featuring heavily in my repertoire before being replaced with something else that I will use more than anything else for a while. I've always liked camomile and I've always liked honey. However, lately I have found myself craving camomile tea and its flavour in general. It is smooth and mellow yet earthy, fragrant without being overly flowery, and calming without the sedative powers of lavender. I want to incorporate it in my food in as many ways as possible even if that means messing with classics. 

Camomile & Honey Millefeuille

Being inventive with classics is one of the things that makes cooking and baking so interesting for me. It's what I've done with the lemon thyme and honey madeleines or my ginger and lime crème brûlée. Whilst I'm fairly certain that I'm in no position to "reinvent the wheel" here, putting my own spin on things is one of the main reasons why I enjoy my "kitchen life" so much. It's fun to experiment and try out new things, and it's immensely satisfying and enjoyable to see the reaction of people when they taste something completely different from what the shape was suggesting. Like in this case. A millefeuille is of course traditionally made with a vanilla crème pâtissière or custard cream, so to suddenly taste the earthiness of camomile with the sweetness of honey is a complete surprise to anybody trying these. Not a bad surprise, I might add. My test people were in fact very happy with the result which is why I decided to share it here. The icing swirls on top do add to the overall flavour with just a hint of dark chocolate which works really well with the camomile and honey. So, without further ramblings from me, here's my recipe for my camomile and honey millefeuille. I hope you'll like them.

Camomile & Honey Millefeuille

Ingredients to make around 8 millefeuille:

For the puff pastry:

  • 225g flour (plain)
  • 250g cold butter, cubed
  • 150ml ice-cold water
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the crème pâtissière:

  • 500ml semi skimmed milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 50g flour
  • 20g corn starch
  • 2tbsp camomile flowers
  • 1 tbsp honey

For the topping:

  • 4tbsp icing sugar mixed to a paste with around 1.5tbsp water
  • 1tbsp dark cocoa powder mixed with around 1tsp water to make a thick but "squeezable" paste
Camomile & Honey Millefeuille

And here's how it's done:

Make the crème pâtissière first to give it enough time to chill.

  • heat up the milk with the camomile and honey to boiling point, then turn it off and leave to infuse for a good ten minutes
  • beat the egg yolks with the sugar until pale, then add the flour and corn starch
  • bring the milk back to a near boil, then strain through a sieve into the egg mixture whilst continuously beating - a little tricky and you will need a stand mixer for it
  • return the whole mix to your pan on a low heat 
  • keep stirring with a whisk - DO NOT STOP - until the mixture is thick
  • take immediately off the heat and transfer to a cold dish like a shallow baking tray
  • cover with cling film which should lay right on the cream
  • leave to cool before refrigerating until set

To make the puff pastry (I have used Michel Roux's method):

  • put the flour onto your work surface and make a mould
  • put the butter cubes and salt into the mould and gradually work the flour into the middle until the butter has turned into small pieces and the dough appears flaky 
  • add the water bit after bit until it is incorporated into the dough
  • do not over-knead the dough
  • form the dough into a ball, wrap in cling film and put ingot the fridge for 20 minutes
  • lightly flour your work surface and roll the dough into a 40 x 20cm rectangle
  • fold into three parts, give it a 1/4 turn and roll it again to a 40 x 20 rectangle
  • fold into three parts again, wrap in cling film and put into the fridge for 30 minutes
  • repeat the rolling/folding/refrigerating another two times, each time folding, rolling, folding, rolling, refrigerating
  • for the last chill, leave it in your fridge for another 30 minutes before using it
  • you will now need two baking trays which need to be the same size
  • line both trays with parchment paper
  • lightly flour your work surface and roll out the dough to the size of your baking tray
  • place the rolled out dough onto the tray, put the parchment paper and the second tray on top
  • if the second tray isn't very heavy, place an oven proof bowl on top to weigh it down
  • bake for 30 minutes until golden
  • take the pastry out of the oven and leave to cool completely
  • now cut it into small, equal-sized rectangle - you will need three for each millefeuille
  • I used a shortbread cutter for fun, but straight edges cut with a knife are the classic way
  • get your crème pâtissière out of the fridge and apply it to a piece of pastry, stack a second piece of pastry on top, put some more cream on and place the third piece of pastry on top of that - I decided to pipe my cream, but (again) it's not really the classic method
  • mix the icing sugar with the water until you have a thick paste
  • mix the cocoa powder with the water until you have a thick paste
  • put the cocoa mix into either a piping bag/syringe with a tiny nozzle or into a plastic bag with the tip cut off
  • you will have to work quickly as the icing sugar glaze hardens quickly
  • apply some of the icing sugar glaze onto your millefeuille, then "draw" several lines across with the cocoa mix before gently pulling a sharp knife through the glaze to get the pattern
  • leave to set for a little while before serving

Bon appétit!

Camomile & Honey Millefeuille
Camomile & Honey Millefeuille 4.jpg
Camomile & Honey Millefeuille
Camomile & Honey Millefeuille
Camomile & Honey Millefeuille
Camomile & Honey Millefeuille

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