This delicate little tower of puff pastry represents the meeting of two very different, very beautiful things – French ostentation and crisp English cool – and it’s all thanks to gin. With a juniper-infused pastry cream and lemon slices candied in Tanqueray, this mille-feuille recipe has a lightness and subtlety to it that I love. It’s a taste of France, laced with an English summer’s night, which is pretty much my idea of heaven.
- 250g all butter puff pastry
for the pastry cream…
- 250ml whole milk
- 2 egg yolks
- 60g sugar
- 15g plain flour
- 15g cornflour
- 1-2tbsp juniper berries (depending on how strong you want the cream to taste of gin)
for the candied lemon slices…
- 1 lemon, sliced
- 50ml gin
- 50g caster sugar
you will need – an 8cm circular cutter plus a piping bag and nozzle. Using this size cutter makes four mille-feuilles, each with three layers.
- Roll the pastry out on a floured surface to a thickness of about 1cm and cut out 12 8cm discs, you may need to re-roll to get all 12. Then place the discs in the fridge to cool for 15mins, during this time preheat the oven to 180° C / Gas Mark 4.
- Once chilled, pop the discs onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. To stop the puff pastry rising too much, place a sheet of baking parchment over the discs and put another baking tray on top of them. Cooking the discs like this will keep the mille-feuille layers crisp and delicate. Bake for 20mins or until lightly golden in colour.
- As the pastry discs cool on a wire rack you can prepare the pastry cream. First of all, crush the juniper berries to release their amazing flavour and fragrance before adding them into a saucepan with the milk. Allow the berries to infuse the milk for about 10mins while you weigh out the rest of the ingredients.
- Add half the sugar into the pan of milk and turn on the heat, bringing the milk to a gentle boil. Whisk the other half of the sugar with the egg yolks in a separate bowl, then add both flours to the eggs. Mix together to form a thick paste. Once the milk is boiling, pass it through a sieve to remove the juniper berries and then add half of it to the egg mixture, stirring as you go. Return the rest of the milk to the heat. Now that the eggs have been tempered add the mixture to the pan of milk and whisk constantly as the cream thickens and cooks. This will only take a few minutes on a medium heat.
- Tip the cooked pastry cream onto a tray or plate and cover with cling film, making sure that the cling film touches the surface of the cream. Allow the cream to cool completely. Pastry cream is a funny beast, once cool it resembles rubber and will need to be knocked back to a creamy texture with a whisk before you can assemble your mille-feuilles.
- Pipe the pastry cream onto one of the discs, place another disc on top then repeat this process once more so that you have three discs and two layers of cream.
- Finally, to make the candied lemon slices, place the slices into a pan of boiling water for 10mins. Bring the gin and sugar to a boil in another pan and add the blanched lemon slices. Allow them to bubble away for 5-10mins before removing the lemon. These sticky slices will take moments to harden, just enough time for you to dust the mille-feuilles with icing sugar before placing a slice or two on top.