Montenegro: Krempita

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Ok first off, can we just take a second and appreciate how beautiful this place is??

Where I come from, there are no big mountain ranges within like 500 miles of me, so I freak out at places with mountains that are easy to come by. These pictures remind me of the Swiss Alps, which were the most beautiful mountains I’ve ever seen! Guess I’ll just have to go back to Europe to explore more places with mountains!!

So this week’s baking project was a dessert made of puff pastry and a custard filling. I had to do a fair amount of searching to find a recipe that looked authentic-ish and was in English. But then I kind of maybe destroyed the authentic part of it by following a different recipe for the puff pastry… Usually I’m up for trying new versions of making things even if it seems odd, but that day, I wasn’t feeling like going the somewhat roundabout way of making the puff pastry that was stated in the recipe, and decided to use the puff pastry recipe from the Portugese Pastel de Natas I made near the beginning of this adventure. Because that was some real good puff pastry!!

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I did however, follow the recipe for the custard filling…but then ended up wishing I didn’t, HA! I thought in general, the dessert tasted wonderful, the custard was delicious, along with the crunchy puff pastry layers, but it was rather difficult to eat. Maybe I just made the custard incorrectly, but it didn’t hold up really at all. It became rather runny, and then just squished out when you tried to cut a bite to eat. Usually when I’ve made a custard or pastry cream before, it gets cooked in a sauce pan while continuously stirring, until it gets thick. And usually doesn’t take too long. This custard was cooked in a double boiler, which I found odd, but decided to try anyway. It took soooooo loooooong to even begin to thicken, and then didn’t even thicken the whole way, even after letting it chill for a while. I think I probably stood there stirring the runny custard for at least 45 minutes. This custard then also required folding in some whipped egg whites, and those didn’t incorporate very smoothly either. Although I’m assuming that’s because by the time the custard got to an almost acceptable consistency, the meringue had been sitting there for a long time, because I didn’t realize how long the custard would take! The meringue had lost some of it’s volume by that time, and wasn’t quite as light, and it never fully broke down to incorporate with the custard. So that was a bummer.

I don’t know if this dessert actually has a traditional pastry recipe and/or custard recipe, but if you’re not a super stickler about authenticity, I might just recommend to use your favorite puff pastry and custard recipes. The whole thing is pretty easy to make in theory, it’s simply a sheet of pastry, a layer of custard, with another layer of pastry on top. Assembled after everything is baked/cooked.

My attempt just turned out to be more cumbersome than I had hoped…

My puff pastry though, turned out to be super puffy! ….maybe a little to much?? haha!

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those layers tho….

I couldn’t get a good picture of one slice of it,  since it kind of melted apart when you scooped a piece out, and I also didn’t want to take it to the weekly potluck I go to with one piece missing! I got an unpleasing picture on my phone of the piece I had on my plate, which I can include just so you can see kiiiiind of what one piece looks like, but it is not the photography quality of the rest of these pictures, so forgive me for that!

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attempting this weird custard recipe…

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lumpy custard, mmmmmm……

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Its easiest to cut at least the top layer into pieces before placing it on top, so the custard won’t all squish out (more) when you try to cut it.

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And here’s the sad picture of one piece from my plate:
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Ok, lets have some current events of Montenegro!
-Well after doing some research on this country, it’s good to know that America isn’t the only place dealing with some rough politics, and it might actually be worse than ours in America! (There’s supposed to be some fake surprise in that statement, because while I know many countries have worse political situations than ours, I still get filled with despair at the thought of our current leadership. Poking fun at myself here, play along!) Last October, on election day in Montenegro, a supposed coup to assassinate the Prime Minister, by Russia supporters and anti-NATO individuals. There is also question as to whether the election was tampered with and/or influenced by Russia. (I know that feel…) There is a pretty extensive article about this situation, where the reporters do some in-depth research on the topic, which you can read the full story here.
-Apparently Montenegro is dealing with some intense cyber attacks on government sites and media. There was a series of attacks during last year’s election as well, but these have been even worse. There is suspicion that Russia may be behind the attacks, but of course they have denied it. I guess it is unclear what the actual motives behind these attacks are… a little more on that here.
Here on this site, I found a rather interesting article with some interesting info on Montenegro. A few highlights: in the 2006 film, “Casino Royale” some scenes were supposed to be set in Montenegro, but they were actually filmed in Czech Republic. But even so, tourism in Montenegro increased after the film. Montenegro is a very multi-cultural place. Montenegrin is the official language, but there are people who also speak Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian and Albanian. Some older generations may speak German, Italian or Russian. Montenegro has applied to be part of the EU and is expecting to fulfill that by 2019. The Euro is already being used in Montenegro.

Alright, there’s some interesting stuff for you. Let’s get to this recipe!

I got the recipe HERE, but only followed it for the custard. I used the puff pastry recipe from my stop in Portugal, and doubled the recipe, but just made it twice, so I had two parts for the top and the bottom.

So the puff pastry is this recipe, made TWICE:

  • 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3/4 cup plus two tablespoons water
  • 16 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, stirred until smooth
  • 1. In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix the flour, salt, and water until a soft, pillowy dough forms that pulls away from the side of the bowl, about 30 seconds.
  • 2. Generously flour a work surface and pat the dough into a 6-inch square using a pastry scraper. Flour the dough, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rest at room temperature for 15 minutes.
  • 3. Roll the dough into an 18-inch square. As you work, use the scraper to lift the dough to make sure the underside isn’t sticking to your work surface.
  • 4. Brush the excess flour off the top of the dough, trim any uneven edges, and, using a small offset spatula, dot and then spread the left 2/3 portion of the dough with a little less than 1/3 of the butter being careful to leave a 1 inch plain border around the edge of the dough.
  • 5. Neatly fold the unbuttered right 1/3 of the dough (using the pastry scraper to loosen it if it sticks) over the rest of the dough. Brush off any excess flour, then fold over the left 1/3 of the dough. Starting from the top, pat down the dough with your hand to release any air bubbles, and then pinch the edges of the dough to seal. Brush off any excess flour.
  • 6. Turn the dough 90° to the left so the fold is facing you. Lift the dough and flour the work surface. Once again roll it out to an 18-inch square, then dot the left 2/3 of the dough with 1/3 of the butter and smear it over the dough. Fold the dough as directed in steps 4 and 5. Let dough chill for 2 hours.
  • 7. Roll the dough out until it is big enough that you can cut a rectangle that will cover the bottom of your baking dish (I used a 9×13 baking pan). Cut the rectangle and place on a baking sheet with parchment paper. Bake for 10 minutes, or until golden brown.

For the custard filling, I’d recommend using your favorite custard or pastry cream recipe that is sturdy. If you’re feeling confident, and wish to try the Krempita custard recipe I tried, follow the link above. May you have better luck than me.

Assembly:

Place one baked piece of puff pastry in the bottom of your pan or dish. Pour the custard over the pastry, and spread evenly. Take the second piece of pastry, and cut into squares. Place the squares in order, on top of the custard. (This is done because pre-cutting the top layer of pastry, makes it easier to cut all the way through once the Krempita is set. One less layer to saw through.) Once all the pastry squares are placed orderly on top, let it set for an hour or few in the fridge, and sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.

 

 

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