Sticky buns and glamorous pudding: recipes to use up leftover croissants

Do you have more croissants than you know what to do with? You’ve eaten more of them fresh than you’re going to admit to anyone (but I don’t blame you, the pleasure of a croissant fresh from the oven is something I will never grow tired of), but what to do with the rest of them?

Fear not, because leftover croissants can be used in a few applications that will transform a classic dish into an absolute showstopper.

Baked croissants store particularly well in Ziploc bags in the freezer, ready to be pulled out at a moment’s notice to create a dinner party-worthy dessert.

Croissant ‘bread and butter’ pudding

Bread and butter pudding doesn’t have a very glamorous ring to it, but let me tell you, this pudding punches well above its weight.

Serve to dinner guests with a scoop of best-quality vanilla ice-cream and you’ll have them licking their plates clean. There are also a few variations, should you feel inclined to give a little flavour twist to the base recipe.

Serves 10–12

6 croissants, a day old4 eggs250g milk250g thickened cream1 tsp vanilla extract30g caster sugar

Grease a loaf tin and line with baking paper. Tear the croissants roughly and arrange the pieces in the loaf tin.

Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, milk, cream, vanilla extract and sugar in a bowl to combine. Pour the egg mixture over the croissants and let stand for at least 1 hour, allowing the croissants to soak up the liquid.

Preheat your oven to 160C fan-forced. Bake the pudding in the oven for 45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the pudding comes out clean.

Leave to cool completely before turning out of the tin. Cut into thick slices and serve in a puddle of runny cream.

Variations

Twice-baked finger bun croissants

Almond croissants came into being as an austerity measure for French bakers. If there were any croissants left over at the end of the day, they would be reserved, and the following day, transformed with sugar syrup and almond frangipane.

Before Lune, I had never experienced or witnessed a twice-baked croissant that wasn’t an almond croissant. But one day, I posed the question, “Why is it that day-old croissants are only ever filled with almond frangipane?”

If you grew up in Australia or New Zealand, you’re probably no stranger to the original finger bun. It features a sweetened white bread bun, similar in size and shape to a hotdog bun. Traditionally it also included dried fruit. The best bit, by far, was the sickly-sweet icing that came in a couple of varieties; good old fondant, or my personal favourite, the whipped coconut icing. Before eating them, you would cut them in half and slather them with butter (and if your sweet tooth was particularly demanding, also a generous lick of strawberry jam).

In recent times there has been a bit of a revival of the old finger bun, and there was no way we were missing that boat. So the Lune twice-baked finger bun was created, and I was instantly in love.

6 croissants, a day oldDesiccated coconut, to garnish

For the jus fraise500g frozen strawberries50g caster sugar

For the strawberry syrup120g strawberry puree250g jus fraise (above)500g water

For the coconut whip icing100g milk100g thickened cream15g caster sugar100g coconut milk powder, sifted300g double cream

For the milk and coconut frangipane200g butter, at room temperature200g caster sugarPinch salt2 eggs100g milk powder75g desiccated coconut75g blanched almond meal

To make the jus fraise, place the strawberries and sugar in a heatproof bowl and toss the strawberries to coat them in the sugar. Cover the bowl tightly with cling film.

Meanwhile, bring a saucepan filled one-third with water to the boil, then reduce the heat to keep the water at a simmer. Place the bowl of strawberries and sugar over the pan of simmering water and cook for two to three hours, until the strawberries are mushy, discoloured, and liquid has begun to leach out.

Remove the bowl from the pot carefully (both will be very hot) and allow to cool. Once cooled, strain the strawberries, separating the fruit pulp from the liquid. Reserve the liquid (the jus fraise) and the strawberry pulp. Puree the strawberry pulp. Both will be required for the strawberry syrup.

To make strawberry syrup, place all of its ingredients in a small saucepan and stir over a medium heat, allowing the syrup to come to the boil. Once boiling, remove from the heat.

To make the coconut whip icing, start a day in advance. In a small saucepan, heat the milk, cream and sugar until just simmering. Add the coconut milk powder and whisk constantly until the mixture comes to the boil. Continue to cook for a couple of minutes, whisking, allowing the mixture to thicken.

Take off the heat and pour into a clean heatproof bowl. Place clingfilm over the surface of the coconut base to prevent a skin from forming, then store in the fridge overnight.

The following day, just before you plan to serve the finger buns, put the bowl of your stand mixer in the fridge for a few minutes to chill it, then transfer the coconut base into the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, along with the double cream. If you’d prefer pink icing, add a tiny drop of pink food colouring. Whip until it forms stiff peaks. Keep a close eye while it is whipping because there is a fine line between perfectly whipped and split!

Transfer into a piping bag fitted with a size 11 round nozzle.

To make the milk and coconut frangipane, beat the butter, sugar and salt in a stand mixer fitted with a flat beater until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, continuing to beat and waiting until each one is incorporated fully before adding the next. Scrape down the bowl after the incorporation of the first egg. Finally, with the mixer on low speed, mix in the milk powder, almond meal and desiccated coconut. Once again, scrape the bowl down well, giving it a final mix by hand (with a spatula) to ensure all the ingredients are well incorporated. Transfer the frangipane into a piping bag fitted with a size 11 star nozzle.

Now it’s time to assemble, bake, and finish. Preheat your oven to 180C fan-forced and line a large baking tray with baking paper.

Using a large serrated knife, cut your croissants in half. Brush the cut side of both halves of each croissant generously with the warm strawberry syrup. Pipe a healthy wiggle of milk and coconut frangipane on the bottom half of each croissant.

Cut a small hole in the tip of the strawberry jam piping bag (three to four millimetres), then pipe a squiggle of jam on top of the frangipane. Repeat for each of the six croissant bases.

Replace the top half of each croissant, cupping your hand and gently securing each top.

Place the prepared croissants on the lined baking tray and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the frangipane inside is set. Check this by carefully lifting the lid of one of the croissants with a fork and checking the doneness of the frangipane. If it still looks like cake batter, it is not yet ready. Bake for a few more minutes and check again.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely to room temperature. If you try to ice the finger buns while they are still warm the icing will simply melt and slide off.

Once cooled, the finger buns can be iced. Holding the piping bag with coconut whip at one end of the croissant and begin piping, zigzagging left to right, making your zigzag bigger as you approach the ‘nose’ of the croissant, then reducing it as you reach the other end, aiming for a diamond shape. Repeat for each of the six baked croissants.

The pièce de résistance of the finger bun is the chewy desiccated coconut that coats the coconut whip icing. Very carefully holding the pastry from beneath, dip the icing into a bowl of desiccated coconut, making sure to dip as gently as possible – you don’t want to flatten your beautiful squiggle of icing. Serve immediately!

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