Previously we were in Germany, and today we've crossed the Rhine into France – Midi-Pyrénées to be precise. Southern French cuisine is famous for many things; chickpeas, black olives and anchovies. Zooming in, the cuisine of Midi-Pyrénées is famous for its cassoulet and the rather tasty cheese Roquefort. But both are famous for one thing: anise.
Ashamedly, I am a spiceoholic, notorious amongst friends and family for buying spices and salts that look exotic and exciting without even the vaguest idea of what I will do with them. My excuse is naturally that I will - sometime in the future - have need of 'em, but the truth of the matter is that I hardly ever use most of my spices. I buy way (way) too many spices, including a bottle of yes, anise extract which I bought in Israel for no particular reason. But once I reached the South in my journey throughout France, I immediately thought of my bottle of anise extract. See, I knew I'd have use for it someday! Next I had to find a recipe which called for anise, and after a few Google searches, I spotted these pastries randomly one day during a rather dull Norwegian class. It was one of those ''oh, those look nice. I'll make them'' moments.
Échaudés are basically small, triangular, anise-flavoured puff pastries. They originate from the small town of Carmaux, but I've been told they're sold all over the region. Historically, échaudés were apparently quite popular during the Middle Ages, although at the time, it was a simple sweet-dough-boiled-in-water pastry. It wasn't until King Louis IX visited the city of Albi sometime in the 1250s that a baker called Jeannot had the idea to add anise to the pastries. To this day, they're also affectionately called jeannots.
I was very sceptical at first. Not that they're hard to make, quite the opposite. All you need to do is mix all of the ingredients together, let rest overnight in the fridge and slice them into triangles. But here is where the recipe eluded me. You have to throw the triangles into a pot of boiling water. How very odd. I had never boiled dough before; I'd fried, cooked, baked and steamed. But I had never boiled dough. Apparently, boiling them makes the starch in the gluten burst, which in turn make 'em easier to digest. In fact, the name comes from the Latin verb excaldare, meaning ''to put in hot water''. Then once they're boiled, you bake them until they're puffy and golden.
Beware though, they're really addictive. Their light texture, their small size, their taste... Simply splendid. Now, time to sit down with an échaudé and a large cup of coffee, and dip the former into the latter. And have a very pleasant Tuesday!
|Echaudés à l'anis |
Recipe taken from here
500 g. flour
Milk, as needed
1 tbsp. oil
1/2 tbsp. salt
2 tbsp. aniseed seeds (I added 1 tsp. seeds and 1 tsp. aniseed extract)
1.In a bowl, mix the flour, eggs, oil, salt and aniseed seeds together. Add the milk slowly as you knead until the dough comes just together. The dough should be very stiff. Rest the dough overnight in the fridge, (there is no leavening, nothing will happen to it if sealed tight in plastic), then roll it out about half an inch thick, cut strips, then triangles.
2.Drop the triangles into lots of boiling water, in small batches.
3.As soon as they rise to the surface (they sometimes stick to the pot, nudge them a little to make sure they are swimming free), set them aside on a tea towel until they are no longer tacky to touch.
4.Finish them in a 180°C until they puff up and get barely golden.