Easy (assuming you already have the mille feuille pastry ready to use), very versatile, may be spectacular. Can be prepared as the dessert (example below), tea companion, lunch meal (fill with some chicken/hamburger/fish/mushroom mixture with vegetables and/or rice) or pre-dinner buffet element (ham/cheese, spinach/feta, salmon/feta/capers?).
Example here illustrates the dessert version (pears with marzipan), but you will find it trivial to adapt the concept to all other possible incarnations. In an appendix below we have an example of the apple/marzipan implementation (construction phase only.. we ate it before i had a chance to record the image..).
For a braided loaf of about 30cm (about 1 foot) i used
- 250 g mille feuille pastry, rolled in a form of a rectangular sheet (say, approx 24×33 cm?)
- 200g marzipan, sliced for easier distribution
- 5 small tart pears, peeled, de-seeded and sliced in flat slices
- 3 tbsp of prune butter (can be really any smooth confiture type stuff. Commonly used apricot confiture is likely the safe choice, too)
- a handful of dried cranberries or raisins (option, provides colour accent only)
- Few tbsp of full milk or light cream
- Few tbsp of sugar
- turn the oven to 200c/400F
- place the flat pastry on a sheet of baking paper
- make a series of incisions on both longer edges of the pastry. The cuts are likely some 5-6 cm deep on each side; they are as symmetrical (left side to right side) as possible. The centre part of the pastry rectangle, about 10-12 cm, remains uncut.
- Distribute the confiture (plum butter) on the uncut pastry. Leave about 1.5-2 cm on top an bottom (not cut) not covered. They will be folded up later on.
- Place the half of fruit slices horizontally on top of plum butter.
- Place the half of marzipan slices on top of the fruit
- Repeat with the rest of the pears, followed by the rest of the marzipan.
- Fold the top end up, as tidily as possible
- start folding the strips of pastry onto one another, diagonally (start with the left strip, diagonally, towards the bottom of the loaf, place right strip diagonally, placing the end of it over the left one in the centre of the loaf, pick up the next left, diagonally over the folded right one, then get the right to go over the left..)
- Proceed until all stripes are placed, then fold the bottom edge up and secure it by pressing together gently.
- Brush the whole thing with the milk/cream.
- Sprinkle some sugar over the braided loaf.
- Into the oven. After some 25-30 minutes take a look – you may want to decrease the temperature to 175C/350F if the loaf is browning rapidly.
- Let it bake for additional 25-30 minutes.
- When out of the oven, leave to rest and cool down completely before slicing and serving.And here is the apple/marzipan version:
Preparing the envelope: