Pastry with a Sweet Twist: Starlight Sugar Crisps

I'm still not completely confident when it comes to baking with yeast, but I am getting more comfortable trying yeast recipes and no longer try to actively avoid them. I decided to tackle a recipe from a 1950s Pillsbury Bake-Off for "Starlight Sugar Crisps" that uses what is essentially rough puff pastry with yeast.

To make the dough, you cut butter into a mixture of flour and salt, and then blend in eggs, sour cream, vanilla, and active dry yeast that has been softened in warm water. You cover and chill the dough for at least two hours.

You divide the chilled dough into two parts, and roll out each half into a rectangle. You make three letter folds with the dough -- folding the dough into thirds just as you would fold a piece of paper before inserting it into a #10 envelope -- sprinkling the dough with vanilla sugar before making each fold.  (The vanilla sugar is supposed to be a combination of vanilla extract and sugar, but I combined the seeds from a Tahitian vanilla bean with sugar instead.)

After the final fold, you roll the dough into a 16-inch by 8-inch rectangle and cut it into 4-inch by 1-inch strips. You twist each strip a few times, lay the twists on a baking sheet, and bake.
During baking, the different layers in the dough separated and became visible -- I really liked the look of the finished product, including the small specks of vanilla bean seeds on the surface of the dough. The sugar on bottom side of the pastries that had been on the baking sheet was deeply caramelized into a wonderfully crisp consistency. Sweet and full of the floral flavor of Tahitian vanilla, these small pastries were just a couple of bites, but they were delightful. I liked them better than the palmiers I recently made from Baked Occasions, and they are easier to make. A winning recipe indeed!

Recipe: "Starlight Sugar Crisps" by Mrs. Leland E. Ross of Roscommon, Michigan, Senior First Prize Winner of the 1956 Pillsbury Bake-Off. Recipe available in Pillsbury's Best 1000 Recipes: Best of the Bake-Off Collection.


Unknown said…
My moms recipe she added grated orange instead of those bean seeds to the sugar and vanilla extract. Gave it a great taste from the 1950s recipe
Leenbacon said…
We used to call them ‘Bow Ties’. And they were the best thing ever.
@Leenebacon -- I love the "bow ties" name! Now you're making me crave these cookies; I might have to make them again soon!
Anonymous said…
When I was growing up in Longwood FL during the 1950’s, Dad brought home a series of Pillsbury cook-off books for pastries and meats, seems there were a few others. I remember that this was a favorite recipe and we always made them for the holidays. The books have been lost as well as the recipe which we have tried unsuccessfully to duplicate. Thank you sharing the info which I will pass on to my sister.
January 12, 2023.
Eleanor F Sanders
Eleanor, if you provide me with your email address (you can use the contact form on the website), I would be happy to send you the recipe! What a wonderful memory!