Thursday, December 31, 2009

Apple Tart

The very first thing I made with my new standing Kitchen Aid mixer was a batch of tart shell dough. I made the dough, wrapped it up, and stuck it in the freezer for "emergencies."

I brought my dough over to Linda's house yesterday because I thought we might want something more to play with! We rolled out the dough and placed it in a tart shell. We spread the shell with a layer of wild plum jam and then we layered apples from her apple tree in concentric circles around the tart, but first we tossed the apples with a bit of sugar, lemon juice, and cinnamon. We made sure not to add too much sugar because we liked the balance of the sweet crust with a nice tart apple. To top it all off, we sprinkled some raw (turbinado or demerara) sugar over the tart. This gave the tart a nice little crunch of sweetness!

I think this may be one of the best apple tarts that I have EVER tasted. Seriously. Not too sweet, but just sweet enough. The crust is perfect. And the apples are so thin and pack a punch full of flavor! Oh, and I absolutely love the combo of the wild plum jam with the apples. Mmm mmm mmm!

Now, laying your tart dough in the pan can be pretty tricky. My goal is to do it like snow white. Even after doing it over and over at work, I still have trouble. Your dough may break here and there, but the dough is pretty malleable and you can just patch things up where you need.

Sweet Tart Dough
from Alice Waters' The Art of Simple Food

makes enough for one 9-inch tart or six 4-inch tartlets, or 30 cookies (you can make thumbprint cookies!)

Beat together until creamy:
8 Tablespoons (1 stick)
1/3 cup sugar

Add and mix until completely combined:
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg yolk

1 1/4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour

Mix well, stirring and folding, until there are no dry patches. Chill at least 4 hours or overnight until firm (you could probably just chill for 1 hour and be fine). Or, freeze. Just be sure to defrost for a few hours before ready to use.

Fun variations:
-mix 1 teaspoon of cinnamon into the flour
-substitute some of your all-purpose flour with cornmeal

Apple Tart

1 Sweet Tart Dough (optional: you can pre-bake your shell for 10-12 minutes, but it is not necessary)

Wild plum jam, or any jam of your choice
Apples from Linda's tree (or any good baking apple), peeled and sliced thinly
Cinnamon, a few pinches
Sugar, maybe 1 1/2-2 Tablespoons
Lemon juice, maybe 1 Tablespoon

Optional: raw (turbinado or demerara) sugar for finishing

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil your tart pan.

2. On a lightly floured surface, roll your tart dough into a 12- inch disk. Carefully transfer to the tart pan.

2. Spread with a layer of plum jam.

3. Combine your apples, cinnamon, sugar, and lemon juice. Arrange over the dough in concentric circles.

4. Sprinkle with raw/turbinado sugar.

5. Bake for about 40-50 minutes. If your edges start to brown, cover with foil and continue baking.

6. Cool and take your gorgeous tart out of the pan. Serve warm with ice cream, coffee, or on its own.

Oh My Gah...Rainbow Cake!!!!!!!!!!

Yesterday I spent the day making magic in the kitchen with the infamous Linda—chef extraordinaire, queen of the kitchen, best home-cook ever! I grew up going to Linda’s house every week for Friday night dinner. She would prepare fresh baked challah bread (the smell just fills the house and tickles our noses, making us all salivate!), a homemade soup made with fresh veggies (always a different soup each time, always delicious), and then a big main course with sides galore. Oh, and I can’t forget dessert—fruit, little cookies/cakes, and tea!

I really cherish those days when our families came together and enjoyed a good meal, chatting about politics and gossiping about all of the shenanigans happening in the neighborhood. Now all of the kids are older and our dinners happen less often, but when they do happen, I experience a shiver of joy and a happy, nostalgic tingle.

So yesterday I arrived at Linda’s house with a big bag full of tart shells, sprinkles, almond extract, parchment paper, butter, aprons, and a few other miscellaneous essentials. She provided the rest.

We went to work, and our first project was to conquer one of my favorite childhood treats, RAINBOW CAKE, also known as seven layer bars. I just remember going to someone’s bar/bat mitzvah and our synagogue would host a luncheon that offered the most scrumptious rainbow cakes! But alas, one day, they stopped offering those cute and colorful treats, and I have been on a search for them ever since. I have found a few knock-off cakes that just tasted awful, so Linda and I decided to make our own, and boy are these guys good, even better than I remember!

Rainbow cake is really just almond cake with jam spread between each layer and a nice smooth layer of chocolate on top. The food coloring and sprinkles are just for aesthetics, but as Linda and I both agree, “you eat with your eyes.”

Eeeeee these are just so darling! I want to start a rainbow cake delivery service!!!!! I think that could be quite successful, don’t you? Everyone’s got a food truck these days, maybe I will start a rainbow cake truck and gallivant through different neighborhoods, putting smiles on faces both young and old! Ah, I can just see it now…

Ok, while I’m dreaming in LaLaLand, you should go ahead and start baking already! I’m telling you now, once you have your cake batter, you just divide into three, drop some food coloring, spread into pans and bake, cool, and assemble. The hardest part about this recipe is the assembly, but don’t let that scare you. Enjoy the process because the end product will have you kicking and screaming with childhood memories and all of those fruity, almondy, chocolately flavors will just make you plotz (Yiddish word for “burst” or “explode”)!

After Linda and I made the rainbow cakes of my childhood, we moved on and made an apple tart with apples from her tree, and we baked challah bread (topped with poppy seeds, sesame seeds, and black cumin seeds!) and sticky buns. Our little friend Ezra enjoyed helping us sprinkle the seeds over the challahs!

This was the most fun that I have had in a while! Thanks Linda for always inspiring me to make magic!

Rainbow Cake
(aka seven layer bars)
Recipe inspired by SmittenKitchen

makes about 5 dozen bars, or more (or you can just leave it as a cake)

4 large eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
1 (8-oz) can almond paste (I used a 7-oz package and it worked just fine)
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
25 drops red food coloring
25 drops green food coloring
1 (12-oz) jar apricot preserves, heated and strained (I used raspberry preserves and did not strain them)
4-oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used Ghirardelli)

Optional: sprinkles

Special equipment: a small offset spatula, a heavy-duty stand mixer if you have one; a hand-mixer should work as well

1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 13- by 9-inch baking pan (we decided that a cookie sheet may have been easier) and line bottom with wax paper, leaving a little overhang on 2 ends, then butter paper.

2. Beat whites in mixer fitted with whisk attachment at medium-high speed until they just hold stiff peaks. Add 1/4 cup sugar a little at a time, beating at high speed until whites hold stiff, slightly glossy peaks. Transfer to another bowl.

3. Switch to paddle attachment, then beat together almond paste and remaining 3/4 cup sugar until well blended, about 3 minutes. Add butter and beat until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add yolks and almond extract and beat until combined well, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low, then add flour and salt and mix until just combined.

4. Fold half of egg white mixture into almond mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly (we found it a bit strange to be folding egg whites into a really thick batter, but it worked fine).

5. Divide batter among 3 bowls. Stir red food coloring into one and green food coloring into another, leaving the third batch plain. Pour green batter into prepared pan and spread evenly with offset spatula (layer will be about 1/4 inch thick). (If you own multiple pans, you can bake 2 layers at a time. We baked our green and white layers at the same time).

6. Bake your layers 8 to 10 minutes, until just set. (It is important to undercook. They’ll look like they’re not done, but a tester does come out clean).

7. Using paper overhang, transfer layer to a rack to cool, about 15 minutes. Bake the remaining layer (s) in same manner as above. Transfer to a rack to cool.

8. When all layers are cool, invert green onto a parchment or wax-paper-lined large baking sheet. Discard paper from layer and spread with half of preserves. Invert white on top of green layer, discarding paper. Spread with remaining preserves. Invert red layer on top of white layer and discard wax or parchment paper.

9. Cover with plastic wrap and weight with a large baking pan. Chill at least 8 hours (We chilled for 2 hours and were just fine. The reason for chilling so long is so that the preserves can really get pressed down and incorporated into the cake layers).

10. Remove weight and plastic wrap. Bring layers to room temperature.

We decided to use one layer of chocolate on top instead of one on top and one on the bottom. Do as you please...***NOTE: If you want chocolate on both top and bottom, use 7-oz of chocolate and melt it 3.5-oz at a time.

Melt chocolate in a double boiler or a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat. Keep chocolate over water. (Alternately, you can melt the chocolate in the microwave, just stir it every 30 seconds).

11. Trim edges of assembled layers with a long serrated knife. Quickly spread chocolate in a thin layer on top of cake, and sprinkle with sprinkles! Chill, uncovered, until chocolate is firm, about 30 minutes. ***NOTE: If you are doing two layers of chocolate, spread your top with chocolate, refrigerate uncovered for about 15 minutes, invert, and spread your next layer with chocolate. Now you can add sprinkles. Chill.

12. Cut lengthwise into strips, Cut strips crosswise into 3/4-inch-wide cookies. Or, just leave the cake as a cake and cut slices as you please!

Do ahead: Cookies keep, layered between sheets of wax paper or parchment, in an airtight container at room temperature 2 weeks. They’ll keep even longer in the freezer.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Lemon Cornmeal Biscotti with Cranberries and Walnuts

These cookies are addicting. No matter how hard you try, you simply cannot just have one. I'm telling you now, it's impossible.

I call them biscotti but they are softer and chewier than your typical hard and crumbly biscotti. Whatever the name, these little guys are so so so so so darn good! I believe that this may be my favorite type of cookie batter to lick the bowl with. Mmm, so buttery and lemony and comforting!

And using my new KitchenAid mixer makes everything so much easier; I can just plop my ingredients in the mixer and it does all the work for me!

This recipe makes a LOT of biscotti, I was overwhelmed and froze half of the cookies for my family to eat when I'm back at school.

Here is a link to an interesting article about twice-baked cookies, mandelbrot vs. biscotti.

With a twice-baked cookie, you first make your dough, roll it out into several long logs, bake, slice, and bake again.

I chose to add lemon zest, walnuts, and cranberries (I added golden raisins and dried blueberries, too!), but feel free to add in whatever you like: chocolate chips, pistachios, hazlenuts...

I also really like the texture that the cornmeal lends to the cookie. Soft, chewy, with a little added cornmeal crunch! Very nice.

Lemon Cornmeal Biscotti with Cranberries and Walnuts

makes a LOT of cookies, I would guess about 6 dozen

2 sticks cold butter, cubed
4 eggs
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon baking powder
4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cups cornmeal

zest of 2 lemons
dried fruit combo, about 1 cup
toasted nuts, about 1 cup

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the butter and sugar unitl nice and smoothe and fluffy. Add your eggs one at a time.

Combine the rest of your dry ingredients and add them to your butter, sugar, egg mixture. Stir in the lemon zest, dried fruit, and nuts.

Divide the dough into 6 even pieces. Lightly flour a clean surface and roll each piece into a nice, even log. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (I ran out of parchment so I just lightly greased the cookie sheet).

Bake at 350 degrees F for about 25 minutes, rotating the baking sheets at least once. Take the logs out of the oven and let them cool for about 5 minutes. Using a serated knife, slice your logs into individual cookies and place the cookies cut side down. Bake for another 15 minutes or so, you will have to watch them.

This make a LOT of cookies, which are great for freezing, storing, or giving as gifts!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Lauren's Vegan Coffee Crumb Cake

My cousin Lauren has been a vegan for years. The two of us were discussing how being vegan definitely does NOT mean that she does not like good food. Lauren is ALL about good food, as she should be.

She is famous for her vegan chocolate chip cookies. Honestly, I don’t know how she does it. I have tried to make her cookies ("veganized" as well as with butter and eggs) and mine just do not come out as well as hers. She's got the magic touch.

Last night around midnight, Lauren was busy baking her heart out in the kitchen. This morning I woke up and there it was—a decadent, crumb-topped coffee cake! Voila! Vegan with a vengeance indeed.

This coffee cake was light and airy, not dense, and I loved her addition of fresh blueberries in the middle! I’m sure you could experiment with some other fun add-ins like chocolate chips, nuts, jam, citrus zest, or another kind of berry or fruit.

Lauren borrowed her recipe from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Vegan Brunch. The gingerbread waffles in this cookbook look divine as well (they use fresh ginger in the recipe, mmm!!). Moskowitz is also known for her fabulous cookbook, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, which I adapted my vegan maple walnut muffins from!

What I like about this recipe is that all of the ingredients are on-hand. No funky egg replacer concoctions or strangely named “natural” sugar substitutes. Plus, I’m not gonna lie, Lauren’s cake looks prettier than the picture in the cookbook. Way to go!

Lauren’s Vegan Coffee Crumb Cake
Adapted from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Vegan Brunch

Serves 8

For the topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ cup canola oil, plus up to 2 tablespoons more if needed

For the cake:
¾ cup soy milk (or any nondairy milk)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
½ cup canola oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt

1 cup fresh blueberries


1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease an 8-inch round springform pan or an 8-inch square pan. Measure out the mlike for the cake and mix in the teaspoon of vinegar; set aside to curdle.

2. Make the topping: In a small mixing bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Drizzle in the canola oil by the tablespoonful (you can just eyeball this, no reason to whip out a tablespoon). Use your fingers to swish around the mixture until crumbs form. Alternate swishing and adding canola oil until all of the oil is used and large crumbs have formed. Some of the topping is still going to be sandy and that is fine, just so long as you have mostly nice big crumbs.

3. Make the cake: In a large mixing bowl, mix together the milk mixture, sugar, canola oil, and vanilla. Sift in the flour, baking powder, and salt and mix until smooth.

Pour the half of the cake batter into the prepared pan. Spread the blueberries over the batter, and top with the other half of the batter. Evenly sprinkle on the topping and pat it down just a bit. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a knife inserted though the center comes out clean. Let cool for at least an hour before slicing and serving, if you can wait that long!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Chocolate Crackle Cookies

I am now the proud owner of a Candy Apple Red 90th Anniversary Kitchen Aid Standing Mixer with a glass bowl.

Beautiful. This is my baby.

I had to make SOMETHING immediately after I brought my baby home. First, I made tart dough. Then I stuck that in the freezer to use later in the week.

Then I made these chocolate crackle cookies from Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food.

Ok, so at first, I was not happy with the outcome of these cookies; they were super cute but I felt like they were lacking something in taste, and I could not pinpoint what it was. At first, I thought maybe they were too rich?...or maybe the ground almonds, which my cousin mistook for coconut, gave these cookies a funky texture?

I mean, these cute little guys are made with only good things—dark chocolate, cognac (a variety of brandy), ground almonds…and they only have 3 tablespoons of butter! But, sadly, I was not that impressed. They are not necessarily bad, but I thought they were nothing worth swooning over.

So it has been a few days now and I figured I would give these cookies another shot. Well, actually I brought my friends a few samples to snack on and I was very afraid of what they would say, but to my surprise, yes, they were swooning: "Oh my, Stephanie! These taste like little petit fours, like chocolate truffles, like little baby cake bites!"

Really guys? Ok fine, I'll give them another taste. As I bit into a 4-day-old chocolate crackle cookie, yes, holy heck, these were sooooo yummy! My friends were right, these DO taste like a little truffle cake bite! A few days ago, I thought they were too rich. Now, I think they could be even richer!

I guess these cookies/petit fours/truffle bites taste better as they age. Make them, taste them, let them sit a few days, taste them again. Really, you will taste a difference!

I think next time I make these, I will futz with the recipe a bit...I definitely think that a few pinches of salt and some vanilla extract will benefit, as well as a bit of good quality cocoa powder. Adding in some coffee or experimenting with another kind of extract (mint...?) might be fun, too! Also, maybe next time I might nix the ground almonds and just use more flour? This is the beauty (or for some people, the stressor) about cooking and baking--nothing is ever constant!

Chocolate Crackle Cookies
From The Art of Simple Food

Makes about 3 dozen cookies

Pulverize in a food processor:
1 cup almonds, toasted
2 Tablespoons sugar

Put them in a bowl, and combine with:
½ cup flour
½ teaspoon baking powder

Melt in a heat-proof bowl over simmering water:
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used Ghirardelli)
3 Tablespoons butter

Stir in:
1 ½ Tablespoons brandy (I used cognac, and had a few sips for myself but boy, is that stuff STRONG!!)

Set the mixture aside off the heat. Whisk together:
2 eggs, at room temperature
¼ cup sugar

Continue whisking until the mixture forms a ribbon, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in the melted chocolate and the almond and flour mixture. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours or until firm (I just chilled mine overnight).

Before baking, preheat the oven to 325°F. Fill a small bowl with:
Granulated sugar

Fill another small bowl with:
Sifted powdered sugar

Roll the cookie dough into 1-inch balls. Roll a few at a time in the granulated sugar to coat them, then roll them in the powdered sugar.

Set them on parchment-lined baking sheets 1 inch apart. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Midway through baking, rotate the baking sheets for even baking. When the cookies are done they will have cracks in their white shells and they will be firm on the edges, but still soft in the center. Do not overbake.

Review: The Buttermilk Truck

Ever since I saw TheKitchyKitchen’s post about the Buttermilk Truck, I could not wait to come back to LA to taste the sought-after breakfast wonders served from a truck.

Gosh, it has been weeks and every day I have ogled over the bite size treats on the Buttermilk website.

The owner/founder, Gigi Pascual, graduated LMU with a BA in Business Administration and shortly after went to culinary school in NYC at The French Culinary Institute for Pastry Arts. After working in a few restaurants, she decided to open up this truck.

Food trucks are just everywhere these days. You can feast on your tacos from truck A, scarf down your cupcake from truck B, and indulge in your midnight burger from truck C. My brother raves about this organic ice cream truck in NYC, and my friend Natasha won't shut her trap about the crème brûlée cart in San Francisco's Mission district! I just found the Grilled Cheese Truck online, and wowza does that sound cheesy and comforting!

The Buttermilk truck twittered about coming to the San Fernando Valley on Tuesday December 22, so this was the day I planned to go get my buttermilk breakfast fix.

My brother and I drove 20 minutes to get to this truck. The weather was windy, very very windy. The darn wind was not so conducive to us waiting in line for 30 minutes and then having no place to sit but the parking lot curb to eat all the while having the wind blowing my hair, my sweater, my food, and my napkins all over the place.

Due to the extreme windy conditions, I was almost too overwhelmed to take nice pictures of all the food. I managed to snap a few, but if you really want to see some nice photos, check out the KitchyKitchen or the Buttermilk website.

I ordered the breakfast sandwich—a fried egg with chicken apple sausage sandwiched between two buttermilk biscuits. It was supposed to come with a cute little hashbrown pancake, but they ran out just before we ordered. Bummer.

This little b-fast sandwich looked pretty darn delish, but honestly, it needed to be salted and peppered, and even though the yolk was nice and runny, the sandwich altogether was pretty dang DRY.

My bro ordered French toast on Hawaiian bread—it came dusted with powdered sugar and garnished with a slice of strawberry. Pretty good. Nice and crunchy on the outside. Very sweet and very fried.

Then we shared the cake donut bites. These were definitely the winners of the morning. Could have been slightly more aesthetically pleasing, but I’m kind of a food snob, so sue me.

The sandwich, French toast, and cake donuts cost $8.50. Not too bad?

Well, it took 20 minutes to drive there, 30 minutes to wait in line, 10 minutes to eat, and 20 minutes to drive back home. Plus, we were kind of in the middle of nowhere, well, we were in the middle of a bunch of warehouses. That’s a lot of minutes for windy, mediocre breakfast from a truck.

Here is my suggestion: if the Buttermilk truck happens to be in your area, yah, hit that up. Otherwise, eh, just come over to my house and I can make you the breakfast of your dreams (my brother can vouch for that).

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Brown Sugar Buttermilk Waffles

My waffles are sexy.

My waffles can be drizzled with maple syrup, slabbed with butter, dolloped with ice cream, smothered with yogurt, dusted with powdered sugar, spread with jam (or lemon curd) and peanut butter, dipped in coffee…

Sometimes when I’m feelin’ a little devilish, I will even add walnuts, dates, and bananas to my batter! Jeepin’ Jilipers that’s good!

I want to eat my waffles groove by groove.

You can smell my waffles from down the street.

My waffles kick Eggo Waffles' booty!

My waffles contain buttermilk and brown sugar. Now is that sexy or what?

My waffles only take 10 minutes to prepare and about 2 minutes to cook, and my belly is satisfied for hours!

Go make these waffles, top and fill with the condiment of your choosing, start the day off right.

Brown Sugar Buttermilk Waffles
Recipe from JoyTheBaker


3 cups all purpose flour

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

¼ cup brown sugar

¾ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

4 eggs

2 ½ cups buttermilk

2/3 cup oil

2 teaspoons vanilla


Set up your waffle iron on a level, clean surface and turn on to preheat.

In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Whisk to blend. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, oil, buttermilk and vanilla extract. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and fold. (If you choose, once almost fully incorporated, add walnuts, bananas, or dates to your batter; chocolate chips are fun, too!). Stir. Try not to over mix the batter or the waffles will become tough. It’s ok if a few lumps remain in the batter.

Cook according to your waffle machine

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Homemade Croissants, Part II: Rolling, Baking, Eating

Ok folks, so now that you have gone through part I of the adventure in homemade croissants, you’ve got your laminated dough ready to be rolled and shaped and eaten!

This was the scary part for me. How can I possibly roll these little guys out to look the way they do in a real French bakery (well, I’ve still never been to France but I have a very distinct image in my head)?

How big should I make my triangles? Should they be equilateral, isosceles…? Do I pinch my ends together or leave them open?

Stephanie. Calm down. Breathe. You can do this. Lets take it step-by-step, shall we?

To begin, you should have ready a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and a rolling pin and pizza cutter nearby.

Step 1: Take you laminated dough out of the refrigerator. It should look like this:

Step 2: On a lightly floured surface, roll your dough out into a large rectangle about ½ an inch thick and maybe 2 feet wide. Using a pizza cutter, I cut my rectangle in half the long way, so that I had two rectangles, each about 2 feet wide and 6 inches tall.

Step 3: Using your pizza cutter, cut your dough into long isosceles triangles. At the restaurant, we way out each triangle to roughly 3 ¾ oz., but I just eyeball it when I make them at home. Your triangles should look similar to this:

Step 4: Cut a tiny slit at the base of each triangle. Also, I like to stick any extra leftover end pieces of dough inside some of the triangles. Nothing goes to waste!

Step 5: With the base closest to you, begin to roll your croissant outward, your right hand rolling to the right, your left hand rolling to the left. Then, turn your triangle so the tip faces you and simultaneously stretch the dough with your right hand and roll it toward you with your left hand. Tuck the end of the tip underneath and pinch your sides together.

Optional: You can fill your croissants with prosciutto and cheese, with chocolate, with anything you like! Plain are a good place to start, though.

Step 6: Place your croissants on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Either wrap in saran wrap and stick them in the fridge overnight, or let your croissants sit at room temperature until they are nice and springy when you touch them.
**If you stick your croissants in the fridge, just pull them out about 40 minutes before you want to bake them so that they can come to room temperature and proof.

Step 7: When you are ready to bake, preheat your oven to about 400-425°F. Crack an egg and beat it with a touch of cream. Brush your croissants with the egg wash. Bake for about 20-25 minutes until golden everywhere.

OMG eat them eat them eat them…yum yum yum, they are so beauuuuttttiiiiifffffullll and delicious and flaky and warm! Gah!!!!

**NOTE: Rolling these out takes a bit of practice. The first time I made these all on my own, I did not pinch my ends together nor did I make sure the tip of my triangle was tucked underneath. Alas, here is what my first batch came out looking like:

Not too shabby, but I like the pinched ends look better!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Homemade Croissants Part I: Laminating the Dough

Homemade croissants. The ultimate guide. Arrrrrreeeee yooooooouuuuu reeaaaaaaddddddy?!

I think we may need to do a warm-up before we start.

Drop and give me 20 push ups. Ok, now lets see those arm muscles go to work!

Homemade croissants are very simple (I know you think I’m crazy for saying that making croissants are simple, but keep reading). Only a few ingredients needed to make a big, flaky, buttery pastry. What makes the process so daunting is the amount of time it takes; not necessarily on-hand time, just waiting around time. Rolling out your dough, folding it, refrigerating for an hour. Rolling out your dough, folding it, refrigerating. Etc. etc. etc.

Ok people, really, it is sooooooo worth it! You can make a bunch of dough and just freeze the amount that you are not using right away.

I want to make this dough again and again and again (and I will).

Alright, pop quiz. What does it mean to laminate dough? Laminate means alternating layers. In the culinary world, this means alternating layers of dough-butter-dough in the case of puff pasty, flaky pastry, Danish or croissant dough.

I made a LOT of dough. Like a LOT. I used roughly 12 cups of flour and 3 pounds of butter. Yes people, 3 pounds of butter! (Just remember, those 3 pounds got spread over many many many croissants).

Here I give you an abbreviated version of my dough recipe. Shout out to my boss, Kiri, who showed my the ways of croissant making!

You ask: Stephanie, how dooooo you do it?
I answer: why LOVE of course!

What follows is a quick overview of the process, step-by-step, picture-by-picture (the actual recipe is below):

Yeasty, sugary, milky, foamy mixture

Yes I used 3lbs. of butter

I got a little help from one of my housemates to pound out the butter (here is where the push-ups begin to come in handy)!

Yeasty flour mixture ready to be rolled out

Here is the yeasty flour mixture rolled out into a rectangle

Lay your block of butter on top of the flour mixture like so

Fold it like a letter (in thirds)


Once again, push-ups are helpful to build up the arm strength

This is what your dough should look like when done! Yahoooo!

Croissant Dough
Recipe from Kiri, adapted from Nancy Silverton

Yield: about 2 1/2 lbs. of dough (aka about 20 croissants?)


* 1 1/2 cups whole milk, heated to warm (105°F–110°F) (You should be able to comfortably stick your finger into the warm milk)

* 1/4 cup sugar (I used half brown, half white)

* 1 tablespoon plus 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast (from two 1/4-oz packages)

* 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (you may need to add more or less depending on your dough)

* 1 Tablespoon kosher salt

* 3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) cold unsalted butter

Make dough:
Stir together warm milk, sugars, and yeast in bowl and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If it doesn’t foam, discard and start over.) Add your flour and salt and mix by hand until dough is smooth and very soft, about 7 minutes (or if you own a standing Kitchen Aid mixer, you can mix the dough with a dough hook).

Transfer the dough to a work surface and knead by hand 2 minutes more, adding more flour as necessary, a little at a time, to make a soft, slightly sticky dough. Form dough into a roughly 1 1/2-inch-thick rectangle and chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until cold, about 1 hour.

Prepare and shape butter:
After dough has chilled, arrange sticks of butter horizontally, their sides touching, on a work surface. Pound butter with a rolling pin to soften slightly (butter should be malleable but still cold). Scrape butter into a block and put on a kitchen towel or piece of parchment paper, then cover with other towel or parchment. Pound and roll out on both sides until butter forms a uniform 8- by 5-inch rectangle. Set aside for now.

Roll out dough:
Unwrap dough and roll out on a lightly floured surface, dusting with flour as necessary and lifting and stretching dough (especially in corners), into a 16- by 10-inch rectangle. Arrange dough with a short side nearest you. Put butter in center of dough so that long sides of butter are parallel to short sides of dough. Fold as you would a letter: bottom third of dough over butter, then top third down over dough.

Turn dough so a short side is nearest you, then flatten dough slightly by pressing down horizontally with rolling pin across dough at regular intervals, making uniform impressions. Roll out dough into a 15- by 10-inch rectangle, rolling just to but not over ends.

Fold in thirds again like a letter, as above, stretching corners to square off dough, forming a 10- by 5-inch rectangle. (You have completed the first "fold.") Chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, 1 hour.

Make remaining "folds":
Make 3 more folds in same manner, chilling dough 1 hour after each fold, for a total of 4 folds. (If any butter oozes out while rolling, sprinkle with flour to prevent sticking.) Wrap dough tightly in plastic wrap and chill at least 8 hours but no more than 18 (after 18 hours, dough may not rise sufficiently when baked).

****NOTE: Since I made about 3 times this recipe, I cut my dough into thirds at the end, wrapped each one in saran wrap, stuck one in the freezer, and the rest in the fridge.