Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Croissants - The First Batch

I know it sounds like the title of a rather bad horror film, but the croissants I made at home worked out all right. An insane amount of labor went into these guys with me laboring for an hour over the final sheeting (a sheeting is where you roll out the dough - usually with a sheeter) where I had to get the dough down to 3mm in thickness.

This is the recipe I used (I halved it though, and so everything in the recipe is on a smaller scale and done by hand). It has a lot of steps, but I've put it in here to remond me how to go about making these guys again.

Note: To make the beurrage, you beat the butter (with a rolling pin - usually a French one) between two pieces of parchment paper into a rectangle that is around 10mm (1cm) thick. I really should have some diagrams for this but I hope the photo's help!

Straight Dough Croissants
Full Recipe (I used half this makes a ton of croissants!)

4Lb 8oz bread flour
8oz granulated sugar
2oz fresh yeast (or 40% dry yeast - saf yeast?)
1.25oz salt
20oz milk
16oz water
2.5Lb butter (for beurrage block)

Day 1
Heat milk to 80F and dissolve the yeast in the milk. Pour in the bottom of a 20 quart mixer.
Add flour, then salt and sugar.
Using a dough hook mix at first speed. Wait 3 min and see if all the flour has been picked up off the bottom. If not, add water.
Dough should be a little lumpy, you don’t want to over mix.
Flour a large bowl and round the dough and place in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap.
Leave at room temp for 1 hour.
Refrigerate overnight.
Make the beurrage (either sheet it between two silpats into a rectangle at 10mm, or about the size of a 1/2 sheet pan). Refrigerate.

Day 2
Roll out the dough by hand so that it will fit the beurrage block in the center with the two sides of dough covering the butter like a door.
Place the beurrage in the center. Fold the flaps over so they meet in the middle of the beurrage.
Seal the edges with pressure from the rolling pin, as well as sealing the center the same way.
Sheet the dough with the middle closure parallel to the sheeter. Sheet until you can do a simple tri-fold on the dough.
Refrigerate 30 min.
Repeat step 4, but face the open end of the sandwich towards you (make sure to flour the bottom of the sheeter to prevent sticking and stretching).
Refrigerate overnight.

Day 3
Final sheet to 3mm thick (make sure to do width first, then length).
Use (see pictures below for croissant shapeing. Make sure to roll to 3mm thick, and each triangle should weigh 2.5 oz).

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Once again, totally not baking but still awfully me at least. I recently read a book called "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver a great read it makes me wish I had 1/4 of an acre and the ability to grow things. Anyway, in the book she mentions making cheese, which sounded rather good to me. So I sent away for a package of goodies that included: citric acid, and rennet tablets (vegetarian) (amongst other things. And I made cheese. Not the greatest, but just the beginning!

In nut shell you add citric acid to cool milk (whole milk, pasteurized not ultra pasteurized) then heat it up. You add some rennet, let it sit, until the curds have separated, drain it, heat it u
p again pour out the excess whey and stretch it to create the shape. I also added thyme and lemon. That's it! For the milk I used Jersey Cows Milk which tastes pretty good - more of a warm flavor.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Bread Pudding

A simple bread pudding using ready made ingredients: challah bread, dolce de lechi syrup some bitter sweet chocolate and eggs. It was alright, I'd been wanting to try this recipe for a while and when I finally got around to having an occasion to make it (thank you games night!) it was pretty easy to assemble. Not the greatest pudding, but pretty good in a pinch!
Thank you Josh for the photo!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Oat Bread

A wonderful bread for winter, hearty, and filling this oat bread was pretty easy to make. It was also (by bread standards at least) pretty quick to make. 

I gave one to my diabetic neighbor Linda as an xmas present, and she really liked the bread. 

It is once again from the master of bread Jeffrey Hamelman "Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes". 

Monday, January 5, 2009

Sauerkraut - Not Baking but Fascinating

Trust me this will stink up your entire house. It did ours. I adore sauerkraut - I don't eat as is (ie plain) but chop up some onion, soften that in butter, then add the sauerkraut, some juniper berries and some caraway seeds and I'm done. 

This was pretty amazing. We decided we'd give sauerkraut a go as I'd recently bought a book for school called "Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition and Craft of Live-Culture Foods" by Sandor Ellix Katz. It's pretty inspiring, and a really fascinating book, part history/culture and recipes it details both the ways people have eaten fermented foods for centuries as well as how we eat them today. The recipes are laid back and not too intense or crazy - but are utterly fascinating. They range from sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, cheese, beer, wind (herbal wines mostly) and ginger beer (which I just started today so we'll see how that goes!). 

The sauerkraut you see above is around 2-3 weeks old. It's so amazingly simple to make, it's simply fresh cabbage, washed and chopped, then you layer the cabbage,put on some salt, beat down the cabbage and then add another layer of cabbage and salt and beat until all the cabbage is used up. Then you keep an eye on it for a day or so to make sure that the cabbage releases enough juice to cover the final layer of cabbage in brine. Then you sit back and watch (and well, let's be honest sit back and smell) the cabbage. You have to watch for mold formation, which you clean off. When the cabbage is ready (it all depends on the heat of your place and the bacteria that are laying around feasting on the cabbage, but 2-3 weeks wasn't quite enough time for our sauerkraut - it was pretty sweet, and I like it seriously sour) you do what you like with it. 

As I write this Josh is making another batch in the kitchen, chopping up the cabbage we bought at the farmers market today (five cabbages!), salting it and beating it down. With the batch we intend to jar it and store it so we can use some in the seasons when cabbage isn't in season. 

Really interesting stuff, although as mentioned before hand really stinky

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Pumkin Bundt Cake

From my in laws this year I received a wonderful bundt pan. I adore the angles on it. We went out and visited them last week but I didn't manage to make a bundt cake for them using the pan, So here is one I made later! It is a pumpkin bundt cake, made using a whole smallish pumpkin (a common sugar pumpkin was cut in half, seeds removed, skin removed, cut into small peices and placed on a baking tray. A little water was added, and then it was all covered in aluminium foil and baked at 375F until soft. Finally it was all mashed in a blender until smooth). I used the recipe from the blog "From Scratch" ( with a few little changes:

3 large eggs

2 1/4 cup freshly made pumpkin puree (see comment above)
3/4 cup vegetable oil

300g all-purpose flour
380g sugar
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

3/4 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg

1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup raisins or currants (160g)

1/2 cup chopped nuts, very optional
powdered sugar, for dusting


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a Bundt pan.

In a large bowl, whisk the 3 eggs until blended. Add pumpkin and oil. Whisk until smooth.

Add flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and spices. Mix well. Stir in raisins (and nuts, if using).

Pour into pan, bake 65 - 75 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Let cool on a rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan, let cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Vanilla Kipfel

These are xmas to me. Forget everything else. We didn't really have a traditional dinner at our place when I was a kid for xmas, we'd have some great tasting stuff usually a roladen or sauerbraten or if it was really hot we'd have schnitzel and a potato salad. I did love going to my Nana and Opa's place and consuming vaste amounts of food, but most of all you'd catch me in a corner with my brothers eating these guys.

At xmas time these days as I'm not usually there to celebrate anymore, Nana sends me a bunch of cookies in the mail, usuaully gingerbread, coconut macaroons and vanilla kipfel. These don't really make the huge trip accross the ocean, and so I end up with a bag of delicious crumbs, that I consume within a week. I love those parcels.

These guys are basically a shortbread made with ground almond meal as well as flour. They are shaped into cresents and baked, and then while they are still hot from the oven, you dust them with icing sugar which also has vanilla sugar in it. These are amazingly good. At least to me.... and my brothers.... and husband...and friends...

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Paris Fog Ice Cream

Not the prettiest picture really but some seriously tasty ice cream. I made a simple custard base for the ice cream and then infused the cream with my favorite tea of the moment ([please excuse the product placement] Harney & Son's "Paris" tea). It's a black tea with a bit of Earl Gray (bergamont) and vanilla. A totally good, strong but not overwhelming dark tea.

When I was working at a pastry shop a while back, we would sometimes get customers who would want steamed milk over a tea bag, we called these "London Fog" drinks. I also used to go to a wonderful coffee shop in Seattle called Vivace ( and they added a dash of vanilla to theirs and called it "Beautiful Stephane". So I made an ice cream that combined both; tea and a bit of vanilla. It worked out wonderfully! And I hereby dub the flavor "Paris Fog" ice cream.