Archive for January, 2018

Rich Buttery Croissants

22 January 18

{Herself sez: YUM!} OK – let’s set a couple of things straight: this is not something that you can just toss together and forget. This is not a bread machine recipe. It takes a bit of work over the course of a day and a bit. {{Herself sez: WHAAAT?}} This is what is known as a laminated dough. What’s laminated? Well, that is something made from two or more layers of different materials. Many things in history have been laminated by folding – Toledo steel or Japanese steel come to mind. Hundreds of layers of steel with the fine watery lines between layers. You don’t get this by making something out of hundreds of layers. You start by having two to three layers much bigger than the finished product, then folding multiple times and forging the layers together and repeating many times. This is not as hard as you think; follow along:

Ingredients:

115 g granulated sugar (4 oz)
30 g salt (1 oz)
30 g dry milk powder (1 oz)
1   egg
512 g water, ice cold (18 oz)
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ stick unsalted butter, softened (2 oz)
2 pkg yeast
900 g bread flour (2 lbs)
7 sticks unsalted butter, softened (1 lb. 12 oz)
     
  Glaze
5 fluid ounces heavy cream
3   eggs

Directions

You want a good strong mixer with a dough hook. You might talk a bread machine into doing the kneading, but you’re on your own there; I don’t use bread machines. You don’t want to knead by hand unless you are trying to build some serious muscles and/or are a bit of a masochist.

Put everything except the last 7 sticks of butter into the mixer bowl, mix for 3 minutes on low speed, 3 minutes on second speed. The dough should be soft and smooth.

Line a sheet pan with parchment or freezer paper; put the dough on it and shove into the refrigerator for about an hour. You want it well chilled. Chilled is the secret of working with butter doughs.

Put the 7 sticks of soft butter into the mixing bowl with a paddle. I don’t think you can do this in a bread machine. If the butter is soft enough you might get by with a hand mixer. Anyway, mix until very smooth and lump-free and elastic, but still firm. If it is too mushy shove it into the fridge for a few minutes and it will firm up. Anyway put the butter between sheets of parchment paper and roll out until 10 inches square. If it gets soft put it back in the refrigerator.

When the dough is good and cold roll it out to the height of the butter plus an inch and twice the width plus an inch. Therefore: if the butter is 10” tall we need dough 11” tall. If the butter is 10” wide we need twice plus so we need about 21”wide. See – what we are doing is making a butter sandwich. Think of the dough as the covers of a book and the butter as a page. Put the butter on the dough centered on one half of the dough. Fold the other half of the dough over and seal the edges closed. If you did everything right the dough and the butter are the same consistency and should have gone together nicely. One layer of dough, one layer of butter, one layer of dough nicely sealed around three edges and about 11” by 11” or so.

The Single Book Fold: OK, so now you have a book with a spine and three sealed edges. Place the spine facing you. Roll the dough out until it is ½” thick. This will take some work. Be patient. Now fold the right 1/3 over and then the left 1/3 over. This is called a book fold.

The Cool Down: Put it back on the sheet pan with the parchment paper and cover with a cloth. Put back in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Repeat the book fold and the cooldown.

Repeat the book fold and the cooldown.

Now, this is one of those math things. If you count the layer you will notice that the count goes up logarithmically so you now have hundreds of layers. Handy trick, that. That is also how you make folded steel knives and swords.

OK, now point the seamless side towards yourself. Roll out the dough until it is 15 inches wide by 1/8 in thick by however long it winds up being. This may take a bit of doing. Cold dough with that many layers can be tough to work with. If it looks to be getting too warm shove it back in the fridge for a bit, but you shouldn’t have any problem if you work at a reasonable pace.

Cut the dough in half and then into even triangular strips. The strips should be around 4-1/2 inches by 7-12 Inches. Roll the strips up going from the base of the triangle to the point. Put them on a parchment lined sheet pan and curve them slightly to look like – well – croissants. Cover with a cloth and put them back in the refrigerator overnight. What this does is retard the final fermentation and rise. You can freeze them at this point and they will do fine.

Take them out of the refrigerator or the freezer and let them warm to room temperature and rise until about increased by about 70% or so. Warmth and humidity are good at this point if you have some control over such things 80°F and 80%RH. Too warm and humid for me, but the dough likes it.

Glaze before baking: Beat the eggs and mix with the cream and brush it over the croissants. (This is optional.)

Bake 425°F for 18 minutes or until golden brown.

You will get somewhere around 30 to 35 croissants. I usually freeze them in batches of 4. On the weekend I take them out of the freezer and plop them onto a foil lined pan and cover with a cloth very early in the morning, then go back to bed. When I get up later and start cooking breakfast the croissants are usually thawed and risen. I bake them while the bacon (or hog jowl) and eggs (in some incarnation or other) are cooking. Wonderful!!!

{{Herself Sez: So why bother? Just pick some up at the local bakery or grocery. Right? WRONG! The ones available at even the most upscale stores will not be as flaky and puffy as the ones you bake at home. We used to purchase from a local store when himself wasn’t feeling like making them. The last time we bought them, they were tough, less than puffy, and not particularly flaky. Never again!}}

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Motor Oil Sludge for Your Salad

22 January 18

Aka Garlic Balsamic Dressing

This is really good stuff. You should get a nice Haas avocado and split it in half, discarding the seed. Fill the seed cavity with this sludge and eat with a spoon. Wonderful stuff. Also works nicely on standard salads.

Ingredients

2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs red wine vinegar
1 tsp your favorite mustard
2 Tbs dark brown sugar
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp fresh ground black pepper
2   large minced garlic cloves
¼ cup olive oil

Directions

Use a small food processor or hand mixer or immersion blender. What you want to do is emulsify and doing that by hand takes a bit of a masochist.

You can mince your garlic in a mini processor, but a garlic press works best. Mix up everything except the olive oil vigorously.

Add in the olive oil and really whip things up. When you get a nice emulsification it will resemble used motor oil and will not separate under normal conditions. Enjoy.

{{Herself Sez: I LOVE this dressing – +5! My basic favorite! You can vary by using raspberry balsamic vinegar, and toss some fresh raspberries or strawberries in the salad. }}


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