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croissant

Hard to Pronounce Names and Simple Awesomeness

Hard to Pronounce Names and Simple Awesomeness

Time seems to running away, at least from me! I am a few hours away from heading out for a close couple's wedding, and then, a month long travel, and, I still have so many loose threads trailing around me. I am consciously not calling it my 'to-do list', you see. 

Meanwhile, in between, I am happy that I atleast manage to feed myself well, actually, really well. Bless the person who invented the freezer and then all the technology revolutions that made it a affordable home appliance! I use it as much as I can for make ahead meals. Recently a friend recommended a Greek chicken soup that I was shocked to not have heard of before. It is one of the most comforting, incredibly delicious and satisfying and stupidly easy soups to make. 

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The new face ..... on the Cover of Vogue !!!!

It's official!! On the cover of Vogue, no less!!!

The new face of fashion is ....A stunning Croissant!

Vogue Cover with Croissant

The Austrian beauty has the toughest hearts melting and swooning over her with cries of va-va-voom, très belle, plus s'il vous plaît!

Would you look at that lift! That is indeed some sculpting! All 25 layers of lamination. So worth it. The style, the carriage, the beauty.... Perfection, mama mia!

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Croissant was recently spotted about town, in NYC, wearing a chic scarf from the Spring line of new-kid-on-the-block-designer, L.D.D. (Laminated Dough Designs)!


Personally, this is the moment I have been waiting for. To be delivered credence by the highest echelons of fashion. To walk the hallowed halls of haute couture with crumbs sticking on the side of my face and be told that it is "Oh! Sooo, the look of the month!" Fashion faux pas to totally rad! Woohoo!

In other words, I am happy that the world at large is celebrating the fullness of life. That a bit of butter (ok, a lot but in small quantities) becomes a woman and makes her so much more alluring! Those curves don't come with diets.

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I am, as you know, into all this French and currently, am on a spree of books written about the myth and mystery of the French woman and her come-hither sexiness. Ofcourse, it is a few hundred pages long but I'll give you the gist. To put it succinctly, "Live life in the moment and well". So, the contention arises in the last word. "Well" is a maleable word. But, to be honest, a croissant a day (a small, proper one, not the costco sized ones) is perfectly O-Kay!

And, what do they say about the Chocolate cousin? Oh! She is a seductress! And, you have to have her, too! ;-))

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Disclaimer(s):
1. This is an altered photograph of the Vogue cover. I have taken creative license in doing so and creating this spoof. Please do not assume this cover to be the original. Having said that, I do applaud the magazine in featuring a full size model on the cover and this post gives kudos to the spirit of the message!

2. These croissants were made by me during a bread baking course at the International Culinary Center and in so far as that I have the rights to showcase them as I please, including placement as above on a magazine that I also own.

3. I retain full copyright on these photographs. Please do NOT replicate
.

Solace....

Almond Croissant



I have a gift. Not talent, gift.

I can create magic in the kitchen. No, there is no need for modesty. It isn't about me. It is OF me. It is about the generations of spectacular home cooks I inherit from. I take pride and am thankful for that gift.

Because without it, I would sink into the depths of unspeakable abyss...



Chocolate Croissant


When my life insists on turning tables on me, I know I can still trust my hands. They are small, yet, they are strong.

I take solace in them. In knowing that I can walk into my kitchen, take out the flour, butter, sugar, eggs, turn my oven on, and they won't fail me... even when all else does...



Almond-&-chocolate-croissan


So I bake. I knead. I whisk. I cook. I live in the moment. I forget. I come alive.

This weekend... I smiled...

Croissants, meringues, steamed buns, pickled pork belly, semifreddo, custard, baked pears, savory pull apart bread... yes...all in one weekend.



croissant flaky


And, so I will... until I no longer can... Because I owe it to my gift.


For the recipe..
Almond Croissants

Croissant dough (Recipe below)
6 oz Almond paste (odense)
1/2 cup almonds, slivered or finely shaved
1 egg yolk + 2 T milk for egg wash

Divide the croissant dough into two. Refrigerate one piece while working on the other. Roll out the dough into a 6 inch wide rectangle of about 1/4 inch thickness. (Adjust the length in accordance to these dimensions)

Starting at one corner cut triangles of the dough. Sprinkle the almond paste evenly over the dough. Gently roll each triangle inward starting from wide base, wrapping the tip gently. Brush with egg wash to seal. Crimp the edges and turn inwards to form crescents. Sprinkle the almond shavings all over.

Place the crescents on a tray atleast 2 inches apart, in a warm (NOT hot) place, to rise for about 15 minutes while the oven preheats to 350F (180C). Bake for 20 minutes until the crust is deep golden brown and the almond aroma overwhelms you!

Cool for 30 seconds and devour!!! :)

For the chocolate version, replace with slabs of dark, oh very rich, dark, chocolate on the wider edge of the triangle or as I did, roll as rectangles.



Croissant Dough
(adapted from
Delicious Days)

250 g flour
175 g butter
25 g granulated sugar
2 T canola oil
1.5 tsp salt
1 egg
17 g active dry yeast
100 ml warm (110F) milk

Between two sheets of plastic wrap, gently roll the butter into an approximate square, about 1/2 inch thickness. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk with a teaspoon of sugar. Let sit for 10 minutes until foamy. Sift the dry ingredients together. Make a well in the center. Add the egg, oil and yeast mixture and mix. Knead just enough to make the dough. On a floured surface, roll the dough out to twice the length of the butter block.

Place the cold butter slab, just off one edge of the dough and fold the dough over. Crimp the edges over the butter. Roll out the dough into a rectangle of 1/4 inch thickness. Fold the dough into thirds like a business letter.

Wrap in foil and refrigerate for atleast 45 minutes. Remove onto a floured surface, roll into rectangle and fold as a letter. Repeat this process atleast once more. Let the dough sit in the fridge overnight.

Baked! Homemade Croissants

Fresh Baked Croissants

If I ever go on a diet, the one thing that I would really find hard, if not impossible, to give up would be the flaky, buttery, mood boosters, Croissants. And, I am willing to gamble that this delicate French pastry evokes similar allegiances in many. A friend of mine who recently decided to turn vegan still cannot give up these delicacies, neither does he plan to! :-)

I remember reading somewhere on the blogosphere that this particular pastry has been ranked high on the list of the Most Difficult Recipes. Since then they have been on my mind, tucked away in a corner, but never forgotten.

Then, a few days back, I came across Tracey's gorgeous blog listing her top 10 favorites from 2010. And, the pride and joy of the list was.... you guessed it, flaky Golden Croissants. I decided then and there that these beauties would be one of the first things I baked this year!

Croissant-crumb close up

So, I did! That is, once I was done balking over the copious amounts of butter needed in making these pastries as flaky as they are meant to be. :)

I had made puff pastry for my first Daring Bakers challenge, Vols-au-Vents, which, was a fun adventure in itself. The technique to make the croissant dough is pretty similar, actually. So, I was rather comfortable with it.

The layers of flakiness in a perfect croissant (as also puff pastry) comes from the even distribution of the butter into the dough. The method to do that is to tuck a flattened slab of butter into the rolled out dough, fold like a business letter and re-roll. Then, you repeat the process over about 4 more times.

Croissant-crumb

The trick here is ofcourse make sure that the butter stays cold throughout the process and if ever, you find the warm sun streaming in or an overenthusiastic heater cramping your style, pop the dough into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour to allow the butter to harden up sufficiently but still remain pliable.

Now, a good question to ask is, if the technique is really the same, what is the difference between the croissant dough and puff pastry? Can one not interchange the two? The only difference I noticed is that the croissant dough has yeast in it. But, unlike typical bread dough, you don't see a significant rise in volume before the dough goes into the oven.

I don't know how the chemistry works, and if someone can explain, I am all ears, but the amount of yeast is really low and even while proofing the rise is just barely there. But, once the shaped dough hits the oven, it rises beautifully creating height and a lot more airiness during the baking process. I also think that the yeast contributes to the softer and cake-ier texture of croissants compared to the crunchier puff pastry.

Croissants

I pretty much followed Tracey's recipe, who in turn used the one by James Peterson, except I used a tad less butter and hid a stick of chocolate in some of the croissants, just to make it a guessing game when I pick one for breakfast :)

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