• Croissants

    Hello! I know I usually post my recipes on Tuesdays, but I was too excited about these not to share earlier. This weekend, I attempted what I deem to be one of the most technically difficult home-baker undertakings- the croissant! These buttery, flaky pastries can only be paired with a coffee and maybe some jam, but are also pretty perfect just warm from the oven. To be honest, making these croissants wasn’t hard per se, just labor intensive. It’s important before you take on this project that you read up on the process, and read the recipe through in its entirety, maybe twice.

    The main technique used in the making of croissants is called laminating, so before we get into the recipe, I figured I would outline it for you. When you laminate in baking, you are folding a flat sheet of butter into a dough, to create alternating layers of dough and butter. In doing so, the butter melts while baking to create the classic flaky texture of the croissants you know and love. It’s a time-consuming process, specifically on a warmer day, which it was when I tried it on Saturday. It makes sense, the warmer your environment, the quicker the butter starts to soften and/or melt. So, you fold a few times, roll out a few times, then the dough goes back into the fridge until the butter is chilled enough to continue, and the gluten is relaxed enough to keep rolling. It’s a delicate balance- if the butter is colder than the dough, it can break into pieces and distribute unevenly. If vice versa, the butter will start to seep out of the dough as you roll.

    After learning all this, you can imagine my surprise that my first attempt went so well. As a matter of fact, I popped them into the oven (which doesn’t have a window in the door), and said a quick prayer because I was so nervous. When I opened the oven ten minutes later as the suspense was killing me, I promptly burst into tears upon seeing them. My sister happened to arrive home from dinner and, seeing my tears out of context thought everything had gone wrong, sorry for the mini heart attack Kathleen!!

    Anyway, this is quite a project, but I’m here to tell you it’s doable! The dough can be prepped and laminated in one day and then assembled into croissants the next, as well as frozen for the next time you need a croissant fix. The recipe, originally from King Arthur Flour, makes 24 and since I live with only 1 person, I put half the laminated dough in the freezer for the next rainy day. Trust me, the feeling of knowing you can make a croissant from scratch is remarkable, I’m basically a french pastry chef now you guys. Except for, you know, the culinary degree, the accent, and the ability to make any other kind of fancy french pastry.

    Before we start, here are 5 things to be happy about today:
    ONE. A productive weekend.
    TWO. A Sunday afternoon stroll with a late lunch.
    THREE. Re-watching old Disney movies on a gloomy day.
    FOUR. Heavy fountain pens for handwritten notes.
    FIVE. Organizing your drawers and finding a piece of clothing you forgot about.

    Let’s do this!!!


    Dough Ingredients

    2 eggs + plus enough warm water to make 2 cups
    ¼ cup granulated sugar, divided
    5 ½ to 6 cups all purpose flour, I recommend using King Arthur brand
    2 ¼ tsp (1 packet) instant yeast
    2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, I recommend using Kerrygold
    1 scant Tablespoon salt

    Butter Ingredients

    1 7/8 cups unsalted butter, cool to the touch, I recommend using Kerrygold
    ¾ teaspoon salt
    ½ cup all purpose flour, I recommend using King Arthur brand


    How To:

    For the Dough

    Add the eggs and water to a large mixing bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of the sugar, 3 cups of the flour, and the yeast. Mix until there are no dry spots and the mixture is blended. Set aside.

    For the Butter

    Cut the cold butter in 1 inch pieces and add one at a time to the bowl of a stand mixer, combining with salt and flour. Beat on low speed until just smooth, without whipping air into the butter. Make sure all the butter is incorporated evenly.

    Spread the butter on a piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper and shape into an 8 inch square. Wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

    Finishing the dough

    Pour the melted butter onto the yeast and flour mixture. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining sugar, 2½ cups flour, and the salt. Mix the dough until a dough forms, and knead for 5 minutes. If it’s too sticky, add more flour a tablespoon at a time. Once the dough is smooth and elastic, pat/ roll it into a 9 inch square, then wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

    Laminating the dough

    Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and roll into a 12 inch square. Unwrap the butter square and place it on the dough at a 45 degree angle, so that the butter looks like a diamond shape in a square shape. Gently pull the corners of the dough over the butter block into the center, pinching the seams with a little water so that they’re secure. Once the butter is totally enclosed, dust the top lightly with flour, then flip the whole packet over.


    Tap the dough with the rolling pin, gently encouraging it into a rectangular shape, with the long sides vertical to you. Once it’s pliable, roll this dough packet into a 20 inch x 10 inch rectangle. If the dough starts to stick, dust with a little flour. If any butter looks like its about to start leaking, seal the edge with a little water.

    Sweep the excess flour off the dough and fold the whole thing into thirds like a letter. It’s very important that all the sides line up exactly, since the more folding you do, the more unaligned they would become if a fold was off. This is your first “turn”.

    This dough is in “book about to be opened” stage.


    Rotate the dough so that it looks like a book about to be opened. Once again roll the dough into a 20 inch x 10 inch rectangle and fold like a letter, aligning all the edges. This is your second “turn”. At this point, wrap the dough and return it to the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes, to firm the butter and relax the gluten.

    After this resting period, repeat the rolling and folding for two more turns, then wrap tightly and refrigerate the dough for another hour. At this point you can also leave it overnight and then shape the croissants tomorrow, or freeze the dough for later use.

    Shaping the croissants

    Cut the dough in half and return one half to the fridge or freezer. Roll the other half into a 13 inch x 18 inch rectangle. Using a pizza cutter or long sharp knife, trim the edges of the dough a ¼ inch all the way around to expose the laminated insides. This will allow the dough to rise fully.


    Cut the dough into thirds lengthwise and then in half crosswise to give you six roughly 4 inch by 9 inch rectangles. Cut these pieces in half diagonally and arrange them so that the points face away from you. Stretch the dough of each triangle slightly and then cut a 1 inch notch at the base of the triangle.


    Roll the two inside corners of the notch up towards you, then roll the dough towards the tip, building the classic, curved croissant shape. It’s important that the tip of the triangle ends up underneath the croissant so that it doesn’t puff up. Place the shaped pastry on a parchment lined baking sheet and repeat with the remaining triangles. If you’d like, curve the ends of the croissant inwards to make a half circle shape. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

    Remove the shaped croissants from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature for at least 1 hour. You should notice them rise noticeably over this hour long period.

    Peep those laminated layers!!

    Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Brush each croissant with egg wash (1 egg + 1 tablespoon water). Bake for 15 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, until deep golden with no raw dough visible in the overlapping layers.

    Allow to cool on a baking rack for 20 minutes before eating. Serve with lots of jam and a cup of coffee please!!

    Congratulations, you just made croissants!!! xoxoxo

    Looking for another baking challenge? Try here, here, or here!

  • Julia Child’s Blueberry Clafoutis

    Hellooooooo my friends it’s September isn’t that wild? Are you ready for summer to be over? I am for sure, I really was that girl that got a pumpkin spice latte the day it came out, even if it was still August. I won’t apologize for it either so don’t even ASK. But, before we get to this fricken Blueberry Clafoutis, I hope we all had lovely Labor Day Weekends! I started mine off seeing the Jonas Brothers in concert (for the 4th time!!) and crying my eyes out, and finished by moving into my apartment! What a time to be alive, I can’t wait to start cooking in my tiny bb kitchen.

    Today’s recipe is a classic by Queen Julia Child, one that I’ve similarly tried before here, but this Blueberry Clafoutis is the real deal. Kind of like a cross between a pancake and a dutch baby, a clafoutis is maybe one of the easiest desserts to make. It can be done in one blender (or one bowl with a whisk and some determination), and be in the oven in 10 minutes. It can be customized with other fruits and spices however you’d like. Sound good? Cool cool cool we’ll get to that in just a second.

    Before we get started you know what’s coming next, here are 5 things to be happy about today!!
    ONE. Coming home from a long day and pouring yourself a glass of wine.
    TWO. A phone call that turns your day around.
    THREE. Having a crush.
    FOUR. Finding a new song that you never want to turn off.
    FIVE. Feeling a chill in the air.

    Let’s bake!!

    Julia Child’s Blueberry Clafoutis

    One bowl, 10 minutes, full of jammy blueberries and a custardy base, there's literally no excuse not to make this right NOW!
    Prep Time10 mins
    Cook Time50 mins
    Total Time1 hr
    Course: Dessert
    Keyword: blueberries, clafoutis, dessert, french
    Servings: 12 people

    Ingredients

    • Butter; to grease the pan
    • cups whole milk
    • cup granulated sugar
    • 3 eggs
    • 1 Tbsp vanilla
    • pinch salt
    • 1 cup flour
    • 1 pint blueberries
    • powdered sugar; for topping

    Instructions

    • Preheat your oven to 350°F and generously butter a medium-sized (I used 9×13 inch) baking dish.
    • In a blender or large bowl, add the milk, ⅓ cup sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt, and flour. Blend for 1 minute until smooth, or whisk vigorously until no lumps are present.
    • Pour a ¼-inch amount of batter into the baking dish and place in the oven for 2 minutes, until slightly set. Add the blueberries, sprinkle the remaining ⅓ cup sugar evenly over them, and then pour on the remaining batter.
    • Bake for 50 minutes, until set and slightly golden on top. Dust with powdered sugar before serving, warm, cold, or room temp!!
  • Funfetti Macarons

    I’m gonna cut right to the chase here and tell you that I’m a basic bitch who loooooves funfetti baked goods. There’s something so cutie about the rainbow sprinkles that I keep coming back to it even though it tastes literally no different than classic vanilla. And because it’s a proven fact that french macarons are the world’s cutest dessert, why not take the next step and funfetti-ify them!! Now that I type funfetti-ify I realize that it has become my favorite word and I WILL be using it as much as possible, thank you very much.

    I was home alone for a handful of days this week, and because I have too much time on my hands, I made an extra large batch of these babies. If left to my own devices I would have eaten all 40 myself, but because I’m an adult and I need some self-control, I brought the rest into work, where they were GONE by the end of the day, so I think I passed the co-worker test with flying colors. But now it’s time for the reader test, so quick! First person to make these themselves wins all my love and affection.

    Before we get started, here are 5 things to be happy about today- do yourself a favor and envision each one slowly for maximum happiness:
    ONE. Smelling a familiar smell and having memories associated with it come flooding in instantly.
    TWO. Seeing a full rainbow.
    THREE. Eating cereal at 11pm.
    FOUR. Winter citrus being the pick-me-up you need after a gloomy day.
    FIVE. Boats with clear bottoms so that you can see the fish swimming under you.

    Let’s bake!!

    MAKES: About 40 macarons
    PREP TIME: 1 hour
    BAKE TIME: 15 minutes per batch

    MACARON SHELL INGREDIENTS

    2¾ cups + 1 Tbsp ground almonds
    2 cups + 1 Tbsp confectioner’s sugar
    6 egg whites + 1 extra (just in case)
    1 cup + 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
    Rainbow Nonpareils

    MACARON SHELL STEPS

    ONE. In a large bowl, sift together the ground almonds and confectioner’s sugar to remove any lumps. Set aside.

    TWO. In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the 6 egg whites until foamy. Add a third of the granulated sugar, and mix until the sugar is dissolved. Add another third and beat for another minute. Add the final third and beat until the egg whites are thick, glossy, and can stand in soft peaks.

    THREE. Gently fold the ground almond mixture into the whipped eggs until everything is fully incorporated. You’ll know the batter is ready to pipe when you lift the spatula up out of the batter and it flows back into the bowl in a smooth V shape. If the mixture is too thick, beat the extra egg white until foamy and stir into the batter to thin it out. Batter should be thick enough that a piped circle maintains its shape, but thin enough that the top can be smoothed out. Transfer the batter to a piping bag or ziplock fitted with a large round tip.

     

    FOUR. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and pipe 2-3 inch circles of batter about an inch apart. While the cookies are still wet, sprinkle the tops of each one with some of the rainbow nonpareils. Tap the sheet pans on the counter a few times to pop any air bubbles, then allow the cookies to sit for at least 30 minutes, or until you touch the top of the cookie and it’s dry instead of sticky.

    FIVE. Preheat your oven to 300ºF. Bake the trays for 15 minutes, then allow to cool completely before removing from the parchment paper. Before filling, pair each cookie with one of a similar size to make the sandwich.

     

    FUNFETTI BUTTERCREAM INGREDIENTS

    3¾ cups confectioner’s sugar
    ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
    3-4 Tbsp whole milk
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    Splash of almond extract
    Red Food coloring
    Cylindrical Rainbow Sprinkles

    FUNFETTI BUTTERCREAM STEPS

    ONE. In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat together the softened butter and confectioner’s sugar. Add in 1 tablespoon of milk at a time until the desired consistency is reached.

    TWO. Add the vanilla and almond extracts, as well as the red food coloring (or any coloring that you feel like). Fold in rainbow sprinkles with a rubber spatula so that the mixer doesn’t break them, then fill a piping bag or ziplock bag fitted with a star tip.

    THREE. For each pair of macaron cookies, pipe a generous swirl of buttercream on one half, then place the second cookie on top to create the classic sandwich. These cookies can be eaten immediately, but are best served after chilling in the refrigerator overnight.

    YUM! xoxoxoxoxo