• 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!

  • Sweet Corn Pasta with Burrata

    If you’re reading this, you deserve a bowl of pasta. How do I know this? It’s my job to know, just run with it. AND, because I can’t just let you have any old pasta, I’m bringing you this masterpiece today. What is it? Only the most perfect summer pasta, combining fresh corn and scallions into a silky sauce WITHOUT any cream it it. But since I’m me, I make up for the lack of cream in the sauce with a big ol’ ball of burrata on top because we all deserve it. Originally from the New York Times, there are few dishes I look forward to making more than this one. While it can be made year round with frozen corn, there’s just something about that fresh sweet corn taste that is HEAVENLY.

    Basically to make this sauce, you cook together some scallion whites and corn in olive oil and a little butter, good already right? THEN, you blend that together into a thick, luxurious sauce, to which we add some whole corn kernels, red pepper flakes, scallion greens, and basil. Tossy-toss that with your short pasta of choice (I like orecchiette) and BOOM, the most perfect summer pasta.

    This weekend, my family journeyed down to Washington, D.C. to visit my sister and oh my god it was hot. No offense but I’ve been dreaming of Fall since the second week of July you guys. BUT despite the heat, we spent some good old quality time together (i.e., ate a lot of food) before my brother moves to Seattle.

    I finally saw Julia Child’s kitchen!!

    Before we get some happys today, I’m just going to do one more little plug for myself in case you don’t follow me on Instagram (which you totally should btw it’s a blast). If you like what you see here on Sweet D, I would love you forever if you took 2 minutes to nominate this blog for a Saveur Magazine Blog Award, found here. Simply enter the Sweet D url, check the box for Best Baking and Sweets Blog, and ta-da!!

    NOW, here are 5 things to be happy about today:
    ONE. Costume jewelry.
    TWO. Having a burger, fries, and a beer at a summer baseball game.
    THREE. 3-day weekends.
    FOUR. Making a thorough packing list before a trip.
    FIVE. Driving around with music playing and no destination in mind.

    Let’s cook!

    Sweet Corn Pasta with Burrata

    This fresh corn and scallion pasta is the perfect way to combine all the freshest flavors of summer, while still serving a decadent dish that just screams "Treat Yourself". Top with burrata and you are guaranteed to be the most popular dinner host.
    Prep Time 20 mins
    Cook Time 15 mins
    Total Time 35 mins
    Course Dinner, Main Course

    Ingredients
      

    • 24 ounces short pasta, like orecchiette
    • 2 Tbsp olive oil
    • 2 bunches scallions (about 15); slices, keeping whites and greens separate
    • 5 ears fresh corn (or 4 cups frozen corn); shucked and kernels removed
    • 1 tsp black pepper
    • 6 Tbsp butter
    • 1 cup parmesan cheese
    • ½ cup torn basil leaves (you could also use mint)
    • ½ tsp red pepper flakes (or to taste)
    • Fresh lemon juice
    • Fresh burrata (1 or ½ ball per person)

    Instructions
     

    • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and cook your pasta for one minute less than the al dente recommendation on the box. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water and set the drained pasta aside.
    • In a large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat and add the scallion whites + a pinch of salt, cooking until the scallions are soft. Add ½ cup of the reserved pasta water plus all but ½ cup of the corn. Simmer until the corn is heated through, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then transfer the mixture to a blender.
    • Puree the sauce until completely smooth, adding more pasta water if necessary to achieve a thick but pourable sauce.
    • Reheat the same pan over high heat and melt the butter. Add in the reserved whole corn kernels and cook until tender. Add the corn puree back to the pan and cook for an additional minute to combine the flavors.
    • Reduce the heat to medium and add the pasta and the other ½ cup pasta water, tossing to coat. Stir in ½ cup of the reserved scallion greens, the cheese, basil, red pepper flakes, and lemon juice. To serve, top with more cheese and leftover scallions, and break a whole or half burrata on top. YUM!!
    Keyword burrata, corn, pasta, scallion

    Looking for more summer pastas? I’ve got you covered here and here!

  • Fried Polenta Cakes with Spicy Tomato-Kale Sauce and an Olive Oil Fried Egg

    WOW this name is a mouthful. But trust me, every aspect of this recipe needed to be there, they work together to create one of the most comforting, magical, and deceivingly easy dinners.

    Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

    This past week I had a taste of what it would be like to live alone (my family was traveling but I still had work because adult life is nonsense), and wow I just don’t think I’m cut out for it. When left to my own devices, I grocery shop so irrationally it’s just embarrassing. For starters, I dropped $22 on saffron because I’d never tried it before (it was amazing and I made Risotto al Milanese and I regret NOTHING but that’s not the point), bought 3 different bottles of wine and a bottle of cognac for separate recipes and used half a cup of each, AND bought a selection of mixed berries to impulsively bake a pie (recipe for that coming soon!!).

    It was only three days someone please help me get my life together. Anyway, let’s break this meal down shall we? These polenta rounds are pan-fried until crispy, then topped with a spicy tomato sauce (almost too spicy because I got carried away but I learned my lesson don’t worry), aaaaand as if it couldn’t get any better, a runny but crispy olive oil fried egg is plopped on top to make you feel like you’re eating fancy brunch while eating dinner on your couch. Topped with a downy sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan cheese, please try to hold back your tears of joy as you eat this.

    Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

    Let’s go!!

    Makes: 4 dinner servings
    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Cook Time: 30 minutes
    Total Time: about an hour

    Ingredients:

    1 lb. polenta (I used already made and chilled polenta in tube-form, but you can make your own!)
    1 yellow onion, diced
    2 cloves garlic
    ½ to ¾ tsp red pepper flakes (depending on how spicy you want it)
    ½ tsp anchovy paste
    1 can crushed tomatoes
    A splash of red wine (since I was already drinking it, but optional)
    Handful of curly kale, rib removed and roughly chopped
    4 eggs, for frying
    Salt and pepper, to taste
    Parmesan cheese, grated

    Steps:

    1. In a saucepan, heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium and add the diced onions. Cook until the onions become soft and transparent. Stir in the minced garlic and red pepper flakes, cooking for just another minute, until garlic becomes fragrant but not brown and bitter. Add the anchovy paste and mix to combine.

    2. Pour in your can of crushed tomatoes and stir, making sure all the contents are incorporated, and splash in the red wine if you want it! Turn the heat down slightly and let the sauce simmer for 15 minutes. Toss in the kale and cook, covered, until it has wilted and softened, another 15 minutes.

    3. While the sauce is cooking, heat a tablespoon of olive oil on medium in a separate frying pan. Slice your polenta into circles about an inch thick, and fry on both sides (about 10 minutes per side), until they are golden brown and crispy. Once the polenta is done, in the same pan, add a tablespoon more olive oil per egg and allow it to get very hot (about a minute). Add your egg for frying (you can fit two at a time if necessary), and fry until the whites are opaque and the yolk is your desired consistency, about 2 minutes. Swirl the pan around as you cook to make sure nothing sticks, and baste your egg with the hot oil as necessary. Season with salt and pepper.

    4. To serve, pile 3 to 4 polenta cakes on your plate, smother with a generous portion of sauce, and top with a fried egg. Add a generous grating of parmesan cheese and enjoy!!

    xoxoxoD