• 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!

  • Apricot Cherry Crostata

    Welcome!! I hope you all survived this weekend’s heat wave by not leaving the house, it was the only way to survive. At my house, we spent the majority of Saturday inside, making brownies and playing Clue, which for once, didn’t end in fighting! We went mini golfing at night and were promptly attacked by bugs, but the ice cream afterwards made it all worth it. Sunday we spent the day at the beach, where the waves were very refreshing but I was pinched by not one, but TWO crabs. You can’t win them all I guess.

    ANYWAY, today’s recipe is another one of those ones pulled from my childhood memory vault, one that my Grandpa used to make in the summer when we were over for dinner. Whenever we would spend time at their house, the first thing we’d peruse was my grandpa’s stack of Bon Appetit magazines, which went years and years back. Come to think of it, I’m almost sure that is what sparked my interest in food in the first place. My grandpa was and still is an amazing cook, but with time, it’s gotten harder for him to make elaborate meals. So, last weekend, after saying for years that I would dig out this Apricot Cherry Crostata recipe, I did! I finally got to present it to my grandpa for dessert, and I’ll be honest I teared up when he saw it. He has always had a huge influence on what I cook and has been one of my biggest cheerleaders since the beginning, gosh I love him.

    This tart is the perfect summer dessert, its relatively quick, very easy, and it LOOKS so glamorous. Apricot Cherry Crostata, it even SOUNDS fancy. It’s best with peak-of-summer apricots and cherries, but my grandpa always made it with dried tart cherries and it was just as incredible. Nestled in a crisp, buttery crust, and topped with the shiniest apricot glaze, it looks so professional you might have to show your friends the dishes to prove you made this and didn’t buy it.

    OH ALSO. Something I have to mention, I met a real hero of mine this past week. If you’ve been around Sweet D for long enough, you’ve seen that I make a lot of recipes from Erin McDowell. She’s a food blogger and writer and so so cool. Well, this past week, I got to take a cake decorating class in the city taught by, you guessed it, HER. It was everything I dreamed it would be. We decorated chocolate cakes with macarons and other treats, and she remembered me and Sweet D and I almost cried. Life made.

    Me trying to keep it together

    Before we get started, here are 5 things to be happy about today!!
    ONE. A peach so juicy you have to eat it standing over the sink.
    TWO. Meeting your heroes.
    THREE. Baseball games in the summer.
    FOUR. A weekend with no plans.
    FIVE. Turning over a new leaf.

    Let’s bake!!

    Apricot Cherry Crostata

    Honey-sweet apricots, dark cherries, a buttery crust, sealed with a shiny jam glaze, this is the most impressive and deceivingly easy tart you'll ever make!
    Prep Time1 hr 30 mins
    Cook Time1 hr 15 mins
    Total Time2 hrs 45 mins
    Course: Dessert
    Keyword: apricot, cherry, summer tart
    Servings: 8 people

    Ingredients

    Tart Crust

    • 1 cup all purpose flour
    • 1 Tbsp white sugar
    • ¼ tsp kosher salt
    • ½ cup unsalted butter; chilled and cut into small pieces
    • 2 Tbsp ice water

    Fruit Filling

    • 7 large apricots
    • 1 cup dark cherries; pitted and halved
    • cup white sugar
    • ½ cup apricot preserves

    Instructions

    Tart Crust

    • Blend together the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor until combined. Add in the butter and pulse 10-12 times, until the butter is pea-sized and evenly distributed.
    • Blend in the water by the tablespoon until moist clumps form. Gather the dough into a ball and flatten to a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes before working.
    • When the dough is chilled, roll between 2 sheets of parchment paper to slightly larger than the size of your tart pan, about 11 inches. Carefully remove the top sheet of parchment and invert the dough into a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom.
    • Gently press the dough into the pan, folding the excess into the tart pan so that the sides are double thick. Pierce the dough all over with a fork and freeze for 20 minutes. At this point, preheat the oven to 375°F.
    • Bake the tart shell for 25 minutes until set but still pale, and allow to cool before filling.

    Filling and Assembly

    • Blanch apricots in boiling water for 1 minute, then transfer to ice water. Peel, halve, and pit each apricot, then slice each half into 3 to 4 wedges.
    • Arrange the apricot slices in the tart shell as desired, then top with the pitted cherries. Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the top and bake the tart until the apricots are tender, about 50 minutes.
    • In a small saucepan, heat the apricot preserves until warm and pourable. Strain through a mesh sieve so that only the smooth jam is left.
    • Using a pastry brush or a spoon, cover the tart with a layer of the apricot jam. Remove the tart from its pan and serve warm or room temperature, preferably with ice cream!

    Looking for more summer fruit desserts? Look here, here, and here!

  • Banana Cream Pie

    Hello my friends! I hope we are all keeping cool in this very hot summer. If you’re reading this from somewhere that it isn’t summer, just know I envy you. I’m sure this makes me a party pooper, but the novelty of summer heat wears off PRETTY fast when you’re not a kid and it’s no longer acceptable to sit in the kiddie pool in your backyard all day. Instead I have to wear real clothes??? And go to work?? And the whole time I’m thinking of the beach and/ or ice cream (or this Banana Cream Pie tbh) and basically what I’m saying is I think we should all get summer vacation no matter what age/ job we have. Who’s with me!

    This was a pretty lazy segue into this week’s recipe, but really, what better way to enjoy summer than with a Banana Cream Pie? Essentially vanilla pudding with sliced bananas mixed in, this one is ~fancier~ because you make the pudding yourself. Plus did I mention there’s a layer of chocolate in between the graham cracker crust and the filling? Are you sold yet? Cool. The recipe comes from ZoeBakes because we all know I’m obsessed with her, so find the original recipe here.

    Before we get started, here are your 5 things to be happy about today:
    ONE. Seeing a movie in an otherwise empty theater and talking as loud as you please.
    TWO. The caffeine boost of an afternoon iced coffee.
    THREE. The melty consistency of a perfectly toasted marshmallow.
    FOUR. A prosperous herb garden.
    FIVE. Packing a cooler for the beach with watermelon, chips, and ice cold lemonade.

    Let’s bake!!

    Banana Cream Pie

    Prep Time1 hr
    Cook Time15 mins
    Chilling Time2 hrs
    Total Time3 hrs 15 mins
    Course: Dessert
    Keyword: banana, chocolate, cream pie, pudding
    Servings: 8 people

    Ingredients

    Graham Cracker Crust

    • 12 whole graham crackers
    • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
    • 5 Tbsp unsalted butter; melted
    • pinch kosher salt
    • 2 oz. bittersweet chocolate; finely chopped

    Banana Filling

    • tsp powdered gelatin; (1 packet)
    • 2 Tbsp cold water
    • 1 egg
    • 3 egg yolks
    • cup white sugar
    • Tbsp cornstarch
    • cups whole milk
    • 2 tsp vanilla extract; or 1 scraped vanilla bean
    • 1 cup heavy cream; whipped to soft peaks
    • 3-4 bananas; cut into coins

    Whipped Cream Topping

    • 2 cups heavy cream
    • 2 Tbsp white sugar
    • 2 tsp vanilla extract
    • bittersweet chocolate; for shavings on top

    Instructions

    Graham Cracker Crust

    • Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grind together the graham crackers, butter, brown sugar, and salt until crumbs form, and can hold together when you squeeze some in your hand.
    • Press the crumbs into the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie pan, using a small dry measuring cup to maintain an even, flat surface. Bake for 15 minutes, until the crust is set and toasted.
    • Immediately after removing the crust from the oven, sprinkle the bottom with the chopped chocolate, and allow to melt, about 5 minutes. Once the chocolate is fully melted, use an offset spatula to spread a thin layer evenly over the entire bottom of the crust and up the sides as desired. Allow to cool before filling.

    Banana Filling

    • In a small bowl, bloom together the gelatin and the 2 Tbsp cold water and set aside for at least 5 minutes.
    • In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch until no lumps remain. Set aside.
    • In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the milk on medium low until simmering. If you're using a vanilla bean, heat the scraped seeds and pod with the milk now, if you're using vanilla extract, we'll add it later.
    • Slowly, while whisking constantly, drizzle some of the heated milk into the egg mixture. This tempers the eggs so that they won't spontaneously cook when we add them to the hot milk. Once about ⅓ of the milk has been added and the egg mixture is warm to the touch, pour all of the egg/ milk mixture back into the saucepan with the rest of the milk and bring to a boil on medium heat.
    • Once the mixture starts to boil, continue to cook, whisking constantly for 3 minutes, until the custard is thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the bloomed gelatin and vanilla extract (if using) until the gelatin is fully dissolved.
    • Strain the custard through a sieve into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to cool to at least room temperature.
    • Once cooled, fold in the softly whipped cream and sliced bananas, then pour the filling into your prepared crust. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly to the surface of the pudding and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until set.

    Whipped Cream + Serving

    • In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip together the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract until the desired stiffness is reached. Stiffer whipped cream can be piped onto the pie, but I opted for a softer whipped cream that I piled on top, it's up to you!
    • Using a vegetable peeler, shave some of the leftover bittersweet chocolate on top, and serve. YUM!!

    Looking for more pudding pies? Look no further than here, here, and here!