Saturday, May 28, 2011

Le fabuleux destin d'Croissant

"These are hard times for dreamers."

I made 2 breads today!  Well, I started making them yesterday, but they were baked today.

#44 Croissant

#45 Cheese and Ham Croissant

"Life's funny. To a kid, time always drags. Suddenly you're fifty. All that's left of your childhood... fits in a rusty little box."

These guys took forever!  Mon dieu!  First the dough was mixed without the butter.  Then it went into the fridge for 1 hour.  Then I was to roll it into a 24 x 12 in. rectangle.  (2 feet by 1 foot!  Seriously ridiculous)  For that, I used a piece of parchment paper and marked the rectangle to aim for (looking back, I should have used wax paper).

I did not reach 24 x 12 but I did my best so I moved on.  I had previously attempted to flatten 4 1/2 sticks of butter into a rectangle about 1/2 in. thick which really ended up with me mashing butter with my hands and shaping into a blob thing and putting it in the refrigerator to chill (yes, it needed to be chilled).  The next step was to place the butter rectangle on 2/3 of the dough rectangle.  You'd think this would be an easy step but the butter stuck horribly to the pan it was on in the fridge and had to be scraped off with a knife in chunks.  Once I got the chunks all together on the dough I had to fold the uncovered 1/3 of dough over the middle 1/3 and then the remaining third over that.  Like a trifolded letter, only not as easy.  Then it needed chilling, again.  Trying to pick it up to put it on the pan for the fridge was no fun, because the parchment was all wet from the sweating dough.  Anyways, it chilled for an hour and then I had to roll it out to 24 x 12 again, fold it again and chill it for another hour.  And again.  And again.  

Up to now I've used about 5 hours.  Now, this dough is wrapped in plastic wrap and rests overnight.

"At least you'll never be a vegetable - even artichokes have hearts."

Now it's time to roll out and cut the dough.  Not that difficult once I got the hang of constantly dusting with flour to keep from sticking.  The recipe said it makes about 40.  I ended up with 16.  8 plain, 8 cheese and ham.

I cut them into not so perfect squares and triangles and moved on the the rolling into shape and the filling and rolling for the cheese and ham (recipe says make the croissant dough and fill with cheese and honey-glazed ham).


Cheese and Ham.

Then the plain had to rise for 1 1/2 hours and the cheese and ham had to be eggwashed and let rise for 2 hours.

About halfway into the cooking time for the plain I realized that they weren't browning at all and that I had forgotten to eggwash them (since it was supposed to be done immediately before baking) and I took them out and washed them and put them back in until they were all nice and golden brown.

Had to let the butter drip off onto a pan.

The eggwash mistake caused me to burn the bottoms a little.

"The fool looks at a finger that points at the sky."

Here's the lovely inside of the tasty, 1st eaten croissant.  All that folding and rolling made those pretty flaky layers.

The Cheese and Ham went a little better in the baking process.  Minus the part where a few of them started to unroll.  At least one was beautiful...see top left.

"It's better to help people than garden gnomes."

My mom's in town for the weekend and my family devoured the cheese and hams.  I'm actually feeling a little sick, what with all the butter and cheese, but they are just so yummy.

Au revoir mon petit pâte à choux!

All quotes are from Amélie (Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain).

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

From Russia with Love

"You look surprised. I thought you expected me."

#43 Kulich

This bread is a Russian Easter bread, traditionally in a tall cylindrical shape à la this:

I got this picture from  It's accompanied by a recipe that is a little different from the one that I used.

I had to zest more fruit for this recipe.  2 oranges and 2 lemons.  And while it smells fantastic, I have realized that I don't particularly like cooked orange and lemon zest.

"Ah, the old game: give a wolf a taste and then leave him hungry. My friend, she's got you dangling."

My kitchen smelled all cakey because of the vanilla extract.

This dough didn't go exactly the way I expected, since it was supposed to be a cakey bread and I didn't know that.

The recipe said to line 2 flowerpots or pans and since I have no flowerpots I had to kind of guess what kind of pan he was looking for.

Obviously, this doesn't look at all like the one at the top.  I did a search and found one picture of a loaf style one that looked kind of like mine.

It tasted ok, but I will never make this again.  I think it's mostly the cooked zest.

This video features a former teacher of mine, Galina Panova, dancing at the Oscars.  She's from Russia and I love her dancing!

"Be still! Ahh... back to the saltmines!"

All quotes from "From Russia with Love".

What's Gilbert Grape Eating?

"I'm having a birthday party, but you're not invited, but you can come if you want." - Arnie Grape

#42  Grape and Golden Raisin Bread

Here's the story of this bread from 100 Great Breads by Paul Hollywood:
"This bread was inspired by a friend of mine, Chris Davies, an avid cook who wanted an unusual bread for his dinner guests.  I think it did the trick!"

Grapes...  Grapes.  Grapes?

Yeah, I thought it was pretty weird when I read it, but I really like grapes so I ran to the grocery and grabbed some grapes so I could get baking.

As I was mixing this dough, I started to get the feeling that it was a little too tight and was never going to allow for the mixing in of the raisins and grapes.  I was right.  Here's the little guy.  It was supposed to be a flattened ball...

"Match in the gas tank, *boom* *boom*!" - Arnie

See how it didn't mix?  Not good.

After baking, that's what it looked like.  The raisins puff up and burn really quickly.  The grapes, on the other hand, were amazing.  They were like little jelly capsules.  Yum!

This bread was delicious!

If I do this again I'll leave out the raisins and add more water so that the grapes will mix in better.

"Good night to you but not me." - Arnie

All quotes from "What's Eating Gilbert Grape?"

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Breadsticks! Where all the Gleeks hang out.

"I was going to order us one really, really long piece of spaghetti like in 'Lady and Tramp.' And I've been practicing nudging meatballs across the table with my nose. " - Brittany S. Pierce

#41 Grissini Sticks

Skinny, crunchy bread sticks!

"I find recipes...confusing." - Brittany S. Pierce

This recipe was so easy! Oh, except for the weird ingredient referred to as "2 cakes yeast". I had to google that. Turns out it's just a little fresh yeast patty. I just had to figure out how much of my dry active yeast I needed.

Also I almost made baked paste when I started to knead the dough without adding the olive oil to the water, salt, yeast, and flour mix. That was a close call.

After I fixed that, and kneaded the dough, the recipe only called for 30 minutes of rising time.

"I'm gonna say this as nice as I can, but you look like a sad clown hooker." - Finn Hudson

Well, they don't look great, but there they are. Also, I forgot to take a picture as soon as they were ready so 6 of them had already been eaten. Whoops!

Here's one of my favorite Glee numbers!

"I'm like Tinkerbell, Finn, I need applause to live!" - Rachel Berry

Goodnight! Bella Notte!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Sixth Orange

"I want to tell you my secret now. "

Today I zested 5 lemons and 6 oranges.  My arms are gonna be so buff!

#40 Lemon and Orange Bread

It takes quite a while to zest all those little guys and by the time I had done 5 oranges I was ready to quit.  I persevered and my whole house smells like citrus aromatherapy.

After the last time I had to zest an orange, I learned that fruits dry out pretty quickly after they're naked.  This time I decided to cook dinner using the juice.

I marinated chicken in the juice of 3 oranges and 1 lemon with olive oil and cracked black pepper and grilled it.  I also made couscous with dill and lemon juice and chopped up some fresh spinach and drizzled the chicken and spinach with a reduction of the juice of 1 orange and 1 lemon.  Super-yum!

Back to the bread.

Here are my cute little loaves.

They kinda smell like candy but they taste pretty good.  And the extra liquid from the zest made for a very soft bread.

Fun fact about me:  My freshman college ID picture looked eerily similar to this...

I see bread people...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Rings?

I mean, wait, Rings.  Yeah, Rings.

#39 Sesame Rings

Today was the first time I cooked with sesame seeds.  I like them on bagels, hamburger buns, and sesame chicken.  According to Mr. Paul Hollywood these breads "have been spotted in bakeries around the Middle East, Greece and in the tombs of the Pharoahs."  Just like the characters on Sesame Street.  They are both also incredibly cute.

 These little guys are dairy-free and taste pretty good.  According to Mr. Hollywood, they can be cut open like bagels to make cute little sandwich-y snacks.

I was worried before the first rise that they were not going to turn out well, but I think they were a success.  They just needed a little more salt.

Here's my favorite clip from Sesame Street.  It's Ricky Gervais to sing you to sleep tonight.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Herb(ie) Fully Loaded

Basil, Cilantro, and Dill loaded into 2 little loaves.

#38 Herb Bread

My hands smell all herb-y.  My new obsession is fresh herbs.  Holy cow, these things are amazing!  I have always loved cooking with dried herbs, but using fresh herbs has opened up a whole new world of flavor.  Ok, enough gushing...

This bread was super-easy.  And DAIRY-FREE!

As with any recipe with mix-ins. I had a little fight with the dough and herbs to get them to be friends.  The most time-consuming part of this bread was de-stemming and ripping up the herbs.

I used about half the amount of herbs that were called for.  I added them a little bit at a time so that when the inevitable happened and the full amount would stay with the dough I wouldn't have wasted organic fresh herbs.  Note:  This was the first time I have used dill in anything.  Unsurprisingly, it kind of smells like pickles.

As you can see, I got close to burning these cuties even though I took them out 3 or 4 minutes early.

It tastes so good that I did a little dance while I was chewing.  Of course that may have had a little to do with the fact that the "I Dream of Jeannie" theme was playing on the TV.  Then I had hiccups for a few minutes.

Herbie cake!

I couldn't find any cool videos from Herbie movies.  I found clips from Herbie Fully Loaded, but I really didn't like that movie and I didn't want to torture you.

Now I'm gonna go work off some of these tasty, tasty carbs!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Groundalmond Day...starring Bill Murray!

#37 Almond Bread, Almond Bread, Almond Bread...

This bread tastes so good!  It's slightly sweet and super-soft.  I'm pretty sure I will make this over and over and over and over again.  (See what I did there?)

This recipe called for both slivered almonds and ground almonds.  I bought a bag of slivered almonds and put a little over 1/2 cup (the recipe called for 1/2 ground) in the food processor to grind them up.  The recipe called for 4 oz of slivered almonds.  Since a whole bag was 6 oz, I had about half a bag left and I usually don't have much luck getting things to mix into the dough, I thought it would probably be enough.  (Side note:  I really need to get a food scale.  There are a lot of recipes I have left to do that have measurements in weight.)

When it comes to things I don't have that would be useful in this endeavor, counter space is also on the list.  This picture is my kneading "counter" pre-knead today.  Yes, that is a pizza pan on my stovetop.

Somehow I managed to get pretty perfect consistency in the dough and after the first rise I was able to get the slivered almonds to mix in pretty successfully.  That pretty much made my day.  That, and some encouragement from a friend today.

"I got you babe."  Even if you aren't the most beautiful bread in the world.  It doesn't look very much like the picture in my book, but looks aren't everything.  The professional bread was much flatter and, well, prettier.

Hopefully, I'll get a few more breads done this week and get back on schedule.

"Well, what if there is no tomorrow? There wasn't one today."