I began getting ruthless with my deep freeze a while ago and these are the only things I have baked in three weeks. I found an abundance of breads I baked then froze and have been eating my way through.
I bookmarked this recipe some time ago and finally got around to baking a half batch. this batch I rolled out, shaped a rectangle and cut the biscuits into squares using a butter knife, then baked on a parchment covered pan. Quick, easy and tasty!
1 C flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 TBS sugar
1 C grated sharp cheddar
1/4 C + 2 Tbs milk
2 Tbs oil
Mix the dry and wet ingredients and combine. Credit where it is due, here is a link to the recipe:
When you want your comeback to be remembered, you have to come back with a bang! Here it is! Last week I promised to go back to bread baking after an addiction to pastries. Well these are viennoiseries, still a hybrid between pastries and bread but there's yeast in it so I consider it closer to breads. I made croissants and pains au chocolat for this week; it's an ambitious bake for an ambitious baker.
Last Sunday (May 8) was Mother's day and today (May 11) is my mom's birthday and we celebrated both occasions today so this is the best time to make something for her and I can't think of a better thing to present her to show my love than croissants and pains au chocolat of course for more decadence. This is not a joke, it's a labour of love even more when you face my situation which I will outline later. And since this is a French thing, I will try to unleash the French man inside me (actually more of some learnings from a month of studying French). I made up the French title based on my little knowledge of French, I do not even know if it's correct or makes sense in French. I just want to say "No Oven Homemade Viennoiseries" if there are any native speakers here, please correct me if I am wrong.
We've been experiencing unusally high temperatures for now. For more than a month the average temperature during the day is 91F and at night it just drops to 85F and an unairconditioned kitchen won't help too (our house is more than a century old built in the old style emphasizing natural ventilation so no possibility to mount an AC). You know the main enemy of croissant making is heat, force it to cope with the heat and you will surely lose. This is not the best time to laminate dough but I do not want to miss this opportunity anymore.I also do not have a work surface and a rolling pin; I only have a small chopping board and a steel pipe. Exact ratios of ingredients are important also. Though I face these adversaries, I still pushed through because this is something exciting and I really want to try this for the longest time.
It seems daunting at first but I found out that like most complex dishes I make, with proper planning, you will conquer laminated doughs. One blogger here really inspired me to try croissants, txfarmer. If you don't know her, she is the lamination queen in this forum; check out her blog with great breads and recipes and stunning photography. She outlined the secrets of croissant making in one of her posts and she is my biggest guide in making this. If you want to make croissants with surgical precision, visit her guide here.
CHALLENGES AND SOLUTIONS:
1. Temperatures above 95F are not uncommon- Working with lightning speed is not a request or optional, IT'S AN ORDER AND REQUIREMENT! For a first time laminator, I don't know if I could accomplish that but a few factors can help me. More time in the fridge for a cooler and more relaxed dough for quick operations. Our fridge is also far from the kitchen, about 10 meters so I need to run fast too!
2. No "proper" rolling pin- I used a steel pipe with a good weight. A heavy pipe and the fact that I have large hands means power to roll the dough effortlessly.
3. No work surface- Roll a smaller quantity of dough that will fit the chopping board.
4. No oven- My clay pot has baked so much delicious goodies! Why can't it bake croissants?
So here is my valiant (or rather foolish) quest including my adaptations in croissant making:
The dough is my own recipe, adapted from many sources. Just reading hundreds of croissant recipes is mind boggling because some have contradicting principles. I followed txfarmer's guide, a dry and strong dough so I used bread flour contrary to most that use AP flour. Most recipes use 500g of flour, I know it is a big amount for a first try so I halved the amount. From my 500g bag of flour I poured half of it for an approximate 250g of flour, I then mix in some sugar and salt and a little yeast. I used a very small amount of yeast because I plan to split the croissant making in 3 days.
I added water into flour just until all flour is moistened, it's the driest dough I made; probably close to 50-55% hydration. I didn't add eggs or milk into the dough because I read with a stern warning CROISSANT DOUGH IS NOT A BRIOCHE DOUGH, it should be fairly lean for lightness in the final product. I also used oil instead of butter for the fat component in the dough to save on butter because more will be added later. I don't know if it will affect dough strength, I guess it won't. It undergoes a short bulk fermentation at room temperature for 30 minutes. It's not really a bulk ferment, just a short rest to relax the gluten so it can be shaped into a square before it goes into an overnight chill.
The butter block is simple, just butter flattened into a slab of precise dimensions. Most of the time I read to use a good European style butter for optimum results but I didn't follow it. This is the best butter I could find (in reality, afford), I don't know its textural properties well but we love the flavor. Are you familiar with Anchor butter? It costs around 2$, same as some European brands like Elle & Vire; the tangy Lurpak butter is at 1.8x the price; I want to taste Plugra and Kerrygold but I can't find them in our town, they have good reputations for laminated doughs so I want to try them but maybe they will cost even more if I have the chance to find them!
Most recipes use 250g butter for 500g of flour but you can see it's not exactly 250g so I just used a bit more than half to come up with hopefully the right ratio of the roll-in butter.
I flattened it into a slab by bashing it with my steel pipe while wrapped in a plastic bag. I love this part, the pipe effortlessly flattened it into a slab. I will use parchment next time for a better control of the dimensions and to be more eco-friendly. I prefer this method rather than putting some soft butter on top of the dough and folding the dough on top of it. It's easier but riskier especially in these temperatures. At this point too, I observed the behavior of the butter. It was 96F when I made the butter block and in less than a minute the very cold butter is melting at the edges, I have to re-chill it several times while adjusting the shape.
Into the fridge it goes with the dough for an overnight rest. We want them to have the same consistency before lamination starts. The next morning, they are both cold and the dough is well relaxed to be rolled out easily. It didn't expand very much in the fridge too.
The dough is rolled twice the size of the butter block and the butter is enclosed in it. I put the chopping board on top of a wet cloth so it does not move so I can roll the dough smoothly. Luckily my cutting board is also a good guide for dough dimensions; I don't have enough patience to roll doughs to proper dimensions! It's too much work for me! This is where the square shape comes in handy, you won't have to do many adjustments for the shape, you just roll it into a rectangle.
There are also many ways to enclose the butter, some says fold each corner of the dough on top of the butter to meet at the top to form an X like what txfarmer does; I've chosen the simplest way, roll the dough twice the size of the butter, put the butter block on one half of the dough and fold to enclose the butter.
I put it in the fridge for 3 hours so it can relax well before I do the turns. It is the secret to win the battle in this hot weather. I over compensate for rest time so I won't be frustrated in rolling. This is something that cannot be rushed. "If you want instant gratification, do not make these! Go and buy some at the (far far away) bakery" I told myself. I spread the turns for the whole busy day giving turns when I remember it. It's a much more enjoyable process than impatiently waiting for an hour rest time for a day dedicated to just making croissants.
I divided the paton into 2 so each will fit the cutting board when rolled. Smaller quantities means faster roll times thus less melting of the butter. While I roll one, the other stays in the fridge, after giving a turn I will quickly run to chill it and then get the other one, give it a turn then run again. I really experienced a heavy workout while making these!
Recipes often recommend a different series of turns. Most common is 3 single turns, some 1 double turn and 1 single turn, others 2 single turns and 1 double turn while others push the limit and asks for 4 double turns! Yes, at first I thought more turns=more flaky but txfarmer enlightened me that there is a limit for absolute flakiness; as the saying goes, "everything in excess is opposed to nature".
Since I have 2 patons, I decided to experiment. For one, I will do a double turn followed by single turn and for the other one, 3 single turns. I just want to know if it can affect the crumb.
You can clearly see the first turns. One with a double (tour double ou portefeuille) turn and one with a single (tour simple) turn. The way of enclosing the butter in the dough where the butter is exposed at the sides is a great help too, I could see when the butter is starting to melt. You can see the butter melting in both of these. I really can't comprehend how I even had the courage to photograph this rather than rushing them to the fridge!
The final turn! Both of them just have a single turn. I mark the dough how many turns it underwent so I won't lose count.
An overnight rest again and tomorrow is the BIG day! Here is my set-up in the fridge. I refrigerate all the equipment to keep everything cold. I put them in the freezer too as needed. The tupper box is also a big help because it protects the dough so I won't need plastic wrap, again to be more eco-friendly. I just put some rice flour at the bottom to avoid sticking like how many here use it to flour bannetons.
Good morning! Are you still here? Good! This is the moment of truth! Today I will form and bake my first croissants and pains au chocolat! The one on the left is the one with 3 single turns and the one on the right is the one with a double and single turn.
I divided each into 2 pieces so 2 croissants and pains au chocolat will come from each. I rolled each half and cut it into 2 diagonally to form triangles. The problem with "more but smaller" dough pieces is you'll end up with more imperfect edges than cutting triangles from a large piece of dough because I can't roll a perfect rectangle with neat straight edges so all croissants are not shaped as shraply but it's okay, we're not in a bakery. I also do not like to trim the edges because I don't want to waste them. It didn't have 7 little steps too as txfarmer describes. They were eggwashed before proofing; I don't have a brush too to apply eggwash, I just use my fingers.
To avoid butter pooling at the bottom, croissants need to be fully proofed to slightly overproofed before baking. I think I've taken this too seriously and really overproofed this. What's more difficult is I only have 3 llaneras (oval flan molds that I use as baking tins) and my claypot can only accommodate 3 at a time when baking so I have to proof the other 5 somewhere else then transfer them to the llaneras when the first batch is done baking. Each one was proofed to different levels and it's so much pain transferring fully proofed laminated doughs into llaneras, up to now I do not know how I did it without tearing or compromising the quality! Proofing higher than 80F is risky because the butter might leak and it's 95F while these were proofing so I let it proof at room temperature for 10 minutes then put them in the freezer for 5 minutes to shock them and bring the temperature down quickly.
Next time, I think I will bake them as soon I see the layers clearly. It's easy to overproof them in the blink of an eye in this weather.
They were eggwashed again before being baked in the clay pot over a wood fire at a very high heat for the first 10 minutes so the butter immediately boils and puffs. They are then flipped one by one on the llaneras to brown the top and cooked on low fire for the next 5 minutes and then on embers for the remaining 5 minutes, a total of 20 minutes cooking time.
The clay pot shown here is called a Palayok in our language and it is where the "PAL" in my user name comes from. I thought it's pretty cool because of its meaning in English. You'll see here the wood fire in the first and last stages of baking.
I saw some flowers blooming in the garden and I gave them to mom along with the viennoiseries. We call the flower Bandera Española. She is the one holding them here. She really liked them and smiled as she said thank you. Though she always smiles this one of the rare occasions she smiled because I did something special for her.
Voici le resultat!Here are the results!
The crust is very crispy even though not evenly browned. You could also see the layers.
Here is the crumb. (I haven't had the chance to check all for their crumb to see the difference of the their lamination process or tourage because my parents ate their share immediately. I might stick to 3 single turns next time.) It looks like a honeycomb! Wooh! It's more than enough to make me happy! It is not as open and round as the marvelous croissants txfarmer presents here but for an overproofed dough baked without an oven flipped over halfway through, laminated in a humid almost 100F weather, and made with almost all makeshift equipment; it's as good as it gets!
Crumb on the left when sliced using a knife and on the right crumb when pulled apart by hands.
Summary of the crumb in one photo.
Pains au chocolat:
With crispy, buttery, flaky dough and lots of chocolate, how can you go wrong?!! They're so beautiful! I can't believe I made these and even more that they came out of my clay pot! My mouth watered again when I saw the picture as I'm writing this post! I learnt not to overfill them with chocolate (it will pool on the bottom and burn badly) from a previous cheater's pain au chocolat attempt last year. It was made by cutting lots of butter into flour and folding a number of times, it's like a yeasted rough puff or pie dough. Though quicker and easier to make, the quality never comes close to a real proper laminated viennoiserie!
The pain au chocolat shape fits my situation better because there is a larger surface area of dough that makes a direct contact with the tin for a more even browning and crispness. I will stick to this shape next time though I can't call them "Croissants" anymore because they are not "Crescents" anymore. I like the name "croissant" more because it's shorter and you already know the character of the bread. For those living in France what do you call a laminated dough shaped like a pain au chocolat / chocolatine but plain and unfilled with chocolate? I will fill these next time both with sweet and savory things and launch a pain au quelque chose series if that makes sense again!
It could be a torture to some of you and even me but this is the result of my effort! Shatteringly flaky and crispy!
Feels like having breakfast in Paris!
I really enjoyed how this one turned out! It's a long but worthwhile post. This really expanded my baking world and with the success of my first foray into laminated dough, I just created a desire within me that will need to be curbed from time to time. I have so many ideas running in my mind now (I would love to create txfarmer's many croissant of course to be butchered twisted by yours truly, I hope the empress won't be mad) but I need to save money for buying lots of butter.
In the hotel where I had my practicum, I have croissants and pains au chocolat daily. The leftover from the breakfast buffet were sent into the employee cafeteria. And I can say with my head held high that the quality of what I made is not far from those made in the hotel!
Someone became a mother this mother's day!
To all moms, a late greeting of Happy Mother's Day!
Happy Birthday Mama! Thank you and I love you! Maligayang Kaarawan Nay! Salamat po at mahal na mahal ko po kayo!
My recent fruit and nut bake garnered the suggestion from a few TFL folks that I should soak the dried Calmyrna figs prior to folding them into the dough. And so I did. I wonder if I soaked them too long because they expanded and became a force all of their own with relation to the final product.
This time I decided to bake the Hamelman Pain au Levain with WW, which I've baked several times before, while using my own levain dehydrated down to 60%. My standard levain has more whole grain than the Hamelman formula calls for, so it bumps up the overall whole grain percentage beyond the formula's 25% by a few additional points. A first time through this drill, as I've not added fruit and nuts to this formula before. With the addition of the plumped up figs the dough became difficult to shape as baguettes. In truth I should have shaped a shorter and fatter baguette, so I'll reconsider that for the next time, whenever that will be.
650g x 2 batards, 350g x 2 baguettes.
I don't add the figs and pecans until the first letter fold. On the left - the dough is spread out on a wetted countertop. On the right - the first step of the letter folds is applied.
Once folded, it looks like this, and you can easily see how much the fruit and nuts adds to the dough just 40 minutes after the bulk rise started.
The baguettes took on an odd shape. Although the bloom was sufficient, the look is goofy and inconsistent. I believe that the fruit and nuts played a major role on that front.
The girth of the batards kept the fruit and nut population in check while displaying a more consistent shape and scoring.
I am a retired scientist and love good food, good cooking and find the science behind them quite fascinating. Long story short, I was having "stomach" issues a few years ago, and working with a doctor and dietician I did an elimination diet and when i added bread back in bingo all my issues came back. Seems I may have developed some sensitivity to something in bread, gluten, wheat, or whatever. After reading Michael Pollan's "Cooked" I began to really understand why many people are having "issues" with today's bread. Basically today's bread is NOT fermented using sourdough starter but packaged yeast. It is the fermenting process that breaks down the proteins in bread (gluten being one) and makes them digestible. I plan on using the recommendations in this blog to develop a sourdough starter and try bread out once again. I miss good bread. Rather than start blind does anyone have any experience with this concept and either some reliable reading or some helpful suggestions on this? Ideas including but not limited to: grinding your own wheat, where to buy really good whole wheat or rye, how much longer does using this method take for bread to rise and ferment before baking, are baking methods different for these types of breads? Any thoughts would be appreciated.
This is a modification of the Overnight Country Brown that Ken Forkish describes. In fact, I changed it so much that one might argue that it is not the same bread, but here it goes for one loaf:
Levain, active rye sourdough, 100% hydration, 110g
white bread flour, 250g
whole wheat flour 130g
12 grain flour 100g
water 340g at approx. 35 degrees Celsius
I tried an autolyse but got impatient after 15 minutes and mixed everything by hand and kneaded it until it looked half-way mixed. I followed by 4 S&Fs in the bowl approximately 15-20 minutes apart. Then I let the dough rest for 2 hours at room temperature after which I placed it in the fridge for approx. 18 hours. I would say that the dough had more than doubled and had that nice spongy appearance when I I emptied it onto a floured board. Without messing too much with the dough I shaped it into a boule and placed it in a banneton for 45 minutes. I baked it in a cloche. The bread tastes absolutely fantastic, it has a fairly light open crumb, and the crust also had a good crunchy feel to it. To me it's definitely worth repeating.
I was visiting the King Arthur Flour web site last week and, as I usually do, wandered into the "Professional" section of the site to see what might be new. There, I found a new formula for "Harpoon Miche." You know, with a name like that, I had to check it out. It sounded like a bread that would stick in your ribs ... if you weren't careful.
It turned out the "Harpoon Miche" is a sourdough bread made with both wheat flour-based and whole rye-fed starters, and about half the liquid in the final dough is dark beer. Well, "Harpoon Miche" fizzed its way right to the head of my "to bake list." Now, I assume the "Harpoon" refers to the brewery from whence the KAF bakers get the dark beer they use. Not being in Northern New England but in Northern California, I used a favorite dark beer from San Francisco's Anchor Steam brewery. So, let's call what I baked today " Brekle's Brown Miche."
This is an 80% hydration dough, and it is downright gloppy. Even with good dough strength, it spreads like crazy. So, I decided to bake my loaves in cast iron Dutch ovens à la Tartine Bread. I think it worked quite well.
Cut loaf profile
I cut one of the loaves about 4 hours after they were out of the oven. The crust was still crunchy. The crumb was moist but well-baked. The bread had a definite aroma of dark beer. I tasted it first plain. The crumb was tender-chewy. The flavor was typical of mixed flour sourdough breads, but with the added winey flavor of the Brekle's Brown beer. I then had a slice with some lovely Cotswold cheese, and that was a fabulous combination. We had some more with dinner (baked salmon, chard, potatoes roasted with aglioni and roasted beets in mustard vinaigrette.)
This is a delicious bread with a complex and somewhat novel flavor. I'll see how an overnight rest changes it. As of now, I think it is best suited to accompany cheeses, smoked meats and winey beef or lamb braises. I wonder how it will be with my usual breakfast almond butter.
I’d like to share my basic sweet dough recipe which I’ve found really reliable and versatile. I bake a lot of buns and tea breads as that’s the preferred breakfast fodder in my house... And before you say they are best from the oven – of course, but I freeze them as soon as they cool down and – though not warm – they are as good as defrosted. Show them the oven if necessary.
There is an excellent basic sweet dough recipe by Andrew Whitley, from his book ‘Bread Matters’. It has, interestingly, high content of wholemeal flour so you actually feel quite virtuous hovering up the buns, thinking it’s not cake! That recipe serves me to make hot cross buns for Easter, and ‘not cross buns’ as we call them throughout the year. I’ve upped the white flour content though for my HCBs, for festivity.
The second best, below, is my own concoction.
Basic sweet bun dough:
2 tsp fast action or 13g fresh yeast (and I’ll always recommend using fresh)
80ml (1/3 cup) milk
60ml (1/4 cup) water
½ tsp salt
2 large eggs
And then – easy. Heat up the butter with milk and water, throw all the dry ingredients together including yeast, including fresh, mix roughly, add eggs one at a time and beat in – hard to do without a mixer with a paddle as the dough is sticky central. It gets better of course after a while and eventually it starts bouncing off the sides of the bowl. Prove in bulk, then divide and shape as you like.
The flavourings are your choice: I’ve used cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, citrus zest or rose water.
The last whole grain yeast water bread I made was possibly under fermented realized from the very good post that Yippee made. This time I wanted to take it to the other extreme. All the flours used were high extraction with just the biggest bits sifted, an extraction rate of 90-95% depending on the grain. This bread was a throw together bread where nothing is actually measured. The flours were Spelt, Kamut, Turkey Red, and some sprouted multigrain that was left over and I don't remember exactly what was in it. The flours were autolysed with active yeast water for 30 min then salt and a little more water was added while actively mixing. After some S&F the bread was put to bed for twelve hours on the counter with a room temp of around 75F. The dough had almost tripled when it was formed into a boule and put in a basket for a relatively short 90 min proof after which it had swelled about 1.5 times. When it was turned out of the basket it flowed outward making one think of a pancake it was scored and slid into a hot DO to bake covered for 20 min @ 460F then uncovered and finished @ 430F for another 10 min at which time the internal temp reached 205F. The loaf came out much flatter than I wanted with very little oven spring and the score lines had almost disappeared, I thought it a disappointment and a lesson learned. However when cut several hours later it revealed a fairly open crumb with the glistening holes that indicate proper fermentation. It was amazing that this flat loaf had such a good structure. The taste is nutty with just the slightest sour note in the aftertaste. I think some LAB must have multiplied during the long fermentation.
The wheat in the garden is doing well with the Red Fife and the Turkey Red showing a better germination rate than the white wheat and the Kamut coming in last. Still anxious to see what will happen, it's supposed to rain most of next week and root rot could rear it's head.
It's nice to be home after a two week business trip to Asia. I'm always happy to bake some fresh bread after eating pretty crappy bread most of my trip.
I used some Buckwheat flour I had recently purchased from KAF and combined it with some freshly milled hard red whole wheat along with some French style flour and potato flour. Barley flakes were added for some additional flavor.
The final bread ended up with a nice nutty flavor along with a moderately open crumb and wholesome crust.
The weather in China was humid some days but for the most part, cloudy and warm while returning to Long Island it was a balmy 45 degrees! Alas, Spring has arrived even if it doesn't quite feel like it.
I returned just in time to see my flowering cherry tree bloom.
Mix all the Levain ingredients together for about 1 minute and cover with plastic wrap. Let it sit at room temperature for around 8-12 hours or until the starter is nice and bubbly.
Either use in the main dough immediately or refrigerate for up to 1 day before using.
Main Dough Procedure
Mix the flours, and the water together in your mixer or by hand until it just starts to come together, maybe about 1 minute. Let it rest in your work bowl covered for 20-30 minutes. Next add the salt, starter (cut into about 7-8 pieces) and oil and mix on low for 6 minutes. Remove the dough from your bowl and place it in a lightly oiled bowl or work surface and do several stretch and folds. Let it rest covered for 10-15 minutes and then do another stretch and fold. Let it rest another 10-15 minutes and do one additional stretch and fold. After a total of 2 hours place your covered bowl in the refrigerator and let it rest for 12 to 24 hours. (If you have a proofer you can set it to 80 degrees and follow above steps but you should be finished in 1 hour to 1.5 hours).
When you are ready to bake remove the bowl from the refrigerator and let it set out at room temperature still covered for 1.5 to 2 hours. Remove the dough and shape as desired. Place your dough into your proofing basket(s) and cover with a moist tea towel or plastic wrap sprayed with cooking spray. The dough will take 1.5 to 2 hours depending on your room temperature. Let the dough dictate when it is read to bake not the clock. (I use a proofer set to 78-79 degrees and it usually takes 1 hour for initial proof and 1 hour for final proof after shaping).
Around 45 minutes before ready to bake, pre-heat your oven to 550 degrees F. and prepare it for steam. I have a heavy-duty baking pan on the bottom rack of my oven with 1 baking stone on above the pan and one on the top shelf. I pour 1 cup of boiling water in the pan right after I place the dough in the oven.
Right before you are ready to put them in the oven, score as desired and then add 1 cup of boiling water to your steam pan or follow your own steam procedure.
After 1 minute lower the temperature to 500 degrees and after another 3 minutes lower it to 450 degrees. Bake for 25-35 minutes until the crust is nice and brown and the internal temperature of the bread is 210 degrees.
Take the bread out of the oven when done and let it cool on a bakers rack before for at least 2 hours before eating.