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A young and slightly ignorant woman who has always loved baking and cooking, I want to make people happy with food as often as I can. I'm here to whisk away and explore!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

On the precipice of a craggy cliff....

I'm suspended over the edge, a strategically placed bloody cut above my perfectly shaped eyebrow...I am about to be thrown to my death by an ugly (or handsome, if you so choose) villain intent on my demise. 
"Now," he says with a smooth evil voice "I will put your pitiful life into your own hands to make this interesting." (He is a villain obsessed with the interesting...he strives always to be an imaginative antagonist, if nothing else) "If you can answer this one question correctly I will let you live. But God knows you never could...some say it is an impossible riddle that cannot be solved..." This is my cue to despair and his cue to chuckle terribly. His grip on my poor neck tightens and I squirm! My life is surely over...my enemy gives a wry slimy smile. "If you had to host the biggest and fanciest brunch known to all mankind for the most esteemed people of the world," a dramatic pause.... "what would you serve?"

GASP! The impossible question. I will die a horrible death miserably at the bottom of this rocky cannon! Andthe blackgaurd knows it; he laughs, preparing to hurl me to my end. I throw out the only answer that could even remotely be correct:
"Filled croissants!" 

And huzzah! The brute casts me aside and leaves with a swirl of his cloak and an evil rattle in his throat. The impossible riddle has been solved, the world is saved, and all is well. The good citizens will brunch another day!

Okay, joking aside...these filled croissants really are the perfect brunch/tea party/appetizer item you could ever serve.  Better yet, it doesn't take 12 hours like the traditional ones do. Really, I only took up one sunny afternoon making these flaky, buttery, rolls of awesome. 

You could make croissants without filling and they would be just as good. But when something can be filled, I fill it. I guess you could say that is a weakness of mine...every good heroine must have a weakness that isn't truly a weakness. 

Thus: two kinds of croissants here...mushroom bacon ones and nutella ones. Now, I'm  not a die hard nutella fan. I like the stuff with fruit and so we had a jar of it in the pantry, but I wouldn't go all hipster on you dear people and swear myself into the convent of the great nutella-cult or anything.  BUT! On these croissants...I would swear something, because it's the tastiest thing this side of doughnuts. 

And so...the recipe for the answer to the world's impossible riddle:

Life Saving Filled Croissants

  • For Dough:
  • 1 large egg plus enough warm water to make 1 cups of liquid 
  • 2 Tablespoon sugar
  • 3 cups Flour
  • 1 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1/2 Tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoons butter, melted

  • For Butter:
  • 1 cups butter, cool to the touch
  • 1/4 cup Flour
For Fillings:
Nutella (5 Tablespoons)
5 large button mushrooms, chopped.
5 slices of bacon

1) For the dough: Make a sponge by cracking your egg into a 2-cup liquid measure and adding enough warm water to equal 1 cup. Beat with a whisk or fork until blended, and pour into a large mixing bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of the sugar, 1 1/2 cups of the flour, and the yeast. Mix until well blended. Cover and set aside.
2) For the butter: While the yeast begins its work, set up the butter that will be rolled into the dough. Mix the butter and 1/4 cup flour just until the mixture is smooth and well blended (no hard lumps). You can do this with a mixer, a food processor, or with a spoon, by hand. Be careful not to beat the mixture at high speed, you don't want to have any air. Lightly flour a piece of plastic wrap, place the butter mixture on it, and use a dough scraper or spatula to pat it into an 8-inch square. Wrap the butter and put it in the refrigerator on a flat surface for at least 30 minutes. You want to mix the butter with flour because this will prevent it from leaking out of you dough layers as you turn and roll later on in the process. 
3) Finish the dough: Stir the melted butter into the sponge. Whisk together the remaining 1 1/2 cups of the remaining flour, the rest of the sugar, and the salt. Add to the sponge and mix until you have a soft but kneadable dough, either by hand or in your mixer. Knead briefly ti lit sticks together nicely, adding more of the measured flour if the dough is still sticky. Don't knead too long (longer than 2-5 minutes) because it will over work the gluten and make it hard to roll out later. 
4) Once the dough is smooth and elastic, pat it into a square shape, wrap it loosely in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 30 minutes. I put mine in the freezer for ten minutes and then the fridge for ten minutes more to speed up the process. 
5) Make your savory filling: Cook bacon slices in a frying pan til crisp. Remove and drain them on paper towels. In the bacon grease saute the mushrooms til soft. Crumble the bacon slices into the cooked mushrooms. Set aside until you are ready to fill the croissants. 
5) Rolling in: Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and put it on a lightly floured surface. Gently roll it into a square about 12 inches across. Unwrap the butter slab and place it in the center of the dough at a 45° angle, so it looks like a diamond in the square. ( I borrowed these images from kingarthurflour.com since I didn't take any pictures of my own while baking.) 
6) Fold the flaps of the dough over the edges of the butter until they meet in the middle. Pinch and seal the edges of the dough together; moisten your fingers with a little water, if necessary.
7) Dust the top with flour, then turn the dough over and tap it gently with the rolling pin into a rectangular shape. Pick up the dough to make sure it isn't sticking underneath, dusting under with more flour if necessary, (always more flour!) then roll from the center out until you have a rectangle 20 inches long by 10 inches wide.
8) When you've reached this size, take a dry brush and lightly sweep off any excess flour, then fold the bottom third of the dough up to the center, and the top third over that (like you would fold a letter). Line the edges up on top of each other, and even up the corners so they're directly on top of each other. This is your first "turn."
9) Turn the dough package 90° to the right, so it looks like a book ready to be opened. If the dough is still cool to the touch and relaxed, do another rolling and turning the same way. Make a note of how many folds you've completed and the time, and wrap the dough. Return it to the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes. Repeat the folding and turning process at least one more time, for a total of four turns. (I did five. The more you do the flakier the pastry will be.) Once completed, wrap the dough well and refrigerate it for at least an hour before using.
10) Shaping the croissants: Roll it to a 12" x 18" rectangle. Trim the edges of the dough on every edge. This cuts off the folded edges that would stop the "puff." Cut the dough in thirds lengthwise and in half through the middle. This will give you six 4" x 9" pieces. Cut each piece in half diagonally, and arrange them so the points of the triangles are facing away from you. It's okay to stretch them out a little to shape them when you do this. 
11) If you want to, this is the time to place a teaspoon of filling at the base of the triangle, or spread nutella on the whole triangle. Roll up the dough, starting with the wider edge and working toward the point. Make sure the point is tucked under the bottom of the croissant. If you have to stretch the dough a little to make that happen, it's okay. You can also use a drop of water on the tip to help it stay in place. Place the croissants on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. You could freeze them  at this point if you need to make these ahead for your fancy tea party ;).
12) To bake the croissants: Take the croissants out of the refrigerator, and preheat the oven to 350°F. While the oven is heating, brush the tops of the croissants with an egg well-beaten with 1 tablespoon of water.
13) When the oven is hot, bake the croissants for 30 minutes. The croissants should be a deep golden brown, you don't want any raw dough in the center. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack. Eat as soon as they are cool enough to not burn your tongue. ;)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Duvall Plant Sale

The best time of the year!!! At least, it is for anyone living here in the Pacific Northwest. Winter is a dreary, wet, gray, soggy, ugly mess of a month in Seattle. So now that it's May and the sun is shining a bit more it's time for this gal to get baking!
At each change of the seasons I always get inspired. All of my spring and summer baking goals pop out of the woodwork from last year and I vow to bake something new every day. Of course, it doesn't always work that way...but you will see a bunch of baking projects I think!
May 12th our purple booth will be open at Duvall's Annual Plant Sale. Last year was a blast and everyone had fun and enjoyed the baked goods. I'm hoping this year will be even better. But you are all waiting for the menu so let's get that out of the way...

First things first...cupcakes! We have five flavors for sale this year instead of four.
Coconut Cream- everyone that eats one of these vows they are the best...and they are fun because they are filled with coconut custard. Filled cupcakes are always the best, don't you agree?
Orange Dream- This was a request from the little brother. He said they were a very spring themed garden cupcake. He has good taste...vanilla frosting, orange cake, filled with marmalade, topped with candied orange peel. I'm excited for these!
White Chocolate Raspberry- At first I wasn't going to add these to the menu. Until EVERYONE started asking me if I was going to be selling them. They are the most famous of PDB's cupcakes I think. And who wouldn't love em?
Chocolate Peanut Butter- Another returning favorite. These were the first to sell out last year.
Spiced Chai Latte- And to add to our "healthy" options, our vegan cupcake: spiced chai! You can't really tell he's vegan or healthy, though...just as tasty as the rest of the bunch.

We also are planning on selling
Mediterranean Focaccia: Olive oil bread, Parmesan cheese, kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes and tasty spices...
Pesto Rolls: Soft buttery crescent rolled with pesto...
Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies: lots of people wanted gluten free options last year. We heard you! We are also selling Gluten Free Brownies.
Jumbo Decorated Sugar Cookies: For the kiddos! I'm planning on all sorts of shapes including dinosaurs, smiley faces, and flowers.

Plus Homemade Lemonade, Coffee, Water, and Tea. Go ahead and comment below. Anything you were hoping to see this year? I'm still deciding if we should have slices of pie available as well.

I'm super excited and I'm so glad my grandma and mom will be there helping as well. Three generations in the Bakery Booth. Doesn't get much better than that. :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Snowed in!

Friday afteroon made everyone's dreams come true...

It started snowing. And it's kept on snowing since. Needless to say, around yesterday morning everyone got a little short tempered with one another. There are only so many things to do when barricaded in your house with those delightful people you manage to not kill. Sledding seemed to be the sport of choice for a few days...but after a few bruised body parts and several new cracks in the neon orange sled that past time went to the wayside. Then it was snowball time.
Me making a snowball to INHILIATE the boys. ;)
But even that activity was exhausted by the third day. So what else it there to do? Let's make a list, shall we?
1. Clean. Bleh...did a little of that. Some laundry, some dishes, vacuumed. But really? Cleaning?
2. Write letters. Letter wrting seems like a nice homey way of passing the time. Sitting by the fireplace, watching the snow flakes drift down, practicing my nicest penmanship...but this means a walk to the post office and that is quite a feat in over a foot of snow.
3. Last but not the least...BAKE! Yeah! There we go! And since letter writing was on my mind and the next holiday is Valentines Day... I give you:
Love Letter Cookies! :D

The little enveloe ones are actually filled with currant jelly, too. So tasty!

Oh yeah, I made chocolate cupcakes too. Heh.

Poetry and cookies? Color me happy...