Dear Amy (Croissants)

Dearest Amy,

How I miss living with you! I still remember the first Christmas party we girls threw after the Singing Christmas Tree. We weren’t sure what our living situation would be the next semester. Would we have to move? Could we resign the lease? What were we going to do?

And then we found out you were looking for a place to live. And it seemed perfect. So you moved in. Four of us girls. One tiny apartment–two tiny bedrooms, tiny closets, a tiny bathroom, and a tiny galley kitchen. We thought we had the life.

We lived together. We made some meals together. We cried together. We supported each other at final performances and shows. And then we graduated, and moved our separate ways. We keep in touch, even if just sporadically through emails and phone calls and facebook messages.

And then, a little more than a couple years ago, you asked if I knew of any good internships. I did! A couple months after that conversation, you moved in again. This time into a house in small town, Indiana. We had our own bedrooms and bathrooms. That was nice, but the back porch was the best part of the whole place.

Once again, we lived together. We made some meals together. We cried together.

And now, here you are at another transition. I want such great things for you! I hope you end up in the perfect spot–right where you are supposed to be.

Before I moved out, we talked about taking a day to make croissants. And we never did. I regret that. I wish we had taken a Saturday to knead, roll, fold, and refrigerate. And then do it all over again. I wish we had been together while we waited in anticipation for the timer to beep, and those light, fluffy rolls to emerge from the oven. Alas, we weren’t.

But, Amy, I made croissants. And they turned out pretty great!

IMG_0446I used this recipe from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures. I baked 6, and I froze 8. If you’re only baking 6, reduce the bake time to 20 minutes. To freeze the remainder, put them in the freezer on a baking sheet, covered by saran wrap. When they’re frozen, put them in a gallon ziploc, and squeeze as much air out as you can.

I even stuffed some of them with chocolate chips. Delicious! Just line up a dozen or chocolate chips on the base of your triangle, and roll up as you do the plain ones. You’ll get a creamy, chocolate core in the middle. You can see it peaking out on the ends.

IMG_0447Many thanks to Andrew for passing on the recipe! Tracey’s photos and clear directions will walk even the most novice pastry baker through the steps.

My timeline (so I didn’t give up a whole day):

  • Thursday night–mix and knead dough. Roll it and fold it the first two turns. Leave in the fridge overnight.
  • Friday night–roll it and fold it the second two turns. Roll out, cut, and form the croissants. Leave in fridge to proof over night.
  • Saturday morning–pull from fridge, and let rise on the counter for 2-3 hours. Bake and consume (with coffee!).

Bon apetit!

The Galette that was not

Galette. It’s a fancy (French) word for tart. It looks rustic. And tasty. Like this one Marcie made. Pretty, right?

Mine started out OK. I toasted my almonds.

I chopped my strawberries.

I rolled my dough and piled everything on top.

And folded up the edges.

So far so good, yeah? Well, in the process of baking, it acted like a volcano and came out looking like a crumbled mess. Tasty. But messy.

Dear reader, I don’t know what went awry. Was my dough not thin enough? Did I use too many berries? One thing I know for certain is it was a mistake to move it  from one surface to another before baking, and another mistake to move it after baking. Much like a pie, assemble, bake, and serve this dessert in all the same dish. Transporting will not work. The scoreboard officially reads Galette-1, Rachel-0.

Click here for the recipe. Let me know if you have more luck than I did!

Lemon Pound Cake

Pound cakes got their name from the ingredients they require: 1 pound each of butter, sugar, flour, and eggs. Let me tell you, that’s a lot of butter. That’s 4 sticks, people. Four whole sticks of butter in one cake. That’s a lot. But if that sounds like a good time to you, this classic recipe is where it’s at!

I wanted to try something a bit different than a classic pound cake. Rather than strike out on my own, alter a recipe, and undoubtedly create a disaster, I consulted my library-borrowed copy of Gourmet. Success! (side note: the library is a great place to try out cookbooks before you buy them!)

This pound cake uses cake flour, instead of the traditional all purpose. Don’t have cake flour? Never fear! Joy the Baker to the rescue! You need all purpose flour and corn starch, and you can make your own cake flour.

So, find ye a copy of Gourmet and go to town! The recipe is simple, and yields a light, tasty pound cake, with just a hint of lemon in it. Top with strawberries or blueberries for an extra dose of awesome.