Sunday, November 22, 2009

A New Holiday Tradition?

It has been a really long time since I did a recipe. Honestly, husband's been doin' most of the cookin' with me at the barn more. But despite this being library week and goin' to see the possible cow, I was home enough days in a row to fix somethin' special.
What I did was this. I read, some years ago, on somebody's blog, about making croissants I guess it was. That's where I got the idea anyway to take dough and squash it, butter it, layer it. Except the blog I read it on was definitely not a "you can do this" sort of blog but an "I'm a chef, I'm special" kind of blog. Lawd but I hope that you get that I am not about anything if it isn't that you can do this too. Don't be stupid, be creative, be brave, be persistent, have vision, get along with your family and pay no attention to what the rest of the world thinks and you can do this too!

Well, the rolls are even easier than that. I took my regular bread recipe (and remember, I let a bread machine do the first part of the regular, non-fermented, breads) and changed it a bit. I took a cup and a half of water and warmed it. I usually use a bit more liquid but I wanted a soft dough so I put in more oil that usual, a quarter cup or a bit more. I put in some sugar just because, probably a quarter cup of that too. About four cups of freshly ground hard wheat flour. Two teaspoons of yeast. And I was supposed to put in two teaspoons of salt but I got all distracted and forgot that on this batch. Bread always needs salt. I think that is it. What I usually put in that I didn't was extra gluten because I wanted a soft dough.

I let the machine knead and do the first risin'. I melted butter, got my basting brush, my rollin' pin, a pan and a board all greased up (actually, spray oiled), and turned the dough onto the board. And then I rolled it out to a rectangle. Then I buttered that rectangle, folded it over, found out that it was easiest to butter it and fold it twice for every rolling out, and did that several times. Roll, butter, fold, butter, fold, roll, etc. After about eight times I got to thinking about how many layers I had (2,4,8,16, 32, 64, 128, 256) and I stopped and rolled the whole thing out as thin as I could. Then I proceeded to cut it into triangles, butter those, and roll those up like the crescent rolls that my mother fed me (and guests) on special occassions. Then butter the tops.

Then I let them rise and baked them and you see the results. Light, flakey, buttery, delicious. I sprinked kosher salt on the top of this batch since I'd figured out by then that I'd forgotten to salt the dough. These are definitely good enough to join the brocolli salad and pecan pies as a holiday tradition.


Anonymous said...

How strange... just the other day I was thinking I wanted to ask you if you'd ever experimented with croissants.

I remember something from back in the day, Julia Child I believe. Said one thing to do to make croissants more croissantlike was to spray/mist water into the oven while they were cooking. Any ideas on that?

Mr. H. said...

Ha! I am one of those husbands that does a lot of the cooking but never the baking, I'm terrible at it...the whole recipe thing you know.

So tonight with the wife off on family business I decided that all I wanted in life was to have a pizza, and to us that means homemade. So I looked and looked and could not for the life of me find the darn recipe my wife normally uses.

So, rather than looking one up online I decided to just do it. I said to myself "Mike, you're a good cook and albeit a somewhat illiterate baker you must at least give it a go" and so I did. And, although I have yet to put the whole pie together, the crust has risen in a warm area and looks might not taste so great but maybe it will, especially with a beer. I was brave, persistent, perhaps lacking in vision, but definitely creative.:) Great post!

CG said...

Good for you Mr. H! I always leave the gluten out of crust or I can't make it big enough for the pans!

Annette, maybe it was your thoughts on the matter that pushed me over the edge. And yes, I most usually use the "throw water into the oven" trick when I'm using the wood stove. In the gas stove I just put a pan of water in as it pre-heats and then leave it. Unless I'm doing the fermented bread (the no knead that went around some time ago -- although I knead it) and that's done in a closed container and thus is its own moisture. The trick there is that you are keeping the crust moist enough to not get a stiff crust until it has time to rise internally a bit more. Works too.

Alecto said...

Well, given the fact that Cletus vetoed my unilateral decision to cancel Thanksgiving this year I do believe I'll take a pound of butter and get started!

Anonymous said...

I am sincerely thankful for you all. Happy Feast!