You know what I’d like to bring back?
Tea time, and not the golf kind. Those British are on to something. I mean, I’m not the biggest fan of tea unless I’m sick–I’m much more of a debilitating coffee addiction kind of girl. But the tea time ritual itself, that’s what I want. Because you get to take a break in the middle of the day and socialize. And more importantly, you get to eat cake. (Or at least you do in my version of tea time).
The best coffee/tea-time cake is deliciously simple. Butter, sugar, eggs, and flour, maybe a little flavor, (I am all about almond!), or jam filling. Everyday cakes are truly spectacular without the fuss. Unfortunately these kinds of cake don’t always satisfy as an after dinner dessert. They shine much more brightly mid-day, shared with a friend or two over coffee and tea.
Which is why we need to bring back tea time. And while we’re at it, afternoon siestas. I would advocate for brunch too, another excellent reason to make one of these cakes, but it is already a recognized and well-practiced tradition.
In conclusion, everyday cakes are a largely ignored yet glorious treat. I’m a big fan and you should be too. So I’m going to share with you three fabulous cake recipes that I made on a whim and was ever so glad I did!
We finally got to finish our croissants in class! Last week we made our laminated doughs, but because class was canceled during the storm, we were unable to actually shape and bake them. Lucky for us, our teacher put the doughs in the freezer so that come Monday we could finish what we had started and no dough, and more importantly butter, would go to waste. As you might have read, I had ended up making my own croissants during the storm because I was afraid we would not have this opportunity. I’m so glad we revisited them in class though, because I learned how to properly and most deliciously roll them out (and stuff them with chocolate!)
Ok so check this out. In the process of rolling out a croissant, you cut and stretch it out like a little Eiffel Tower. Just in case you needed a reminder as to the origins of what you are making.
And then you roll them up to look like little armadillos. Adorable.
These things turned out more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. I was so proud, and once again grateful to be taking this class. We learn so many things I never would have thought of, let alone picked up on my own. I don’t think I could have ever made croissants like these just following a recipe. I learn much better from watching and doing.
So the croissants were a big thumbs up. But the real winner of the evening/morning breakfast was the chocolate rolls. Oh my God.
Apparently the crescent shaped croissants are supposed to be just plain, while the stuffed ones are shaped into rolls. Which is smart if you think about it because then your chocolate is portioned out evenly throughout the entire thing, rather than just in the very center. We used these little chocolate sticks made specifically for this purpose. I also used like five sticks per roll instead of just one or two–but I feel no need to justify that, you know you would’ve done the same.
Maybe it was the many chocolate sticks, or just inattention to portioning the dough, but my stuffed croissant rolls were ridiculously huge. I only now wish I had made them smaller so they could have lasted longer. I had only one chocolate roll for breakfast the next morning before sharing the rest, and I can’t seem to get it out of my head. There was a perfect amount of chocolate between layers and layers of flaky, buttery, phenomenal pastry. I’ve been craving it like crazy ever since my first bite! I absolutely have to make these again soon, if only for my own sanity.
Last week I began baking and pastry school. After about ten hours of class, both classroom and kitchen time, I feel like I’m already learning so much. Here’s a rundown of what I’ve learned so far:
1. How to tie a neckerchief.
2. How itchy neckerchiefs can be.
3. How you can’t get into the cafeteria without being in full uniform, including your neckerchief.
4. How to make really flaky biscuits.
5. Homework in my class means bringing home my work and eating it the next morning for breakfast.
6. How to make delicious scones and blueberry muffins.
7. How NOT to transport those scones and muffins home. And how crumbly and smush-prone freshly baked scones and muffins can be. It’s days later and I am still finding crumbs on the seat of my car.
8. How to deal with one wash station for a class of 20 people. Then again, I think we’re still trying to figure that out. This is probably my least favorite thing about class.
9. How there’s gloriously no traffic driving home after class (as opposed to the drive in), so I can make it home by midnight.
10. How much I love what I’m doing.
Why, donuts of course! Or bombolini in this case, little donut holes rolled in sugar and filled with cream, jam, or nutella. Is it donut or doughnut? I never know which to use, but for the sake of brevity (in typing) I will use the former.
You should make these even if your oven isn’t broken. Even if you didn’t stupidly pour water on a hot oven door, cracking the glass window rendering the oven useless and a glass-shattering hazard. (And even if you finished baking your bread with the glass broken, risking said hazard, because you were not about to waste good dough).
Or was that just me?
I was terribly distraught when I learned my oven would not be operational for an entire week. However, I can use this week to make things that do not require an oven. Or get other things on my to do list done without getting distracted by proofing bread or baking cookies.
After going on an on about whole grains, I should have at least shared a recipe! So since I mentioned awesome pancakes…
Ever wondered what a cranberry farm really looks like? Besides what you see on those Ocean Spray commercials?
And in the case of Mrs. D, my friends’ mom/our neighbor/my second mother, I made two cakes. Because that’s how I show my love. Her family threw her a surprise birthday party, and I volunteered to make the dessert. I decided on two cakes, a chocolate cake (courtesy of Smitten Kitchen) and a white/lemony/raspberry/vanilla cake (from Dorie Greenspan).