Category Archives: Pastries

Danish

Sometimes I make poor decisions. Such as wine tasting on an empty stomach and trying to bake bread afterwards. Not my best bread, let me tell you. Other times though, I make very good decisions, like making these danish pastries.

You see, I got a new textbook for school and I’m madly in love with it. My class this quarter is only using a few chapters of the hefty volume (mostly plated desserts), but I’m making my own way through the many, many bread chapters. Including the one on danish.

I then proceeded to eat only danish for three days straight. It’s very hard to resist all that butter, cream cheese filling, and homemade fig and vin santo jam. If these weren’t so time consuming to make, I would be in trouble.

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Cake: an emotional rollercoaster

Cake has somehow taken over my life. It used to be a special occasion kind of treat I would make for birthdays, but suddenly there is cake in my home every day of the week. I am in deep water here…I need more vegetables.

Keep reading…

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Filed under Cake, Chocolate, Pastries

Pine nuts, cannoli, and figs, oh my!

A couple weeks ago, I held a taste testing party for my cousin and some of his friends. I made Italian cookies to practice and test out recipes for the bakery, and they ate said cookies and provided feedback. Wine was also part of the deal, naturally.

But first, let’s rewind to 48 hours earlier when I began this adventure in the kitchen. It started at my favorite grocery store which has almost any ingredient I could ever need, Italian or otherwise, and so inexpensive! It is a horrible enabler to my grocery shopping addiction.

In any case, I made my mother’s almond biscotti recipe, which I cannot seem to make without getting extremely frustrated. I cannot begin to fathom why this recipe just doesn’t cooperate with me. It’s not that anything goes wrong either, they just aren’t perfect. Grr. The pine nut cookies on the other hand, those were fun, if not very, very sticky. The cookies themselves are a chewy macaroon made with almond paste. Delicious. I skimped a little on the pine nuts, but those little buggers are expensive!

And oh the fig cookies.

These were big winners.

Then of course, there were cannoli. You can buy pre-made shells if you’re short on time, and then you just mix ricotta and powdered sugar until creamy, then add in your flavor, in my case, orange and cinnamon. Easy peasy.

Of course, even with all this baking I had three pounds of leftover ricotta cheese. So later that week I made ricotta and polenta cake full of honey and ricotta muffins, which were barely sweet but fascinatingly good. I think I was photographed out by this point because I documented neither item. However, ricotta is such a wonderously versatile cheese that I have a long list of ricotta desserts to try out, so this will not be the last you hear of it.

Of all the treats I made for the evening, I was most proud of my rosemary bread. It turned out better than ever before.

It was just divine. Most especially with butter. (Obviously). Unfortunately, I have since let my rosemary plant die. Oops! I don’t know how I will ever start and keep a garden.

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Filed under Bakery, Beer and Vino, Bread, Cookies, Fruit, Italian, Pastries

Croissant Heaven

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.

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Blizzard Baking: Part Four

I love snow.

It’s awfully fun to play in, though less fun to shovel.

But shoveling is an excellent way to work off all these croissants.

I’m striving to strike a balance here between excessive snow and excessive butter.

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Blizzard Baking: Part Three

Turns out it’s really hard to capture a blizzard on camera.

But it’s even harder to resist eating another one of these brownies.

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Lessons from Pastry School

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.

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