Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Carbs Galore

Hey there cupcake!

Wow, today has been a really INTERESTING day. I was watching the Kathie Lee & Hoda morning show and they were talking about Michelle Obama's shorts. WTF?! And then my boyfriend shared this article with me about Archie Comics...he proposed to Veronica?! I was so confused!! But then again, just because he proposed to Veronica doesn't mean he's going to marry her right? Archie and Betty are supposed to be together!! Or at least that's what I thought when I was reading these comics years ago. Okay, so enough with my ranting and denial, let's get down to business!

See that cupcake up there, the cute little red one with a swirl of frosting on top? It's a Vanilla Buttermilk Cake with Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting. I got the recipe from Joy the Baker's blog. I made it as a wedding cake sample for my sister, yes, the one I decided to make the wedding cake for. The cake was pretty good, light and tender, but maybe I could have gone without the color. The frosting on the other hand was a little too buttery, most likely because I ran out of powdered sugar. So I'll need to give that another try some time. This cake recipe is definitely going on my list of possible cake recipes for a wedding cake.

So you're reading the title of this post and you're wondering where all the carb is right? Well here it is, I introduce you to Alton Brown's Soft Pretzel's.

I'm not too big of a fan of the salted pretzel.

What is there to say? Alton Brown is a genius. They looked beautifully dark and they tasted pretty good, but maybe a little too baking soda-y, since there was 2/3 cup for 10 cups of water. Would lowering the baking soda not give me that great of a color? Or was the color just all from the egg wash? Anywho...I would definitely recommend this pretzel recipe to anyone who's looking for one. It's pretty simple, but shaping them is another story, I need more practice with that. Ready for the next round of carbs?

Croissants et un pain au chocolat.

I don't know why I decided to make these yesterday. I guess I've been intrigued by them, like the macarons, I just needed to try making it so I can say that I know how. All I have to say is CROISSANTS. Delicate, flaky, fluffy, crisp, buttery, and light. These can't really be made in a hurry, most of the recipes I came across require letting the dough rest from 4 to 18 hours. So please be patient when you make these, you'll be completely satisfied with the effort it took to make them when you taste a fresh, hot, croissant. I got the recipe here, it's quite long I'll copy it here, I read it over about 3 times for it to make sense. I started this yesterday and finished it before noon today.

Classic French Croissants

adapted from Epicurious and the District Domestic

1 1/2 cups whole milk, heated to warm (105°F–110°F)
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tbsp plus 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
3 3/4 to 4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) really cold unsalted butter

This was after I made the dough, wrapped it, and chilled it.
Crazy yeast-y air bubble action going on!

Start by making the dough: Stir together warm milk, brown sugar, and yeast in bowl of standing mixer and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If it doesn’t foam, discard and start over – the yeast was dead.) Add 3 3/4 cups flour and salt and mix with dough hook at low speed until dough is smooth and very soft, about 7-9 minutes.

Transfer dough to a work surface and knead by hand 2 minutes, adding more flour as necessary, a little at a time, to make a soft, slightly sticky dough. Form dough into a roughly 1 1/2-inch-thick rectangle and chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until cold, about 1 hour.

I drew the 8x5 rectangle on the wax paper I used just to make it a little easier.

Prepare and shape butter: After dough has chilled, arrange sticks of butter horizontally, their sides touching, on a work surface. Pound butter with a rolling pin to soften slightly (butter should be malleable but still cold). Scrape butter into a block and put on a kitchen towel (flour sack towels work best), then cover with other towel. Pound and roll out on both sides until butter forms a uniform 8- by 5-inch rectangle. Chill, wrapped in towels, while rolling out dough. (Don’t skimp on the chilling – it’s important to not let the butter “melt”)

Buttery goodness waiting to be transformed.

Roll out dough: Unwrap dough and roll out on a lightly floured surface, dusting with flour as necessary and lifting and stretching dough (especially in corners), into a 16- by 10-inch rectangle. Arrange dough with a short side nearest you. Put butter in center of dough so that long sides of butter are parallel to short sides of dough. Fold as you would a letter: bottom third of dough over butter, then top third down over dough. Brush off excess flour with pastry brush.

Roll out dough: Turn dough so a short side is nearest you, then flatten dough slightly by pressing down horizontally with rolling pin across dough at regular intervals, making uniform impressions. Roll out dough into a 15- by 10-inch rectangle, rolling just to but not over ends.

Brush off any excess flour. Fold in thirds like a letter, as above, stretching corners to square off dough, forming a 10- by 5-inch rectangle. (You have completed the first “fold.”) Chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, 1 hour.

It looks like this for a while, when you're rolling and folding over and over again.

Make remaining “folds”: Make 3 more folds in same manner, chilling dough 1 hour after each fold, for a total of 4 folds. (If any butter oozes out while rolling, sprinkle with flour to prevent sticking.) Wrap dough tightly in plastic wrap and chill at least 8 hours but no more than 18 (after 18 hours, dough may not rise sufficiently when baked).

Check out those layers of dough and butter. This is for the final rolling out.

Roll out and cut dough: Cut dough in half and chill 1 half, wrapped in plastic wrap. Roll out other half on a lightly floured surface, dusting with flour as necessary and stretching corners to maintain shape, into a 16- by 12-inch rectangle. Brush off excess flour with pastry brush and trim edges with a pizza wheel or sharp knife.

Arrange dough with a short side nearest you. Cut in half horizontally and chill 1 half. Cut remaining half vertically into thirds, forming 3 rectangles. Cut each rectangle diagonally in half to make 2 triangles, for a total of 6 triangles.

Shape croissants: Holding short side (side opposite tip) of 1 triangle in one hand, stretch dough, tugging and sliding with other hand toward tip to elongate by about 50 percent.

Return to work surface with short side of triangle nearest you. Beginning with short side, roll up triangle toward tip. (Croissant should overlap 3 times, with tip sticking out from underneath; you may need to stretch dough while rolling.)

Put croissant, tip side down, on a parchment-lined large baking sheet. (Curve ends inward to make a crescent shape if desired.)

Make more croissants with remaining 5 triangles, then with remaining rolled-out dough, arranging them 2 inches apart on baking sheet. Repeat rolling, cutting, and shaping procedures with chilled piece of dough.

Let croissants rise: Slide each baking sheet into a garbage bag, propping up top of bag with inverted glasses to keep it from touching croissants, and tuck open end under baking sheet.

Let croissants rise until slightly puffy and spongy to the touch, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Rising in the oven, instead of a garbage bag with glasses...

Bake croissants: Adjust oven racks to upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 425°F.

Remove baking sheets from bags. Spritz inside oven generously with spray bottle and close door. Put croissants in oven, then spritz again before closing door. Reduce temperature to 400°F and bake 10 minutes without opening door.

Switch position of sheets in oven and rotate sheets 180°, then reduce temperature to 375°F and bake until croissants are deep golden, about 10 minutes more.

My camera sucks...I don't think this captures the glory of fresh croissants.

You know you want some!

I really hope you guys try this sometime! There is no way you would regret it. It might take a few diagrams and lots of waiting, but it is SOOOO worth it! Have fun and enjoy!

I really don't know when I'll be making these again though ;)


  1. wow! i'm impressed with the croissants. those red vanilla cupcakes are darling!

  2. You did a fabulous job with those croissants, I'm jealous! One of these days I'll try making them your way, haha. Those pretzels look so good too, I've been meaning to try making pretzels for the longest time but still haven't gotten around to it.

  3. i've never tried making croissants... i'm impressed