Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Daring bakers challenge september: croissants

The Daring Bakers go retro this month! Thanks to one of our very talented non-blogging members, Sarah, the Daring Bakers were challenged to make Croissants using a recipe from the Queen of French Cooking, none other than Julia Child!
Well, do we have a fun daring bakers challenge in september: we made our croissants from scratch. A wish from me for a long time now. Sarah, a non-blogging member of the daring kitchen dared us this time. Thank you for this one.
It's not a recipe you can make in a whimp. Not that it takes a lot of work, but making croissants takes a lot of waiting time.
This recipe takes at least 12 hours, although you can split the recipe and make the croissants in a couple of days.
And the taste. They were delicious. I could save one for the photo, but as you can see, my youngest was haunting it already and before the table was cleaned the croissant was gone (the other eleven didn't even make it untill the photo was taken).

This is definitely something I'm going to make much more. However, the last rise that takes an hour is a long time before we can get a breakfast on sunday. I'm going to experiment with freezing them before the last rise and let them thaw and rise in the refrigerator during the night. Next day I'm going to bake them. If this works, I'm posting it. Otherwise I'm going to try something else.
I'll change the post if it works!!!

And now: the recipe. You can also look at: www.thedaringkitchen.com for a lot of photos that came with the recipe.
Recipe Source: Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume Two. Julia Child and Simone Beck.

- 1⁄4 oz (7 gm) of fresh yeast, or 11⁄4 teaspoon (61⁄4 ml/4 gm) of dry- active yeast (about 1⁄2 sachet)
- 3 tablespoons (45 ml) warm water (less than 100°F/38°C)
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml/41⁄2 gm) sugar
- 1 3⁄4 cups (225 gm/1⁄2 lb) of plain flour
- 2 teaspoons (10 ml/9 gm) sugar
- 11⁄2 teaspoon (71⁄2 ml/9 gm) salt
- 1⁄2 cup (120 ml/1⁄4 pint) milk (I am not sure if the fat content matters. I used 2%)
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) tasteless oil (I used generic vegetable oil)
- 1⁄2 cup (120 ml/1 stick/115 gm/1⁄4 lb) chilled, unsalted butter
- 1 egg, for egg wash

Mix the yeast, warm water, and first teaspoon of sugar in a small bowl. Leave aside for the yeast and sugar to dissolve and the yeast to foam up a little.
Measure out the other ingredients. Heat the milk until tepid (either in the microwave or a saucepan), and dissolve in the salt and remaining sugar
Place the flour in a large bowl. Add the oil, yeast mixture, and milk mixture to the flour.
Mix all the ingredients together using the rubber spatula, just until all the flour is incorporated.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and let it rest a minute while you wash out the bowl.
Knead the dough eight to ten times only. It’s a little difficult to explain, but essentially involves smacking the dough on the counter (lots of fun if you are mad at someone) and removing it from the counter using the pastry scraper. Place the dough back in the bowl, and place the bowl in the plastic bag.
Leave the bowl at approximately 75°F/24°C for three hours, or until the dough has tripled.
After the dough has tripled in size, remove it gently from the bowl, pulling it away from the sides of the bowl with your fingertips. Place the dough on a lightly floured board or countertop, and use your hands to press it out into a rectangle about 8 by 12 inches (20cm by 30cm). Fold the dough rectangle in three, like a letter (fold the top third down, and then the bottom third up).
Place the dough letter back in the bowl, and the bowl back in the plastic bag. Leave the dough to rise for another 1.5 hours, or until it has doubled in size. This second rise can be done overnight in the fridge.Place the double-risen dough onto a plate and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place the plate in the fridge while you prepare the butter. Once the dough has doubled, it’s time to incorporate the butter. Place the block of chilled butter on a chopping board. Using the rolling pin, beat the butter down a little, till it is quite flat. Use the heel of your hand to continue to spread the butter until it is smooth. You want the butter to stay cool, but spread easily. Remove the dough from the fridge and place it on a lightly floured board or counter. Let it rest for a minute or two. Spread the dough using your hands into a rectangle about 14 by 8 inches (35 cm by 20 cm). Remove the butter from the board, and place it on the top half of the dough rectangle. Spread the butter all across the top two-thirds of the dough rectangle, but keep it 1⁄4 inch (6 mm) across from all the edges.Fold the top third of the dough down, and the bottom third of the dough up. Turn the dough package 90 degrees, so that the top flap is to your right (Roll out the dough package gently, so you don’t push the butter out of the dough) until it is again about 14 by 8 inches (35 cm by 20 cm). Again, fold the top third down and the bottom third up. Wrap the dough package in plastic wrap, and place it in the fridge for 2 hours. After two hours have passed, take the dough out of the fridge and place it again on the lightlyfloured board or counter. Tap the dough with the rolling pin, to deflate it a little Let the dough rest for 8 to 10 minutes. Roll the dough package out till it is 14 by 8 inches (35 cm by 20 cm). Fold in three, as before Turn 90 degrees, and roll out again to 14 by 8 inches (35 cm by 20 cm). Fold in three for the last time, wrap in plastic, and return the dough package to the fridge for two more hours (or overnight, with something heavy on top to stop it from rising).
It’s now time to cut the dough and shape the croissants. First, lightly butter your baking sheet so that it is ready.Take the dough out of the fridge and let it rest for ten minutes on the lightly floured board.
Roll the dough out into a 20 by 5 inch rectangle (51 cm by 121⁄2 cm).
Cut the dough into two rectangles (each 10 by 5 inches (251⁄2 cm by 121⁄2 cm)). Place one of the rectangles in the fridge, to keep the butter cold.Roll the second rectangle out until it is 15 by 5 inches (38 cm by 121⁄2 cm). Cut the rectangle into three squares (each 5 by 5 inches (121⁄2 cm by 121⁄2 cm)). Place two of the squares in the fridge. The remaining square may have shrunk up a little bit in the meantime. Roll it out again till it isnearly square.
Cut the square diagonally into two triangles.
Stretch the triangle out a little, so it is not a right-angle triangle, but more of an isosceles.
Starting at the wide end, roll the triangle up towards the point, and curve into a crescent shape.
Place the unbaked croissant on the baking sheet.
Repeat the process with the remaining squares of dough, creating 12 croissants in total. Leave the tray of croissants, covered lightly with plastic wrap, to rise for 1 hour. Preheat the oven to very hot 475°F/240°C/gas mark 9.
Mix the egg with a teaspoon of water. Spread the egg on top of the croissants. Put the croissants in the oven for 12-15 minutes, until the tops brown nicely.
Take the croissants out of the oven and let them cool down on a rack for 10 minutes before serving.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Cutting garden in the summer / update herb garden

Everything is growing and blooming in my cutting garden. Every day I'm discovering new flowers. Impressive that they become that big in one summer from seedlings. Too bad the flowering season is almost to it's end. And because of the bad weather in the last couple of weeks, I didn't spend enough time in my garden. But the sun is shining and I'm back!!! Weeds are dissappearing rather fast when I'm going through my garden with my rake.
I've planned that the herb garden was fully incorporated in my meadow by now. That's a goal I didn't achieve on time.
But that project is going into a new fase. Yesterday, my father-in-law was busy cutting and sawing the wood to make the raised beds for the herbs. Now I'm going to paint the wood to preserve it and then they're going to be filled with sand and compost. The herbs that I've already cultivated are going to be planted in the beds. Then I can check what is missing. I hope that project is done by the end of next week (and I'm going to make enough pictures to get you an idea of how it's going to be).
My own father is making a chicken coop in the meantime (do I have a skilfull family).
Than my childeren and I can collect our own fresh eggs. That's not a job I can ask my husband because he doesn't like chickens. He thinks chicken do attack him on purpose. Hopefully that project is finished in winter.
Now I'm going to enjoy my weekend with my own flowering spot. Tomorrow I'm going to paint.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The daring cooks: september challenge stock-soup consomme

This time, Peta from Australia (a non-blog member of the daring kitchen) challenged us to make a stock and turn it in a soup or consomme. And a bread to accompany the soup,
I'm used to make my own stocks (see earlier posts), but she gave us a lot of background information to go on with it. How you can make a clean consomme and the different types of stock.
So indeed I learned a lot of it, and that's what I think a big plus for the membership of the daring kitchen.
If you want to read her recipes and background information, you can go to the homepage of the daring kitchen: www.thedaringkitchen.com.

To stay in season I've made a tomatosoup. And a pesto bread. Most of the vegetables came from my own garden, as well as the herbs that went into the soup and the pesto.

And I tried a no knead bread. This was the first time that I made it and my conclusion: it's a bit more of a mess, because the dough becomes sticky to everything in it's neighbourhood (a big lesson for the next time), but it was very smooth and soft. Not a dry bread after it was baken, but really, really nice.
Definitely something I'm going to make a lot more.
The recipe of the bread came from the www.theitaliandishblog.com

- 2 kg (4.5 lb) meaty beef;
- 5 liters (5 quarts of water, cold);
- 500 gram (1lb) mirepoix - 2 medium onioins, 2 medium carrots, 2 large celery ribs;
- bouquet garni: 2 leaves of leek, 5 sprigs of thyme, 3 sprigs of parsley, 2 bay leaves. 2 celery ribs;
- oil or butter

- 1 portion of stock (above);
- 1 kg (2 lb) tomatoes, washed and sliced;
- 1 liter passata sauce;
- 3 tablespoons sweet soja sauce;
- 3 tablespoons sugar;
- 500 grams (1 lb) minced meat;
- 1 onion, sliced very thin;
- 10 sage leaves, sliced very thin;
- 150 grams sliced bacon;
- 10 yellow cherry tomatoes, basil for garnish;
- oil or butter

- 3 cups lukewarm water;
- 1.5 tablespoons yeast;
- 1.5 tablespoons salt;
- 6.5 cups (800 grams) all purpose flour.

- 2 tablespoons pine nuts;
- 80 grams basil;
- 50 grams parmesan cheese;
- 2 garlic cloves;
- 6 tablespoons olive oil.


Cook your beef until brown. Sweat the vegetables in the oil or butter until soft. Put the ingredients in a stockpot and cover with cold water.
Cover with a lid then bring to a boil on medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer uncoverd, skimming foam from the surface, for 4 to 8 hours. Strain stock through a muslin-lined sieve. Discard solids.

Tomato soup:
 Put olive oil in the pan and bake on medium high, the onions and sage leaves for about 10 minutes, while stirring. Add the tomatoes and put a lid on it for about 3 minutes. Add the stock, and simmer for about 20 minutes. Blend the tomatoes and pour through a fine sieve. Add the passata sauce, soja sauce and sugar. In a second pan heat water. Roll small balls from the minced meat and cook for about 15 minutes. Add to the soup. Put the slices of bacon in a frying pan and give it a slightly brown color. Put the bacon in the soup. Season with salt and pepper. Serve in a bowl, while garnished with the yellow cherry tomatoes and basil.

While using the food proccesor or blender mix the basil, cheese, cloves and pine nuts to a smooth green paste. Drip in the olive oil untill it's a smooth paste. 
When you've got some pesto you didn't use you can freeze them in a muffin plate for later use.

Add yeast and salt to the water in a 5 quart (1.5 liter) container with a lid. Mix in the flour Add al the flour at once. Mix with a wooden spoon - do not knead. You're finished when everything is uniformly moist without dry patches. 
Allow to rise for about 2 hours. If you put the dough in the refrigerator afterward, the stickyness tends to be less. You can refrigerate overnight.
Shape your loaf. Lay the dough on parchment paper and make a rectangle of it. Spread out the pesto on top. Roll the bread and lay the parchment paper around it. Let it rise for another 30 minutes. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 450 degrees (230 degrees Celsius). Bake the bread for 35 minutes on a pizza stone (if you have one).

Friday, September 16, 2011

Daring bakers challenge august: candylicious

Oh dear, way to late in posting this message. Why? I've been to busy with stocking up my produce. Every night untill late I've been cooking and canning. Almost like a squirrel, getting my own winter stock.
But if I didn't, all my delicious home grown food went bad, so this is late, but with good reason.

And then for the daring bakers challenge. We were dared by Lisa of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives and Mandy of What the fruitcake to make two sorts of candies. One of them had to contain chocolate. I love this challenge for sure.
I thought about it and made the choice to make a lavender bonbon and a toffee lollipop.
They were both delicious, although because of the warm weather the lollipops were soft.
The recipe from the lollipops came from: zelf snoep maken from Francis van Arkel.

The recipes:
Lavender bonbons
- 6 ounce (200 gram) white chocolate;
- 2 ounce (60 gram) pure chocolate (70 % cacoa)
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) cream;
- 4 sprigs of lavender;
- 1 tablespoon mascarpone
- 2 tablespoons of butter;
- sugar;
- 1 mold for chocolate bonbons

Melt 4 ounce of the white chocolate (about 150 grams) au-bain-marie. You can also use the microwave for melting the chocolate. Poor the chocolate in the mold and keep the mold in the refrigerator for about 1 minute. Poor the chocolate out (you should see a layer of chocolate in the mold). Put it in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile bring the cream, mascarpone and butter to a boil and turn of the gas. Put in the lavender sprigs for 10 minutes. Sieve the mixture and mix in the pure chocolate until it dissolves.
Get the mold and poor the lavendermixture in the mold. Don't fill the holes in the mold. You should left enough space so you can put a layer of white chocolate above the lavenderganache.
Put this in the refrigerator until fully set, about 1 hour.
Melt the rest of the white chocolate and poor it on the ganache. Let it stand for another 30 minutes to set.
Make lavendersugar by crushing the last sprig of lavender between the sugar. It should colour slightly purple.
Get the chocolate out of the mold and sprinkle the sugar on top. Put a lavender flower on top for the final touch.

Toffee lollipops
- 150 gram brown sugar;
- 150 gram sugarsyrup;
- 40 gram butter;
- 2 tablespoons water;
- lollipop sticks.

Mix the sugar, syrup, butter and water in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil. Let it boil for about 7 - 8 minutes. When you put a drup of this mixtuere in cold water and it hardens immediately, the mixture is ok.
Use a baking mat and poor the liquid on it.
 Stir the mixture with a spatula until it becomes a firm mass. Mold it to a long thick strip. Cut with a wet and very sharp knife rectangles from the strip. Put the rectangle on a lollipop stick and let it harden for about 1 hour.