Long Weekend Baking – Day One

Let me start out by saying that this post will be the first in a short series. It will consist of three posts, one today, one tomorrow, and one Monday. Now, on with it…

This is a long weekend here in parts of Canada; Monday is Victoria Day. I’ve been waiting for a long weekend so I could make croissants. The recipe I use spreads the process over three days; today is Day One.

Croissants are made of a layered yeast-leavened dough. The dough is layered with butter, rolled and folded several times in succession, then rolled into a sheet, in a technique called laminating. The process results in a layered, flaky texture, similar to a puff pastry (which I also want to make one day).*

I’ve made them once before and they are amazing! Everyone thinks they must be incredibly difficult to make but, honestly, they’re not. They do take some time, spread over a two to three day period, but they’re definitely not difficult. The recipe I’m using comes from Jeffrey Hammelman. You can find the full recipe and detailed instructions here. Please note that the recipe gives the ingredients in weight and cups; I chose to go with weight.

Day One:

  • 1 lb. 2 oz (4 cups) all purpose flour
  • 5 oz. (1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp) cold water
  • 5 oz. (1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp) cold milk (I used 2%)
  • 2 oz. (1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp) granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 oz (3 Tbsp) soft butter (recipe calls for unsalted so I reduced the salt)
  • 2 1/4 tsp. salt

Combine all these ingredients in the bowl of a mixer with a dough hook. Mix on low speed for 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl as required. Then mix at medium speed for another three minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured pie plate and wrap well with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.

croissants1

This is where I’m at right now. The dough is resting in the fridge and the butter has been pounded into shape and ready for Day 2.

*This paragraph was taken from the Wikipedia entry for Croissants (here).

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Cheese and Bacon Swirls

We eat well. Generally speaking, our meals are healthy and balanced. But there are days around here when neither of us feels like cooking. Yesterday was one of those days. John’s been fighting a headache all day and I worked. It was busy! After work, I had a doctor’s appointment (nothing serious, just a prescription renewal) and the thought of getting home and relaxing was a welcome one.

On the way home, John commented that there were really no leftovers left in the fridge and he hadn’t taken anything out of the freezer so Grilled Cheese sandwiches sounded pretty good. Thing is, I’d had a Grilled Cheese sandwich for dinner the previous night, so I didn’t really feel like having another one.

I decided on biscuits, bacon, and eggs. While perusing the recipe, though, I decided to change to Cheese and Bacon Swirls. Real heart healthy, I know. Sometimes, though, you just want something that’s easy, comforting, hot, and… well, just yummy!

This recipe is based on the old stand-by, Baking Powder Biscuits. Once the dough is made, with cheese in it, it’s rolled out to an 18x9x1/4″ rectangle, brushed with melted butter and mustard and sprinkled with crisp, cooked bacon. I did say it’s anything but heart healthy, right? It’s then rolled up and sliced, then baked.

A light salad and a cup of Assam tea on the side and I was happy! Obviously, it’s not the greatest dinner but these would be lovely on a lazy Saturday morning… instead of a cinnamon roll (I prefer savoury to sweet, anyway).

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Cheese and Bacon Swirls

[printable version]

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup shredded aged Cheddar
  • 1/2 tsp celery seed
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp butter melted
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 8 slices crisp, cooked, and crumbled bacon

Preheat oven to 450ºF

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the shortening until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the grated Cheddar cheese and celery seed; mix well. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the milk all at once. Stir quickly with a fork until the dough comes together. Turn onto a lightly floured board and knead gently 10 – 12 strokes (the less handling the better).

Roll out the dough to a 18 x 9 x 1/4″ rectangle. Blend the melted butter and the Dijon mustard and brush the mixture over the dough; sprinkle with the bacon bits. Beginning at the long side, roll up the dough like you would a jelly roll; seal the edge and cut into 1/2″ slices. Bake, cut side down, on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet for about 12 minutes.

Makes 20

Orange-Nutmeg Popovers

The weather today is absolutely gorgeous here in the Okanagan. Spring is definitely here and we’ve spent a goodly portion of this morning outdoors. As a matter of fact, I decided it was warm enough to have our lunch outside, the first time this year we’ve done that. On today’s lunch menu was scrambled eggs, bacon, an orange and Orange-Nutmeg popovers.

Popovers are something I’ve not made often; they’re so similar to Yorkshire puddings that I’ve never seen the need to make them. That said, I had a book on hand that I’d borrowed from the library, “Savory Baking” by Mary Cech, and one of the recipes that piqued my interest was the Orange-Nutmeg Popovers. What clinched it was the statement, “…serve next to soft scrambled eggs…”. Scrambled eggs are a favourite around here at any time so I thought, “Why not?”

They were a huge hit with John! The subtle flavours of the orange zest, the nutmeg and the bite of the pepper were a lovely complement to the scrambled eggs. We’ve decided that this recipe is a definite keeper; we’ll be making these again and possibly switching up the flavours now and then (we’re thinking aged cheddar and dill perhaps, or some other interesting combination).

I think John’s already looking forward to next weekend, hoping I’ll make these again!

Orange-Nutmeg Popovers

from “Savory Baking” by Mary Cech

[printable version]

  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 3 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • zest of one large orange
  • about 1 tbsp bacon fat or vegetable oil

Put the eggs, milk, and butter in a blender and mix on medium speed for 5 seconds. Add the flour, salt, nutmeg, pepper, and orange zest. Mix for another 15 seconds. Let the batter rest at room temperature for about 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.  Divide the bacon fat or vegetable oil among 6 popover tins or muffin tins and place in oven while it is heating. When the oven reaches 375º, remove the tin from the oven and divide the batter between the cups. Center the muffin tins in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until they are firm and golden on the outside. Remove from the oven and prick each popover with a small knife to allow the steam to escape. Remove from muffin tins. Best served hot from the oven.

Makes 6