An unconventional method for making biscuits results in puff pastry, and we're glad about that.


A big motivation for this site is from the question "what's the recipe?"  Few questions overwhelm me to point of being speechless.  A recipe is a list of ingredients, to put them together is a bigger proposition.  I used to go into the details, then I perceived the trapped person glazing over and I realized the person asking was simply trying to give a compliment but wasn't really interested in the preparation.  The website was an easy way to get off the hook.  I could point them to the site and details.

It's Sunday and that's often a morning of biscuits and fruit.  My typical biscuit prep is 300 g flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, salt, a T sugar, cut in butter (100 g) and moisten with 180 grams liquid (water or milk), mix, fold a few times, cut in circles, bake at 450.

Today, since I was in croissant mode, I took a different tack with the same biscuit ingredients and stumbled on something nice.  I made a dough mixed from water (90 g), flour (150 g), salt (3 g), sugar (1T) and baking powder (2t) - which could just have easily been made from self rise flour (150 g) and water (90 g).  That was kneeded in a bread machine while I made a 55 gram butter pat in a small ziploc bag using my butter trick.  The dough and butter were treated just as in the croissant method (albeit much smaller rectangles, but still 81 layers) and cut into squares.

It was a lean dough, leavened with just baking powder.  Butter was then added, and the folding/chilling/rolling went off in about 15 minutes.  I cut the final dough into 6 cubes and baked at 450F.  The delectable morsels are depicted above.  They were reminiscent of puff pastry (obviously not as thin, but just as delicate) and are going to be a serious building block for all sorts of stuff, popovers for starters!


Croissants, needs work

I made croissants and pain au chocolat about 10 years ago and got an itch recently to give it another go. It's basically an enriched dough, plus a bunch of butter folded in carefully and made into funny shapes, a little like a multi-layered biscuit only leavened with yeast instead of dough - and more layers. My enriched dough was a straight dough (everything mixed together and allowed to rise): milk (300 g), butter (38 g), salt (9 g), sugar (15 g), yeast (instant active, 7 g), and Montana Sapphire unbleached white (500 g) and mixed into a stiff dough with a bread machine. It did it's first rise at room temp for a few hours. Then I rolled it into a 10 x 15" rectangle and that's where the images begin.

Above is the dough rolled out and I'm unwrapping my 300 g of butter prepared about a week ago using my spiffy trick to get the butter into a 10" square.

The square rested on 2/3 of the rectangle (above) and the dough flapped over in thirds.

First flap...

Second flap to make the first 3 layers.  The rectangle is now about 5" x 10" and placed in the refrigerator to chill.  Then it is removed and rolled out to a 10" x 15" rectangle and folded in thirds.  Repeat this until you get to 81 layers of butter. (3 to the 4th).

Roll 1/2 of that rectangle while keeping the other half in the fridge into a 20" x 10" rectangle, cut into 5" x 5" squares and cut the squares diagonally and roll 'em up.  Let rise about 20 minutes, they're chilly to start but still proof only about 20 minutes.  If this stuff warms up, it'll get ugly.  You're going to rely on the oven spring to get the volume in them.

Bake on a piece of parchment that is placed on a cookie sheet in a preheated 425F oven and glaze with a whole egg wash.

I wasn't thrilled with them.  They were ok, but the middle was a tad dense, maybe the proof was too short.  Anyway, there they are.  Because of the butter trick, they were pretty easy.  After all the folds to get the 81 layers, the rectangle sat in the fridge overnight and the final rolling was done the next morning (at 4 am, ugh).  But it was still pretty fun.  I look forward to making them again, just have to change some: final rising times and/or baking conditions, still thinking about it.

Recipe for these from Wayne Gisslen.


Butter trick, preparing for croissants

I'm sure I have nothing on any French bakers out there, but I think this is slick.  I got 300 grams of butter into a 10" x 10" tile with barely any effort by using a ziploc.  It chills in the fridge into a nice wafer.  When ready, I'll trim the sides, peel off the plastic and voila, fold, fold, fold - croissants!

The Stonehenge of chilled butter

Use of this in croissants


Heat sources and data logging

Click on images for an awesome view...
The other day I scored a stirring hotplate from the thrift store for $6.  It looked new and is originally about $500-$600.  The value in this heat source is the stability of temperature over time.  I used a datalogger and collected about 7,192 data points to illustrate it.  
  • On the left: the blue box, the profile represents the heating of 2 gallons of water on heat setting 3, 
  • Next is the black box showing the cooling period when I turned the heat down to "2"
  • The green box shows the same 2 gallons heated at the lower setting and finally, 
  • The black box on the right shows water heated in a slow cooker, observe the oscillating pattern. 
While the slowcooker is ok for chili, it would suck for a sous vide bath (or something).
Below is a scale expansion of the blue box to show the range of temperature:

Cool or what??