Friday, July 24, 2015

For the love of pastries....

I love my current job...and what I really like about it are the summers off! :) However, this summer I've determined I may be in the wrong line of work because I've discovered the fun of making pastries! I don't know how many times over the past many years I've looked at apple turnovers and thought, "I can make those", but never attempted to find a recipe. Then a few years ago it hit me again and with the internet it was easy to do a search for a recipe. Problem was the recipes I ran across seemed like they were labor intense and a whole lot of time and effort for something that I couldn't imagine would turn out as good as I wanted them to. I'm not one to waste things and the thought of all that butter going down the tubes cautioned me to not even think about trying homemade pastry.

After spending the first part of my summer vacation making ice cream in all kinds of flavors I was ready to move on to something else before the canning season started. I went back to my google search and rediscovered the pastry dough. I decided I would try the puff pastry and just see how well this stuff would turn out. All that time and work I had previously read about didn't seem quite so daunting after reading over the recipe several times before I even started and to minimize my "waste not want not" personality I decided I would halve the recipe and see what happened. As I was reading up on all these different ways of doing puff pastry I ran across what is known as the "rough puff" version...a little less labor intense, so that was the route I chose to go....I was not disappointed!

I have to say at the beginning of all this my mind just could not wrap around the fact that flour and butter would somehow come together to make this incredible puffy, flaky dough...just could not fathom it at all, but I went ahead with my project, worked my dough, did all that "fold then turn" thing and let it set in the frig until the next morning. You can't really tell by the picture I took, but there are many, many "layers" in that wad of dough. That's the whole purpose of the fold and puts all these layers in there that when they bake they "puff" up from all that butter....glorious!!

Now, I normally don't use canned pie filling, but I happened to have a can of apple and since apple turnovers were what I was aiming for I used it...doctored up of course, because canned pie filling has about as much flavor as I don't know what...but it certainly doesn't have flavor!! I rolled out my dough the next morning, cut my little squares, added a spoonful of filling, folded them over and crimped them with a fork, then gave them an egg wash. Into that hot oven they went and I waited with much trepidation and anticipation. In about 20 mins. I pulled out the most incredible turnovers I think I've ever seen! They seriously do just what the recipe said they would do, nice and golden and PUFFED!! I let them cool about 10 mins. and them drizzled them with vanilla icing....oooohhh my heavenly goodness...yes, they were!

I had some leftover dough scraps and decided I'd just twist those up and douse them with cinnamon sugar and they were pretty tasty as well! The youngest daughter came to taste test and declared "ooohh, these are good...these are REALLY GOOD!" She followed that with, I needed to make more in cherry! ;) The oldest granddaughter declared them really good to, and requested blueberry. The hubs said he'd eat whatever flavor I wanted to make, all the while shoving pastry in his mouth and mumbling, "umm....ummm"!! LOL!

Sooooo, having tried and conquered the puff pastry I decided I might as well go all out and attempt the danish kind too. Once again, I went on a search for a dough recipe, and halved it for my purposes. This time, instead of the rough puff, I decided I was going to do the classic "laminating" with a block of was interesting to say the least, but certainly very doable and worked just as well as the first one! Since we'd already tried the apple I wanted to give a caramel pecan one a try and I wanted to get "fancy" and try a braid. Yep, just as good! I actually had enough dough that I divided it in half and made some crescent rolls I took to the oldest daughter's house for supper and still had enough to make the pecan braid the next morning. I had some leftover pecan braid this morning with my was still just as tender and just as tasty as it was two days ago when I first baked it....amazing!!

The real kicker for me in all of this is of course, is the butter. It has to be real butter and being frugal, paying the price for real stick butter was not something I would want to do very often, however, I do make my own homemade butter with goat cream, so it was the next on the try out list! I wasn't sure how well it would work because goat butter becomes very soft and creamy at room temp. With all that fold and turning I knew this round would take longer in the making because I would have to chill between all those turns, but I went ahead with the trial. It did require a little more "work", but I can attest that the end result was even better I think. My plan was to make Danish...hadn't really decided what KIND of danish, but I was going to do danish, then this morning I got up and decided I would half that dough and try some croissants....yes, well....if the danish turn out as well as these croissants we'll be making ourselves sick eating them! :) They are buttery, they are flaky, and they are amazing to watch as they bake in that oven! You must make sure you have your little ends tucked under though, otherwise they will pop out from under and make a not as pleasing looking little croissant! ;)
Once again the hubs is cramming and "umming" and enjoying all these experiments I've been trying...I honestly think he wakes up every morning in anticipation of just what new thing I'm going to come up with next!!

And that next attempt is to make the best of both worlds by using the rough puff technique with the danish recipe and save myself a little time.I'm pretty sure these little gems I've been cranking out the past week are going to be keepers, so I have to figure out a little less time consuming way of making them. After all, it won't be long now and I'll be heading back to work and all my creating and baking time will come to an end...well, at least an end to the daily basis creating! Unless of course I decide to go into a whole new line of work and open up my own bakery shop!! ;) Nah, then it really WOULD become work and no longer fun and I prefer the fun part!

If you've ever considered trying pastry, but was afraid of it like I was...don't be!! It really is as simple as it sounds and the work involved is not near what it sounds like when you first read a recipe. Whatever work is involved is absolutely worth it in the end. I'm going to include a link here to Joe Pastry, as he has all KINDS of things he makes and shows you in pictures and well written explanations...check it out for yourself and then go roll you out some dough!