Archive for September, 2011

Croissants – Daring Bakers Challenge September 2011

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

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!

If I could eat croissants for breakfast (almost) every morning, I think that would be a great way to start the day.

Seeing as though this recipe was quite long and involved (with many rest periods), it meant I would have to settle for having fresh (you can’t get any more fresh) croissants for morning tea.

And what better way than with a picnic? Almost all other weekends this month have been lovely, and we have had a few family picnics out in the backyard. This last weekend, the rain poured down non-stop and the temperature dropped, so we set up picnic rugs in the lounge room in front of the fire and ate croissants indoors, appreciating the dry and the warmth.

The croissants were delicious. Absolutely amazing. The recipe was easy to follow, although was time consuming because of the resting periods for the dough/pastry.

I think I may have made the butter a little too warm while working it, causing a few butter chunks to be seen through the pastry, rather than a smooth layer, although you could not notice it once baked.

I will definitely be making these again, when my second-hand/new (new for me) large granite bench-top is installed – I’m super excited!

Here is a good video of Julia Child making croissants, it should help along with the photos below.

Thanks to our host for this month’s challenge, I’m so glad I have made croissants again – with a great recipe.

P.S. I made double quantity (didn’t really change the technique until I came to step 42, where I cut it into 4)


Servings: 12 croissants

¼ oz (7 gm) of fresh yeast, or 1¼ teaspoon (6¼ ml/4 gm) of dry-active yeast (about ½ sachet)
3 tablespoons (45 ml) warm water (less than 100°F/38°C)
1 teaspoon (5 ml/4½ gm) sugar
1 3/4 cups (225 gm/½ lb) of strong plain flour (I used Polish all-purpose flour, which is 13% protein)
2 teaspoons (10 ml/9 gm) sugar
1½ teaspoon (7½ ml/9 gm) salt
½ cup (120 ml/¼ 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)
½ cup (120 ml/1 stick/115 gm/¼ lb) chilled, unsalted butter
1 egg, for egg wash


1. 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.
2. Measure out the other ingredients
3. Heat the milk until tepid (either in the microwave or a saucepan), and dissolve in the salt and remaining sugar
4. Place the flour in a large bowl.
5. Add the oil, yeast mixture, and milk mixture to the flour
6. Mix all the ingredients together using the rubber spatula, just until all the flour is incorporated
7. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and let it rest a minute while you wash out the bowl
8. Knead the dough eight to ten times only. The best way is as Julia Child does it in the video (see below). 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.
9. Place the dough back in the bowl, and place the bowl in the plastic bag

10. Leave the bowl at approximately 75°F/24°C for three hours, or until the dough has tripled in size.

11. 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.
12. 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).

13. Fold the dough rectangle in three, like a letter (fold the top third down, and then the bottom third up)

14. Place the dough letter back in the bowl, and the bowl back in the plastic bag.

15. 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.

16. 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.
17. Once the dough has doubled, it’s time to incorporate the butter
18. Place the block of chilled butter on a chopping board.
19. Using the rolling pin, beat the butter down a little, till it is quite flat.
20. 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. (I spread it onto plastic wrap when it was easy to spread to make it easier to get onto the dough)

21. Remove the dough from the fridge and place it on a lightly floured board or counter. Let it rest for a minute or two.
22. Spread the dough using your hands into a rectangle about 14 by 8 inches (35 cm by 20 cm).
23. Remove the butter from the board, and place it on the top half of the dough rectangle.

24. Spread the butter all across the top two-thirds of the dough rectangle, but keep it ¼ inch (6 mm) across from all the edges.
25. Fold the top third of the dough down, and the bottom third of the dough up. (I folded the bottom half up first)

26. Turn the dough package 90 degrees, so that the top flap is to your right (like a book).
27. 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).

28. Again, fold the top third down and the bottom third up.
29. Wrap the dough package in plastic wrap, and place it in the fridge for 2 hours.

30. After two hours have passed, take the dough out of the fridge and place it again on the lightly floured board or counter.
31. Tap the dough with the rolling pin, to deflate it a little
32. Let the dough rest for 8 to 10 minutes
33. Roll the dough package out till it is 14 by 8 inches (35 cm by 20 cm).
34. Fold in three, as before
35. Turn 90 degrees, and roll out again to 14 by 8 inches (35 cm by 20 cm).
36. 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)

37. It’s now time to cut the dough and shape the croissants
38. First, lightly butter your baking sheet so that it is ready
39. Take the dough out of the fridge and let it rest for ten minutes on the lightly floured board or counter
40. Roll the dough out into a 20 by 5 inch rectangle (51 cm by 12½ cm).
41. Cut the dough into two rectangles (each 10 by 5 inches (25½ cm by 12½ cm))
42. Place one of the rectangles in the fridge, to keep the butter cold
43. Roll the second rectangle out until it is 15 by 5 inches (38 cm by 12½ cm).
44. Cut the rectangle into three squares (each 5 by 5 inches (12½ cm by 12½ cm))
45. Place two of the squares in the fridge
46. The remaining square may have shrunk up a little bit in the meantime. Roll it out again till it is nearly square
47. Cut the square diagonally into two triangles.

48. Stretch the triangle out a little, so it is not a right-angle triangle, but more of an isosceles.

(or you can cut them like this to begin with: )

49. Starting at the wide end, roll the triangle up towards the point, and curve into a crescent shape.

50. Place the unbaked croissant on the baking sheet

51. Repeat the process with the remaining squares of dough, creating 12 croissants in total.
52. Leave the tray of croissants, covered lightly with plastic wrap, to rise for 1 hour

53. Preheat the oven to very hot 475°F/240°C/gas mark 9.
54. Mix the egg with a teaspoon of water
55. Spread the egg wash across the tops of the croissants.
56. Put the croissants in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until the tops are browned nicely
57. Take the croissants out of the oven, and place them on a rack to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Tulips – Spring 2011

Sunday, September 25th, 2011

This year we have been focusing on making our garden beautiful. I have been overly enthusiastic about the plants I want, and to make things difficult, the garden beds for my roses and bulbs were either not ready (just had palm trees removed), or non-existent…

Tulipa Black Parrot

With a lot of help (if you had noticed, I don’t really have much muscle, so required a LOT of help), the beds were made just in time for me to plant bearded irises, Dutch irises, tulips, daffodils, snowflakes and hyacinths.

Tulipa Attila Graffiti

As our winters don’t get terribly cold in Sydney, Australia, I followed advice and place my bulbs in a fridge for 6-8 weeks (I used a bar fridge which contained no fruit or veg, as these can produce ethylene gas which can hinder growth/flower production). I bought the bulbs on-line (from Broersen Plants) in mid-March and placed them in the fridge after receiving them, then planted in May, and they started to come up in June and were flowering in August (I was expecting them to flower after early September).

Tulipa Antarctica

I must admit they lasted a lot longer than I was expecting in the ground and cut in a vase. Unfortunately some wildlife (possibly cockatoos, rabbits or possums), decided it would be a good idea to try and pull up the flowers to eat out the bulbs (which they succeeded with many snowflakes and freesias), hence my success rate of flowering tulips was not as high as I would have liked.

Tulipa Saigon

I am now waiting for the bulbs to die down. Some of the old tulips have formed seed pod type things, so I will wait and decide what I should do with those if they mature. (I may let them fall to the ground, or may collect them and store them in the fridge next March). I also need to decide whether to dig all the tulips up (after they die back) and protect them somewhere cool to be cooled next year, or whether to cross fingers and hope they get a cold enough winter in the ground… Maybe I will do an experiment and dig up half and leave the other half…

Tulipa Playgirl

Out of the 5 different tulips that I bought – my favourite was the beautiful dark pink – Tulipa Attila Graffiti. (I was expecting my favourites to be Black Parrot and Playgirl, although Attila Graffiti was just too beautiful).

Now I hope you can enjoy the photos of my tulips and they brighten someone else’s day, like they did every night I saw them after coming home from work, and every weekend morning.

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