Croissants Flaky &Homemade

The bageri girl have spent more than two hours familiarizing herself with the recipe. But in reality, it’s been 5 years of failed attempts to make croissants.
      “Making croissants should be done at least 2 days in advance to avoid rushing the laminating and proofing of dough. The Longer time the dough relaxes, the better the flavor develops. It is also important to keep butter solid as you work with the dough. You can always keep laminated dough in fridge or freezer until ready to use.”
     “So we will have breakfast after two days? Find a shorter version of the recipe. We are not baking for the whole town.” said the Swedish Chef.
     “But I need to master the technique so I can see the layers and good holes in the crumbs,” insisted the bageri girl.
    “No Charmaine, we are not eating just crumbs and holes. We want to have something for breakfast. I’ve heard enough,” grumbled the Swedish Chef.
   “The croissants have evolved from buttered rolls to boomerang rolls to flaky rolls. More to improve but we are getting there,” said the bageri girl as she turned the big bowl of dough on her work area.
Not even listening, the Swedish Chef walked away with his kanelbullar.
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2013 butter roll croissants

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2015 boomerang croissants

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2018 flaky croissants

****
The Recipe and Patience Test starts here :
INGREDIENTS: servings 16 -20 crescent rolls
1/4 cup very warm water but not boiling water
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast one packet
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
3/4 cup warm milk not boiling
1 egg
1 tablespoon unsalted butter melted or 2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups all-purpose flour plus more for rolling
100 g salted butter softened
egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 TBSP of water)  and or melted butter, for brushing
INSTRUCTIONS
Make the dough :
In the bowl of a stand mixer or large glass bowl, combine the warm water, yeast and sugar. Mix until combined. Let the mixture sit for about five minutes until it smells like bread and is foamy.
In a larger bowl, Mix flour, sugar,salt,  warm milk and egg. (It will look a bit moist and crumbly.) Add foamy yeast and mix dough together to form a sticky ball of dough, it will be sticky at first but will develop into tacky dough as you work on it.
Knead the dough for about five minutes until the dough comes together and you’ve reached the stage of low to moderate gluten development. Do not over knead. You do not want too much gluten development because you will struggle with the dough fighting back during laminating. Use just enough flour on your work surface to prevent the dough from sticking.  You do not want to form gluten, you are just trying to form a rough ball of dough.  Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead lightly until it forms a relatively smooth ball.
Grease the bowl that you mixed the dough in and set the dough back in the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let dough relax in fridge for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Prepare and shape the butter:
While the dough is relaxing in the fridge, prepare the butter block.
Cut the cold butter (directly from the fridge) lengthwise into thick slabs. Arrange the pieces of butter in a ziplock bag to form a square of about 15 cm x 15 cm. Now pin press and pound lightly until you have a final square of 17 cm x 17 cm. refrigerate the butter slab until needed.
LAMINATING The Dough:
After 1 hour, remove dough from fridge and roll out on a lightly floured surface to a large rectangle that’s about 1/4th inch thick.
Place the butter block in the middle of dough, leaving an inch around the sides of the rectangle, being careful not to break through dough with butter.Fold one half of the rectangle towards the center and fold the other half over as well on top of the first layer so you have three dough layers.
Roll** out dough again to a long rectangle (being careful of the butter—roll gently) and fold dough again into thirds like a book. Brush off excess flour with pastry brush. Brush off any excess flour. Fold in thirds like a letter, as above, stretching corners to square off dough, forming a rectangle. Place back in freezer for 30 more minutes to 1 hour to relax dough and It is very important the butter stays solid.
**Start rolling from the center of the dough towards the edges, and not from one side of the dough all the way to the other side. This technique helps you to keep the dough at an even thickness. You can also rotate your dough 180 degrees to keep it more even, because you tend to use more pressure when rolling away from you than towards yourself. You can use these techniques during all the rolling steps of this recipe. Aim at lengthening the dough instead of making it wider and try to keep all edges as straight as possible.
Fold the dough letter style, cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes (fold one third of the dough on top of itself and then fold the other side over it). Repeat the rolling and folding two more times (ending up with 27 layers of butter in total), each time rolling until the dough is about 20 cm x 60 cm. After each fold you should turn the dough 90 degrees before rolling again. The open ‘end’ of the dough should be towards you every time when rolling out the dough
Each laminating step should not take more than a few minutes. However if, due to initial inexperience for example, it should take you longer, you can fold your dough letter style, cover it and refrigerate it for 20 minutes and continue the rolling process after this rest. It is very important the butter stays solid.
Repeat this process two more times for a total of three folds (and 30 minutes in the freezer) After the three folds, you can either proceed with the directions or you can wrap your dough tightly with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight or up to three days.
Roll out to 20 cm x 60 cm
Refrigerate 30 minutes
Rotate 90 degrees
Roll out to 20 cm x 60 cm
Refrigerate 30 minutes
Rotate 90 degrees
Roll out to 20 cm x 60 cm
Refrigerate until day 3
Rotate 90 degrees
Roll out to 20 cm x 110 cm
Dividing the dough and shaping the croissants :
Three hours before you are ready to serve, form and proof the croissants: Remove the thawed dough from the refrigerator. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon mat and set aside.
Lightly dust a work surface with flour and roll into a 12×40-inch rectangle about 1⁄8 inch thick. Use a straight edge and a paring knife or pizza cutter to carefully trim 1 inch from each of the long sides; save for another use. Cut the remaining dough into triangles. Stack them and work one at a time on each triangle.
Working one at a time, Cut a notch in the middle of the short end of the triangle. stretch the triangle slightly to extend them Then, starting at the base, roll the two wings by moving your hands outwards from the center tightly all the way to the tip to form an even, straight-armed croissant shape. Try and roll the dough very tightly at the beginning and put enough pressure on the dough to make the layers stick together (but not so much as to damage the layers of course). Press slightly at the tip to adhere and to make a slightly flattened base for the croissant to rest on.
Proofing and baking :
Continue rolling the croissants in this manner, then transfer them, spaced evenly apart and flattened side down on the prepared baking sheets (no more than 6 croissants per baking sheet depending on your croissant size.) Arrange the shaped croissants on baking sheets, making sure to keep enough space between them so they will not touch when proofing and baking. Give the croissants their first thin coating of egg wash.
Cover with a towel and set in a warm place to rise and proof for 1-2 hours. let rise until the croissants are puffed, very gassy, and about doubled in size (they should slowly spring back when poked with your fingertip and jiggle slightly like gelatin when the tray is shaken)
Meanwhile, position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 200 degrees C. Before baking, brush each risen croissant with the beaten egg wash. Bake croissants for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden brown. (Some ovens will take 18-22 minutes, depending on croissant size. Some baking tips : heat up  double fan big convection oven at 200ºC, when heated up put the croissants in the oven and directly lower it to 175ºC. Bake for 10 minutes at 175ºC, they will have a nice brown color by now, then lower the temperature to 150ºC, and bake them for another 6 minutes. Leaving croissants a few 5 minutes to cool in the oven after baking time will also give nice crust and color.)
Best eaten while warm and fresh of course. Croissant we don’t eat or share within a day we freeze. We put them in the preheated oven (180ºC / 355ºF) for 8 minutes straight from the freezer.
Once made up into croissants you can freeze the dough and store it for as long as two months.  Just put the frozen croissants in the refrigerator overnight to defrost and let stand for an hour and a half before baking.
***
Here’s a shorter version I found to be tested :
150 g lukewarm milk (not to hot,you’d kill the yeast)
14 g active dry yeast (2sachets)
40 g sugar (one handful)
Mix it all up and leave 15 minutes or until frothy
300 g flour (strong white ) = 2 cups
6  g salt (a big pinch)
Mix roughly , until combines but as little as possible. Ball up, put in fridge for 8 hours.
125g unsalted butter in thin slices
Squeeze around the edges to bind them then roll to 6-8mm with rolling pin. Do a single fold then freeze for 30 minutes
Repeat twice (3x single fold)
Rest in fridge  1-2 hours then roll 5-6 mm
Cut triangles and roll
Place on a tray with silicon paper,
Brush with egg wash and grow for 2-3 hours
Egg wash again and bake @210 C for 12-15 minutes
Hint : To have fresh croissants in the morning, mix dough at 8am, fold butter in at 4pm, shape at 8pm and keep in the fridge.
In the morning, proof, bake and EAT
If you don’t get nice layers, try adding 3 grams of vinegar in the dough.
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Swedish Cakes in the House

Sugar rush! These are homemade sweet creations for the Swedish Chef , all time favorite Swedish cakes  Prinsesstårta, Budapestrulle and Schwarzwaldtårta.

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Prinsesstårta

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Prinsesstårta

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Budapestrulle

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Budapestrulle

 

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Schwarzwaldtårta

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Schwarzwaldtårta

The Swedish Chef is in Paradise

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“I love the mountains. There is something about the mountains..it’s just the feeling. I can’t really explan why.” The Swedish Chef said, while  gazing at the green silhouette of the majestic Alps mountains.

First time he was here was fifty-two years ago. And for this trip, we made sure we visit this little village again. This paradise, called Hallstatt, is an idyllic place. Visitors and locals are welcomed with breathtaking view of fairytale houses, impressive Alps mountains and the serene Lake Hallstatt.

What you read about Hallstatt is never enough to describe the real magic of being there. The experience can never be contained in one or two blogs or a hundred photos. With all its historic houses, cobblestones and manhole plates  I have inscribed this travel in my heart and mind to treasure until the next time we visit Hallstatt again. Or maybe Not.

 

 

 

Jordgubbstårta for the Swedish Chef

Where’s the cake? Just in time as I topped the cake with the last strawberry and a loving kiss, I greeted the Swedish Chef.

“Cheers and Happy Birthday to you!”

 

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Swedish Crayfish Sandwich

Kräftstjärtar smörgås (crayfish sandwich) is one of the best Swedish food you have to try. You can make this in 5 minutes and finish it in 3 minutes. Yum!

kräftstjärtar mörgås (crayfish sandwich)

kräftstjärtar smörgås (crayfish sandwich)

 

 

The Swedish Chef’s Valentine Cake

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This is a labor of love worth a thousand kisses. In between bowl mixing and batter whisking, the Swedish Chef smothered me with lots of love.

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“That’s how it is,” he says, confirming that with a kiss.

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Cake base( good for 2- 1inch 9x cake layers)
2 c cake flour
125g 70% Lindt dark chocolate
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1tsp vanilla
1 c milk
2 c brown sugar
1/2 c oil (1/3 c vegetable oil+1/4 olive oil)
1/2 c espresso coffee (or 1/2 c hot water+2tsp strong instant coffee)
2 eggs, beaten
Pinch of salt

To make the cake base:

Preheat oven 350F. Grease and lightly flour 2 9-inch round cake pans.2. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl.3. In a mug, microwave chocolate for 1 min or until slightly melted. Add hot espresso and stir until chocolate dissolves. Set aside.4. In another bowl, whisk together sugar and eggs until light and fluffy. Slowly pour in oil, milk, vanilla and chocolate- coffee mixture.5. Gradually add dry ingredients to chocolate mixture. Continue whisking until combined.6. Beat all together. This will be very thin. Pour and divide batter into two greased baking pans.7. Bake 20 minutes at 350F. DO NOT OVERBAKE OR IT WILL NOT HAVE THAT WONDERFUL MOISTNESS.

Cool for 1hour at room temperature, before frosting with mousse and ganache. While cake is cooling, prepare the mousse and ganache.

 

For Mousse ingredients:

150g bar best bitter dark chocolate (1 1/2 Lindt 70% chocolate)
 1 tsp instant coffee granules
4 large free-range eggs, just the whites
1 cup icing sugar or golden caster
1 cup whipping cream, chilled
icing sugar, for dusting
  1. Grate 50g/2oz of the chocolate and reserve. Break the rest into small, even-sized pieces and melt over a bain-marie (double boiler or pan of simmering water). When chocolate starts to melt, add coffee until combined. Take the pan off the heat but keep the bowl over the hot water. Don’t worry if the mixture thickens – it will smooth out again later.
  2. Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl until they’re standing in stiff peaks. (To test if     whipped cream peaks are stiff enough, you can hold and tip bowl over and it holds its form without collapsing.) Spoon in half the sugar, whisk again, then add the rest of the sugar and whisk until it looks glossy like meringue. Whip the cream in a separate bowl. (Cold bowl and chilled whipping cream results to quick stiff peaks.) Take the melted chocolate off the pan and fold in a heaped metal serving spoon of meringue to loosen the consistency, then tip the chocolate into the meringue and fold in lightly but thoroughly. Gently fold in the whipped cream until no more white streaks.
  3. Transfer to a clean bowl and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.
  4. Spread generous amount between cake layers. Make sure to leave a bit of mousse to cover the top of the cake.
  5. Drizzle ganache and sprinkle with chocolate bits.
  6. Refrigerate the cake for at least 2 hours or overnight to set.
  7. Serve and enjoy.

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“Love is always sweeter when you bake cake together.” – Grandma Glasses

Happy Valentine’s Day!
*****

Ganache
50g dark chocolate
1tbsp butter
1/4 whipping cream
2tsp icing sugar

In a cup, put coarsely chopped chocolate with cream. Microwave for 30 seconds just to melt chocolate. Mix well. While still warm, add butter and sugar. Continue mixing until well combined. Shiny and smooth consistency is desired.( For thinner chocolate sauce, add 1-2 teaspoon of cream) Use as final frosting for cake. Chill for 2 hours or overnight to set.

It’s A Winter Wondering Tale

I felt cold air on my nose. I woke up and look around. No snow here.  I must be dreaming. Everything looks the same, except for one thing. It is Christmas Eve.

 

They told me to wait by the fireplace for the BigFatMan in the Red Suit. With a head-tilt, I looked at them, “But we don’t have a chimney here. I would rather be close to the warm stove where the smell of cookies is coming from.”

 

Then I heard the doorbell ring. “Who is it? Did we order pizza today?”

 

“Oh good! I thought I would not get it on time. Next year will be too much waiting,” said the Swedish Chef to the man by the door.

 

“Nope that’s not  TheBigFatMan in the Red Suit,” as I glimpsed at the man before he disappeared. That man is not fat and not dressed in red suit either.  But why did he give the Swedish Chef a big white bag? And then when I looked at the Swedish Chef, his face is beaming and he was grinning from ear to ear.

 

“I wonder what’s in the bag?” My senses dictate a fact. It’s definitely not bacon. They don’t have that here either. Maybe it’s a bag of sweet goodies. Or prinskorv  or falu sausages. Or roasted beef ribs. Or liver patty. Or cold meats. Or gravlax. Or dinner steaks.

 

Then I saw him pull out a black shiny thing out of the box. Now this is really getting out of shape. I was expecting something soft and fluffy, not a hard black box.

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“It’s the Force!” hollered the Swedish Chef to me. “Oh! That’s a holler of joy by the way,” as he grinned back to me.

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“Where’s  the button? Isn’t that suppose to glow in the dark like in the movies? Or maybe it will transform into a nice pudding pie after a few minutes.”

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“Drake, always remember some days it’s a grocery bag, some days it’s not. And a shopping bag doesn’t always mean it has meatballs in it,” whispered Grandma Glasses.

 

“ Am I hallucinating or have I developed 3D senses? Aha! I am having hunger pang attacks again. And no one is in the kitchen.”

Oh well, back to being patient. I don’t mind waiting for the julbord to be ready, if only the days are shorter and the nights longer. I know TheBigFatMan in the Red Suit has some rabbit meat in his big sack when he comes.

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The Stove Top Hambo

On a warm quiet evening, I went into the kitchen to get some water. And there she was, Grandma Glasses digging into the pantry shelves like a treasure hunter.

She turned around to me and said, “I have to be quick Drake. I need to prepare the ingredients. The Swedish Chef is cooking tonight.”

“But this is not the first time he will be cooking dinner,” I muttered while I take a sip of my cold water.

“But tonight it’s going to be different. You will see him do the Swedish Hambo-Polka steps,” said Grandma Glasses in a voice that sounded like a burble.

“The what?” I turned to her as she speak. Most of the time I hear the Swedish Chef speak and he sounds as Swedish as a Swedish should be. But everytime Grandma Glasses says it herself it confuses me.

“The hambo is a traditional dance that originated in Sweden in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, has three-count step, with one step movement on each beat of the measure, danced smoothly and easily, not tense but floating with the music,” explained Grandma Glasses.

“The steps should be smooth and relaxed, never jerky.” as she flipped her feet to do a turn.

“It requires coordination and control to become a graceful Hambo dancer,” I sneered in silence as I watch her. As if she heard my thoughts, she stopped.

She turned to me and said, “Oh yes he can dance! Pirouetting back and forth, he moves with grace. And with extreme precision, he makes a hambo turn so graceful even Gene Kelly would approve. The best timing I’ve seen in my lifetime.”

“From what you just did, that fancy footwork in the kitchen is The Stove Top Hambo.” I said loudly with a sniff.

“Oh Drake don’t be silly. You’ll see what I mean.. Here he comes now. Out of his way, and stay in the corner.”

*****

   “Today it is Stir Fried Chicken Liver in Bacon and Mushroom Sauce I will cook,” said the     Swedish Chef .

   “We need 300g chicken liver,strips of veal bacon,1/2 cup of chopped mushroom,1/2 cup     of diced onions, fried potatoes, 4 tbsp of butter, 1 tsp of dark soy sauce, 1/4 cup of           cooking cream, salt, pepper and sprinkle of dried oregano.”

Grandma Glasses and I listened carefully while he gives cooking instructions.

   “First I marinate chicken liver in soy sauce, salt, roasted garlic and herb seasoning and      set aside.”

Then suddenly he did a hambo turn as he puts a pan on the stove. Grandma Glasses looked at me and smiled.

   “Heat the pan, and when it is warm enough put the butter to melt until bubbly.”

Another hambo turn as reaches for the other ingredients. I am surprised to see him move without bumping into anything, so perfectly in such a small space for a big guy like the Swedish Chef.

    “Saute onions, bacon and mushroom and let it cook for 3 minutes.”

I was quick to notice another hambo turn as he takes the next ingredient.

     “Add the chicken liver and soy sauce. Sprinkle dried oregano and continue cooking in         medium heat for 3 minutes.”

He looked at us to check if we are listening. He did another hambo turn to reach for the cream.

    “Pour cream and let simmer for 2 minutes or until sauce thickens. Add salt and pepper        to  taste.”

Another hambo turn and he has salt and pepper in his hand.

“Oh I know good food when I smell one,” I whispered to Grandma Glasses.

“Quiet now Drake, this is the best part,” Grandma Glasses whispered back.

We stood still, only our eyes following the Swedish Chef as he makes his finale. This is like watching a movie on the big screen with the popcorn box almost empty.

    “Aha! Time to remove from heat and serve with fried potatoes or rice.”

The Swedish Chef said it in a loud voice I almost jumped. He takes a plate and scooped a big serving on it. And for his finale, he did a last hambo turn as he exits the kitchen and walked to the dining table with the plate.

Grandma Glasses smiled at me and gave me a pat on the head.

“Yes Drake, that is what we call The Stove Top Hambo.” I wagged my tail to agree as she walked away to follow the Swedish Chef.

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marinade chicken liver

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Saute onions, bacon and mushroom

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Add the chicken liver and soy sauce

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Pour cream and let simmer until sauce thickens

 

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Plate and serve