It’s a term Mr. Man (aka my boyfriend), jokingly coined because I have developed the awful habit of sweeping everything I don’t want to deal with right. Under. The. Carpet.
Right under there.
I don’t know why I do it. I don’t have confidence issues. I don’t shy away from conflict or confrontation when something (or someone) irks me. And I’m pretty freaking opinionated.
So why on earth I push everything I don’t want to face far, far out of my mind? I have no idea.
It would probably be much easier to just face the issue front on. Like a dude. You know, do that whole plan/action/solution thing.
That’s just so not me though. Instead of dealing with a big decision, or confrontation, or a problem, I swweeeeeeeep it. It’s like, if I ignore it for long enough, it’ll go away or something (I’m deluding myself, I know).
But it’s just so much easier to pretend the issue doesn’t exists and like… go out for cocktails with girlfriends or something. And like, eat cheese. And have a laugh. Much more fun.
And it’s just so much more fun to say “I don’t want to talk about it” and go and bake something yummy instead. You know?
I watched this video the other day, which involved a new method for making chocolate chip cookie dough. The original, real Mrs. Fields recipe, apparently. Not this mythical one.
I jumped all over it, obviously. And they’re pretty awesome! They bake up super thick and puffy, they are chewy right through. They challenge all the typical ideas that come with cookie-baking, but they’re worth it, promise!
I am in Poland in a little town where my mum grew up called Opole Lubelskie.
In town in Opole, there is a bakery, or piekarnia, that you can smell from all the way down the street and around the corner. It smells delicious. Like fresh pastries and yummy, warm bread.
When I lived in Poland, pastries and sweet rolls, along with pate and beer, were staples in my diet. These pastries are some of my favourites.
This is called a gniastko, which means nest. I remember this pastry from when I was a little girl because its my mum’s favourite and we used to eat it all the time when we were in Poland. It is like a choux pastry almost, fried like a doughnut and covered in a sugar glaze.
This pastry is similar to the gniastko, except it is made of doughnut dough and is twisted up. It is called a paczkowy obwarzanek and is absolutely delicious. Soft and puffy on the inside, crispy on the outside and beautifully dusted with icing sugar.
This is another favourite and classic, called a jagodzianka, or blueberry bun. It is a sweet, brioche-like yeast pastry and is filled with blueberries. Yum.
This bun is a new favourite, one I only tried for the first time on this trip. It’s called a buraczak, or beetroot bun. Strange, right? Well there are apparently huge beetroots that are white and are used to make sugar. So this bun is made from that beetroot sugar and results in a soft, sweet roll. It is delicious just eaten plain with butter but this morning my uncle sliced up the leftover buraczak, tossed it in milk and fried it in butter until the outside was crispy. Heaven. I’m addicted.
This is more of a roll than a pastry, and is called a rogalik, which basically means crescent. It is sweet and light and topped with crumble. It is best plain with butter and a glass of milk in the morning for breakfast.
I love Polish pastries. Excuse me while I go and eat some more!
Making croissants can be scary. It can seem to be ridiculously hard. The first time I looked at a recipe and saw how long it was I FREAKED OUT. Said no way, I’m not making croissants, they take forever! Well they do take forever, but then one week when I knew I would have some time, I just relaxed and made them step by step.
Croissants aren’t that difficult necessarily. Just a long and physical process.The chilling time for the pastry is actually much longer than the time spent actually making and rolling it. The hardest part is probably laminating the dough, rolling it out and folding it so many times. My arms usually hurt the next day. But if you’re about to eat all those freshly baked croissants, a bit of exercise won’t kill you.
So don’t be afraid! I have taken lots and lots of photos of each process to make it simple. And you haven’t tried croissants until you have had one fresh out of the oven, buttery, warm and flaky. They are beyond delicious. At the time of writing, my croissant dough is resting in the fridge, in the middle of the laminating process. I can’t wait to eat one!
You can make these croissants over two or three days, depending on whether you want to rush or take more time.
You will need to make a ferment before making your actual dough. A ferment is a small amount of dough that rests overnight before being added into your actual dough. It is basically a starter, and helps the dough develop.
The Ferment Make this the day before you want to make your croissants.
Put all of the ingredients into the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Process on a low speed for 3-5 minutes, until you have a smooth, elastic dough that doesn’t break when stretched gently. You may need to help it out by hand as there isn’t much dough for the hook to grab onto.
If you want to do it by hand, squeeze all the ingredients together until they begin to resemble a crumbly dough. Turn it out onto a clean surface and knead for about 10 minutes, until a smooth, elastic dough forms.
Form the dough into a ball and leave at room temperature for 2 hours. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or for up to 3 days.
The Croissants Make sure all your ingredients for your croissants are chilled before making your dough.
500g unsalted butter, extra for laminating (1 lb 2 oz)
If using an electric mixer, put the flour, milk, sugar, salt, yeast and ferment in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook. Process on a low speed for 3-4 minutes, then increase the speed to high and mix for a further 2 minutes. My mixture failed me here, couldn’t handle the large amount of dough. If you need to, take it out and finish kneading by hand.
If you want to make the whole thing by hand, put all the ingredients into a bowl and squeeze together until the mixture resembles a crumbly dough. Turn it out onto a clean surface and knead for about 10-15 minutes, until smooth and elastic.
Gather the dough into a ball, put it into a plastic bag and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or preferably overnight (this is where you can take the process onto a third day).
When you are ready to laminate (roll and fold) the dough, remove the extra 500g of butter from the fridge. It should be cold but malleable. Put the butter between two sheets of baking paper and use a rolling pin to gently pound the butter into a 20cm (8 inch) flat square about 1cm (1/2 inch) thick.
Using a lightly floured (or silicone) rolling pin (preferably with ball bearings unless you want to work your arms off), roll the dough out into a 20 x 40 cm (8 x 16 inch) rectangle.
Place the butter square in the center of the dough.
Fold the two sides of pastry over the top of the butter, squeezing any seams together to completely enclose the butter. The butter being in between all the layers of pastry is what is going to give your croissants that deliciously flaky texture.
Carefully roll the dough into a rectangle about 20 x 90 cm (8 x 35 inches). Fold one end of the rectangle in by one third, then fold the other long end over the top so the dough is now 20 x 30 cm (8 x 12 inches).
Put the dough into a plastic bag or cover with plastic wrap, place it on a tray and refrigerate for 20 minutes (this allows the gluten to relax). Repeat this folding and resting process (called turns) two more times.
Once the dough has had its final 20 minute rest in the fridge, it is ready to be shaped into croissants.
Take the dough out of the fridge and roll it into a 25 x 120cm (10 x 35 inch) rectangle. This may take quite a lot of energy as the dough will tend to spring back to its original size and resist being rolled out. If this happens, fold up the dough and rest it in the fridge for a few minutes before rolling again. Use a light dusting of flour to patch up any areas where there may be holes or butter poking out while you roll.
Get out a ruler. Along the bottom long side of your rectangle, use a knife to make a small cut every 9cm (4 inches). Accross the top long side of your rectangle, first make a small incision at 4.5cm (2 inches) and then at every 9cm (4 inches) after that, so that the top incisions are directly in the middle of the ones accross the bottom.
Line your ruler up between the first bottom incision and the first top incision. Use a knife to cut along the line.
Then rule from that same top incision to the next bottom incision and cut along that line. You will now have a cut out triangle.
Keep cutting the dough in the same manner until you have around 24 triangles.
Stack the triangles on a tray lined with baking paper, cover lightly with a clean tea towel and put in the fridge to rest for about 10 minutes.
Remove from the fridge and working one triangle at a time, make a small incision at the base of each one.
Stretch the two sides of the cut outwards and begin to roll up towards the pointy end.
Roll tightly, stretching out the tip as you get closer to it.
Press the tip into the croissant to secure, and place them tip side-down back onto the tray lined with baking paper. Repeat with remaining triangles, leaving well-spaced intervals between them on the trays.
Cover loosely with a clean, damp tea towel. Set aside in a warm room to proof (rise) for 1 1/2 – 2 hours. They should almost double in size and be quite puffy.
When almost ready to bake, preheat the oven to 240 C and prepare your egg wash.
The Egg Wash 1 egg
100ml milk (3 1/2 fl oz)
Whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl until well combined.
Brush the egg wash lightly over the top of your croissants.
Place the trays into the oven and reduce the temperature to 190 C. Bake for 15-20 minutes until they are a deep, golden colour. Cool slightly on trays before serving. Makes 24 croissants.