Layers of flaky, buttery pastry

I came home from teaching thinking I’d knock out the croissant lamination, no problem. Well, first off, it turned out I hadn’t made my dough square quite large or square enough. So I took the butter square off to try again. More rolling.

Second roll got it square enough, so I put the diamond of butter inside the square, folded over the triangles (like making an envelope), and pinched them sealed. Easy-peasy. Next — flipping it over and rolling it until it measured 10″ x 20″. I have to admit, having looked at the rest of the recipe by this point and seeing just how often it asked for measurements, I caved and went down to the basement to get a ruler. [shakes fist at the French] It took a while, and my shoulder muscles had started to ache, but I did it, finally. 10″ x 20″, achieved.

Next step, fold it over in thirds, like a business letter. No problem. Flip and turn and…roll it out to 10″ x 20″ again? Okay, I can do that. It went a little easier this time, as the dough wasn’t quite as chilled, but I feel like a wimp admitting that I was super-tired by the end of this roll. I think I still have some sort of stupid lingering cold, as I have been weirdly exhausted for much of the last week (weeks?).

I did the roll out, folded it in thirds again, wrapped it and put it back in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes, sat down on the couch to look at the recipe again. Two MORE turns and rolls? Seriously? How many layers of flaky, buttery pastry does one person need?

ALL. I need ALL the layers. But I acknowledged that I had hit the point of tiredness where this was starting to be no longer fun, and there is no point in this kind of nonsense unless you are also having fun, so I paused for the night. Croissant-finishing would have to wait another day. Instead, I took myself to bed with a few episodes of dumb interior design TV and called it a night.

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Croissantathon

Croissant-making hurdle #1 — Kevin insists that the brewer’s yeast he has on hand will work just fine in bread-making, and that that jar of active dry yeast we have is very old and I shouldn’t risk it. I trust my husband, right? Right. Onwards.

Croissants, next step. So far, so good. Mix eggs, warm water, flour, sugar, yeast. This is totally within my power. I am a baking god.

Croissants, step 3. I let the frozen butter sit for about an hour, so it was no longer hard as a rock, but still cool to the touch. Sliced and into the mixing bowl. Is that enough butter for ya?

Croissants, next step. Mix butter with salt and flour in a stand mixer. Um, I used the dough hook (think maybe the paddle attachment would’ve been better), and ended up having to do a lot of shoving butter down towards the center with a spatula, which I don’t remember ever seeing them do on GBBO; am starting to question my baking god qualifications.

Still, looks all right?

8 inch square of butter mixed with flour. When we say 8 inches, we mean that I held up a 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper and eyeballed it from there, because I don’t actually keep a ruler in my kitchen because I am not as obsessive as the French, and I am also too lazy to go down to my craft table in the basement and get one. But that looks vaguely right, I think. Into the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.

Ha ha ha! You thought we surely had ENOUGH butter with the pound of butter that we just sliced up. Don’t be ridiculous. Of course you have to melt MORE butter and pour it over the ‘sponge’ as they call it. MOAR BUTTER.

Um. This seems very dry. And crumbly. I’m supposed to have it come together into a dough, and then knead five minutes, adding a little four if it’s too too sticky at that point. It is not too too sticky at that point. It is super-dry at that point, and has still not come together into a dough. Also, my arms are aching from five minutes of kneading because I made the mistake of doing it up on the island instead of the kitchen table, so I don’t have as good an angle as I could have and also, I almost never make bread and am really out of practice with the whole kneading thing.

I gingerly add some warm water (about 1/4 c.), fearing disaster, as this is NOT in the instructions. And that was too much — the dough finally comes together, but now it’s decidedly sticky, sigh. Should’ve been more conservative, tried a T or two instead. GAH.

(No photo of the sticky portion, as my hands were covered in goop. As it was, my phone was getting a little more flour-y than was perhaps wise, but seems to have survived, whew.)

Okay. I think I salvaged it. A few more T of flour, and it came together into a reasonable dough, and it’s now shaped into a 9″ square (and yes, I eyeballed this one too, what kind of obsessive baker do you think I am? (There is a reason I’m more of a cook than a baker. Precision is NOT my thing.)), wrapped, and delivered safely into the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.

Just one problem; in 15 minutes, I’m supposed to be across town at Oak Park Works, teaching publishing and writing for the next 3 hours. So I’m going to go do that, and hope that an extra 3+ hours of chilling doesn’t hurt either the butter or the dough. It’ll be fine, right? And when I get home, experiments in lamination — hopefully my sore arm muscles will have recovered by then.

(This may be the most elaborate thing I’ve ever baked. Are flaky, buttery layers worth it? Hmm….)

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Croissant-making challenge, and passionfruit marshmallows

In theory, I’ve agreed to join Pooja Makhijani‘s croissant-making challenge this weekend. She suggested I plan to laminate my dough on Saturday and shape and bake on Sunday.

That would’ve been wise, I’m sure, but yesterday I actually made two batches of passionfruit marshmallows and one of milk toffee, in preparation for shipping out Feast with Kickstarter goodies (also so I could take some milk toffee to Madhurima‘s Diwali party last night, where it was honestly entirely unnecessary because she made a massive amount of delicious food including homemade chai and mango ice creams, and yes, I’ve told Kevin that he should seriously consider an ice cream maker for my Christmas present this year).

Anyway, I am just now about to even look at the recipe Pooja sent me, so this is likely to be a disaster, esp. as I have never even attempted croissants before. But onwards unto the breach, dear friends! Disastrous croissants await.

(I mean, how bad could they be, really? With all that butter….)

#serendib
#blog
#croissantathon

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Bonus: my kitchen smells amazing.

I mostly have masses of computer work to do these days, but the volume of it has slowed down just enough that I can start intercutting it with other things, which is a) less stressful, b) better for my back, and c) fun.

Send twenty zillion organizational e-mails? Interesting and productive, but not especially fun. Roasting twenty zillion bags of spices to make all the Kickstarter curry powder for Feast? I suppose it’s less interesting, in some sense, and I wouldn’t want to do it all the time. But it’s a lovely break from the computer work.

 

Bonus: now my kitchen smells amazing.

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A Gluten-Free Cookbook Question

Here’s a gluten-free cookbook question. For the little ebook of Vegan Serendib, I basically took a sampling of recipes from Feast. For the little ebook of The Marshmallows of Serendib, I actually did a baker’s dozen of completely new marshmallow recipes — Feast itself only has a basic recipe.

I’m trying to make sure that the new little gluten-free sampler is not just all the same things that are already in Feast (because after all, most of Sri Lankan cooking is actually gluten-free already). It’s a little tricky, planning it so that it’s useful BOTH to people who already own Feast, AND to people who might pick it up on its own.

For the gluten-free version of Feast, I’m sort of inclined to do a combo approach — some new recipes that aren’t in Feast (some of which are a bit more fusion, like the grilled Sri Lankan shrimp that I put in everything, including Caesar salad), but also some classics, so that people have a good baseline for Sri Lankan cuisine generally.

Does that approach make sense to folks?

#blog
#serendib

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FINAL REMINDER for Kickstarter Pricing!

FINAL REMINDER and YES it’s time to think about holiday gifting already: Kickstarter-discounted pre-orders for A Feast of Serendib and assorted goodies close TODAY at midnight CST. Eep. Time to start roasting lots and lots of curry powder, making marshmallows and milk toffee (need to put Kevin to work cutting)…

My new Sri Lankan cookbook, A Feast of Serendib, launches on March 6, 2020, but we’re doing a long, slow pre-launch of the special Kickstarter edition in the interim. Right now, we still have discounted Kickstarter pricing available for pre-orders, along with Kickstarter goodies — you can pre-order here: http://serendibkitchen.com/a-feast-of-serendib/
If you’d like to support the development of more mostly Sri Lankan recipes, I’d love to have you join the cookbook club — for $2 / month, you’ll get recipes delivered to your inbox (fairly) regularly: https://www.patreon.com/mohanraj
And here’s all the foodie social media:
Serendib Kitchen blog: http://serendibkitchen.com
Serendib Kitchen Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/serendib_kitchen/
Serendib FB Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/132029834135500/
Serendib FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/mohanrajserendib/
Thanks for your su

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Pondering Gluten-Free Serendib

I’ve been pondering gluten-free Serendib some more. One thing I want to do is try to make gluten-free versions of love cake and rich cake — but the tricky thing is that it’s kind of an expensive and time-consuming thing to experiment with, because it’s a really small amount of flour and a lot of nuts and dried fruit for both cakes.

Both cakes use semolina normally, so I’m going to try a simple swap out of fine polenta for the love cake first, I think, and see how that works. From researching gluten-free baking online, it seems like a 1:1 swap is appropriate? But if anyone has any tips on that, they’d be appreciated.

Should I be concerned about adding a corn flavor to the cake?

An alternative option is to do a blend of coconut flour & almond flour, but a) that requires changing the ratios of the flour (complicated), and possibly adding even more eggs to combat the way coconut flour soaks up moisture, and b) it won’t give the characteristic yellow color of love cake, I imagine. So I’m hesitant.

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Bulk Spices for Sri Lankan Curry Powder

I need bulk spices, because in the next week, I’ll be making up 118 4 oz. packets of my dry-roasted Sri Lankan curry powder to send out with Kickstarter orders. 118! (Possibly plus a few more; we’re going to be closing pre-orders next Wednesday.)

Suggestions on where you’d buy masses of coriander seed and such? Pete’s has a decent selection of Indian spices, so I may just go there. My real inclination is to swing by the Indian neighborhood on Devon, with a side trip to Geetha’s for Sri Lankan goodies for my freezer (so nice to have effortless idiyappam on hand), but if you have other recommendations, send them along.

*****

My new Sri Lankan cookbook, A Feast of Serendib, launches on March 6, 2020, but we’re doing a long, slow pre-launch of the special Kickstarter edition in the interim. Right now, we still have discounted Kickstarter pricing available for pre-orders, along with Kickstarter goodies — you can pre-order here: http://serendibkitchen.com/a-feast-of-serendib/

If you’d like to support the development of more mostly Sri Lankan recipes, I’d love to have you join the cookbook club — for $2 / month, you’ll get recipes delivered to your inbox (fairly) regularly: https://www.patreon.com/mohanraj

And here’s all the foodie social media:

Serendib Kitchen blog: http://serendibkitchen.com
Serendib Kitchen Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/serendib_kitchen/
Serendib FB Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/132029834135500/
Serendib FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/mohanrajserendib/

Thanks for your support!

#serendibkitchen

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We’re closing in on actually shipping Feast

We’re closing in on actually shipping Feast — I need to make 4 batches of marshmallows, 3 batches of soap, and at least one more batch of milk toffee. I can do that.  It’ll be a nice break from all the computer work that has had me frantically typing for the last week. And I have to write the recipe cards / order them printed. I think I can write them right now, actually, and place the order today. Eep. Getting there!

I am planning on a packing party at my house on October 30th, 7 p.m.. (Local friends, if you’d like to come help pack and be fed a Sri Lankan dinner in thanks, let me know!) Then Stephanie Bailey will be shipping books out on October 31st. Yes, we’re doing ‘shipping in October’ by the skin of our teeth — thank you for your patience!

I’ve learned a lot in this process, and one big aspect is that publishing a book is sort of like a house renovation — everything takes three times as long as you think it will, and costs three times as much! But the results are beautiful.  No regrets!

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