Thursday, March 16, 2017

Making Kosher (dairy!) Croissants – A baking dream come true

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Most of the baking I do is pareve, and usually, I don’t mind.  But sometimes, I come across a baking or bread idea that absolutely must use dairy.  Must must must.  No substitutions. 

Naomi Rivka is taking a baking course right now and she bakes a lot of dairy.  She’ll bring home the recipe and excitedly ask, “Can we make this for Shabbos?”  And I look at the kilo of butter or whatever in the ingredients and say, “Not this week, we’re having fleishiks…”  She keeps saying we can use margarine instead, and my standard line for this is:

“Margarine is NOT pareve butter.”

I think you’ll agree.  Margarine can be USEFUL in kosher baking, but it most definitely isn’t butter.  And when what you want is the flavour of butter – there’s nothing like it in the world – then what you need to start with is… butter.

Like croissants.  I read about making croissants years and years ago.  You take a super-thin layer of butter, sandwich it between super-thin layers of dough, and then fold and fold and fold until you have about a million layers of dough-butter-dough-butter-dough (you need dough on the outsides or you just end up with a buttery, sticky glob).

Baking croissants not only takes genuine DAIRY, it also takes a second ingredient I don’t usually have:  PATIENCE.

So you can see why I let it slide for like 20 years, right?  But today, falling as it does during the mysterious period between Purim and Pesach when people are Thinking About Bread Products, I decided to go for it at last.

I didn’t use a recipe, video, article, cookbook… anything.  Just made a quick eggless, sugarless, oil-less dough, rolled out a block of butter, and before I could lose my nerve, combined them into a thousand layers of dairy-baking goodness.

I may have been in some kind of butter-induced trance, because I didn’t even take any pictures until I had gotten well into the process.  I had already rolled the “sandwich” out and cut it twice, I think, stacking up the layers, before I thought to immortalize my creation:

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Looks sort of like a butter sandwich.

Essentially, from this point, I rolled the layers out thin (between parchment), then cut it in 3 and stacked up the thirds.  You can fold it, but I didn’t.  As per my usual, I wasn’t too careful about what shape things turned out in:

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Pretty ugly, right?  You can fix anything with a rolling pin!  Also, it all looks disgusting mushed up together in your stomach anyway, so why even bother, amIright…?

Here’s the next “sandwich.”  You can

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Want to make homemade bread but can’t stand touching flour? Perfect tool for sensory issues (yours or kids’)

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I keep forgetting to write about this and I SHOULDN'T, because this is a very cool product that I’m excited to tell you about.

I actually bought this on impulse and didn't expect to like it so much, but I really believe it offers an interesting solution for some people (not everybody).

Do you adore getting your hands into a fresh, powdery batch of dough?  If so, maybe this post isn't for you.  This post is for people who LOVE fresh bread, but HATE getting flour on their hands. 

You know – like this:

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(if that picture, with all those floury fingers, makes you uncomfortable, you NEED to read on!)

Powdery textures usually make me nuts (sand!!!), although for some reason, I'm okay with flour and bread-making.  But I have known a few people who are totally NOT okay with it, and for them, this product might be ideal.

So… what is it?

It's a silicone dough bag!  I saw these a while ago, first on Amazon and then on AliExpress, my preferred get-things-cheap-from-China site.  AliExpress is great if you don't mind waiting 2 months and even then maybe never getting whatever it is that you ordered at all.  (so, yeah, a pretty limited market)

As it happens, I buy lots of cooking stuff on AliExpress.  It saves me having to figure out what it's called in Hebrew, and the prices are waaay better.  Stuff like my cooking scale, thermometers, even spatulas.  As long as you're willing to wait what seems like an eternity.  No impulse purchases, that’s for sure.

So what is this BAG all about?

It’s made of translucent whitish silicone, but I believe you can get them in a variety of colours.

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It works pretty much how you’d assume it works once you hear the words “dough” and “bag” together.  You add your regular bread ingredients, including yeast, flour, water, and whatever else, to the bag.  Then, you knead as you normally would, except you’re touching soft, velvety-textured silicone instead of dry, powdery flour.

Here’s what the process looks like, the “new-fashioned” way!

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The difference between the silicone dough bag and doing this in a regular plastic bag is that the dough bag is strong enough that you really can give it a thorough kneading.  I did a batch of pizza dough earlier in the week and Naomi Rivka said, after a couple of minutes, “It’s not really mixed.”

I let her peek inside and indeed,

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