So, I've decided to take a little different approach with this blog than I had originally planned. Instead of just posting images of things I've made and then the recipes I've created/used, I'm also going to include a component talking about my adventures while I'm studying Baking & Pastry Arts in Culinary School.
I sincerely love Fridays this semester because Fridays mean that I get to have Laminated Doughs and Pastries class. Our classes here at school usually only occur once a week but for many hours at a time. For instance, Laminated runs from 7:30am to 2:00pm (if we get out on time). That may seem like a long time, but in reality, it just flies by! Most days I find myself wishing we had just a couple more hours. Laminated requires a lot of patience and attention to detail, two things I'm discovering I'm rather good at. We're also learning processes that are becoming less and less common, like how to make puff pastry and croissant doughs and eventually danish and other breakfast pastries completely from scratch.
This week was our first time baking croissants as well as Pain au Chocolat (chocolate croissants). Just look at the layers we "laminated" in the dough! All with delicious Plugra European butter.
Here's Chef Jeff demonstrating rolling a croissant
We left them in their straight state, not curving them like we silly Americans seem to like.....
Then, it was on to Pain Au Chocolat, made with real chocolat batons!
And then we added.... A SECOND baton!
Isn't it amazing how the initial shape of the croissant dough prior to rolling is the shape of "la Tour Eiffel"? Is it a coincidence? Je ne sais pas.....
So, here's my newly rolled croissants ready for proofing
Chef Jeff's croissant finished baking first, and so he cut one open so we could see the beautiful insides. Incredible!
And here's my class, stuffing our faces with delicious croissant goodness :)
I'm not even kidding with this, THESE CROISSANTS WERE THE BEST OF MY ENTIRE LIFE!! And I've even been in France.
In 2002, I traveled to France for 17 days with my high school French Club. Nearly every morning, we'd eat a croissant or pain au chocolate or a baguette piece (or perhaps all three) along with cups of Chocolat Chaud (hot chocolate) or coffee. I developed a love for red currant jelly on my croissants early in the trip and to this day love the stuff (although it's difficult to find decent tasting current jelly in the United States). Ironically, on Friday there happened to be a jar of currant jelly on one of the dry storage shelves in my classroom. Chef Jeff let me open it and have some with my sample croissant. OH MY GOSH!! it was like eating a memory! Only the improved version of a memory. These were the most croissant-tasting croissants I'd ever had!! (sorry, I get a little excited).
There really are some foods that are just like memories. I remember sitting at breakfast with the friends I made on the trip, peeling the croissant open and layering on the jelly. I remember lots of laughter (and some tears) on that trip. I remember being so homesick for France when I got home, a lot of that having to do with the great people I got to know on the trip. I was only 15 at the time (well, turned 16 on the trip, but that was a bad day and I don't care to reminisce about that one). And although I was already interested in culinary things at that time (it was shortly after I had decided that I must eventually go to culinary school), I didn't have the full appreciation I would have if I went back today. Man, what a great trip.....
You might say, "So what? So what if these were the best croissants ever? What's the big deal? If you don't know what you're missing why does it really matter?"
Oh but it matters! Really and truly it does!
I love pastry and all it's components, but this semester, I'm really developing a love for laminated doughs. These non-commercial versions are so incredible that I just want to share them with the entire world! For real!
I want to change the world, one croissant at a time!
I would like to show people how much the hard work of making something like this will pay off in the end. How a product like this is worth something. I truly believe I can make someones day by giving them a delicious baked good (whether its laminated or not). I want people to develop their own "food memories" and have them be centered around really, really good food.
Sure, you can go purchase mass-produced commercial products, and yes they might taste alright, but will they be memorable?
Take a little extra time, make the real thing, use quality ingredients, enjoy it instead of just consuming it.