Saturday, July 25, 2009

A New Frontier

When I was a child, I really wanted my mother to bake for me. I had it in my mind that cookie = love, that mothers bake.

My own mother, liberated creature of the sixties, did not agree. She believed that's what God created upscale bakeries for. Every school event requiring a muffin - she went to The Sweet Gallery or Patachou. Not so secretly, I always felt deprived. I mean, that's what moms do. They bake. (I still go to the Bloor West Sweet Gallery location a few times a year. It serves the best smoked meat and bean soup!)

When I was about 12 - long before the internet age democratized everything - I started to learn the skill in my own right. I read The Joy of Cooking and The Silver Palate (how de rigeur!). I talked to people who knew what they were doing (there were more of them back then). I progressed from cookies to pies to bread. I had a knack.

Might I add that, for its numerous flaws, the weather in Canada is quite conducive to baking. We have cool and the right amount of moisture. My hands are always cold!

In a great irony, after my own kid was born (once I finished with the homemade organic baby food and all the dinners one makes after coming home from work out-and-out exhausted) there wasn't a lot of energy left for baking. I did it occasionally, but not consistently. The art, the science, languished in my home. I didn't have the energy to miss it.

Fast forward to this summer. Scott says that, since I recovered those dining room chairs, I've become all DIY-chick. Maybe it's true. Maybe my creative spirit is just resurfacing. Maybe it's the distinct lack of sun and heat this summer that's propelling me into some kind of activity that one can get with while the weather sucks.

And lord help me, I decided to make croissants. C'mon - it's a hop, skip and a jump from puff pastry. Actually, it's a hybrid of puff pastry and bread. But I won't bore you with the details.

It only took 15 hours, on and off, and about 30,000 steps. Just 5 ingredients though!

At any rate, I didn't have the wherewithal to a) make croissant dough for the first time ever, b) proof it, turn it and roll it for 3 hours and c) photo-document the whole shebang.

Here's what I managed to capture:

'Ssants proofing on parchment

And here they are out of the oven...

I'll be blunt: they're pretty fine, but I will improve. I'll def add more salt the next time (this time I used salted butter in lieu of salt but it wasn't adequate IMO). I'll also have to better my shaping technique. It's not as easy as the tutorials advise (nor is it rocket science - I guess I just have to learn the trick).

As 4 of them were inhaled straight out of the oven (and peeps have burns to prove it), I think it's not a bad first try. Now on to making the wild mushroom chowder that will go with these at dinner!


  1. omg they look delish! i love fresh baked croissants.... you are such a good mom... and a least your mom went to nice places. we usually got chips ahoy chemical cookies to go with our oscar mayer hotdogs, with wonder bread buns with kraft mac and cheese, with green giant canned spinach.

    yes, my mom was really into brand names.

  2. J: Ha! We had our share of hot dogs to be sure. My mother was simply a pastry snob :-) (hilarious given she wouldn't make the stuff for any money.) And thank you so much for your lovely comment. I'm proud that I pulled this off.

  3. Those are very convincing croissants. Good job. My baking is limited to bread and Christmas cookies.

  4. Great job, darling! I love the childhood memory... for me, baking = love as well!


  5. oh they look so good. I love croissants. I would have eaten them up with mounds of butter!

    Isn't it funny what expectations we had for our parents ...and how long they hold true until you find yourself in the same predicament? I mean, who has time to bake when they're raising a kid? lol. Great story.

  6. Wow, they look good! I def must try bakin soon.

  7. Now I want to poke you in the middle and make you giggle like that little Pillsbury character!

  8. Croissants!?!?!? Girrrrl, youse just asking for trouble!

    If only I could Minority Report my way into your kitchen...I might never leave...EVER!

  9. 15 hours? That is dedication! My mother always baked and cooked...we tended to feel deprived b/c she wouldn't buy us the food our friends bought and we never ate was actually a budget thing in our house!

  10. They look YUMMMMMMMMY!

    You are lucky your mother didn't bake - mine would bake, but was anti-sugar, so would cut the sugar quantitiy in any recipe to half what was required - making everything she baked eeeuuuggghhh - so it was pretty embarressing when I'd bring along a plate of cakes for something and they were gross. I wish she'd gone to an upscale bakery!

  11. After thinking about your 'ssants all weekend, this morning I woke up thinking, well, I kind of feel like baking something..... after much consideration and getting distracted by other things, I filled up my bread-maker and pressed "go". Sad, but better than no baking at all. And the smell is very happy-making.

  12. D.: Thanks! And that's not so shabby...

    CC: It's the natural way of things :-)

    Maegan: Who indeed? You're about to see it first hand with Morgan! And these had so much butter, you would have been hard pressed to add more.

    Yiqin: Thanks!

    Wendy: I LOVE this comment. I'm squeezing my tummy right now!

    Mattie: In truth, I don't think they were worth 20 hours on a plane. Give me a few weeks. Then come over!

    Rebecca: Thanks for that perspective. You see, we all have something - as Imogen's comment shows...

    Imogen: Ha! OK, that's bad. Mom's need to bring on the sugar. But she was only showing you love in her own way :-)

    N: You see, this is why people need to have weddings! So they have cool gadgets that make yummy things without 15 hours of effort. I say, well played!

  13. If you are going to keep this up you are going to HAVE to open up the chic boutique hotel. I would have happily skipped the ice cream binge for your croissant.

  14. Bel: I say, why limit yourself - we can do ice cream and croissant!

    Merci, Hammie! You come over too...