Thursday, February 26, 2015

Home Baking Everyone (even Blondin) Will Love

 What point is there having a squirrel shaped cutter if you don't bake something for squirrels?! We call these, "Blondin Biscuits" as they are rich in molasses and fat, but low in sodium. Everything a growing squirrel needs. Bake them hard so the little rodents can sharpen their teeth.
Fine, I can understand not wanting to bake for a squirrel-they also enjoy seed-rich ka'ak, a Syrian bread made with anise, cumin seed, caraway, and sesame. Like a crunchy little bagel.

For the humans in your life, how about puff-paste croissants filled with roasted beets and feta cheese?
I've been making puff paste for years, but this was a new recipe from an old book (I knew I;d get around to using some of these cookbooks) The Complete Book of Pastry, Sweet and Savoury  by, Bernard Clayton, Jr. While the technique of turns is the same as any other puff paste, the recipe is different in that it makes use of three different types of flour and lemon juice. It handled like silk, and the flaky layers baked up puffy and golden. The recipe makes quite a bit, but with puff paste you may as well make a large batch as it freezes nicely. I used about half of mine, but I'll be glad to have it in the freezer. This recipe will make 3 lbs-enough for 3 dozen croissant or 2 large vol-au-vent.

You Will Need:
2 cups strong (bread) flour
1 cup plain (all purpose) flour
1 cup pastry (cake) flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons lemon juice (fresh or bottled)
1 1/2 cups cold water
2 tablespoons butter taken from

1 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
1/4 cup bread flour

Blend the flours in first part of recipe together with the salt. Form a well in the bottom and pour in the lemon juice and 1 cup of the water. Pull in about half the flour and then drop in the two tablespoons of softened butter. Blend with your hands and then pull in the remaining flour. You should have a shaggy dough. You may need more liquid, but add it a small bit at a time as it should be moist, but not wet.

Turn the dough onto a work surface and knead until elastic adding a small bit of flour if it remains too sticky. Knead it well and then lightly dust the ball with flour and wrap in cling film. Chill at least 2 hours.

Meanwhile, prepare the butter.

Break down and knead the butter until malleable. It shouldn't be so hard that you can't work it, or so soft that it melts in your hands. Work in the 1/4 cup of flour and shape into a 6 inch square. Dust lightly with flour, wrap in wax paper and chill until it is about 60 degrees. I didn't have any trouble getting my dough and butter roughly the right temperature to work, but if your fridge is particularly cold, take the butter out a bit before the dough when ready to start.

Roll the dough into a 12 inch square. Arrange the butter sideways on the dough so that it is diamond shaped. Fold up the sides of the dough over it and seal. Turn it over on a lightly floured board and do the first turn by rolling it into a strip 24 inches long by 8 inches wide. Don't roll over the ends or the butter will press out. Fold in three like a letter. Place the folds of the dough at 6 and 12 o'clock and roll into a long rectangular piece. Fold into three again. Wrap in cling film and chill 20 minutes. You have completed a turn. Do this 5 more times over the course of several hours. If your dough feels too hard like the butter will tear through, let it rest. If it feels too soft like it will squish out, chill it longer.

Before using the dough it is best to let it rest at least three hours, but overnight is also good.

To bake croissants:

You want to roll the dough thinly-about 1/4 inch and then cut the triangles (easiest if you cut from a rectangle shaped strip). Each triangle can then be rolled thinner to 1/8 inch thickness. If filling them, place a tablespoon of filling on the bottom wide part and gently roll up to the top tucking the point beneath. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet with a rim (it will run). When they are completed, brush lightly with a wash of 1 large egg beaten with 2 tablespoons milk. Save the mixture as you will need to brush them again later. Chill the croissants 1 hour before baking. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

brush the chilled croissants again with the glaze and bake 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375 degrees F. and rotate the pan. Bake another 30-40 minutes or until done. Cool on a rack.

Save your scraps! They can be made into palmiers, papillons, or straws.

Do not feed to squirrels, no matter how cute they are when they beg.
"Pleeeeeeeeease! I'm starving!"


Beth Waltz said...

Delicious little puffs! Just the thing with a nice strong "glass of tea"! This receipt reminds me of my mother's WWII adventures, living above a Bulgarian bakery on Brighton Beach.

Greetings to Blondin, who appears to be in fine fur and fettle!

Goody said...

My dad once made the forgetful mistake of asking my mother for a "Glass of tea" which was met with, "Go get it from your Ukrainian mother! I use mugs."

It was the last time he asked for tea in a glass. I really don't know why they married-they should have dated longer than two weeks.

Curtise said...

Blondin biscuits - perfect!
I do like puff pastry, in any form, but I've never made it - I am a disaster with pastry. I blame my hot hands. Or something... xxx

Goody said...


Hot everything, you!

Pastry making is overrated unless you enjoy doing it. The store bought stuff is pretty good.

Propagatrix said...

Baking for squirrels. This makes me unreasonably happy. I think I'll try homemade croissants when it's the alto section's next turn for rehearsal snacks.

Sue said...

I think I have fallen in love with Blondin'. Of course you bake him biscuits, who wouldn't, when he is so darn cute. Your croissant things look and sound delicious, I may have dribbled a bit.

Goody said...


We now have a squirrel peering through the sliding glass door, looking for us in the mornings. They learn fast.

Blondin isn't the typical squirrel, that's for sure. On the farm we had one that managed to get into the kitchen wall from outside-THAT was awful. So long as he stays outside, and leaves the bird feeder alone, he's welcome to his biscuit.

I have to be careful no one sees me feeding/talking to him as I really don't need to be known as, "The Crazy Squirrel Lady."