It has been far too long since my last post. Although I've continued my cooking and baking adventures during the past three years, this blog lay silent as nothing more than a testament to the food of yesteryear. However, I could no longer ignore the legions of adoring fans who clamored for the blog's return. So, in all its (hopefully existent) glory, here it is.
I've wanted to start this back up again for a while and was just waiting for that final push to get me in motion. I finally got that push a week ago when I visited my best friends from law school in Chicago. Not only did I have one of my top three meals of all time while there (keep a look out for my upcoming post on Roister), but my friends and I spent an entire afternoon binge watching the first season of The Great British Bake Off. The actual first season, not what Netflix calls the first season.
Both of these experiences reminded me how much I love the process of making food, maybe more so than eating it, and made me want to continue sharing my modest attempts. At Roister, we sat at a counter immediately overlooking the tiny kitchen creating our entire meal. For the first half of the meal, we did nothing more than marvel at what the chefs were doing. After that we were too consumed with the actual food itself to keep watching, but being able to see them perform was part of why the food was so captivating. The same can be said of the GBBO--the final products on that show are impressive enough, but watching the process and the amount of work that goes into those final products really blows me away.
However, as impressive as it is to watch people perform at the top of their game, it also helps you realize that anyone can learn these techniques and accomplish amazing things at home. Not everything will be perfect. And you will throw away dozens of eggs and pounds of butter on failed attempts. But you will continue to grow with each of those failures and, when you do succeed, you get to experience one of the best feelings ever: watching people enjoy something you created.
That ability to connect with other people through food is why I love cooking and baking, and I hope this blog can serve as some semblance of that. Although I cannot share an actual meal with you, I will share with you some of the things I love and, through that, attempt to share a small part of myself.
The first picture above appears to be a fairly unassuming piece of dough--what you cannot see is the hundreds of minuscule layers of dough and butter that will expand in the oven to create layers and layers of flaky and tender pastry (as seen in the baked goods the dough transform into).
This magical dough is called Rough Puff (as in, a rough puff pastry). I have been obsessed with puff pastry since I first learned about it years ago. Since then, I've watched dozens of videos on how to make this dough at home but had never attempted it myself. I found it much easier to just run out to the store and buy a pack of frozen puff pastry because making it at home was basically a multi-day process. You would have to make a dough and then place a block of butter weighing approximately as much as the dough itself into the middle of the dough. You could then fold the dough over the butter and roll it out. Then you would fold the dough over itself and roll it out again. Then you would repeat that process again. And again. Throughout this whole time, you had to be absolutely sure that your butter remained a solid block and did not melt into your dough. This meant that your kitchen either had to be in the middle of a corn field in Illinois in December, or that you had to refrigerate the dough for hours at a time between each step.
As much as I wanted to, I was just not going to attempt that. Then, the GBBO taught me about the poor man's puff pastry--the rough puff. Although not easy when compared to boiling water, much easier than the full laminated puff pastry described above.
Rough Puff Pastry
225g / 8oz Flour
Pinch of Salt (mixed with flour)
200g / 7oz Butter
125ml / 4oz Cold Water
Squeeze of Lemon Juice (mixed with water)
(Recipe makes enough for one big tart or a couple dozen pinwheel cookies. I made a triple batch in the pictures below.)