HAPPY NEW YEAR wishes with a sunny brunch recipe to better kick it off and perhaps a few resolutions to at least try everything once in your life, before it’s too late, because until you do or try something yourself, you’ll never realize the efforts it required to achieve it and hence may never learn to appreciate it enough … and this goes for everything and far beyond “just” food preparation.
The instinctual response to wanting flaky “viennoiserie” pastries like a croissant or a pain au chocolat or a brioche is to go out and buy it, all in less than 5 minutes with immediate satisfaction guaranteed. But do you know what actually goes into making these flaky viennoiserie treats ?
Good things take time and technique … and heart.
Making viennoiserie or any type of enriched flaky pastries is no easy task. It isn’t terribly difficult either but it normally involves “laminating” dough which means creating layers of butter in between layers of dough and flattening them without mixing them together. The layers just exist side by side and all of this needs to happen in both warmer temperatures for the rising of the dough and colder temperatures so the butter layers don’t melt into the dough and become one big soft blob.
My reinterpretation is a multi-step preparation with a simple equation of ingredients. It’s a yeasted, slightly enriched dough, flattened into very thin sheets (like home-made lasagna sheets) then layered with soft butter (organic cultured butter is best because it’s slightly higher in fat), then stacked and tightly rolled and cut, rising again, then chilled, then baked and finally glazed (twice) for the color with an egg and milk wash anf finally the orange blossom & sugar syrup for the shine and sweetness.
To me, what seems to be the most important thing, is to at least try making these once or twice in your life, just to understand and better appreciate what was involved in making them. It may require several tries and I suggest you begin with half the recipe amount, simply starting off with 8 buns instead of 16. And after you’ve made them (or tried), you’ll make them again and/or you’ll finally know and understand that a simple flaky pastry is more than that, and the next time you purchase one, whether it costs 50 cents from a supermarket or 2 euros from a fancier bakery, that this delicious, flaky and satisfying thing isn’t just a combination of ingredients and preparation steps. It’s an effort involving passion, rigour, time and precision.
At least give it a try and allow yourself this opportunity to discover flaky pastry-making with a newfound respect and appreciation and perhaps some admiration too ! Have I convinced you ? Really ?!
HAPPY NEW YEAR & BEST WISHES for 2020 . . . :)
p.s.: a dear friend of mine (F.P.) and quite a wonderful person, who I regretfully hadn't seen in a long time, passed away 2 days ago and he loved Greek-style fried apple rings or apple fritters (because he loved Greece) so I published a simple recipe for him many years ago, but i'd like to re-work on a new version soon and dedicate it to his memory ... Rest-in-Peace.