Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Great British Bake Off

I love watching cooking programs because I like food. I tend to gravitate toward food travel shows, where people go to different places and eat food I can't get in the middle of nowhere Indiana. I love watching Anthony Bourdain. I love America's Test Kitchen, and I recently fell in love with The Great British Bake Off.

I should also mention that I get obsessive about certain foods. I think a certain food looks good, I decide I want to go try it, make it, whatever, and then I spend hours finding a recipe or researching restaurants I probably won't end up going to. Then I order weird spices or herbs on the internet and make curries or fancy soup. And then I can move on.

If you haven't seen The Great British Bake Off, you should. In the states, it's called The Great British Baking Show, because Americans apparently could not understand that "bake off" means "baking competition" without them dumbing it down. It is brilliant. Basically, two judges, Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, evaluate the baked goods produced by a number of contestants over a series of weekends in a tent set up in the garden of a lovely estate house. Each weekend, they take on a specific sort of dessert, cakes, pies, biscuits, puddings, pastry...you name it.

party online great off mirror


One week they made croissants. And I died a little inside when I saw how perfect the flaky layers were. We can't get croissants here. They do make "croissants" at grocery stores, but they aren't made with real butter, which basically means they aren't croissants at all. It's depressing. I dreamed of having proper French pastries, but when I was in France during my college years, it was for a few days right after New Year's and everything was closed. Everything. The only croissants we had came in sealed packages from convenience stores. It was like not being in France at all. I watched each contestant roll out dough and fold in butter and thought, "I could do that."

I was forgetting a few things:
  1. I am not a talented (or even practiced) baker
  2. Baking is hard.
  3. Seriously, though.
I went, as I always do, to America's Test Kitchen. There was a recipe, which I printed off. I'd had lunch and my afternoon was free, so I figured I could bang out a few croissants in a few hours and we'd be set for breakfast the next day. The recipe warned that the process would take 10 hours, but I thought, "No big deal, I can do that."

tv cake great london off
Mary knows the truth.

Except it was, and I couldn't.

Here are the problems with croissants:
  1. The dough is yeasted, so it rises as you're trying to work with it. 
  2. Every recipe assumes you can roll things out in a rectangle.
  3. Butter melts. 
You begin by making your dough, wrapping it, and chilling it. Then you beat a few sticks of butter to make them pliable, but still cold. Then you roll the butter into a square inside some parchment paper. Then you chill that, too. When you pull out the dough, you roll it into a rectangle (hysterical laughter), then slap the butter into it, fold the dough around it and seal it, Then you roll it out again, then fold it up again. Then roll, then fold. Then chill. Then roll and fold, roll and fold, and chill.

You keep doing that for hours. Then you allow it to rise in the fridge a bit. Then you freeze it. Then you roll it out and cut it into shapes. Then you roll the shapes into croissants. Then you let those rise some more. Then you cry in the corner of your kitchen because everything is melting (literally). Then you make an egg wash. Then you think you'll never sleep again because no way will you be done before midnight. Then you bake the croissants. And then you thank God and think, this will never happen again. 

tv cake great london off
The reaction Paul and Mary would have had to my croissants.

Then you have the croissants for breakfast and think, That wasn't so bad. I could do those again some time. Maybe over two days, but still.

Terrible shaping. Just awful. The baker leaving us today is Laura.


1 comment:

  1. They look delicious! But I'm with you, I'm always like how did anyone ever roll anything into a shape other than blob???

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