I had every intention of posting this before Christmas. Really, I did. I worked extra hard on my days off to make three desserts in one day so I could post them when I didn't have time to make things (i.e. the week before Christmas).
But then work happened and I really had no time at all except to eat and sleep. Not even eat, really, mostly just squeeze in as much sleep as possible.
My Christmas break was filled with lots of sleep-ins, naps, hanging out with family, and eating, which is how it should be for everyone. I went back to work for three very busy days and now I have a few more days off, which I will spend working on the blog! I took a break from the blog over the Christmas break, which was both good and bad. Ultimately, it felt great to just step back and not worry about it for a few days. But I also felt bad because there were comments and emails that went unanswered for several days! I hope no one died from my lack of an immediate response.
Of course, just like everyone else, I'm going to say that I can't believe it's 2016! The last year was great, although not very eventful. The majority of my year was spent working at my job, with a few fun little things thrown in there - like going to the Philippines on a scuba diving trip and getting a motorcycle! But mostly work. While it was great, I really hope to get my butt in gear this year and get out and do more.
I've never been one for new year's resolutions, but the start of this year is already full of changes. I feel like I need something new and exciting, so I will be leaving my current job as a pastry cook at a patisserie next month! I'm still going to be a pastry cook, but I want to try something different and be more creative, so possibly a restaurant! Things are still up in the air and nothing is set in stone just yet, so we'll see what happens in the next few weeks! Nevertheless, it's an exciting start to 2016! Hopefully this year will be filled with all kinds of new experiences, both professionally and personally!
Happy New Year!!
Cardamom Pull Apart Loaf
Recipe from The Modern Café
426 g all-purpose flour
11 g salt
51 g granulated sugar
8 g yeast
204 g water at 21 C
85 g unsalted butter, soft
212 g unsalted butter
3 tablespoons ground green cardamom
200 g granulated sugar
For the croissant dough, combine the flour, salt, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and give it a quick mix on the lowest setting to distribute all of the ingredients evenly. Add the water and mix until a shaggy dough is formed, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the softened butter. Mix on low speed for 10 minutes, until full gluten development is achieved and the dough is smooth.
Remove the dough from the mixer and place on a silpat lined half sheet pan. Spread the dough into a rough rectangle the size of half of the pan, trying to make it even and flat. Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature to ferment for 45 minutes.
Remove the plastic wrap. Using your palms, flatten the dough to release the large gas bubbles, but do not push all the air out of the dough. Make sure the dough is rectangular and even. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and freeze for 45 minutes.
For the butter block, the ideal temperature for the butter is around 21 C. If the butter is too cold, place a piece of parchment underneath and on top of it and use a rolling pin to pound it down and make it malleable. Shape the butter into a rectangle the size of a quarter of a half sheet pan, making sure the edges and corners are sharp and the butter is even and flat. Depending on the temperature of your butter, you may need to keep it at room temperature or in the fridge, or a combination of the two, to keep it at 21 C.
Remove the dough from the freezer. Remove the plastic wrap and place the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Let the dough soften for 5 to 10 minutes until it is no longer rock hard, but not soft. Place the butter block on the right hand side of the dough, leaving about 1.5 cm of dough around the edges of the butter block. Fold the left hand side over, like closing a book, and pinch the seams together.
With the "spine" of the dough (think the spine of a book) on your left, roll the dough out vertically to around 15 cm. Turn the dough so the spine is now facing your stomach and roll it out to 30 cm. Make sure to keep the rectangular shape throughout the entire process. If the dough feels too soft at any point, place it in the fridge for 5 minutes. Do not leave it in the fridge for too long or the butter will become hard and will shatter when you roll it out.
For the first turn, fold the bottom third of the dough up as if you were folding a letter. Fold the top third down to cover the bottom third. Turn the block 90 degrees so the dough resembles a book, with the opening on the right and the spine on the left. You will continue this pattern with each roll, and keeping the opening on the right will help you remember how to position the dough. You have completed your first turn: gently press a finger into the corner to mark it. Let the dough relax for at least 15 minutes, either at room temperature or partially in the fridge, depending on the temperature of the dough. Be mindful of the butter temperature.
For the second turn, roll the dough out in the same way as you did before, fold it, mark it, and let it rest. Repeat for the third and fourth turn.
For the cardamom sugar, combine the ground cardamom and sugar in a small bowl.
Roll out the dough to 50 cm by 30 cm. Cut the dough into two strips measuring 50 cm by 15 cm. Lay them on top of each other and, using a sharp knife, cut them into squares about half the size of your loaf pan. Place the squares of dough in a large bowl and sprinkle the cardamom sugar over. Gently toss the squares to coat them with sugar, then carefully place them into your loaf pan, pressing them together very gently. Sprinkle any excess sugar over top.
Loosely cover the loaf pan with plastic wrap and place it in a warm, humid environment to proof. Note: I set mine on the bathroom counter and put the shower on the hottest temperature for 2 minutes, then turn it off and close the door. The temperature should be around 24 C, but not too much hotter or the butter will melt out of your dough.
Proof the dough for about 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Once the dough is proofed, place it on a baking sheet and bake it for 35 to 40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until the whole loaf is a dark golden brown all over. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.