Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Monday's Plate: Its a Baking Sheet This Time

I had absolutely no idea!  

What I mean to say is that laminated doughs are way cool!  This is the newest technique and skills we have been practicing in Intro to Baking class.

Its a layered dough with lots of butter - its most classically used for applications like Danish and Croissants-  and is more appropriately defined by The Food Lovers Companian as:

"A butter-rich pastry that begins as a yeast dough that is rolled out, dotted with butter, then folded and rolled again several times.  The dough may be lightly sweetened and is usually flavored with vanilla or cardamom. Baked Danish pastries (often referred to simply as "Danish") contain a variety of fillings including fruit, cream cheese, almond paste and spiced nuts."  

Our text book basically says the same thing. Thankfully Chef Fred made sure that once we started our daily production in the kitchen that we had a visual demonstration of the lamination process too.  It is always fun to watch him throw the dough around in a snow storm of dusting flour.  He makes it all look so easy.  

When we first start working with our own dough at our table I felt like a brand new mother, afraid of breaking my own baby and handling it all with extreme caution.  I know the more we practice the process the more my handling will resemble a confident and cool Mom of three.  All the folding and rolling will eventually be executed with ease and a comfortability that only comes with practice.
~A picture of our first laminated dough, done the original way
What is even cooler is the opportunity that Taylor (my lab partner) and I had to try a newer process of lamination that had us grate our butter layer instead of pounding it out with a rolling pin.  The grating process was much quicker and easier to assemble.

The difference in doughs was very dramatic.  The grated butter dough was much smoother, with very even laminations and after baking yielded a much nicer product than the pounded butter dough.

~The grated butter dough- look at those even laminations

The finished product had the texture and flavor that was exactly what we would hope for.  Chef Fred was so happy with the difference that he told us he might continue this technique and prefer it over the old "pounded out" technique.  

Our Croissants made from the new lamination version~
One of my classmates, Courtney used part of the grated butter dough to make a Chocolate croissant that turned out VERY nice too.  What a cool idea, and it was very very tasty too.

~Courtney's Chocolate Croissant
Laminated doughs are so much fun to make, but soooo,  mostly forbidden in my daily dietary intake.  The wild and crazy amount of butter that makes then some rich and tasty is something to be saved for exceptional occasions and special treats.  Overall the skill, the technique is something I plan to continue to practice.  It will be one of the abilities that I will store in my toolbox for the events when I really want my loved ones and guests whom I will cook for to feel extraordinarily special.