Making Dough — Cookbook Review … and I made Croissants

When I first got the e-mail to review this book, I thought it was a joke. I thought it was spam … but i wanted it to be real soooo badly that I provided all of the required information, and remained hopeful.

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When the book Making Dough by Russell Van Kraayenburg showed up at my door step, again, I thought it was a joke. Hah, me? – review a cookbook, an actual cookbook with amazing pictures, and recipes, test out, and give my opinion on someones labour of love – stepping into their shoes and experimenting with their baking journey. Me, are you sure?!?!  

I knew i had a great task at hand.

I was honored.

Humbled.

So first, thank you Quirk Books, Pinguin Random House Canada and Russell … can I call you Russel, like we’re friends?!?!

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I cracked open the book, loving the sound of that spine cracking and the smell of fresh pages. In the most ironic possible way … the book was “recipes and ratios for perfect pastries” hahaha … good joke. Remember how I’m crazy scared of pastries … again, was someone playing a joke on me?!?!

I thought though, this was my chance, this would actually be a true test of this book. I’m not a dainty baker, ask me to dump cake batter in a pan and bake it, done — ask me to scoop out cookies on tray suuuuurrreee … ask me to make a soufflé-fra-li-lah … yea, no, not happening. I normally put pastries/ doughs under that “ soufflé-fra-li-lah” category.

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As I skimmed through the book, divided by 12 key dough recipes I realized, I’m actually a big huge liar … I’m not actually scared of pastires, according to Russell’s book, I’ve actually made tons of pastries!! Scones, done it – Biscuits, nailed it … and the idea that Gnocchi is a type of Pate A Choux excited me … I thought, you know what, I can totally do this.

And then I decided to make croissants.

And not just any old kind of croissants, but poolish croissants – promised as a more “yeasty flavoured” croissant.

Review of the book:

My first reaction was, its beautiful. I flipped through the pages drooling and intrigued by recipes like Bourbon-Maple Glazed Cheddar Bacon Biscuits, Blueberry Mascarpone Hand pies and Salted Caramel Eclairs topped with Salted Caramel Popcorn … 2 words: I.DIE.  I knew it would be tough to narrow down exactly what I was going to bake.

As I continued reading, I realized this wasn’t just a cookbook – and in fact if I were to give it an alternate title – I would call it “ The Theory of Dough” the time, patience and detail included in each of the steps, the explanations included in how your dough should look as you progress through a recipe, the attention to explaining each component of your masterpiece it definitely gave me a new perspective on baking.

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Quite often, baking is compared to science – and I suppose it is ( although i was NEVER good at science) Russell’s book is a true testament to the science of baking. I wouldn’t say it’s overly technical, but it is extremely detailed. I would deem it a baking textbook, one that every ambitious baker should have on their shelf. There is a lot to learn, and Russell makes it easy to do so.

I would definitely refer Making Dough to a seasoned baker; while the steps included are clear and easy to follow – I found that a lot of the required tools ( a kitchen scale, candy thermometer, marble slab) just aren’t tools a home bakers like myself have on hand ( hehe … this could DEFINITELY be a hint to that Santa!!). I also found it challenging to work with weight measurements as opposed to cups, tablespoons and teaspoons.

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For those who are new to the baking game, I think this book could serve as a great method to learn the ins-and-outs of how to be a great baker … I would definitely package this book with a couple items – a food scale, thermometer, pastry brush and ruler … hhheeellllloooo foodie gift basket!! 

Baking from the book:

First … look what I made!!

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Croissants are NOT an easy feat – I must say, this recipe has taken my baking ambition to a whole new level. I’m going to deem this a win, as a first time try but honestly, I probably won’t be making croissants again in a while.

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They.take.SO.long. either that, or I just lack any sort of patients!! The result was a flakey pastry and buttery center – worth the 26 hours …. Mmmm … for the smell of my home; yes – for how they actually turned out, not so much. I must have done something wrong ( and it’s very possible …) my croissants were heavy, not light and fluffy as I hoped. They also baked a lot faster than the suggested 45 minutes. While the tops were golden brown, the bottoms were toasted – not burnt, but definitely more cooked than probably necessary.

Baking from the book was relatively easy – the instructions provided are clear, and detailed. One thing that definitely stood out ( and maybe this was based on the recipe that I choose) I continuously had to flip back and forth to reference other information; as well, as I mentioned before, some of the tools required, I just didn’t have and I ended up improvising.

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There are a ton of other recipes I would like to try. Overall, I would say Making Dough is a keeper – ideal for any seasoned baker as a Christmas present; and a new adventure for novice bakers such as myself.

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Honey Drizzled Turkey, Cranberry, Sweet Chili Walnut Blue potato pizza with crispy sage

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Holy jumpin jones … do I have a pizza recipe that’s about to blow your mind!!

But first, a little story …

A couple of weeks ago Food Bloggers of Canada advertised for their members an opportunity to participate in The Little Potato Company event – each lucky blogger would recipe a couple bags of spuds – make something jazzy – blog about it – and we’ll all live happily ever after.

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So I entered. I did so without even thinking much about it … seriously, this little blog wasn’t going to get the chance – there are so many stinking out of this world bloggers that are members of Food Bloggers of Canada , why would I get the chance of spud serendipity?

Fast forward 2 weeks … and this shows up!! 2 Bags of Something Blue Potatoes & 2 Bags of Fingerlings

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Of course, the first thing I do is call my mom. And this is how the conversation went ;

“Ma, you need to come to my hose to eat potatoes … I just scored 4 wicked cool bags”

“For free?”

“ yes mother, for free …please come over”

“Dear child, no one in their right mind gets as excited as you do over potatoes … but I’ll be over as soon as possible” 

I wish I made that up. I WAS PUMPED!! The Little Potato company chose me … and I hope I did them proud with my

Honey Drizzled Turkey, Cranberry, Sweet Chili Walnut Blue potato pizza with crispy sage.

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While I was compensated with these potatoes, all opinions are my very own … and now, the good – bad – and beautiful about these little taters.

 Yays:

–          They are little, cute and perfect for roasting alongside your holiday meal

–          LOVE the packaging and how compact they fit in my tiny refrigerator

–          LOVE the burst of blue

–          LOVE the thin skin

–          LOVE that this is a Canadian company

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Nays:

–          I wish the purple run throughout the potatoes ( this may be me, just being picky)

The Beautiful :

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And now, let’s talk pizza.

Seriously when it comes to pizza – quality matters to me, especially when I’m making it at home. I want fresh – I want exotic – I was sweet- spicy – tangy – rich – a crunchy crust, and chewy dough… and I want it to all work together … read : Pizza Snob. And this one … BLEW MY MIND. It’s not too spicy, but there’s a kick and the honey … oooohhh the honey … and the sage … and the walnuts.

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Honey Drizzled Turkey, Cranberry, Sweet Chili Walnut Blue potato pizza with crispy sage

 Pizza Dough (you can of course, also use store bought!!)

3 Cups Flour

1 Tbsp quick acting yeast

1 Tbsp Sugar

2 Tsp Sea Salt

1 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 1/4 Cups of Water

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Directions:

In a large bowl, combine flour, yeast, sugar, olive oil and water. Mix until well combined.

Pour out onto a floured surface, and knead until a smooth ball forms.

Using the original bowl, lightly spray grease. Place your dough back in, and allow to rise for at least 30 minutes.

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The Pizza

Ingredients:

10 small purple potatoes  thinly sliced, about 1/4 inch thick
½  cup olive oil, divided ¼ cup x ¼ cup

3 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp sea Salt

1 Tsp ground black pepper

1 Tsp curry powder

1 Tsp cinnamon powder

½ tsp ginger powder

½ tsp ground cardamom

¼ cup sliced brie cheese

½ cup thinly sliced turkey kielbasa

¼ cup dried cranberries

¼ Cup + 2 tbsp honey ( divided)

1/2 cup walnuts

1 Tbsp sweet chilli sauce

4 fresh sage leaves

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Directions:
Preheat oven to 425 oc.

In a bowl, combine potatoes, ¼ cup olive oil, garlic & spices. Set aside and allow to marinade.

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In a smaller bowl, combine walnuts, ¼ cup of honey and sweet chilli sauce.

Roll out prepared pizza dough.

Top with marinated potatoes

Sporadically spread your cheese

Add turkey

Sprinkle on your cranberries & top with marinated walnuts.

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Bake for 30 minutes.

While baking, in a small frying pan add ¼ of olive oil and sage leaves allow to crisp for 8 minutes. Remove from oil and set aside.

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Remove pizza from oven – add sage leaves and drizzle with 2 tbsp honey.

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Verdict, Mama LTSL Loved the pizza … so did Papa … and I ate it twice again this week aka — grab some The Little Potato Company Spuds and PUMP UP THE PIZZAAAA!!

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