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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Sloppy Skulls

I don’t do Halloween.

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What I mean is, I don’t do the dressing up scaring the cheese doodles out of myself and others kind of Halloween.

I do the eat tons of candy, make themed treats watch movies all night with the lights on kind of Halloween, still holding on tightly to Mr. LTSL….

You never know, evil ghosts and creepy things can still appear in the light.

What are you guys doing for Halloween?!? Is anyone hosting a party, dressing up, stealing your kids candy?!?

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Will anyone else be eagerly awaiting the Jimmy Kimmel I stole your candy video?!?! Hahahah so good … yet, so evil.. but so good.

The last couple of years I’ve focused on snack-ish items with my Halloween Chocolate Funfetti Cookies and a healthy dose of Halloween Pumpkin Spice Rice Krispy Squares … this year though I have something not just spooky but so delicious and savory, because let’s be honest, as much as I’d like to live on cookies and cakes and doughnuts ( oh, my) – I can’t.


I need sloppy joes. Ooooorrr in this case, sloppy skulls.

Sloppy Skulls


3 Cups Flour

1 Tbsp Instant Yeast

1 Tbsp Sugar

2 Tsp Salt

1 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 1/4 Cup Water

Sloppy filling

1 pack dried sloppy Joe Mix

1 can tomato paste

1 lb medium ground beef ( you can totally sub in ground chicken, turkey or pork)

1 1/4 Cup Water

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In a large bowl, combine flour, yeast, sugar, salt and olive oil.

Slowly add water and knead until dough comes together.

Cover and allow to rise for at least 30 minutes.

While the dough rises, on medium high heat, brown the ground beef – should take about 10 minutes.

Add sloppy joe mix, tomato paste and water.

Simmer for 10 minutes.

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Preheat oven to 425 oc.

Once dough rises, punch down and empty onto a lightly floured surface.

Separate the dough into 4 even pieces.

Roll each dough piece into a 1/4 inch circle, place into  greased skull cake pan.

Carefully fill each with sloppy filling and cover with remaining dough.

Repeat with 3 other dough pieces.

Bake for 30 minutes.


Have a happy Halloween!!