From Farm to Table: The Terra Momo Cooking Class, Part 4

Master baker Denis Granarolo was back on board this week leading the demonstrations for the “Cooking with Local Ingredients” series at the Princeton Public Library, along with Eno Terra’s Chef Christopher Albrecht. I have failed to mention in previous posts that not only is Albrecht the Executive chef of Eno Terra, but he oversees all of the Terra Momo restaurants! With that said, blueberries and strawberries were today’s highlighted ingredients.

Granarolo walked us through making croissants. Before he started the dough, he flattened 3 sticks (12 oz/339 gms) of butter into a six-inch square and placed it in the refrigerator for two to three hours. The butter needs to be chilled and at least 80% fat. 83% or 85% are more desirable for the best results. In the U.S. the brand Plugra (82%) is great to use for this purpose. Next he started the croissant dough. He added flour, salt, sugar, yeast dissolved in warm water, warmed milk and half & half in a stand mixer, and blended it with a dough hook until a ball was formed. He added a little more flour to form a soft, but not sticky dough. He tested it by stretching it to make sure it didn’t break. The dough must be covered with a damp cloth and chilled for four to six hours.

The dough was then placed on a floured table, and pressed into a 10 inch square. The butter was placed on top, and the dough was folded over it, and it was rolled out with pin. If the dough or butter gets too soft, it should be placed back in the fridge. It was turned then folded into thirds and turned & rolled again three more times. It must be chilled for one to two hours, then rolled and chilled again a couple of more times.

The master baker called this a laminated dough. This is achieved by rolling the butter into layers of the dough, which in turn makes it flaky. Albrecht commented that this is a “short” bread because the fat of the butter wraps itself around the long gluten strands and makes a more tender baked product, as in shortbread, shortcake, etc. This is a time and labor intense dough, but it’s so worth it!

Granarolo rolled the dough out one last time into an 8″x18″ sheet and cut it into different shapes. The tradition elongated triangle with a slit on the short side for rolling croissants, a cross shape for making pinwheels, and a long rectangle for filling with pastry cream and fruit.

He also prepared a strawberry bread using strawberry puree, eggs, sugar, oil, vanilla, flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt, and sprinkled the top with sliced almonds.  A slice of it is shown below, along with a slice of blueberry & pastry cream filled croissant, and a strawberry pinwheel.

If you can get to the Witherspoon Bakery in Princeton, it’s worth the trip to indulge yourself in these tasty treats. They’re heavenly! Otherwise, please get to your local bakery and look for golden croissants with or without fresh fruit baked in. You won’t regret it! Yum!

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