C is for krwuh-SAHN

Since I was gifted a pasta-rolling machine for my birthday, I have been scheming about what other great uses to put it to: puff pastry, Danish pastry. Basically, all and any variations on a rolling theme. Yesterday I finally cleared a mental afternoon for playing with dough (that’s mental as in I cleared the afternoon in my head, and I planned to have a mental time of rolling dough). But no sooner had I put together a croissant dough than I got sucked into a vortex of bureaucracy trying to legalise my beloved car.

So the dough was forced to wait until this morning, which as anyone who loves yeast knows, is no bad thing at all. The longer and slower the rise, the better the eating. After the first champion breakfast (two cups of milky coffee and Golden Virginia up in smoke), I excitedly assembled the rolling machine, and got the dough into a rectangle I thought would be just right to go through the thickest slot.

Helas. I soon realised that to get the dough through that slot I would have to roll it enough to make the mechanical part of the job not worth it. So the machine was packed away and instead I had to promise the philosophe entirely hand-rolled, all-butter croissants on his return from the house of pain (aka the gym).

Actually the rolling was surprisingly smooth and easy, the dough lovely and supple, and with everything at the right temperature, I had none of the oozing butter catastrophes I experienced the very first time I tried making croissants, (stupidly) on a hot summer’s day in Mozambique many years ago (they came out rock hard).

Not so these babies.  Neither were they perfect, though. Thinking I would save myself the trouble of consulting fifteen different recipes before getting started, I confined myself to just one, and followed it basically to the letter (apart from the overnight proving). Having since looked around, I now understand one basic flaw in that recipe, which was to roll the croissants from squares instead of triangles, giving them a thicker, more doughy inside as opposed to the flaky lightness I was hoping for.

Still, breakfast was good, and the first batch of three was devoured in its entirety. The thing I love most about yeast baking is getting to watch something like this


turn into this


And now I have a nice little fold of ready-rolled dough chilling in the fridge for breakfast tomorrow, or Sunday perhaps. Next time I’ll be working with triangles (plus another little trick I just learned to ensure super flakiness), and I wonder if there might not be enough for un petit pain au chocolat aussi…

So the pasta machine may turn out to be just for pasta. Not to worry: I am all over that too. Got some springbok shanks braising slowly in the tagine as we speak, which I think are destined for some ravioli once the rain comes down tomorrow. (Or should I shred the meat and cover with a lid of croissant pastry – venison pot pie??). When am I supposed to work, dammit?