beyond the b | ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Copyright © 2016
Copyright © 2016
Oh hi first day off in seven days. Even though I usually have to work over the weekend, I am becoming more and more fond of having my random Tuesday free. Although I wish I had a Tuesday companion, I embrace the quality Bri time that consists of no pants, baking, and whatever else my heart desires.
Last night after work, I was staring at a container full of strawberries in my refrigerator. I first thought about making some kind of berry crisp. I got these really cute ramekins from Crate and Barrel that I haven't even used yet. [Not okay.] But then I thought- who the hell is going to eat my berry crisp? It's the best straight out of the oven with a scoop of ice cream on top. However, it's not easily shareable and it honestly doesn't hold up that well.
So then I decided to go with Plan B: toaster pastries. I have made these a few times and it's a little time consuming but, in my opinion, worth it. Step one was to use the strawberries to make a strawberry-cranberry jam. Jam is actually super easy to make. I just put the strawberries, cranberries, and sugar in a pot on the stove and heat it up for a long time on medium heat. While it cooks, I make sure to stir periodically and mash up the berries once they have softened. When the pectin starts to develop and creates a more gelatinous consistency, I then add some lemon zest and let it cook some more. I don't use any fancy equipment like a cooking thermometer. [Sidebar- I don't even own one of those.] My suggestion is follow a recipe if you've never made jam before and go from there. And it's all about trial and error. You will eventually understand your preferences (more tart, more sweet, etc.) and adjust for future jam-making. I must confess; I have had many kitchen failures. I may have succeeded in keeping this secret, because I only post things that are up to my standard of pretty, cute and perfect. But the fails definitely do happen, too. The goal is to learn from each experience and try to avoid making the same mistake twice. [This also applies to life. Although, I am definitely better in the kitchen than in life. ] Anyway, my telling sign that the jam has cooked enough is if it can coat the back of a spoon. If it does that, it should be done. It is important to let the jam cool. As it cools, it will also thicken further. I allowed it to sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes or so in the saucepan. Then I transferred it to a container and popped it in the refrigerator overnight.
Today I woke up, ready to be on my baking mission. I had this pie crust dough that comes in a box from Trader Joe's in my freezer. Why I have that in my freezer, I have no idea. If you know me, I tend to make most of my food from scratch and do pretty much everything the hard way. So, I pondered actually using the pie crust or just making a dough from scratch. Then, lightbulb. I could make this a segment for my blog. I will call it: HOMEMADE OR FAUX-MADE? This is for the people who wonder if everything is actually better from scratch. Or is it possible to get away with some kind of semi-homemade hack, instead?
For the HOMEMADE OR FAUX-MADE? TOASTER PASTRY EDITION, everything is the same except for the crust. I used the same homemade strawberry-cranberry jam, both egg-washed before baked in the same 350 degrees F oven, same glaze, and same sprinkles. Don't mind the fact that they are not cut identically (clearly not one of my strengths). Are you ready to take a guess?
So here's a homemade and a faux-made side-by-side:
And I'll even bare it down for you...
Do you think you have it figured out?
The correct answer is: homemade on the right, faux-made on the left. I tasted both bare before the glaze and sprinkles. To be honest, they are both equally flaky and reminiscent of a toaster pastry. You could for sure get away with using the frozen pre-made pie crust dough. However, for me, making the dough from scratch was pretty simple. Everything [4 ingredients] gets thrown into a food processor. With the frozen dough, you will have to wait for it to defrost. With the homemade dough, you will have to wait for it to firm up in the refrigerator. Literally a toss up. But if I had to choose, I would say homemade wins.
Working with the frozen dough was just kind of a pain. The frozen pie crust dough from Trader Joe's is rolled up and pre-cut into a circle. So, I had to squish the dough back into a ball and re-roll it out into a rectangle shape. From my experience in working with pastry doughs, you will get the best results if you don't handle it too much. The butter is speckled throughout the dough and, ideally, you want those tender, buttery flaky layers in the crust. Every time you re-work the dough, reform, and roll out again, it compromises the overall product a bit.
If you want to attempt making the dough from scratch, here's the recipe:
Toaster Pastry Dough
(from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch dice
6-8 Tbsp ice water (I ended up using about 9 Tbs)
1. In a food processor, pulse together flour, salt and granulated sugar until combined, about 5 pulses.
2. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 pulses.
3. Add 6 Tbsp of the ice water and pulse 2 or 3 times. The dough should hold together when squeezed with your fingers but should not be sticky. If it is crumbly, add more water 1 tsp at a time, pulsing twice after each addition. (I just added 1 Tbsp at a time and it was fine, totaling 9 Tbsp).
4. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, divide in half and shape each half into a disk. Wrap the disks separately in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
ASSEMBLY and BAKING
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out 1 dough disk into a rectangle 1/3 inch thick. Use knife to make all sides straight.
2. With knife, divide large rectangle sheet in half lengthwise and then make cuts in the opposite direction to make smaller rectangles.
3. Make an egg wash by beating one egg and 1 tsp water in a bowl. Brush edges of each small rectangle with egg wash. Place half onto the parchment lined sheet. Add jam to center of those on the sheet, making sure not to overfill. Top with another small rectangle piece. Crimp edges with fork and brush egg wash on the tops of each.
4. Bake for about 25 minutes or until golden, rotating the baking sheet in the oven halfway through baking. Let the pastries cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire racks and let cool completely.
5. Glaze and top with sprinkles as desired.
Pastries in bed. Yes, please. Nom.