For those of you that follow me on instagram, you know that for the past few days, I was in Tofino, BC! Tofino is a little seaside town on the west coast of Vancouver Island. It has beautiful beaches, great surfing, incredible rainforests, and a bit of a hippy feel to it. In the colder months, it's a great place for a relaxing vacation. You can rent a cabin, like my boyfriend and I did two years ago, and go for long walks on the beach in bright yellow ponchos, then come inside and dry your socks in front of the old wood burning stove. In the summer, there are tons of adventurous things to do, like kayaking, whale watching, hiking, surfing, and fishing.
I've grown up and lived in a city all my life. I'm used to the noise of traffic and firetrucks, the hurried pace, and feeling that I always need to be doing something. But I'm also a homebody. If I'm not at work or school, I'm usually at home, reading, baking, or looking at food blogs. I'm not your usual 21 year old party girl. I'm like a grandma in a 21 year olds body.
Yet, whenever I visit somewhere like Tofino, I get this crazy longing feeling, like that's what I've been missing in my life. It's so quiet and peaceful. You're surrounded by soaring trees, draped in gauzy moss that seems to muffle any noise. The waves crash against the jagged rocks in a steady rhythm that becomes a sort of background noise. It's just a different place in every sense of the word.
I feel like I would fit in perfectly there. Some people need the city life, the things to do and people to see, but I don't think I need that. I don't need to go to bars or clubs, movie theatres or shopping malls. I'd rather spend my time walking along the endless beaches flanked by evergreen trees and the grey-green ocean or at home, watching the waves roll into shore.
Obviously, I have a biased opinion of Tofino. The only times that I've been there have been on vacation. Of course I'm going to love it there. I have no worries about jobs or money when I'm there. It's a different ball game when you're living there. If I ever live there, I might end up being bored out of my mind. There's no way to tell unless you go for it.
So, for now, I'll be in Vancouver, daydreaming about the waves, the forest, and the peacefulness of Tofino.
Almond and Raspberry Croissants
Recipe adapted from Bouchon Bakery
73 g almond meal/flour
7 g all-purpose flour
73 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
73 g powdered sugar
44 g eggs
100 g all-purpose flour
0.1 g (a pinch) instant dried yeast
100 g water at 75 F/23.8 C
330 g unsalted butter, in one piece
500 g all-purpose flour
75 g granulated sugar
10 g instant dried yeast
3 g diastatic malt powder (optional)
200 g water at 75 F/23.8 C
100 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
15 g kosher salt
Good-quality raspberry jam
For the poolish, combine the flour and the yeast in a medium bowl and mix with your fingers. Pour in the water and mix until thoroughly combined. Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for 12 to 15 hours. The mixture will be bubbly, but the best indication that it is ready are lines on the surface that look like cracks that are beginning to fall in at the center, as the yeast exhausts its food supply.
For the almond cream, sift the almond flour and all-purpose flour into a medium bowl. Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix of medium-low speed until the butter is the consistency of mayonnaise and holds a peak when lifted.
Sift in the powdered sugar and mix on the lowest setting until incorporated, then increase the speed to low and mix until fluffy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the almond mixture in two additions, pulsing to combine and then mixing on low speed for 15 to 30 seconds after each one. Scrape the bottom of the bowl to incorporate any dry ingredients you may have settled there.
Add the egg and mix on low speed until combined and smooth, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a covered container. Press a piece of plastic wrap on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until cold, about 2 hours. The cream can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.
For the butter block (beurrage), place a piece of parchment on the work surface. Center the 330 g of butter on the paper and top with a second piece of parchment paper. Pound the top o the butter from left to right with a rolling pin to begin to flatten it. The parchment paper will be stuck to the butter: lift off the top piece and place it butter side up on the work surface. Flip the butter over onto the parchment paper, turning it 90 degrees. Top with the second piece of parchment paper. Continue to fatten the butter as before until you have a 6 3/4 by 7 1/2 inch rectangle. Wrap tightly in parchment paper and refrigerate.
For the dough, spray a large bowl with non-stick spray.
Combine the flour, sugar, yeast, and malt powder in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and give it a quick mix on the lowest setting to distribute all of the ingredients evenly.
Pour about half the water around the edges of the polish to help release the poolish, then add the contents of the bowl, along with the water, to the mixer. Add the butter and mix on low speed for 2 minutes to moisten the dry ingredients. Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl to make sure all the flour has been incorporated.
Sprinkle the salt over the top and mix on low speed for 2 minutes to dissolve the salt. Continue to mix on low speed for 20 minutes.
Run a bowl scraper around the sides and the bottom of the bowl to release the dough and turn it out onto the work surface. Stretch the left side of the dough outward and fold it over the center of the dough, then stretch and fold the right side over to the opposite side, as if you were folding a letter. Repeat this process, working form the bottom and then the top. Turn the dough over, lift it up with a bench scraper, and place it seam side down in the prepared bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a dish towel and let it sit at room temperature for an hour.
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Uncover the dough, run the bowl scraper around the sides and bottom of the bowl to release the dough, and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface, disturbing the structure as little as possible. Gently but firmly pat the dough into a rectangle about 10 by 7 1/2 inches, pressing any large gas bubbles to the edges and then out of the dough. Transfer to the sheet pan, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze for 20 minutes.
To encase the butter block and roll the dough, lightly flour the work surface and a heavy rolling pin. Turn the dough out onto the work surface and lightly dust the top with flour. Roll the dough outward from the center, rotating it frequently, and flipping and fluffing it from time to time, adding just enough flour to the work surface, dough, and/or rolling pin to prevent sticking, until you have a 16 by 7 1/2 by 1/2 inch thick rectangle.
Lay the butter block across the center of the dough. Stretch and fold over the two longer sides so they meet in the center and pinch together to seal. There should be no exposed butter at the top of block, but you will see the butter on the sides.
To do the first turn, use the rolling pin to press down firmly on the dough across the seam from one side to the other to expand the dough. Turn the dough so the short end faces you. Roll to expand the length of the dough, flipping, fluffing, and turn the dough over and adding flour only as needed, until you have a rectangle approximately 22 by 9 inches and 3/8 inch thick.
Fold the bottom third of the dough up as if you were folding a letter. Fold the top third down to cover the bottom third. Turn the block 90 degrees so the dough resembles a book, with the opening on the right. You will continue this pattern with each roll, and keeping the opening on the right will help you remember how to position the dough. You have completed your first turn: gently press a finger into the corner to mark it. Return to the sheet pan, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze for 20 minutes or until the dough has stiffened but is not hard.
For the second turn, lightly dust the work surface. Place the dough on the work surface with the opening on the right. It is important to work with the dough as quickly as possible, but not the risk of exposing the butter. Pressing on the dough will warm the butter; if it is too cold, it will shatter rather than spread as you roll it. Expand the dough by pressing down firmly with the rolling pin, working up the length of the dough. If the dough cracks at all along the edges, stop and let it warm slightly at room temperature. Then roll out the dough as you did before to a 22 by 9 by 3/8 inch rectangle and repeat the folding. Turn the block 90 degrees, so the opening is on the right. You have completed the second turn; gently press two fingers into a corner to mark the dough. Return to the sheet pan, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze for 20 minutes or until the dough has stiffened but is not hard.
For the third turn, repeat all of the steps for second turn and mark the dough with three fingerprints.
To finish the dough, line a sheet pan with parchment paper and lightly dust the work surface with flour. It is especially critical at this stage that the dough remain cold; freeze as needed. Lightly dust the top of the dough and roll it outward from the center, flipping, fluffing, and rotating the dough and turning it over, adding only enough flour to the work surface, dough, and/or rolling pin as necessary to prevent sticking. Roll the dough out to 24 by 9 inches.
Cut the dough crosswise in half, making two 12 by 9 inch rectangles. Stack on the sheet pan with a piece of parchment paper between them, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze for 20 minutes, or until the dough has stiffened but it not hard.
Spray two sheet pans with nonstick spray and line with parchment paper. Transfer the almond cream to a piping bag with a 1/2 inch tip and the raspberry jam to a piping bag with a 1/4 inch tip.
Lightly flour the work surface. Remove one piece of dough from the freezer and position it on the work surface with the short end towards you; transfer the second piece of dough to the refrigerator. Roll the dough out to a rectangle about 19 by 9 inches.
Turn the dough to the long side is facing you and trim it to 18 inches long. Trim the remaining sides only as needed for straight edges.
Starting at the left side, measure 3 3/4 inches along the bottom edge of the dough and cut from this point to the top left-hand corner of the dough, making a triangle. For the second triangle, measure 3 3/4 inches along the top of the dough and cut from this point straight down. Continue cutting, alternating between the top and bottom of the dough, to make 8 triangles.
Hold on triangle up by the base with one hand and, using your fingertips, gently pull the dough until it is stretched to about 12 inches.
Pipe an even line of almond cream about 1/2 inch up from the base of the triangle. You should have about 15 g of almond cream on each croissant. Pipe a line of raspberry jam on top of the almond cream. You should have about 5 g of raspberry jam.
Gently place the base of the triangle up and over the almond cream and jam, then roll upwards.
Put on a prepared sheet pan with the tail down. If the tail is not tucked under, the croissant could unroll when proofed and/or baked. Press down slightly, flattening the croissant just enough so it will not roll on the pan. Repeat with the remaining 7 triangles of dough, spacing them evenly on the sheet pan.
Remove the second piece of dough from the refrigerator and, if necessary, let sit at room temperature until warmed enough to roll, then repeat to make 8 more croissants.
Brush the croissants with egg wash. Cover the pans with plastic tubs or cardboard boxes and let proof for about 2 hours. When the dough is delicately pressed with a finger, the impression should remain.
If you wish to freeze your croissants, do so now. Freeze them as quickly as possible, then transfer to an airtight container or plastic bag. When you want to bake them, simply take them straight from the freezer and bake them as you would below. They made need a few minutes longer to bake.
Position the rack in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 F.
Brush the croissants again with egg wash and sprinkle with sliced almonds. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, rotating the pans once halfway through baking and separating the croissants if they are touching, until the tops are a rich golden brown and no portions, particularly between the layers, look undercooked. Set the pans on a rack and cool completely. Dust with icing sugar immediately before serving.