As I write this post, I realize what a huge place baking has in my life. I love all things food related, but by far I´d rather be baking than cooking. And yeast doughs are my absolute favorite. There´s something about having to deal with a live organism that changes the dynamic. After all, it has it´s own mind, gets stubborn sometimes and decides not to do what it should without a moment´s notice.
Today´s theme on our #SundaySupper table has to do with our lifestyles. How does one relate to the other? It took me seconds to know what I would write about. Because, even though I don´t have a house full of people, and at this moment of my life sunday nights don´t include a table with kids or my family, I spent a lot of my life baking for others, the pleasure was seeing them devour what I offered, smiling and feeling happy together. Sharing with them what I think is the best gift I can offer, food.
I met this fabulous group through the lovely Anuradha of Baker Street fame. Her mango cheesecake caught my attention first and then I realized there was a whole group linking their sunday posts. The door that opened seemed like your normal, let´s be part of a group and cook on sundays… yeah, ha!
Having a food blog has made me aware of the bonds and friendships that can be made with unknown others that live in a totally different part of the world and have a very different lifestyle. This group is clearly a synergy, where the whole is so much more than the sum of its parts. Makes me feel I have a full house again.
And let´s not forget the guidance through this social media universe that I didn´t care to understand before because I didn´t need to. Not only has it greatly improved my blog´s numbers, something I´m not sure I care much for unless it means I have real interactions with blogging `friends´, it has opened my mind as well.
I choose these pastries since they are extremely delicious, combine my love of baking with the site that introduced the group to me, and finally with my Merrell´s, the last link in this chain. Though this is not a sponsored post nor am I getting any kind of retribution, the group decided to join them this sunday.
Fifteen years ago I bought my first pair of Jungle Moc, due to so many hours I was spending standing in the kitchen, and never looked back. They turned out to be my favorite culinary shoe. So, as you see, it was very easy to post about Sunday Supper, my lifestyle and Merrell. They are a huge part of my lifestyle right now. And I think right now is the only moment that counts.
Time for the recipe now. These Nut Crescents come from the incomparable Maida Heatter. Her books are a treasure. The detail with which she writes each recipe is mind-blowing and the little paragraphs at the beginning of each are wonderful and compel me to go to the kitchen and start baking.
According to said words of wisdom, these pastries are from the Austrian Embassy in Wash DC, and were (the book was first published in 1982) the talk of the town.
And according to Maida, they can make your reputation as a pastry chef. Now, who can argue with such a statement? Not me, I just got myself down to business.
They are extraordinary. The combination of lemon in the dough with the pecan / raisin filling is fantastic, and though they are incomparable right out of the oven (as any yeast pastry is) they were great the next day after being warmed in the toaster oven for a few minutes. They are not complicated, no more than the Danish Braid, since both doughs are made in the food processor. If you like to bake, they are so worth it.
THE EMBASSY´S NUT CRESCENTS
barely adapter from Maida Heatter´s Cakes, by Maida Heatter
Note: I made the whole recipe and did it in two batches using the food processor. If you have a large one you can do it in one step. This recipe makes a lot of crescents. I use one half the day I make it, and freeze the other half for later.
Makes 48 crescents.
Makes 48 crescents.
For sour cream dough:
½ cup sour cream
8 oz. (225g) unsalted butter, cold and firm, cut into little pieces
½ cup granulated sugar
5 cups + 2 Tbs (750g) sifted all purpose flour
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ cup warm water
2 envelopes (14g) active dry yeast
Finely grated rind of 1 1/2 lemons
For the filling:
1 ¼ cups (140g) pecans, finely chopped
½ cup (70g) raisins, chopped
1 cup sugar
3 oz (85g) unsalted butter, melted
¼ cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract
For the sour cream dough:
For the sour cream dough:
In a small bowl pour warm water, pinch of sugar and yeast. Let stand 5 minutes until foamy.
In a large bowl sift together flour, sugar and salt. Set aside.
In a small bowl beat the eggs to mix. Add sour cream and mix well. Set aside.
In the bowl of a food processor, fitted with the steel blade, put half of flour mixture. Add half of butter and pulse just until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Repeat with remaining flour and butter. Put both batches in a large bowl. Don´t clean the bowl of the food processor.
Add the yeast mixture to the eggs. Slowly pour this onto the flour/butter mixture. With a fork, mix everything together just until it is blended (like you would for a scone dough).
Return half of the mixture to the processor, and process for 45 seconds. The dough will form a ball and be soft and pliable. Repeat with the remaining half of mixture. You can also knead the dough by hand on a lightly floured surface. It will be sticky and try not to add extra flour.
Wrap the doughs in plastic bags or film and put in the freezer for 1 ½ hours.
At this point you can freeze them, just be sure to take them out the night before and leave them overnight in the refrigerator.
For the filling:
In a medium bowl, mix finely chopped walnuts, raisins and sugar. Add melted butter, cream and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate.
To shape the crescents:
Lightly butter baking pans or cookie sheets.
Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. Working with one at a time (keep the rest refrigerated), lightly flour your hands and press each piece into a ball. Flatten it a bit, and with a rolling pin, roll into a 9-inch (23cm) circle. This doesn´t need to be a perfect round. With a pizza wheel or a sharp knife, divide the circle into 6 wedges.
Place a rounded teaspoon of filling close to the wider base of each wedge; do not spread it out.
Starting at the base, roll the wedge toward the point, enclosing the filling. It is not necessary to fuss with the ends, or pinch seams together; when the dough rises and bakes it will meld together).
Place each roll, as you roll it up, on the prepared sheet, with the point underneath. Turn the ends down to shape into short, fat crescents.
Cover loosely with a light linen or parchment paper and let rise until doubled, about 2 hours.
About 15 to 20 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 350º F/ 180ºC.
Beat the egg white only until foamy. Brush gently over the top of the crescents.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until puffed and nicely brown. Some filling might spill.
With a wide metal spatula lift the pastries as they come out of the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool a bit.
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The Sunday Supper fun continues. Take a look at these wonderful stories and recipes for this event:
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