Monday, September 17, 2007

Friend or Faux

When I went to the David Lebovitz class he said that in his opinion some foods just didn't translate across cultures. There was something that prevented people in France from being able to make brownies - it's just not in their culture, so they don't know what they're supposed to be like, so their attempts always come out badly. (However, marinating in US culture has positive effects in this regard, since Tartelette, the French pastry chef, is now the reigning BrownieBabe).

Likewise, croissants can not be found in the USA. Sure you can find many things that might be shaped like a croissant or by called by a similar name, but, according to David, it's not possible to find a good croissant here. I think it starts with the name. People here, instead of admitting that they have no idea how to speak French or pronounce a French word will mangle the word, almost beyond recognition. Instead of just saying crescent roll, they Americanize "croissant" to be "crassant." Just thinking about it hurts my ears.

If they can't even say it, how are they supposed to bake it?

I can say croissant, but I certainly can't make it. I've seen them made on cooking shows. The thought of all that rolling and folding and chilling and folding and chilling and rolling is daunting. I'd be eating the rolling pin before those pups got done. Which is why a recipe in a bread machine cookbook for croissants caught my eye. Now I'm not fool enough to think that anything coming out of a bread machine would rival something you'd buy in a Paris boulangerie, but I'm an incurable optimist when it comes to trying new ways to get dinner on the table on time.

The result? Not surprisingly, they are not croissants. But they are tender, buttery rolls, quite good. Why pretend to be something they're clearly not? I won't have them laboring under the shame of being faux French food, instead I'll call them proudly American crescent rolls. And if I serve them with a hunk of Brie cheese, well, that's just between me and the rolls.

Proudly Crescent Rolls
adapted from The Bread Machine Book by Marjie Lambert

3/4 cup water
3 Tbsp powdered milk
3/4 cup butter
1-1/2 Tbsp sugar
1-1/2 tsp salt
3 cups bread flour
1 Tbsp yeast

1 egg
pinch of salt

Put all the ingredients except glaze in the bread pan in the order suggested by the instructions for your machine. Set for white bread, dough stage. Press start.

Lightly butter two baking sheets.

When the dough is ready, take it out of the bread machine and punch it down and divide into three pieces. Let the dough rest 5 minutes. Roll each piece of dough into a circle about 10 inches in diameter and 1/8 inch thick. To get the dough this thin, you may need to let it relax a little during the rolling.

Cut each circle into eight equal wedges. Take each wedge and roll it one more time with the rolling pin to flatten it. Starting at the wide end of the wedge, roll up the dough toward the point, stretching the dough slightly as you go. Place, with the tip under the roll, on the baking sheet. Wrap the ends toward the front so the roll forms a crescent.

Make glaze by beating egg and salt together with a fork and brush the crescents with the glaze. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Preheat oven to 375 deg. F. Brush the rolls again with the glaze. Bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.

Makes 24 rolls.


MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

A good roll is a good roll . . . it doesn't have to be called by any other name!

melinda said...

I think those look very what if they are not French originals.

gigi said...

Imitation is the highest form of flattery! I would never turn down such a yummy looking roll.

Anh said...

I do agree, certain food can not be translated across countries... I am actually ok with adaptation, just please do not claim that it is the real thing!

And how much i love your pretty rolls! Lovely!

Peabody said...

Mmmm, butter goodness.
On a non-related note, how did I not know you lived in the Seattle area.

Rose&Thorn said...

A rose by any other name is still a rose! Your crassants look lovely.

Kelly-Jane said...

Well, your crescents look great!

There is certainly something in some foods not cross culturing well, there is an element of not knowing how to.

I've always wanted to try challah bread, but I've never seen it (well apart from on TV) and have certainly not tasted it, and I'm intimidated to try because I don't really know what it's supposed to be like. So I totally connect with what you and David are saying!

Cookie baker Lynn said...

My Kitchen in Half Cups - Well said!

Melinda - They're not flaky, but they are tasty.

Gigi- Then you are welcome to share. :-)

Anh - That's why I don't try Vietnamese food. I know I'd make it all wrong. Unless I had a volunteer to come show me how.....;-)

Peabody - I don't know. I did offer you the use of my wading pool for your foot this summer.

Rose & Thorn - Thanks!

Kelly-Jane - I'm with you on the challah bread thing. I've tried it once, but think mine needs a lot of help. Maybe if I bought some in a bakery to know what it's supposed to be. Do you have any good Jewish bakeries in Scotland?

Amy said...

Your crescent rolls look delicious! I saw a faux croissant recipe in Everyday Food a while ago. It used cottage cheese...very intriguing.

Happy Homebaker said...

Your crescent rolls look lovely and I bet they are delicious over a cup of hot coffee :)

WokandSpoon said...

The cresent rolls look fantastic and I'm sure they'll give the French croissants a run for their money!

Blue Zebra said...

Lynn your cresent rolls, well, what can I say other than... *Drool!* I've copied the recipe and can't wait to make them this weekend. Thanks for sharing this with me.

I actually tried making Julia's Easy Puff Pastry this weekend. The verdict is still out on it. :D Will have to let you know on that one! :D

Belinda said...

Lynn, these crescents look outstanding, and I really like them on that pretty sage green plate. I would like to reach out and take one from the plate, to accompany my cup of tea this morning. :-)

Brilynn said...

I made croissants once and they were quite good. But they took three days. In three days I could fly to Paris and get myself a real croissant...

Sarah C. said...

The title of this post is so you mom... the pun, the all time joke for you. I can't ever come up with them. I walk in to them on accident sometimes, but I'm not funny like you.

The Cooking Ninja said...

Those look very good. Croissants are very difficult to make. I have tried it once in Singapore and I made a big mess on my dinning table that I have to wipe out all the butter that came out of my dough and throw away the dough. Since then, I have never tried it again. They look so easy to make on TV with the chef explaining and showing it - like 1 2 3 and voilĂ  you got a beautiful croissant.

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Amy - if you try it, let me know how it turns out.

Happy Homebaker - Rolls, coffee, and friends. Winning combo.

Wok and Spoon - sweet of you to say, but then you are a sweetie!

BZ - I'm eager to hear about the Easy Puff Pastry. Anything with "easy" in the title calls to me.

Belinda - I love tea in the morning, too!

Brilynn - Yes, we could almost justify a trip to Paris that way.

Sarah - you know I can't help it.

Cooking Ninja- Euw, that sounds like a nasty experience. I think I'll stick with the crescent rolls till we organize out blogger's tour of Paris boulangeries.

Kelly-Jane said...

No I don't know of any Jewish bakeries at all, I can remember one in Paris, but that was before I knew about challah! If I ever see a shop though, I'm going in :)

eatme_delicious said...

Mmm whatever you want to call them, they look really good! I really want to try making croissants. One day when I have the courage (and patience)!