I fully expected to not enjoy making this. As soon as I saw the dough recipe, I started having flashbacks to my failed croissants. All lumpy and soppy in their pools of butter. Or how about just the sheer exertion required to roll the dough out. No easy task. But, since I was very uninvolved with baking over the summer, I’ve been red educating myself to my baking challenge. Even if the recipe doesn’t look fun or easy or even all that tasty. I still need to try. So I did.
I started the dough on Saturday, thinking I’d make it for Sunday morning. Until I read the whole ‘let chill overnight’ part. Ok fine. Sunday I started rolling it out, but was using the counter that is directly above our dishwasher which was in it’s drying (ie, steaming) cycle aka the counter was warm and melting my nice cold chunks of butter. So after a few rolls and folds I popped it back in the fridge to try again later. What I didn’t realize was that the dough was going to start rising IN THE FRIDGE. It burst out of its Saran Wrap covering. Anyway. I put off finishing it until today. My counters were cool. I had some time and the dough rolling actually wasn’t too hard. I opted for the apricot filling which tasted pretty good and went for the pastry cream filling. I don’t know if I did something wrong but I expected my pastry cream to be… Creamy? Like almost a custard? The consistency of pudding? It was not. It had the consistency of cream. Except a little sweeter and richer and more vanilla-y. When I spooned it out on my dough it just sort of oozed and dribbled all over the place. Not what I was expecting. Once I started making the braid the cream started seeping out and making things very messy and ugly. It didn’t help that I didn’t leave enough dough for some of my braid sections. It wasn’t very pretty looking but I had faith it would still taste ok. At that point, I noticed that my oozing dough braid was sitting on my counter. Not on parchment. Not on a baking sheet. Shit. That thing was heavy. It was like a large dead snake. Just picking it up was not an option. I even had to scoot a thin cookie sheet under it and used that to lift it over to parchment. The process did not increase the attractiveness of the braid. But whatever. At this point I just needed to get the thing in the oven so I could shower and get ready for class. When I emerged from the shower my nose was greeted with the warm smell of something buttery and delicious wafting through the house. I peeked into the oven to see this gorgeous loaf of flaky wonderful waiting for me. Helllloooo yummy. I mean, I might be calling it too early. Who knows what it’s going to taste like, it could be awful! So I of course slice right in. After all, the book says to serve warm. I can’t betray Julia. And? Yep, it was flaky and delicious. I didn’t really notice the pastry cream at all, just the tartness of the apricots and the sweetness of the glaze. I had to run off to class before I could get my husband to try it. A few hours later I received the following text: Pastry is A+. Holler! Good thing I have half the dough still sitting in my freezer…gotta think of my next filling!
Check out all the other braids from the other bakers here.