It’s time for the next Cook the Books Club selection. In Cook the Books Club, participants read the selected book and then whip up something delicious inspired by the text.
This month book is hosted by Rachel at The Crispy Cook. She chose Yes Chef by Marcus Samuelsson. I’ve seen a bit of Marcus Samuelsson on a few Food Network shows I watch, but I never knew much about him.
In the beginning of the memoir, I was hooked. He certainly led a fascinating life. It begins with the death of his mother in Ethiopia and adoption by a family in Sweden and continues through this childhood and how his love of cooking was sparked.
Then we move on to his single ambition to be a famous chef and that’s where the book starts to drag on and on and on for me. You can read my full review on GoodReads.
But foodies never fear! There is tons of food inspiration in this one! I strongly considered making a Swedish dish, since that was Marcus Samuelsson’s beginnings and a large part of his adult career as well. I specifically had my sights set on Swedish Meatballs, since my recipe uses canned soup and I’d love to try a recipe from scratch.
But, I wanted to push myself a bit further and try something a bit more ambitious. Throughout the memoir, Samuelsson was very focused on France. It was like he couldn’t be a “real” chef unless he studied in France.
I remember first attempting croissants in high school in my Foods & Culture class (it was a sort of Home Ec class that focused on studying world cultures and techniques and then making food). It funny, because I don’t even remember eating those croissants. I remember rushing and being completely baffled by the concept of laminating the dough. It’s also funny because croissants are one of the fussiest pastries I’ve ever made and I can’t imagine teaching a bunch of high school kids with no experience how to make croissant dough in a 50 minute class period!
I’ve been making bread for about 6 years at this point and I’m glad that I didn’t attempt croissants sooner! The croissants take 3 days of intensive work for 12 pastries!
The recipe is so intense I’m not actually going to share it here, but link to the recipe/photo tutorial I used from The Weekend Bakery because there’s no way I can say it better.
Instead, I will give a few tips I learned along the way.
First, the recipe recommends using a higher fat, European style butter. I couldn’t find any in my area, so I made homemade butter (I recommend doubling the recipe) which has a similar fat content. I didn’t have quite enough homemade butter, so I used some regular butter and I could absolutely tell the difference as it broke and tore at my dough.
Second, don’t rush the steps. All that time in the refrigerator or that very long rising time are necessary for a light, workable dough.
And lastly (good news!) the croissants freeze beautifully, so if you don’t want to eat 12 croissants right away, freeze them. However, if you are planning on slicing them, slice them frozen (or at room temperature). Then heat for 30 seconds and they’re just like fresh! If you try to slice them warm, they’ll fall all to pieces.
The croissants were beyond amazing. They were light and buttery and utterly delicious. I know now that croissants I’ve had in the past are in no way fresh and likely mass produced. They are practically a different product!
So croissants are a ton of hard work, but definitely worth it. I won’t be making croissants frequently, but they are a delicious and impressive treat!