Long the domain of the professional baker, croissants are made by following a logical set of simple instructions to create a dough with over 150 layers, the same technique used in creating Danish pastries, another Viennese invention. When I review my past baking class schedules, I find that making croissants has been a top request from students for years; I have taught this workshop dozens of times with great success. This recipe not only makes fabulous croissants, but the stuffed variations are worth the time. This is a skill to be practiced many times, so if you feel gawky in the beginning, be assured you are on the right track.
Cranberries and blueberries come from the same botanical family as rhododendrons and heathers. They are native to the bogs of New England, but great fruit comes from Oregon and Washington, all grown organically. Fresh cranberries arrive in stores in late fall and can be frozen in their original wrapping (don’t put frozen cranberries in the bread machine; defrost first) for use in the spring and summer. Use bags of fresh cranberries within two weeks of purchase so that they won’t get mushy or shriveled. My mother got this recipe from her antique dealer, Alan, who is a genius in the kitchen. For so few ingredients, the results are tart and satisfying with all sorts of roasted meats like poultry, pork loin, and ham. This method of preparing cranberry sauce with the ginger juice fast became a yearly ritual at Thanksgiving and Christmas in my family.
I spied the first field-grown rhubarb in the produce section the other day and that means local grown rhubarb will be showing up at the farmer’s market as well. What a treat for the seasonal pie maker. If I don’t have time, I will make a crisp, even a small one for two.
The beginning baker is attracted to old-fashioned rustic fruit desserts as much as a seasoned one. Just because they are fast and easy, doesn’t mean they are fabulous tasting. Enter the fruit crisp. Crisps are essentially deep-dish fruit pies without the fuss of a top or bottom crust, but coated with a thick top layer of enticingly sweet streusel crumbs.