I was the baker in college too, I guess. I baked cupcakes with friends, pies for Alpha Chi Sigma meetings, and cookies for get-togethers. The cupcakes came from box mixes, the pies used pre-made pastry dough and fillings, and the cookies were made as I followed a recipe meticulously, making sure to follow their exact instructions. Sure, it wasn't from scratch, but I guess looking back now, that was where the hobby started. It was fun, and it was delicious.
But college didn't involve many things from scratch. And now I'm determined to avoid the pre-made mixes and start doing things on my own. I'm slowly starting to do that with cakes and cookies, definitely making mistakes along the way, but noting them and tweaking them the second time around. I'm finding out that experimenting with recipes doubles the amount of fun I have in the kitchen, and gets me a little more excited while I wait patiently in the oven to see if it worked.
One thing I've been terrified of trying? Pastry doughs, like pie crust and puff pastry. I think it's the fine balance of temperature, timing, and quick hands that freaks me out - it certainly doesn't seem as forgiving as a cake recipe. So when I saw Joy the Baker's #bakingbootcamp challenge for puff pastry rolls, I first had my doubts. But as I moved on to a second tab to find a different inspiration, a thought popped into my head - it's time to overcome the pastry struggles! How am I going to be a better baker if I can't even look at butter in the eye with confidence? So I went back to her recipe, read it over and over until I had the instructions down pat, and then proceeded to make these guys.
While making the puff pastry, I realized 1) Joy the Baker is amazing, her instructions are clear and make for the least stressful baking process possible, and 2) I need not be afraid of butter, I just need a little patience. Breathe, and take in the moment. Love the process as much as the end goal.
I guess while it's a silly analogy, I need to apply the same mentality to life sometimes. There are lots of instances where I just dismiss my abilities and move on, losing the opportunity to grow. Don't forget to take some risks in your life, try something new, even if it's a small thing in the kitchen. We would be such boring people if we didn't try new things once in a while.
So thanks, Joy, for helping me find this little life lesson inside a flaky dough speckled with butter and swirled into a perfect little bun.
Joy's original recipe calls for a hazelnut spread, hazelnuts, and chocolate, but I opted for walnuts and butterscotch since that's what I had on hand, along with a chestnut butter I made to use up the chestnuts from the orchard. The chestnut butter and walnuts gave a nuttiness that I personally love, but you wouldn't go wrong going back to the original recipe with the hazelnuts and chocolate either. And I learned that the most important thing about the puff pastry is that chilling time in the fridge! It will make your life much easier. And finally, drink this with strong, black coffee. Trust me, it's so good.
Chestnut butterscotch puff pastry rolls
For the chestnut butter (adapted from A Tasty Love Story)
1 cup roasted and peeled chestnuts
1/2 cup walnuts
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp salt
3-6 tbsp water, depending on how you want the consistency of the butter
For the quick puff pastry (from Joy the Baker's #bakingbootcamp)
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
20 tablespoons good, salted butter - cold and cut into cubes
2/3 cup cold water
For the filling
Chestnut butter recipe above
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup coarsely chopped mixed chestnuts and walnuts
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
For the glaze
For the chestnut butter
Roast the chestnuts - preheat the oven to 400 F. Cut an X across each chestnut, place in a baking pan, and roast for 30 min. Take out of the oven and remove from their shells as quickly as possible, but don't burn yourself!
In a food processor, add the walnuts and chestnuts and blend until it is a fine texture. Add the oil and salt, and pulse for another 30 seconds. Add water and continue to blend until it is a consistency you would like to have. Place in a bowl, then set aside.
For the puff pastry rolls
For the puff pastry, mix the flour and salt in a medium bowl.
Add the cold butter and toss to coat.
Using your hands (or a pastry cutter if you have one!), work the butter into the dough. You're aiming for a crumbly mixture, with large bits of butter throughout the dough.
Make a well in the center of the mixture and pour in the water. Using a wooden spoon, quickly incorporate the dough. Be careful not to overmix the dough.
Flour a work surface and place dough on the work surface. Pat it into a rough, 1 1/2 inch thick rectangle.
Flour the rolling pin, and roll the dough out in front of you in a rectangle about 10-12 inches long and 8 inches wide.
Fold the bottom third of the dough over the middle of the dough. Fold the upper third of the dough on top of the middle fold. Rotate the dough one-quarter turn, and repeat. Pick the dough up and use additional flour on the counter to prevent the dough from sticking.
Roll out, fold, and turn the dough at least 6 or 7 times.
When done, wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill fro at least 1 hour.
When ready to make the rolls, place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a cupcake pan with non stick spray and set aside.
Take the dough from the fridge, and on a well floured surface, roll the dough into a 1/4 inch rectangle.
Take the melted butter for the filling and mix it into the chestnut butter. Spread the butter onto the dough generously.
Sprinkle the chestnuts and walnuts and butterscotch over the top of the dough.
Begin rolling the dough from the long end, finishing seam side down.
Slice into 12 even rolls, about 1 1/4 inch thick.
Place the rolls in the prepared baking tin swirl side down, and bake until golden brown (Joy says 24-28 minutes, it took me about 35 minutes for some reason with my oven).
Remove from the oven, and cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then move the rolls to a wire rack and until it cool until slightly warm but you can hold them.
Whip up a glaze by adding a couple tablespoons of whole milk to 1 cup of powdered sugar. You can add more or less milk depending on how thick you like your glaze. Glaze the rolls while still somewhat warm.
Like I said earlier, drink with a strong black coffee and go about your lovely day! Enjoy!