Life Before and After the Cronut

Cronut

I feel quite confident that most of us by now are more than familiar, or somewhat familiar, with this pastry creation Chef Dominique Ansel whipped up in his Soho bakery in 2013. And while he has since trademarked the name Cronut, as a baker I’m confident in stating that the blending together of croissant and donut dough started long before Chef Ansel introduced his version to the world.

Anyway, regardless of who was first, the Cronut craze took over in a big way and from there highlighted for all of us what’s possible when so inspired.  A few shining examples of this are:

Dookie — Donut + Cookie; Wafklavie — Waffle + Baklava; Dangel —  Danish + Bagel; Pake — Pie + Cake

I know…some of these concoctions seem absolutely crazy to me too.   But that’s what the pastry world is all about. A crazy, passionate embrace of mixing and matching, dazzling and wowing.  A collective effort that has been going on for quite some time apparently.

cupcake cone

Cupcake Cone (1957) – Origin unknown, and from the look of it, I can’t help but imagine a better way to eliminate those paper wrappers as well as happily licking your way to the bottom.

Pretzel croissant                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Pretzel Croissant (1997) – From the little information I was able to gather, it seems this hybrid came into existence by mistake. Which of course is usually how most great things happen. By accident. By stumbling into it. And it also seems that The City Bakery in New York City realized rather quickly what a cult-favorite they had on their hands.

crepe cake                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Crepe Cake (2004) – Decadent is the only word that comes to my mind when I see Lady M. Mille’s signature, more-than-a-mouthful layered masterpiece. When I’m baking, this most assuredly would not be my first choice in trying to replicate. However when I’m simply buying and eating, that’s a different story.

cake pops                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Cake Pop (2008) – Cake on a stick…what a no-brainer! I personally loved Angie Dudley’s idea because it was just a taste of something, something hopefully scrumptious. And for some of us, just one of a good thing is enough, while for others, one will never be enough.

cherpumple                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Cherpumple (2009) – In all honesty, I’d never heard of this dessert—a stacking of three pies in one (apple, pumpkin and cherry)—before digging through the culinary archives. Created by Charles Phoenix as a joke supposedly, this somehow evolved into the turdunken (another hybrid, turkey + chicken + duck) of the pastry world. How, I don’t know. Perhaps it tastes better than it looks.

Anyway, I could go on and on with this list—as fascinating as it is.   But I won’t bore you further because I’d much prefer to highlight the newest wonder-creation: The Cruffin.

cruffin

Though it’s not actually a combination of croissant dough and muffin batter. It’s simply the croissant dough baked in a muffin tin, giving it its shape. You’re probably thinking okay no big deal, right?  Think again.  Because Mr. Holmes Bakehouse in San Francisco is making a killing with this gimmicky creation. Stuffing it, rolling it, topping it with every cream, jam, nut, sugar imaginable.

Trust me on this!

mr. holmes

Lining up out the door?  Seriously?

I know first-hand just how far people will go when they need their sugar fix.  Because I’m one of those people.

So, if you’re in the area and want to check it out, I suggest you definitely get there early as they sell out quickly. But if you’re like me and live a few thousand miles away and you’ve just spent the past several hours staring at photos of it online and your mouth is beyond the drooling stage, you might want to try and make the Cruffin yourself.

I’m not suggesting you make a croissant dough from scratch.   I am though telling you there’s an easier way. You can of course do the dough if you’ve got the time and the know-how. Personally I’m not exactly a fan of anything that requires too much time in the kitchen. And working with yeast products falls under that umbrella!

I simply went to the supermarket and purchased Pillsbury Grand Biscuits since that dough is the closest thing I could find which has the flaky texture required. And no, the crescent rolls are not croissants-that dough is much denser. Also what I used as fillings, toppings were my personal preferences and things I already had in the house. That and the muffin tin, which was of the jumbo size. I come from the go-big or go-home line of thinkers!

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Here’s my easy-peasy recipe:

Preheat oven 350 ° — 1 pkg. Pillsbury Grand Flaky Original Biscuits (8) — 1 stick unsalted butter, melted —½ cup granulated sugar —1 tsp. cinnamon

Fillings/Toppings: Dickinson’s Lemon Curd, Alpina Dulce de Leche spread, Conchita Guava Preserves, hot fudge sauce, lemon, strawberries, chopped walnuts, lemon

  1. Pull apart the biscuits.  There are eight (8).
  2. Mix sugar and cinnamon in bowl large enough to roll baked biscuits in.
  3. Melted butter should also be in bowl large enough to roll baked biscuits in.
  4. Grease four (4) of the tins if you’re using jumbo tins.  If you’re using smaller tins, cut biscuits in half or cut down to size of tins.
  5. Lay one biscuit in bottom of tin.  Press down gently to make sure it’s at the bottom.
  6. Then press up to form sides and small well to put filling in.  And if you’re not putting in a filling don’t make a well.  I used a heaping teaspoon of preserves.
  7. Next lay the next biscuit on top of that.
  8. Brush tops with melted butter.
  9. Bake as directed for 15 minutes or until tops are a golden brown.
  10. Gently using tip of knife, pop the biscuits out onto a cooling rack.
  11. One at a time, delicately roll the biscuit in melted butter then roll in cinnamon sugar.
  12. These were my fillings and toppers:   Guava-no topping.   Perfect just as is!  Lemon curd-topped with lemon zest and lemon sugar.  Dulce de leche-topped with small dollop of same plus a few strawberry slices.

And the outcome to all this hard work (ahem <g>) …   Wa-la! I give you an original creation. The Buffin.

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How does it taste? (more smiles here).  Yum.  Absolutely yum.

I hope you try this recipe and add in your own creative sense of adventure.  Because that’s what this is all about.  New things and new journeys down roads we might never have traveled.

Peace. Love.  And most definitely happy eating!

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Who am I Without My Sister? A Look At Love and Loss

 

maya quote 2

This is true of all our relationships. You have to put in the hard work if you feel it’s something worth having.  No question about it.  But unlike the remarkable and sometimes not-so-remarkable array of people who come into our lives—the lovers, the husbands, the wives, the friends—we don’t get the luxury of hand-picking our siblings, the very same people who in time will either become our greatest ally or our fiercest enemy.

It is a tightrope.  A never-ending dance between choosing battles and making those necessary concessions in order to get beyond what might seem now like nothing more than petty differences, but then an argument worth the bloodletting.

Yes, they push our buttons.  Yes, they point out our mistakes, our frailties, keeping us cast in roles we’d sooner forget or hoped we’d grown out of, given all that we’ve done and the great distance it’s taken us to get there.  But our siblings are also our champions, our keepers of our childhood, our witnesses, our partners in crime, our press agents, our safety nets, and our non-denominational confessors who not only see us at our best, but our worst and still manage to love us anyway.

My sister and I shared more than parentage.  We shared a history of moments.  Two years and two months apart we were quite an opposite duo.  She was the peacekeeper in the family, the good daughter who wore black shiny shoes and crinoline dresses while I was the thorn in everyone’s side, the bad seed strutting around in purple sneakers and frayed jeans very happy to knock her block every chance I got.  Which as it turned out was quite often and never more triumphantly sweet, considering she had a few years and definitely a few pounds over me.  Being the older sister I suspect she automatically assumed that title gave her certain unalienable rights to do with me as she willed.  However I didn’t quite see it that way.  Oh yes, we argued, we tangled, all the time in fact.  Because that’s what sisters do.

And the funny thing is…as much as I wanted to wring her neck, in that same breath I always knew she was my world and I was hers. I knew this to be a lifetime companionship that I’d never get anywhere else, from anyone else.  And together we were a force.  One so powerful standing outside the touch of time shoulder-to-shoulder like granite against the world that the only thing that could possibly cut short this indomitable feeling we had, was death.  The ultimate disconnect.   That tangible never-again thing that happens to you when you want to tell her something and immediately reach for the phone and it dawns on you like a brick to the head she’s not there.  The sound of her voice, the look on her face will never again be yours to behold.

Mari 1

Over the past twenty-seven years I’ve thought a lot about this religion of siblinghood.  From the moment my sister died to this, the whole of it has become a curious obsession, a fraternity which I wanted absolutely no part of.  And yet, like most things beyond our control, I was inducted nevertheless.

Since my sister’s death, nothing has ever been the same. I have never been the same. How could I?   I lost my compass, my identity, my alignment to all that I held sacred.  I imagine most people tend to believe when we lose a sibling that relationship no longer needs the care it was once afforded, because it no longer exists.  Like a root or a flower it too dies.  But the truth is our siblings will always be our siblings.  Even when the discernible part of our equation vanishes, that golden thread of “mutuality” we were born with somehow manages to survive beyond those borders familiar and maybe not so familiar.

I loved my sister, dearly.  I miss her very much—still.  And admittedly not a single day goes by where thoughts of her don’t drift in, unannounced.  Sometimes I weep at those thoughts, sometimes I smile.  That’s just the way it is.  I know in my heart she’ll always be there but I also can’t help feeling somehow like an orphan, cheated by time.  Time where all those big things and little things that collectively embody a lifetime of dreams—the trips to faraway destinations, the shopping sprees to stores yet unconquered, the children, the grandchildren—she will never know, I will never get to share.

That is what I mourn.  The passage of time and a life, her life, unfinished.

As human beings, as siblings, the richest moment we experience together is the moment we’re in.  Everything else has either already happened or not yet ordained.  But at one time or another we will have to suffer this life alone. And within that state of suffering we have the option of denying or accepting.  Of hating the world or embracing all that was given.  Of withering or growing.  And every moment we spend trying to decide in which direction we’re headed is a moment toward a better understanding of ourselves and how this tapestry of life wraps around us.  Fibers that are intertwined in such a way, that with time and with love can and will grow stronger.

All this I’m saying to you now, I’ve said to myself a thousand times.  If for no other reason than to remind myself that life is a double-edged sword, a myriad of things filled with such great beauty and such great sorrow and you cannot have one without the other.

It’s a package deal.  Oh yes, I know this truth better than most as it’s the same truth that drives me from one day to the next as I struggle along getting this compass of mine re-aligned, fusing my presence of being back into my life and the lives of those I love.  It’s work.  Something that doesn’t simply happen overnight.  But it’s worth it.  Love is always worth it.

So the next time your sibling calls and you feel like there’s something more pressing to do, such as answering your emails or watering the lawn and you want to hang up…I say…don’t.  I say spend the time, do the hard work and by all means embrace the moment.

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Out With The Old!

It’s a NEW year and with that comes 365 days of fresh opportunities to do something INCREDIBLE and something AMAZING. To FIND love lost, to READ great books, to CREATE masterful pieces of art, to BUILD bridges, to SING songs (even if you can’t carry a tune); all those WONDERFUL things you’ve dreamt about doing, but didn’t.

I hope in the days to come your world opens up in a way like never before and you surprise yourself by stepping into the unknown, and BRAVELY (despite those knees knocking) and you make all those mistakes, those OUTRAGEOUSLY PHENOMENAL mistakes which you must, because believe it or not…they’re the ones that will actually push you, change you and teach you how intricately important we all are to each other and that little bit of KINDNESS you’ve been shoring up for a rainy day goes a long, long way—if you let it.

So there it is. My wish for you, for me, for all of us: COURAGE, HAPPINESS and above all else FULFILLMENT knowing that the life you have is the life you want.

 

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