How Dough I Love Thee? I Can Proof It To Ya!

For most of us, the time leading up to Christmas is spent trying to deal with the crowds and mayhem at the mall.  Long lines at the cashier.  Pushing and shoving.  Cursing the driver that snuck into the parking space that was custom made for you.  Having to deal with the scent of those damned pinecones.

Tis The Season Pinecones

Those horrific scented pinecones. I just cannot escape them!

For others it’s cyber-shopping and waiting until the Target or Macy’s site that crashed is back up and running.

I’ll tell you.  I was at the mall the other day to pick up stocking stuffers. It was also a great time for me to get my lazy ass into exercise mode by conducting my personal “mall speed walk”. While on this walk I stopped into Ann Taylor Loft.  I was drawn by the sign that read “50% off All Sweaters”.  I couldn’t resist.  I spotted an adorable sweater. It was white with black snowflakes knitted into the cable knit design.  Half price off $69.50 came to $34.75.  I could spend money that I didn’t have Bonaparte’s well-earned money then lie about spending.  It looked adorable and would be the perfect match for my black J. Crew Front Zip Pixie Pants.  A nice look for Christmas Eve.

Loft sweater

I’m still annoyed about the false advertising for this sweater. Maybe it’ll be half-off this weekend!

When I got to the register to pay, it rang up full price.  I explained to the sales assistant that it was half price—just as the sign said.  She looked at me as though I was a special kind of dumb and said the sign only referred to SOLID sweaters.  I failed to read the small print.

And this is what bothers me about Christmas/Hanukah/Kwanza/Allotherholidaysincluded shopping.  Retailers take advantage is such a sneaky way.  I think the train of thought is that the consumer will be so embarrassed and intimidated by the fact they read the sign wrong that they do end up paying the full purchase price out of humiliation.

Not me!!!  I just politely smile, wink my eye and nod my head with an “I’ll be back when this item goes on sale!”

I’m glad that my Christmas shopping is finished.  Other than wrap more gifts, which I will proceed to do delightfully, my only concern is the Christmas baking.

Bowed box

Bonaparte will be dismayed to see yet, another mess that I’ve made. The wrapping mess will continue next week!

I really get all serious and intense about baking for the Christmas holidays.  The Buche de Noel has become a tradition for Christmas dessert.  I’m already planning a new look for this year’s Buche.

Bouche de Noel

Last year’s Buche de Noel.  I made marzipan mushrooms and filled the cake with home-made chestnut cream–and that’s only because I refused to pay $15.00 for the canned stuff. I did a better job making it myself!  

The cookie requests have come in. Naturally, the Momofuku Milk Bar Cookies will be a staple.  As will the Cranberry and Pistachio Biscotti.  The internet gifted me with a great sugar cookie recipe some years ago—the dough is already in the freezer.


Cranberry and pistachio biscotti will be made again this year…..


The corn cookie dough is in the freezer just waiting to be baked!

Freshly baked Brioche and a nice Boule will be accompanying our Christmas meals.


Thank god for my Pullman loaf pan. It’s the only pan I use to make my Brioche!

But there is always the request to bake something I’ve never attempted.

Bonaparte hinted around that he loved and missed the Pain aux Raisins that he used to enjoy as a boy when growing up in Paris.  He waxed sentimental about the taste and how delicious they were and if he could only have them once again.Epicurious Pain aux Raisins Recipe.

Ok buddy—I got the hint and made them on Tuesday.  In my research, I found out there are two kinds. One made with croissant dough and one made with brioche dough. Since I’ve mastered the brioche—that’s what I used for the pain aux raisins.

pastry cream

The Pain aux Raisins is dressed with a vanilla pastry creme.

Pastry cream and raisins on the brioche dough

Then the dough is topped with the pastry creme and raisins.

They turned out pretty darn good if I may say so myself. In fact, Bonaparte has eaten six of them already! I’ve wrapped the remainder and froze them for future consumption.

Success. Pain aux raisins

Next time I’ll cut the dough a bit thinner–Bonaparte told me to! *eyeroll*.  I also want to make them with cherries and pistachios!

Actually, I was pretty much confident to make this treat because I’ve mastered brioche.

Requests have been coming in from Bonaparte and Miss Oona for croissant. Oona has also requested Pain au Chocolat.

Out of curiosity, being nosy, wanting to see if I could do this, pure love for my family, I decided to have a go at making croissant and pain au chocolat.

There was a time when I had a “yeast infliction”.  I was afraid to bake anything that called for yeast. However, living with a Frenchman and his constant badgering for home baked bread, I had no choice. It was either “merde” or get off the pot.  I went with merde!

With lots of determination and practice, I finally understood the personality of yeast.   I proofed my love many times in the form of rising dough!

Off I went. I didn’t climb mountains, but I climbed the stairs to our office and started researching croissant recipes on the net.  I “YouTubed” techniques.  Most of the recipes were daunting and the videos really weren’t that much of a help.  I settled on a recipe for croissant dough and croissant from the Epicurious site. Epicurious croissant recipe

For the pain au chocolat, I improvised by using a combination of the same dough from Epicurious and the filling and instructions from Food Network Canada Foodnetwork Canada: Pain au chocolat.

Let me tell you something. This whole process “proofed” to be tedious.  Folding, rolling, and chilling the dough four times. Leaving the dough in the fridge overnight then taking it out and rolling it again.  The more I rolled, the more flour I needed to add to the surface and it was making me nervous.



rolled folded and to be chilled

Folding and chilling.

Let’s not even broach the subject of the mess I made.  Listen—my kitchen is pretty big, but the actual work surface isn’t. It was almost impossible for me to roll out the dough to 44 inches lengthwise.

Still life with mess

Still Life With Mess.  A study in kitchen by me.

Bonaparte happened to be home in the late afternoon and decided to do laundry.  That meant whatever “dirty” clothing I had needed to be washed. THAT meant Bonaparte hovering over me and my mess and mumbling about how my shirt was a filthy and disgusting because it had gotten full of flour and I hadn’t wiped it off and Chippy decided to lick it off. And my shirt was filled with a pasty glue-like substance of flour and dog saliva.

How hes feeling after licking off the dough

I later found Chippy under the tree he looked sick after licking all the flour off of my shirt. Hey, I would have let him clean the shirt. Bonaparte was not happy!

Bonaparte in front of me with the laundry basket and pointing to my shirt, I stood in the middle of the kitchen, took the shirt off, and continued rolling the dough. Dough you get the visual?  Thank god the blinds were drawn!

That Would Be Me

All I’ll say is that I could have had my version of  “The Topless Martha Stewart Special 2015”

The best part of the recipe was pounding the butter together to make a square!

poundinndig that butter

Read below–then you will know why THIS was my favorite part of the recipe!

I have to tell you; last week I had two of the worst job interviews of my life—OK?   The first was a great opportunity. Large and stable company with lots of growth. They recently moved into a building not too far from where I live. I went into that interview itching to be the best “me” that I could.  I researched the company, knew everything about the entire leadership team and the goals of upper management. 

I dressed in J. Crew from head to toe. I even wore my J. Crew Dulci heels—the most painful heels on earth. But they look great. I was stoked! Paris Without Daniele. Remember How Much My J. Crew Shoes hurt after a day in Paris?

The interview lasted less than 20 minutes.  The woman gave a brief description of the position and every time I spoke, she ignored me and looked at her computer screen.  No kidding!  I never even got the chance to tell all I knew about the company.  I’ve never felt so much like a non-person in my entire life. Rude is rude—and respect is respect and I only hope that it wasn’t my age that made that woman ignore me and gape at her computer. It. Was. Awful.

The next interview started out well. Then it unraveled into a disaster.  I was given a skills test.  And that’s fine. My skills are excellent. However, THIS Company didn’t have an IT department and everything was done on the “Cloud” system (???). They also had a brand-spanking new Word and Excel program.

I had no issue at all with the Excel portion but the Word portion was awful.  Too many bells and whistles had been changed and the toolbar was nothing like I was used to.  Although I managed to do what was needed, it took “too long”.  Another disaster. 

I cried the entire way home. I cried at home. I cried myself to sleep.   Then I became full of anger……

..and the anger really helped with the pounding of the butter!  All my frustrations from those horrific interviews had been beaten away with the rolling pin slammed down on those three sticks of butter! I had a beautiful square of pale yellow that would eventually be placed in the middle of my croissant dough.

To make a long story somewhat shorter, I was not entirely successful in my croissant and pain au chocolat endeavor.

Croissant ready for the oven. They didn't rise.

I screwed up. The pastries never rose during the proofing.

pain ready for the oven

To make matters worse, I rolled the pain au chocolat and should have folded them over. Arrrgh!!

rectangles cut

All the measuring with a ruler and precise cutting just could not help my attempt! A real “pain au the ass”

The pastries never rose properly during the last proof.  They did not turn out flaky. Buttery, absolutely. Tasty—actually the pain au chocolate tasted pretty darn good, but didn’t look pretty.

Pain au chocolate inside and out

The croissant dough just doesn’t look right for this pain au chocolat–but the inside was actually decent.  I dunno. Maybe I can use the leftover dough for pigs-in-a-blanket!

Croissants out of the oven. meh

The croissants ended up to be a fail for me. Too heavy. The look atrocious. All that work and I had to throw half of them in the trash. Seriously. The oven temperature was too high as well.  

The croissants were too dense and just were “meh”. I may need a lighter touch in rolling out the dough. I honestly just don’t know. Perhaps I need to enroll in a class. I do know that next time I’m using Francois Payard’s recipe. I wish I had seen this recipe first!

Saveur Francois Payard Classic Pain au Chocolat

In the meantime, back to the drawing board for both these recipes.  Oh. I will master this. I will not give up.  If I have to get into my car, drive to Manhattan and stalk beg Francois Payard for his secrets I will. I may get arrested for being a stalker but it’ll be worth the prison time.


Monsieur Payard looks like a nice person (actually he and my brother Pete could pass as twins), maybe he WOULD help me!

Why?  Because I love my family and I love to bake. It’s my therapy.  I “dough” sincerely mean that—and baking is a way to “proof” my love for my family and friends!

Dough I love you 005

Ever the optomist, I may suck at trying to become re-employed again, but I KNOW I will figure the croissant/pain au chocolat recipes out and I’ll keep trying and trying!

Successes and fails—Gerry Rafferty’s song comes to mind” Get It Right the Next Time! I will! XOXOXOX!

About Catherine

Far from perfect, but enjoying life as a non-perfect and flawed individual at 60 years young. I'm still wondering what I'll be when I grow up! The characters in my life's screenplay include my better half. He is a refined Frenchman who grew up in Paris and summered in St. Tropez. I grew up in Long Island and summered in Long Island. I am not refined. My three grown children are also a big part of my life. For their sake, they happily live where their careers have taken them! But I can still mother them from a distance! I write about the mundane. I write about deeply shallow issues. But whatever I write or muse about--it'll always be a bit on the humorous and positive side! It's all good!
This entry was posted in Daniele Delorme, Epicurious, Francios Payard, French Cooking, J. Crew, Saveur, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to How Dough I Love Thee? I Can Proof It To Ya!

  1. Dawn Marie says:

    You. Are. Hysterical. Thanks for the constant giggles! I send you my hugs in exchange.

  2. Jane Martel(totally French) Billman says:

    Tres impressed ….. That is some complex baking!! Don’t let those job interviews get you down who would want to work there anyway …. It will happen!! XOXO

    • Catherine says:

      Thanks Jane! Bonaparte just arrived home a few moments ago and tried the croissant and loved it. He said the taste was great–same with the pain au chocolat–he loved it. I guess I need to work on the appearance more! LOL! XOXOXO!!

  3. Little Voice says:

    So I love your tenacity to bake and learn new skills. I just shake my head in admiration.

  4. I used to be the ‘donut queen’ back in the day…I loved baking and always wanted to learn more…now it’s just two of us and I don’t want or need to eat I have a teeny tiny kitchen not made for such endeavors as yours….Ill bake vicariously through you!!!! Appearance can be over-rated!!! At least they taste good!!! 😄😄

    • Catherine says:

      Oh. My stomach is bloated. My thighs are more jiggly and I’m growing a third chin. All from my lack of will power! Seriously. We’re on the same page: just two of us and wanting to learn more. I’m just realizing that it is exactly two weeks till Christmas! I will be in the kitchen for a large part of the next two weeks! XOXOXOXOXO!!!!

  5. izabolinha says:

    They taste good ! Bonaparte said so ! Congratulations !
    You are a very talented Lady !
    Turtle Hugs 🙂

    • Catherine says:

      Bonaparte is French–so he’s complete honest. He WILL let me know when something tastes awful–but he did like the croissant and pain. His assessment was the same as mine–the taste is fine but the texture needs to be lighter. I’ll get this right! XOXOXOXO!

  6. Jennifer says:

    I think you are very talented, so please don’t be discouraged about your job interviews! The pain aux raisins you made look delicious. May I have one please?

  7. Miss Bougie says:

    I so hear you! Baking with yeast can be so very frustrating. Believe me, I know. Although I have never tried to make croissants, pain au chocolat or pain aux raisins – I simply go to my local boulangerie for those – I do bake bread and have a to die for recipe for brioche. I also use yeast in cakes.
    Your pain aux raisins really looks like the real thing, though. If B. likes it, that’s all you need to worry about, anyway.
    If I find myself in need for a pâte feuilletée, I can buy good quality one at the boulangerie. They sell unbaked pastry. So convenient; better than the store bought one!
    Love your attempt at art. Still Life with Mess! Love it!! We could be sisters. 🙂
    And don’t let the job interviews get you down. These jobs surely weren’t meant to be for you. The perfect one will come, I’m sure of it. Have you ever thought of supplying your neighbourhood with authentic French pastries? Maybe that’s your new calling?

    • Catherine says:

      Ohhh…Oona did request that I try my hand at pate feiulletee (puff pastry). As much as I love her, I told her there was no way I would attempt to make it. I’ll purchase the store-bought. are soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo lucky that you can purchase it at the boulangerie. I have to settle for Pepperidge Farms brand–but it’s still decent. Can you imagine trying to make it from scratch???????? XOXOXO!!

  8. gk says:

    I am so very impressed with your culinary skills! What an endeavor you’ve undertaken. I like to bake/cook as well, but I have to curtail the baking because I have no willpower whatsoever. I end up eating it all!
    My son recently had an interview where the man repeatedly asked him if he is dumb/stupid! This was for a professional position! Bullying and disrespectful as well.

    • Catherine says:

      Oh no he didn’t!! Are you kidding me? Wow. I think you son’s interview wins the “worst job interview of all time” prize. Who does that???????? It’s amazing the lack of respect from professionals–but then I wonder just how these people were hired in the first place!! I’m sick from all the scraps and tasting I’ve done. All I want to eat this weekend are veggies! LOL! X”OXOXO!!!

  9. BunKaryudo says:

    That was so sweet of you to take Bonaparte’s subtle (or perhaps not so subtle, reading between the lines) hints and make him his beloved Pain aux Raisins. You clearly have the necessary skills, though. Everything looked so delicious. 🙂

  10. spearfruit says:

    I am so impressed with your baking skills. You have much more patience than I do when it comes to baking – I cannot do it, no way! Another great post, thanks, hope your weekend is a good one! 🙂

    • Catherine says:

      Spear–the weird thing is that other than baking and cooking–I am an incredibly impatient woman. Honestly. You should see me at a red light–if the person in front of me doesn’t book it as soon as the light turns green, I go crazy!!!!! Glad you enjoyed!! XOXOXOXO!

  11. What the hell is a solid sweater? I suppose the one you wanted must have been an ethereal one? I hate having my time wasted like that and you are right, some people would cough up.
    Anything with yeast is quite a business, definitely a labor of love! They look very tempting, and that is the mark of your home made item, it has the home made look 🙂

    • Catherine says:

      Oh. Maddy. A “solid” sweater is one without any designs. Can you believe it?????? LOL-I did look rather ethereal and angelic in the sweater that I did not purchase! Ohhh..that sort of “come-on” kills me!! XOXOXOXO!

  12. Sandra Lynn says:

    Cathe – I work in the HR field and as far as your first interview is concerned, there is a good possibility that they already had a candidate in mind and had to do more interviews to make it ‘legit’ (and because pesky HR told them that’s what they have to do). Of course, they will not (and for a variety of legal reasons) should not tell you. However in a situation like this, the least they should do is treat it like a regular interview, show interest and give you the opportunity to further hone you interview skills. This obviously did not happen and I feel for you. Job hunting can be so frustrating. If office/admin jobs are your target area, you may want to consider taking a refresher on the newest Office products and learn about the Cloud. The ‘Cloud’ still mystifies me and I am so thankful that my job does not require it. I wish you lots of luck. You sound like a competent go-getter and I bet I would have a blast working with you. *hugs*

  13. Catherine says:

    HI Sandra. I used to work closely related to HR—and I thought about the possibility of another candidate almost sealing the deal. And that’s fine–stuff like that does help me with my interview skills. But rude is rude and there is no reason for anyone to be dismissed like that. Work relations were far better before “Personnel” transitioned into “HR”–there are wayyyy too many legalities and PC policies set in stone these days. I would much rather receive a call telling me that a candidate has been found. *shrugs* but it is what it is. You know? As far as the “Cloud” goes–my daughter was flummoxed as to why anyone would be given a skills test with that cloud–she said that even she has a hard time with it–and she is management. Go figure! But–eventually, I’ll find something–and that something will be a perfect fit for both me and the company I become employed with. Thank you so much for your great and encouraging words. I truly appreciate them! XOXOXOXOXO!!!!!

  14. Wonderful post!!

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