Viennoiseries as a Balanced Life Metaphor
by McGonagirl, Hagrid
Menu: Pain Chocolat | Croissant Amande: Almond Cream | Pain Raisin: Macerated Dried Fruit | Fruit Danish: Pastry Cream | Ham & Cheese CroissantsProfessor Dumbledore had asked Pastry Chef Joaquim Bullshot to come show how science and math were needed to create Croissant, and Hermione Granger had watched the chef carefully, for she had discovered in her research that he was a squib who chose to live his career in both Muggle and Wizard worlds. She'd been wondering how to do that herself, and had a hard time explaining this to anyone. Her best friends Ron Weasley and Harry Potter were both determined to lead their lives as wizards; Ron because that's all he knew, and Harry because that's all he wanted to know. Chef Bullshot was the closest she'd come to someone who might understand her.
So when summer holidays came, she found his bakery in London and quietly introduced herself, "from Hogwart's." As they were in a Muggle part of town, Chef Bullshot took note of the determined young girl and wondered what to do with her. He couldn't have her exposing him to the Muggles, as that would mean exile from the Wizard world. So finally, he took her into the noisy kitchen -- less likely to be eavesdropped on, in a noisy, exposed place -- and asked her what she wanted? Did she mean to blackmail him? She surprised him with, "I want a job for a few weeks this summer as your assistant. I want to learn how you do it."
Here was a young teenager asking for a job at the most exclusive boutique pastry shop in London. He asked her why? She explained that she was born of Muggle parents, and was not like anyone else in her family ever, just as he was a squib born from a Wizard family. "I want to live in both worlds, as you do. I want to learn how you balance the two. And besides, I love your pastries, and want to learn how you make them!"
Chef Joaquim had never met anyone like Hermione, and he wondered how she'd found out he was a squib? In any case, what could he say? She was obviously bright, willing, capable ... and who knows, she might be important in the future. So they shook hands and she started that afternoon to make Viennoiseries -- the class of French pastries made from croissant dough. Like the croissants he'd made at Hogwart's, these were made from cheap, common ingredients, but the secret to their wonderfulness was in how they were put together. Though it was true that Bullshot could not cast a spell, he demonstrated to Hermione that magic could not replace the divine nature of his finished products. Hermione, out of respect for him and in compliance with the Ministry of Magic's restrictions on underaged magic, learned about the brand of magic this Muggle-living squib could wield in the pastry kitchen.
Menu: Pain Chocolat | Croissant Amande: Almond Cream | Pain Raisin: Macerated Dried Fruit | Fruit Danish: Pastry Cream | Ham & Cheese Croissants
"Raisin bread" is a deceptive name, as it's not like the loaf-style raisin bread made in English bakeries. The French-style "pain" was made from croissant dough, then filled with pastry cream and macerated raisins, both which should be made at least several hours in advance, the latter could be made months before for the best flavor and texture. When Hermione asked why not use magic to plump the raisins instantly, Bullshot explained that unless you know how the liqueur affected the raisins, how it penetrated the raisin flesh and pulp, and what the final texture and flavor would be, magic would not reproduce heat, time and planning. "I may be a squib, but I know enough to know that you cannot create by magic that which you do not know!" That had never occured to Hermione, and she resolved to watch and listen and observe everything more closely, so to improve the quality of her own magic.
(If you choose to heat alcohol without a microwave oven, do this: boil a pot of water wider than the bowl you put the fruit into. Turn off the heat/flame. Cover the bowl of fruit and alcohol and place in the "bain marie" and allow the whole thing to come to room temperature before using or storing. Alcohol is flammable and will catch fire if exposed to direct flame or high heat, so BE CAREFUL!)
Return the mixture into the pot you'd boiled the milk and cook over low heat, whisking continuously. When the mixture comes to a slow boil it should thicken. Whisk harder and cook for another minute, reducing the heat if you need to, to prevent burning or curdling. Strain the hot pastry cream through a fine sieve to remove the vanilla bean chunks as well as any chunks of scrambled egg (there should not be much). Use a spatula to help push the thickened mixture through.
Chill this mixture with plastic wrap placed directly on the surface, like for pudding. Allowing air between the wrap and the surface of the pastry cream will cause a skin to form, or condensation will drip down onto the surface. Cool on the counter to room temperature, then refrigerate till needed.
"Chocolate Bread" is made with bittersweet chocolate, not sweet or milk. This bread is not meant to be a candy bar! Chef Bullshot told Hermione that this pastry is a balance between bitter and sweet, salty and gritty, flaky and substantial. "If you think of bread and chocolate, that doesn't seem so nice. It's what the English Muggles would call 'a sickly combination' -- too much of a good thing, n'est-ce pas?" The other thing that required balance is the placement of the "key" -- or the opening flap -- in the folded pastry. It seems easy enough to make, but if it's not folded with the "opening flap" in the center of the underside of the pastry, it will burst. The chocolate will leak everywhere and burn and the dough itself will blacken on the bottom. The lesson? Take the time to do it right, and know why and how to do it!
Croissant recipe. Wrap and chill if the dough seems to be sticky before going on to the next step.
Cut squares of dough just a bit bigger than the length of your bar chocolate. Chop or slice up the bar chocolate so they fit into the croissant comfortably. (If they are too thick, they could leak out of the croissant.) Roll out the dough left-to-right, so it's a little wider than when it was cut. Place slices, chunks or slivers of chocolate about a third of the way from the left or right edge of the dough. Fold the long end of the dough over the chocolate so that it is about ¾ of the way over, then fold the other end over so that the "key" or opening flap is centered.
Place the croissants on a parchment-lined baking tray with the "key" centered on the bottom side. Allow to proof, then cover the surface carefully with eggwash. Bake in a heated 400°F / 205°C oven for about 15 minutes till puffy, shiny and browned. Cool on a wire rack. Makes about a dozen.
This is the same as a standard butter croissant, but with a dollop of almond cream, which unlike pastry cream is always cooked with the pastry. This cream can also be the base of danish fillings instead of pastry cream. You place a small dollop of the almond cream in the space left by the notch when you first start rolling the croissant, then proof and bake as usual. It's a nice surprise for those who like sweeter pastries. Alas, many -- both Muggle and Wizard -- have an allergy to nuts. Sadly, it's an allergy that does not abate as the person grows; peanuts are not a nut (they are a legume, or botanically in the bean family), and people with that allergy can sometimes outgrow it. In contrast, seafood allergies tend to develop as one grows older. To ensure these look different from the butter croissant, Bullshot instructed Hermione to not curl the tails of the croissant together in front of the main body, and instead to leave them straight. That way, anyone helping themselves would see the difference immediately. He told Hermione that she must always think in terms of preventing the most trouble, while giving the most pleasure to customers. Again, a lesson in balance -- it's how Bullshot must lead his life.
Croissant recipe. Wrap and chill if the dough seems to be sticky before going on to the next step. Cut as directed in the Croissant recipe. Roll out and stretch the croissant dough to extend the three tips, then place a teaspoonful of almond cream just under the central in a single dollop. Roll up the croissant tightly to encase the almond cream. With the tip of the "tail" tucked under, place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Keep the ends straighter than for other croissant, so you can tell it's an almond croissant. Allow to proof, then cover the surface carefully with eggwash. While the eggwash is still damp, sprinkle over with sliced almonds. Repeat with more eggwash, if desired. Bake in a heated 400°F / 205°C oven for about 20 minutes till puffy, shiny and browned, but watch out that the almonds don't burn. Cool on a wire rack. Makes about a dozen.
These rise into beautiful, puffy swirls, and Hermione was shocked to see Chef Bullshot stick four fingers into the very center of the pastry forms and give a tug -- leaving a large divot in the perfect rounds! She held her tongue as he showed her how to fill the holes with pastry cream, then cut the poached fruit and place them decoratively into the centers. Seeing her eyes big and round, Bullshot laughed, "See? Sometimes we must destroy what appears perfect to make it better! There is no such thing as perfect, just the perception. You are the only person I know of who knows I am a squib -- but everyone else thinks I am an old-fashionied, subtle type of magician, or an uber-talented pastry wunderkind. Which do you think I am, Miss Granger? Both? Neither? Or something else?" Hermione contemplated what he'd said as she quietly piped the pastry cream into the perfect holes he'd made in the perfect pastries.
Starting on one end, roll up the dough tightly, like a sticky bun. Wrap and refrigerate to chill. Cut the roll crosswise into 1-inch / 2.5 cm sections. For each slice, pull the "tail end" of the roll and tuck it under the roll, and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Allow to proof. When about ¾ of the baked size of the pastries, pull the center of the croissant into a hole or a divot, using four fingers, as in the wizard photo, above. Move quickly, then put the pastry cream (or almond cream) into a piping back and dollop a blob of the cream into the hole. Top with halved or quartered piece of poached or canned fruit -- apricots, figs, peaches work very well, but any other canned fruit can be cut down to fit over the pastry cream.
Cover the surface carefully with eggwash. Bake in a heated 400°F / 205°C oven for about 20 minutes till puffy, shiny and browned. Cool on a wire rack. Makes about a dozen.
Ham & Cheese Croissant
Bullshot did like Hermione, who worked hard and seemed to absorb all his lessons, and was sad when her tenure at his shop was over. He started to feel that she was the only person who'd made an effort to understand him and his ways. For her part, Hermione had learned a lot, and thought she might learn more from this eccentric man, but her parents had wanted to take her to France, and she was excited to apply her knowledge of pastries to their country of origin. But she promised to come back on other holidays to see him, and thanked him for taking her on as an impromptu apprentice. She was touched when he gave her a huge box of the "unsellable" pastries -- those that had burst or didn't shape properly. The staff would hoard these for themselves to take home, or eat on their breaks. Hermione knew they never had so many "rejects," and that it was Chef Bullshot's way of letting her know he'd miss her. Another way she knew: his final deliberate, gruff lesson in how to handle living in both worlds. He whispered to her as he showed her how to cut ham and cheese into batons to make savory croissants, "This is an American-style bastardization -- in the manner so many people consider quiche as a container for leftovers -- but it has been a business decision to make 'stuffed croissant' so that people can come and buy lunch at my shop. You know our two worlds work with different currencies, and the exchange rate is not always favorable. So one must be flexible to sell to both markets, so there is enough cash on both sides to keep in business!"
Roll out the croissant dough as directed in the Croissant recipe. Wrap and chill if the dough seems to be sticky before going on to the next step. Cut as directed in the Croissant recipe. Roll out and stretch the croissant dough to extend the three tips, then place the sticks of ham and cheese across the width of the dough. Roll up the croissant tightly to encase the filling. It's okay if it pokes out if the pastry a bit, but as the cheese melts, it will leak out and the ham might dry out and burn on the exposed tips. With the tip of the "tail" tucked under, place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. You can keep the ends straight or curved. (Alternatively, you can treat these like Pain au Chocolat and shaped them as rectangles.) Allow to proof, then cover the surface carefully with eggwash. Bake in a heated 400°F / 205°C oven for about 20 minutes till puffy, shiny and browned. Cool on a wire rack. Makes about a dozen.
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