December 3, 2014
Well, we did it! We conquered the elusive and mysterious Kouign Amann! (Or Queenie, as I've started fondly referring to it/them/her). I'll admit to getting some evil enjoyment at people's angst at starting out with such an ambitious, scary-seeming recipe, because what I hoped would happen DID happen. When you got over your initial fear that you couldn't do it (and I definitely include myself here), you took a collective deep breath and started reading the directions. Reading directions, following instructions, measuring, weighing, counting--that's Rose's way of doing things, and your results show how successful this recipe is. Not a failure in the bunch--although we'll probably all have some failures in the next few years--and every one a beautiful and delicious accomplishment.
So hats off to us, and especially to Rose, who devised a recipe that a home cook can follow with, frankly, better-looking and better-tasting results than in some of the posh bakeries that turn out Queenies.
It's wonderful for those of us who've been baking together for years to be back again on a regular basis. I felt so happy diving into your posts and hearing your distinctive voices again.
We're also lucky to have some talented and enthusiastic newbies with us. If you haven't done so yet, try to check out their blogs. You'll love looking at Glori's photography. As you might gather from the name of her blog, she's a cook and food photographer, and she's got some great tips for successful food photography.
Jill is a girl after Rose's and Woody's hearts. She uses the words "precise" and "meticulous" as favorable adjectives, and she writes, "yes, I do keep a tape measure and a few rulers in my kitchen just for baking. Doesn't everyone??" Jill is a newcomer to blogging, but definitely not to baking.
Judy, from Outside the Bottle, isn't a new blogger, but this is her first bake-through. She is a wine aficianada, and if you read her blog, you'll remember that she told us a little about Muscadet, a wine from Kouign Amann territory. Judy also lives in high Colorado, and she may have some of the problems that high altitude brings to baking, along with some solutions.
Catherine, of PhyllisCaroline, is neither a Phyllis or a Caroline, but is a Catherine. Catherine probably had the most legitimate reason to fear the Kouigns Amann. She lives in northern tropical Australia, and this is the worst time of year to be fooling around with laminated dough. Catherine doesn't yet have a stand mixer, although she is leaving Christmas hints right and left. If any of you want to convince her that it's worth the initial expenditure, I'm pretty sure you'll find a willing listener.
Simply Delicious, is Maggie's blog. Maggie was born in Sicily, but now lives in Ontario, Canada. She's a retired long-haul truck driver, who spends time baking and playing with her grandchildren. Maggie tossed some almonds on top of her Kouigns Amann, which looks like a perfect addition.
Michele, of The Artful Oven, lives in Durham, North Carolina, and has been baking Rose's recipes for over 25 years. Now that's dedication! Do look at Michele's baking rings. Her "brillant and resourceful" husband found an aluminum pipe at a scrap yard and cut the pipe into pieces for Michele.
Also, in addition to the "Alpha Bakers" listed on the side of the blog, there are dozens more who truly wanted to join the group and bake through the book with us. I told them that I felt strongly that the group became too unwieldy if there were more than a few dozen people in it, but that they should bake along anyway, and keep us apprised of their progress by leaving a link in the comments section. This week, The Finer Cookie's Kim baked along and posted her comment. As you might guess from her blog's title, Kim is a cookie connoisseur, and we'll be baking plenty of those, but she does a mean kouign as well.
While we're on the subject of waiting lists, I did notice that not everyone blogged about the kouigns this week. I'm not trying to be Simon Legree, and I know that there will be times when, for whatever reason, baking and/or blogging is just not going to be possible. That's why I've built some catch-up weeks into the schedule. But if you find that baking every week is just more time-consuming than you thought, and you can't fulfill that obligation, please let me know so I can give someone else a shot.
There is a badge on my blog that you can use to show your membership in this great baking group. I see that most of you have figured out how to transfer it. It was no easy task for me, so if you need help, I would recommend that you ask one of the younger and savvier members (that's almost everyone).
And thank you to Monica, who put together the Facebook page for Alpha Bakers only. That page has been very helpful in giving people a place to ask questions, compare results, or vent.
All of you who worked so hard on these demanding Kouigns will be relieved to see what's coming up in the next few weeks. For next week, the fruitcake that's not really a fruitcake but can still be doused with rum. I haven't tried it yet, but it appears to be more of a moist apple/pecan cake than what we think of as obligatory holiday fruitcakes. Special equipment: as Monica said, "Nada." Unless you don't yet have Rose's baking strips, you almost certainly have everything you need to bake this cake.
The next two weeks are cookies. We will probably never again have two cookies in a row, but I was feeling obsessed with Christmas cookies when I planned the calendar. Again, nothing too difficult-looking in either one. The Almond Coffee Crisps are easy-peasy, and scrumptious too. The Ischlers just need you to remember to chill them ahead of time, and give you an excuse to buy some cute new cookie cutters if that will make you happy.
Finally, I made the posting date on Monday so that you'd have the entire weekend to bake and write. I noticed that several of you posted on Sunday. If you'd rather have Sunday be the due date, I can easily change days. Let me know sometime this week if you'd prefer Sunday or Monday or if you really don't care, and I'll try to choose the date that seems to work best for most people. Remember that if you finish your blog early, you can just set it to post automatically at whatever hour and day you want.
Thanks for all your hard work and enthusiasm this week! I know that Rose was in seventh heaven seeing her recipe come to life on all your beautiful blogs, and I feel rather like a proud parent myself.
See you soon for Fruitcake Week!