Say that word to me and I will think of Jasmine tea and yum cha. Two things I grew up with in New York.
But when spoken at my in-laws in Scotland, it usually means dinner (like that meal you have after lunch. Lunch being the meal one would have around noon in case there is any ambiguity). This was confusing to me for a while. I think it still is. When I’m asked, “Would you like some tea?” sometimes I’m not sure if I’m being asked if I would like a cup of hot tea or if I’d like to have dinner that night. I’d hate to miss out on a meal so saying “yes” usually covers all the bases.
But then there’s also “high tea” like tea at the Burj Al Arab where you have scones with clotted cream, mini sandwiches, beef Wellington, pastries, oh and of course tea…or coffee…at tea. However, this “high tea” is in actuality a “low tea” because traditionally it was served on a low table.
Confused yet? Yeah, me too. Thank you Wiki for clearing things up.
I was recently invited to my friend Milly’s place for “afternoon tea”. It was very kind of her to put the “afternoon” in her text message otherwise…
When I accepted the invitation, I had my mind on the current month’s Daring Baker’s challenge which was to make croissants. It seemed like a perfect opportunity even though the really long croissant-making instructions and prep time were intimidating. After all the effort, what if it turned out awful and I had to throw out the whole batch?
It’s certainly not like a quickbread that can be whisked up in a jiffy. But I was going to try it – especially since I felt guilty for having chickened out on the previous baking challenges (making fraisiers and candy).
There was a lot of rolling and folding, and putting the dough in the fridge, then taking it back out, rolling, folding, into the fridge, out of fridge, and repeat, and repeat.
The instructions came with measurements of how wide and how long the dough had to be pressed or rolled out – since it was the first time I was making croissants, I wanted to do it right and used a ruler.
I think it took me 1.5 days from start to finish because of all the multiple rising times.
Using a rolling pin should seem easy right? Well, I can’t seem to roll with the proper pressure and my dough often came out lopsided. I thought that a smaller rolling pin would make things easier.
I didn’t know I was supposed to place the croissants seam-side down. Maybe I should have watched Julia Child’s excellent how-to video before I made them instead of after. But you see, sometimes I eschew being perfect (joke) so every now and then I just wing it.
So my croissants didn’t come out perfect (*shrugs*). I had fun making them even though it seemed to take FOREVER.
They look kind of okay right?
The very first croissant that I shaped and rolled went all rogue on me:
And my last croissant didn’t resemble one at all:
I felt bad for the little guy so I threw in some Hershey’s semi-sweet chocolate chips and hoped that it would turn out like a pain au chocolat. And it actually did! It was scrumptious and I may have to throw in more chocolate chips for the next time.
Milly made Death by Chocolate brownies with glitter. Can you see the irridescence?
Okay, how about now?
How did the croissants turn out?
The first batch were burnt and overcooked and set off the fire alarm in the kitchen. We had to open the balcony door to let the smoke out. Just as we were doing that, the doorbell rang. It was building security checking to see if we were burning the place down. Man, he was fast.
Needless to say, there was not much fluffiness going on in that batch. The croissants were slightly hard and over-crunchy.
Now I see why the seam has to be rolled onto the bottom of the croissant – so the tips don’t unroll and look like burnt cranes (the bird, not the thing that builds Dubai). Or burnt pterodactyls.
Ah! A glass of white wine to ease the pain of the funny-looking croissants. More essential than tea or coffee, in my opinion.
And ever since my Burj Al Arab “high tea” experience, I feel that no British tea would be complete without scones (I’d never had one before then).
These scones were homemade by Milly’s husband and were much better than my croissants:
Served with clotted cream, jam, and smiles.
The second batch of croissants were better, not perfect, but better. Although anything is better than burnt. They were even fluffy on the inside. Not very fluffy but more than I thought they would be.
Check out those swirls – woohoo!
I am very pleased with my first effort at making croissants. And big thanks to Milly and her husband J for having Scotch, Wee Scotch, and I over for afternoon tea where we even stayed for tea (remember that big meal after lunch? Or supper as they call it).
But please don’t tell anyone I made croissants because I’d hate for people to think that I’m all domesticated now. Which I’m not because I refuse to perform task #57 in the list of Things-You-Must-Be-Able-To-Do-Well-To-Be-Considered-Domesticated which is iron. As in, clothes.