Challenge Day Five

Well, I’m no pâtissier.

Everyone. The bakers on the Great British Baking Show/Bake-Off are geniuses. I honestly don’t understand how they turn out some of their bakes in the short time they are given. Especially, and I cannot stress this enough, yeasted puff pastry. I will never look at a croissant the same way after today. Or tomorrow, I guess.

Daily Challenges

Intimate Time
CookingToday’s Menu: for breakfast, instead of going to brunch, we got donuts from Top Pot (one of two meals we don’t have to prepare ourselves this week); dinner was leftovers (noodles for me, tacos for Guy).
Reading (Poetry)Ugh, today’s poem, “Long Guns” by Carl Sandburg, gutted me. It was published in 1922 but is so relevant still: “The how of running the world was all in guns.” There’s a reference to Oscar in the first line, and I spent longer than I should have searching for who that might refer to. I eventually stumbled on the website for a podcast that names Oscar Ameringer, a contemporary of Sandburg’s and a satirist dubbed the “Mark Twain of American Socialism.” I’m not sure I follow the allusion, but it gives food for thought.
Reading (Fiction)I set Uncommon Type aside in favor of the short story/novella Grownup by Gillian Flynn. If you know her work (Sharp Objects, Gone Girl) you won’t find it surprising that this was twisted and weird. It was also very enjoyable and humorous—the opening lines are, “I didn’t stop giving hand jobs because I wasn’t good at it. I stopped giving hand jobs because I was the best at it.” I was hooked from there.
Reading (Nonfiction)For my nonfiction reading today, I delved into some horrible articles on Wikipedia about violence against women, which I will not link to here. The novel I’m planning for November involves forced pregnancy and other forms of reproductive coercion, which are super unpleasant. (Why did I do this? So hard to say right now.)
MusicAfter cutting my fingernails (I remember now that I used to have to do this every few days) I pulled out the cello again. I regretted it after a couple minutes, when my hands and fingers started protesting. I carried on anyway, if for nothing else than to continue strengthening the muscles I haven’t used this way for a while. What’s fun about playing cello is that I get to reminisce on my past life as a cello player while I do it. Plus, it turns out that I still have a lot of music in my muscle memory, which tickles me.
Postcard PoemWhen I sat down to write my poem today, my mind went to a very dark place. I suppose this bleak scene didn’t inspire joy:

After some free association with words like cold and ice, ideas of things like scarves and hats came to me, and I settled on a warmer version of snow—the snow day:
Trash PickupGuy took this unflattering photo of me before I tossed my big bag of garbage in the PCC dumpster (It’s hard to tell here but the bag was totally full, even overflowing a bit.) I only picked up trash in one direction, because I had to carry groceries on the way back.

Today’s Challenges

Oh yes, croissants. I knew they would be a lot of work, but I really wasn’t prepared for how much work it ended up costing me. For example, I really thought (like the noob I am here) that I would be able to make and bake the croissants same-day. I suppose…..I could have? But no, that would have required me to be *prepared* at the beginning of the day, which is not how I started. I’m such a fool.

Turns out I didn’t have milk, which I needed, and I didn’t have fresh yeast (though I ended up using a different recipe that called for dry yeast, which I already had in the pantry) so before I could even start, I had to go shopping. This seems like a straightforward task, but since I didn’t bother even looking at the recipe until after 2:00PM (I glanced at it the other day and should have paid better attention), I didn’t end up even starting on my dough until after dinner. Again, so foolish.

Now, I’m a night owl, so staying up late to do all the resting and folding and rolling is not a hardship exactly, but as of the writing of this blog, I am still waiting to do the third fold, at about 12:20AM or so, and then I am going to call it, because life is short. I did do a wallet fold, or a book fold (?) with 4 layers per fold, rather than 3 with the letter fold, so that should help me get some extra layers of lamination. (If you don’t know anything about lamination or layers or puff pastry, just know that I don’t either. Everything I know about baking, I learned from the Great British Baking Show/Bake-Off, and the Masterclass series with Paul and Mary—you too can be as talented as I am, if you have Netflix!)

Anyway, I had visions of eating glorious croissants for breakfast tomorrow, but after I wake up, I have to roll out the chilled-overnight dough, cut it into strips/triangles, roll them up into croissant shapes, and then proof/prove them for about TWO HOURS before I can bake them. So, at best, we will have croissant sandwiches for lunch, and at worst, croissants with jam for dessert. What’s slightly unfortunate is that I planned to do hot water crust pastry meat pie for dinner tomorrow night (it’s supposed to be a LOT easier) so I may reschedule that for another day, considering I have probably another hour or so of work ahead of me on the croissants for today. Sigh.

Abs, y’all.

I had one other challenge today. Because I like a little yin with my yang, I decided to start my 14-day abs challenge today as well as making delicious and fatty non-nutritious pastry. Most of the 14-day abs challenges I looked at got progressively harder—do 5 crunches on the first day, 10 on the second, 15 on the third, and so on—but I’ve tried those before, and I always crash somewhere around day 5, or whenever the first “rest” day is. No, no. That won’t do for me. Instead, I found a challenge (pictured here) that should get easier as I get stronger (rather than always being impossibly hard). Basically, the idea is to do the same nine exercises each day, for two weeks. Easy, right? Well, they said 5 minutes, and I took more like 15, so….ask me again tomorrow.


  1. Ladafi says:

    We’ve talked before, but I am no baker, so I applaud your crossiant work. I hope they are delicious for all the hours of dedication!

    1. Keep Right says:

      Thanks! I feel like, if I were to try them again, it would be easier. You just can’t be in a hurry! If they turn out OK, I’ll bring you one!

  2. Beth says:

    It is always amazing to me when they ask the contestants to do puff pastry for a short challenge on GBBO! All that turning and rolling. And yeasted puff pastry, wow. I think you went for the toughest baking challenge first. I’m so impressed. I am sure they will be delicious.

    1. Keep Right says:

      I think I started hard too, which is good for future Sarah I guess? But I’m really afraid for genoise sponge now, since that’s the other thing after puff pastry and bread that the GBBS/O contestants fret about getting right. That’ll be in a couple of weeks….

      1. Beth says:

        Don’t get discouraged! What else would you expect yourself to do perfectly on your first try? Plus, IIRC genoise is finicky but not labor intensive. You could probably make a half dozen of those in the time it took you to make croissants. 😉

        1. Keep Right says:

          Whew! That’s good at least. (Also I said I would never make croissants again, but almost immediately after they were out of the oven, I started telling Guy all the ways I would do it differently “next time,” so maybe that will happen after all.)

  3. Akemi says:

    How did the croissants turn out? I hope they were worth the effort!

    1. Keep Right says:

      They are currently in the middle of their proof/prove/rise (I’m so confused on what we call this now!) I’ll be putting them in the oven in 30-45 minutes so I’ll know more in an hour or so. They look like they’re supposed to, so far!

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