Croissant Dough “Log Booms”: Because Even Luxuries Can Use a Little Repurposing

One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. This truism plays out daily in a million yard sales and Craigslists. What’s cool is when it applies to food. Luxury food. Specifically, croissant dough.

Allow me to explain. When the bakery I work in was bought this winter, the new owner brought with her a new–and undeniably better–recipe for our signature croissants. If you’ve read this blog in the past few weeks, you’ve probably heard me moaning about how much muscle power this new recipe required. Life has eased a TREMENDOUS amount since my boss bought us a “sheeter” to roll that stiff dough for us, and the pain in my neck muscles has eased along with it.  But the dough still requires many more steps than the old recipe, and takes up both more time and more space in the fridge. In short, the stuff is gold.

Which is why it bugged the HELL out of me when we began accumulating croissant scraps. See, under the old regime, we simply rolled our dough out into a giant rectangle, cut that into squares and then triangles, and voila–croissants. Of course, given the human touch, those croissants were extremely variable in size and shape. Under the new regime, we use our sheeter to bring the dough to a uniform thickness, then a hand roller to cut out perfect triangles, like this:

Adorable, aren't they?

Adorable, aren’t they?

Result: perfect-looking, perfectly-sized croissants. And tons of scraps. What to do with them? No WAY was I letting anyone throw them away. Do you know how much labor and time each scrap represents? Step away from that compost bucket!

Dough scraps...or unrealized edible glory?

Dough scraps…or unrealized edible glory?

At first we tried to eat our way out of the problem. “What kind of cheese shall we put on the scraps today?” That lasted about two days. We of all people know exactly how much butter is in that dough, since we put it there.

So we put our heads together, my boss and fellow bakers and I. How could we re-think the scraps into something value-added, something we could actually sell? At first I started making these cute little twists:

Dried apricot, brie, rosemary, pecan...mmmm.....

Dried apricot, brie, rosemary, pecan…mmmm…..

But they took too long, without using up enough scraps. We wanted to sell ALL of it, not add more hours to our shift. So…why not just load the “raft” of scraps up with something delicious? Something like…

OMG that looks incredible! What IS it???

OMG that looks incredible! What IS it???

That one’s savory–artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, feta, and fresh herbs, if you want the details. (We also played with figs, goat cheese, and prosciutto; with pesto and arugula; with…you get the idea.) But it still needed a name–something catchy, maybe something including the name of our island. Someone suggested “Lopez Life Raft,” since the lined-up scraps suggested logs lashed together…which made us think–aha! You know the way northwesterners traditionally chain up logs in big clumps to tow them across water? A log boom? Yes! THAT’s what this yummy thing is. Lopez Log Boom.

When we make a sweet one with raspberry jam, we can't help but call it a Log Jam. Can you blame us?

When we make a sweet one with raspberry jam, we can’t help but call it a Log Jam. Can you blame us?

Here’s what’s funny, though. When I first presented the Log Boom with a flourish to some customers, my boss told me quietly, in the kitchen, not to call them “scraps”–bad connotation. My response: This is Lopez, where recycling is a high art, and our Dump/Recycling Center/Take It Or Leave It is our proudest institution! People LOVE scraps. 

So, dear readers, next time you’re at your favorite (non-Lopez Island) bakery, ask them what they do with THEIR croissant scraps. We could start a national Log Boom Dough Recycling movement! 

Love & Butter & Muscle: Who Needs The Gym When You Have a Bakery?

In case anyone’s wondering where I’ve been for the past few days–no, I did not zoom off on another vacation while forgetting to blog ahead. I’m back at work, ok?  For a former teacher, the idea that “work” now means playing with dough and chocolate is pretty darn delightful. But last week the delight caught up with me.

See, Holly B’s reopened last week under new ownership. I cut my road trip short to fly home to prep for the opening, and I have no regrets. It was a BLAST, being in on the ground floor of a new enterprise (or a newly-imagined, beloved old enterprise, since Holly B’s turns 40 this year).

(image courtesy Stephanie Smith)

(image courtesy Stephanie Smith)

It was also EXHAUSTING. The reason I haven’t blogged yet? I’ve been resting up.

Long story short: we’ve switched croissant recipes. Turns out this new one involves more than twice the number of steps as the old one (mix, rest, roll, encase butter, roll, chill, roll, fold, chill, roll, fold, chill…ah, darn it, I’ve lost count, but I’m pretty sure we don’t have croissants yet…). It also takes approximately 15 times the arm strength. That. Dough. Is. STIFF.

But just look at all those layers! (remaining images courtesy Ann Hoag)

But just look at all those layers! (remaining images courtesy Ann Hoag)

Now, I’ve been doing my little weenie weights and push-ups like a good girl, but I’m a distance runner, people. Let’s just say my arms are NOT responsible for my Personal Bests.

...and these...Worth the sweat. Totally.

…and these…Worth the sweat. Totally.

At one point, mid-way through the second day’s croissant dough batch, around slab number 9 or thereabouts, I started whining like a two year-old. If my younger and WAY STRONGER colleague Ann hadn’t been there to shoulder (and bicep, and tricep) the dough burden, our poor new boss would have been there finishing it herself at midnight, ’cause my arms were DONE.

The good news? The new owner is buying a “sheeter” to do our rolling for us. The bad? It won’t be here for another three weeks at least. So, I guess the better news is…I can quit with the weights and the push-ups for now. This croissant dough will be my free gym.

Oh, you look all sweet and innocent NOW, you little boogers...

Oh, you look all sweet and innocent NOW, you little boogers…

Seriously, though…I LOVE my job. I am the luckiest tired lil’ baker in the west. And if I don’t blog again for awhile…well, now you know why. C’mon, sheeter!