Thursday, May 31, 2012

Baking with Books :: How to Bake a Perfect Life

How to Bake a Perfect Life by Barbara ONeal

My Mother-in-Law handed me a book to read over the Memorial Day weekend. Titled How to Bake a Perfect Life by Barbara O'Neal, the book centers around a boulangerie, a bakery that specializes in selling bread, and its proprietor Ramona Gallagher, her daughter, Sophia, and Sophia's stepdaughter, Katie.

The novel opens with the reader being informed of the bakery's dire financial straits; pregnant Sophia's military husband injured by an IED; and Ramona's new unfamiliar house guest, teenage Katie, whose dad is in a German hospital, her mom arrested on meth charges, and her step-mom on an airplane headed overseas. The story line is anything but boring!


"He carefully finishes the pain au chocolat, brushing his hands, and regards me silently for a moment. Once, the story goes, he was in love with my mother, but my father swept her off her feet and she married him instead. Cat opened a restaurant to compete with my father. For decades now they have jockeyed for top honors in the city. When I look at my father, sturdy and square and blessed with Paul Newman eyes, I see that he must have been handsome at once, but I fail to know how he could have outshone Cat."

Throughout the book, O'Neal sprinkles in recipes Ramona uses in her bakery. As I read through the story, I thought I'd share a little bit about the plot's progression, as well as bake along with Ramona. This afternoon, I whipped up a batch of Pain au Chocolat {Translated: mini chocolate croissant} for a potluck dessert. The ingredients form a short list of deliciousness, which explains why I only came home with an empty platter.

Pain au Chocolat

2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed ( I like to use Pepperidge Farm)

1 egg, beaten with 1 tsp water (This will be the egg wash)

12 oz. chocolate chips

sugar for dusting

Let's Begin!

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Unroll each puff pastry and cut each sheet into 12 even squares. Brush each square with the egg wash. Sprinkle 4 to 6 chocolate chips in the center of each square and roll up tightly around the chocolate. Place on the baking sheet with the seam side down. Cover with plastic and refrigerator for one hour. Place egg wash into fridge, as well.

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Remove pastries from fridge, discard plastic wrap. Brush the tops with egg wash, and then lightly dust with sugar. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until lightly golden. Let the desserts cool before serving.

This recipe made approximately 30 small pastries in approximately 30 minutes.

I can't wait to keep reading through this delightful novel...and continue baking! Be on the lookout for the next recipe from this quaint boulangerie.

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