Thanksgiving 2023

crescent rolls, French, American rolls, France, Paris

What matters is that we are all cooking and enjoying time together at the table. 

List or no, one thing I never forget is to make my grandmother’s crescent rolls, which have anchored every Thanksgiving I’ve known. They require a light hand and a lot of space, for once they’re shaped, they rise for hours; I set them on every available surface in the entryway and beyond and there they lie in wait, like a standing army.

crescent rolls, French, American rolls, France, Paris

Legends

The rolls have taken on legendary status because they’re a novelty to the French, who rarely bake yeast breads at home and even if they did, don’t have such a recipe in such a shape. Brioche is a relative, as is the torpedo shaped ‘pain au lait’ but neither would ever show up at dinner.

persimmon, kaki, Paris, farmers' market,

Persimmon Bread

And now I have a new legend to share, for persimmon bread. It’s another from my grandmother’s collection that I’d by-passed in the card file I have. I was only inspired to make it recently, when persimmons came back into season a couple of weeks ago and I found myself with a trio of ripe fruits ready to burst.  It is more than delicious, easy to make, and a perfect addition to either Thanksgiving breakfast or dinner.

A Tribute

I’m so glad I kept her recipes. Making her food is a tribute, and a gift to myself because the whole time I’m making them I’m remembering her with laughter – her sense of humor was unparalleled. Her recipes also produce gifts for all who taste them, a message from her through the decades of her life and beyond.

Family recipes and their tastes give us memories and a sense of belonging, as much as they satisfy our appetites. I don’t know about you all, but I treasure that sense that decades ago, a beautiful woman was mixing up the batter for the persimmon bread, and making, rolling, and baking the same rolls I always serve on Thanksgiving day.

I wish you all a wonderful week, a wonderful day, wonderful moments. You will find two recipes below, for the rolls, and the persimmon bread (which is really more of a cake).

crescent rolls, Thanksgiving, breakfast, France

CRESCENT ROLLS

Note: you can make the dough the night before and let it rise in the fridge. Take it out at least two hours before you plan to shape the rolls. They may need a bit more rising time if you do this. Otherwise, count back the time you will need from the time you’ll sit at the table. I bake these at the very last minute, serving them hot.

One tablespoon sounds like a lot of yeast because it is. These are yeasty rolls, and the yeast needs to work for many hours so I don’t suggest cutting back on the amount.

1 cup (250ml) whole milk
8 tablespoons (125g) butter, cut in 8 pieces, at room temperature
1 tablespoon baker’s yeast
1/2 cup (100g) sugar
4-1/2 cups (about 650g) all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
Generous 1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1. Pour the milk into a medium-sized saucepan and scald it over medium-high heat. Pour it into a large bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer fit with the paddle and add the butter piece by piece. Set aside until the mixture is lukewarm.

2. Stir the yeast and sugar into the milk and let the mixture sit until bubbles form on the surface. Add 1 cup of flour and mix well, then add the eggs, one at a time, the salt, and 1 more cup of flour and mix vigorously until all ingredients are combined. Slowly add the remaining flour until the dough is soft and smooth then turn it out onto an unfloured surface and knead it for 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Return the dough to the mixing bowl, cover it loosely with a tea towel and place it in a warm spot to rise, for about 2 hours. The dough will double in bulk.

4. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

5. Turn out the dough onto a very lightly floured surface, cut in fourths, and roll out one fourth into a circle that is 16 inches;40cm in diameter, and 1/8 inch; .3cm thick. Cut the circle of dough into 16 wedges, then roll up each, starting from the wide end, and place the rolls on the prepared baking sheet, with the point of the dough down so the dough doesn’t unroll during rising and baking, leaving about 2-inches;5cm space between each roll. Repeat with the remaining dough.

6. Let the rolls rise in a not-too-warm spot until they have doubled in bulk, about four hours.

7. Preheat the oven to 350F; 180C.

8. Bake the rolls in the center of the oven until they are pale golden and baked through, 8 minutes. Transfer the rolls to serving baskets and serve immediately.

Makes 32 rolls Preheat the oven.

To make cinnamon rolls:

If you want to serve these for breakfast, make the dough the night before and put it in the refrigerator for the second rising, overnight. Remove the dough from the fridge the next morning. Roll out the dough and make the rolls. Let them rise for at least 30 minutes, then bake.
The filling amounts are suggestions: you may want more of everything.

You can melt the butter and add the rest of the ingredients, but it needs to firm up and cool before you spread it on the dough.

200g butter Mix 200 g butter with 1 tablespoon cinnamon and 4 tablespoons brown sugar. Roll out dough; roll up dough and cut into rounds. Let rise for 35 minutes, then bake 20-25 minutes at 180.

14 tablespoons (210g) unsalted butter, melted
1 mounded teaspoon cinnamon
4 to 6 tablespoons light brown (or white vanilla) sugar
One recipe for Crescent Rolls

1. Line a baking dish (or two – use either metal or glass but you need to line the dish up the sides too.)
2. Stir the cinnamon and the sugar into the melted butter and let it come to room temperature.
3. Roll out the dough into a rectangle so that it is about ¼-inch .6cm) thick.
4. Using a pastry brush or a knife, spread the filling all over the dough pretty much right up to the edges. Working from the longer side of the dough, roll it as tightly as you can into a log shape, then cut the log shape into 2 to 3-inch (5-7.5cm) rounds. Place the rounds into the prepared baking dish, leaving about ¼-inch space between the rolls; they will rise to fill the dish.
5. Set them in a warm place, lightly covered with a piece of parchment paper, and let them rise for about 30 minutes, or a bit longer if you need to – not more than 45 minutes.
6. Preheat the oven to 350;180.
7. Bake the cinnamon rolls until they are golden on top and baked through, about 25 minutes. Check to see if they are baked by removing the pan from the oven and cutting into the center of one roll; if the dough isn’t quite baked, return to the oven for a few minutes.
8. Remove from the oven, let cook for about 15 minutes, then serve.

Makes a lot of rolls

PERSIMMON BREAD


Persimmons are a hoday fruit here, available from the end of October until mid-January. While they are widely available they’re considered an “exotic” because they grow primarily in southern climes where the heat helps them ripen. I love coming across a persimmon tree, which decorates itself because long after the leaves have fallen the orange to reddish fruits still hang on the branches, like ornaments. We mostly see the Fuyu variety in the market here, which is the sweetest and the best for this recipe because of its gelatinous texture when ripe. Some of us love to eat it that way, too; others push it away because of the texture. This bread? It inspires only love!

Notes: A ripe persimmon feels a bit like a water balloon, so handle it carefully! When trimming it, simply cut off the stem end; it will naturally fall into a pulp, skin and all. Quick breads made with soda rise well, and don’t burn the end of the tongue the way baking powder can.

1 ¼ cups (185g) all-purpose, unbleached flour
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, preferably Vietnamese
½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
½ cup unsalted butter
¾ cup (150g) vanilla sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 medium, very ripe persimmons (about 8 ounces; 250g each), trimmed, to give 1 cup of persimmon flesh

1. Preheat the oven to 350F; 180C. Line a 9x5x3 (22.5 x 12.5 x 7.5cm) loaf pan with parchment paper.
2. Sift the dry ingredients onto a piece of parchment or waxed paper.
3. In a large bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla extract and the persimmon and mix until thoroughly combined.
4. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined; don’t overmix.
5. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the center of the oven until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.
6. Cook 48-55 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
7.
One 9x5x3 (22.5 x 12.5 x 7.5cm) loaf

 

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