Friday, August 8, 2008

Potato Bread Croissants

These Potato Bread Croissants feature an easy, make-ahead dough that can be used for dinner rolls, hamburger and hot dog buns, and sandwich bread. The bread is tender, airy and delicious.

1 cup prepared mashed potatoes, unsalted
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm (110˚F, 45˚C) water
2/3 cup turbinado (raw sugar)
2/3 cup shortening (or 3/4 cup softened butter)
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
6 cups all purpose flour
melted butter

1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Let stand until foamy - usually about 10 minutes.

2. Add potatoes, turbinado, shortening, eggs, salt, and half of the flour. Mix well. Gradually stir in remaining flour until dough pulls from the side of the bowl. Knead briefly by hand, or use the dough hook on your mixer to knead it. This dough is quite sticky at this stage, so machine kneading is much easier and keeps the dough tender by not adding more flour.

3. Oil a large bowl. Place dough in the bowl and turn it to coat it in oil. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 3 days. The dough will rise in the refrigerator.

4. Remove dough from the refrigerator and punch down. Divide in half. For croissants, divide again and roll out each into a large round - about 8-12 inches. Cut with a pizza cutter into 8 wedges. Roll each triangle form the outer edge in and curve into a crescent. Place on lightly greased baking sheets, cover, and let rise for one hour in a warm place.

5. Bake in a preheated 400˚F (205˚C) oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Brush with melted butter as they come out of the oven, if desired. Yield: about 32 croissants.

This recipe can also be used to make 2 loaves of bread, 16 hamburger buns, or 16-20 large hot dog buns. You can also shape into about 5 dozen dinner rolls and bake in a 9x13 pans. Wheat flour can be substituted for up to half of the flour without changing the texture too much.

These are a family favorite! I have to watch the LaPella guys or they will sneak away with croissants all day long. We enjoy them for breakfast, serve sandwiches on them at lunch, and mop our plates with them at dinner.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Getting Clean

We've been working on a few soap dish designs and are pleased with several of them. Our main considerations are that they must look good, they must be functional and the soap must be able to dry out between uses.

My favorite design in the two part soap dish. It is elegant and very functional. The water drains off of the soap and through the upper dish into a reservoir. The reservoir is easily emptied. When it is time to clean the soap dish, it can go into the dishwasher.

The other dish I like very well is a simple slab formed dish. It is deeply impressed with stamps to draw the water away from the soap. The glaze pools in the stamps accentuating the texture beautifully.

These dishes are fun to make and the process gives me a lot of wiggle room design wise. They are created with a simple curved slab, but my favorite detail is the little feet they sit up on. On most of the dishes, even the feet are stamped, adding a nice finishing detail.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Steampunk Double Shot

Etsy has such a wonderful array of steampunk inspired items and we have definitely been inspired. We have had loads of custom work to complete, but could not help but sneak this pair of cups through the kilns! But before we get into that, you ask, "What is steampunk?"

Steampunk is a literary genre in which works are set in a time when steam power is still the norm. Some works are set in Victorian England and others are alternate history works set in the present. Yeah, we haven't read any of it either, except for some who inspired steampunk like Jules Vern. Still, it sounds like something I'd like. (I haven't found much I don't like to read.)

We have called these cups "Double Shots" because they are four ounce cups... two shots. Yes, shots are typically 2 ounces. Is college now beginning to come into focus?

Now that we are grown up, they also make good demitasse cups or juice cups. They are sequentially numbered, so as long as you have enough brain cells left to recall which number was yours, you won't mix up your cup with someone else's.