Mr. Photographer and I are about as opposite as they come. He’s a night owl; I have trouble to keep my eyes open after 11 pm. He’s very artsy; I’m anything but. He’s a math whiz; I hate math’s guts, and to this day suffer with occasional nightmares about derivations and descriptive geometry. He’s annoyingly level-headed; I way too often let my emotions get the best of me. I enjoy playing with words and stringing them together; he still sometimes struggles with grammar rules I don’t ever need to think about. He’s an extrovert who’d go out every night of the week if he could; I’m an introvert who’d rather snuggle up next to the fireplace with a good book. He loves knick-knacks that stir up memories and rakes up tons of little somethings from everywhere he goes; growing up with two sisters in one room has made me into a minimalist who prefers to have bare minimum on her shelves. I say that way the room can breathe (and I don’t have to dust more than necessary!); he says it lacks character and is devoid of life.
Yet by some twist of fate we somehow ended up together. They say opposites attract, and it might be true. It seemed we complemented each other so beautifully – I still remember him teaching me some crazy math concepts before a test I was dreading, and a couple years later me proofreading his thesis in computer science for him. The text might’ve just as well been in Chinese, as I had no clue what I was reading about, but I made sure all the hundred pages of it were grammatically flawless. Awesome, right? I have gaps, you have gaps, and together we’ll patch them and make it work. But from where I sit now I have to confess that over the years our many differences have repeatedly caused noticeable friction between us as well, and not just in matters pertaining to decorating style 🙂
There is no such thing as a perfect marriage. After all, marriage is just an union of two imperfect people, and as such it takes a lot of tending and is a never-ending work in progress. The marriage experts have a lot to say about how to keep it alive and happy, and assert that the key to a happy relationship is to learn to live with the differences, and not just merely tolerate them, but to be able to enjoy them. We’re working on that 🙂 Without revealing too much, there are definitely differences we enjoy more than others!
Similarly, this week’s bi-colored crescents are a result of the unexpected union of polar opposites. I was kind of missing playing with yeast dough, plus we have about four jars of different jams in the fridge to use up. On the other hand I wanted to keep things simple this weekend, and that’s how these little yin-yang crescents were born! It’s just a simple yeast dough divided in half, with one part colored with cocoa. Thanks to the butter the dough is soft and very easy to work with, and after rising the crescents come together in a snap – you just roll light-colored and dark-colored dough, place them on top of each other, cut out a circle, which you then cut into eight small triangles. Working with one triangle at a time, stretch the dough to elongate it, sprinkle the triangle with some cinnamon sugar, and roll a crescent. Let the rolls rise a bit second time and bake. After baking I brushed the hot crescents with thick sugary syrup to make them nice and shiny, but you could also give them a coat of egg wash before baking, or brush them with melted butter when you take them out of the oven – the butter will keep them nice and soft. Like I said – nothing complicated, just tried and true soft yeast dough and some playing with contrasting colors. I can’t decide if I like the light ones or the dark ones better, and I love the contrasting color peeking out at the edges. The crescents will be awesome for breakfast with either jam or honey; I’m secretly hoping they’ll buy these yin- and yang parents some extra sleep on Sunday!
I’ll say it again: I don’t think there is such thing as a perfect marriage, but if there were, this would be it, at least in the culinary world: Opposites that coexist in a perfect harmony; surprisingly simple, and very delicious together!
Bi-colored Sweet Yeast Crescents
(recipe makes 16 small crescents; 8 of each color)
Sweet Yeast Dough:
- 175 ml (scant 6 oz.) whole milk, lukewarm
- 2 teaspoons dry yeast
- pinch sugar
- 375 g (13 oz.) bread flour
- pinch salt
- 100 ml (3.3 oz.) melted butter (or mild tasting oil)
- 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 leveled tablespoons unsweetened baking cocoa
- 3 tablespoons milk
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ½ tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 75 g (2.6 oz.) granulated sugar
- 50 ml (1.5 oz.) water
- First, make the yeast dough: Combine the 175 ml (scant 6 oz.) lukewarm milk with yeast and pinch of sugar; let stand for 10 – 15 minutes to activate the yeast.
- Meanwhile, place all the remaining ingredients for the dough into a bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a hook. When the yeast is nice and bubbly, add it to the bowl. Knead the dough on a low – medium speed until it’s soft, smooth, and elastic. If the dough seems too dry, add in couple of tablespoons milk one tablespoon at a time; if it’s too wet, gradually add some more flour. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, and then divide it in half. Put one half aside, covered; to the other half of the dough in the mixer bowl add 3 tablespoons cocoa and 3 tablespoons milk. Re-knead until the dough is soft, smooth, and elastic.
- Transfer both light and dark dough into two well-oiled bowls, cover, and let them rise in a warm spot until they double in volume – about 1 hour.
- Forming the crescents: Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide each ball of dough in half (you’ll have two light and two dark doughs). Take one dough ball of each color and keep the remaining two covered. First roll out the light dough into a rough square about 3 mm thick. Do the same with the dark dough. Place the two squares on top of each other with the dark side facing up and using a plate cut out a circle; discard the rest of the dough.
- With a sharp knife cut the bi-colored circle into eight triangles. Stretch each triangle a bit to elongate it, sprinkle it with a little bit of cinnamon sugar and starting from the wide side roll it up into a crescent. Place the crescent on a baking sheet with the tip down. Continue making the crescents; when you’re done, you should have eight crescents on the sheet.
- Take the remaining light and dark balls of dough; roll them out, and place them on top of each other, this time with light side facing up. Again, trace a plate using a knife and discard the remainder of the dough.
- Cut the circle into eights; place a bit of cinnamon sugar on each triangle, and roll it up into a crescent. Place the crescent onto the second parchment lined sheet. When you’re finished, you should have eight light colored and eight dark crescents, eight pieces on each pan. (Leave them enough room to expand; they will get bigger during baking.) Cover the crescents with a clean dishtowel and let them rise the second time in a warm spot for about 20 minutes while preheating the oven to 350 °F (175 °C).
- Bake the crescents for about 10 – 12 minutes until they are baked trough and are nice golden brown.
- While the crescents are baking, prepare the sugar syrup: In a small saucepan, combine sugar with water and cook, stirring occasionally, until thick syrup forms. (Watch the syrup closely, so that the water doesn’t evaporate and the sugar won’t turn into caramel.)
- Brush the hot crescents with sugar syrup upon taking them out of the oven and let them cool slightly before serving.