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Orange Happiness + Sympathy Croissants #FoodieReads

I will write another post about the difference between Aperol and Campari soon. But, inspired by the novel The Italian Escape by Catherine Mangan, I wanted to shared a little bit of 'orange happiness'.

If you have been following my blog recently, you'll know that, ever since our summer vacation to Hawaii, I have been reading tons of books set on the Hawaiian islands. Now, it seems I'm back to my usual: any and all books set in Italy. Ha!

The Italian Escape tells the story of Niamh (pronounced 'Nee-uv. Yes, really. Where's the 'm' in that? I have no idea!), an Irish gal whose boyfriend - and boss - broke up with her. She heads to Italy with her sister, Grace, fully embraces la dolce vita, and ends up buying a café...and finding love. 

I'm not going to say anything else and spoil the fun. If you are looking for a fun diversion set in Italy, pick this one up!

As with most books that are set in Italy, there is plenty of food inspiration on these pages. About the title of my post, Gianni appears "at the table with a platter of various little aperitivi for them to nibble on. ‘Orange happiness, signora?" Later we discover that that refers to an Aperol Spritz. "'I have an unspoken rule, you see,' Emily explained. 'One cannot drink Aperol spritz once the sun has set. Luckily, the Italians have a wonderful alternative to champagne called Franciacorta'."

My 'Orange Happiness' came in the form of an Aperol slushie at a local restaurant Mentone. We picked up R from his dorm and took him there for his twentieth birthday celebration dinner. I am still dreaming about that summery cocktail!

As Niamh is getting coffee tutorials from another local café owner, "She also learned some useful cultural information, such as the fact that Italians didn’t really go in for breakfast like other cultures, but kept it simple and light, with a coffee and croissant, or un cornetto, as the Italians called it. Massimo explained that breakfast is such a non-issue for Italians that most of them choose to stand at the counter in the morning to have their cappuccino or espresso, rather than sit down at a table." 

Un cornetto and an espresso is my idea of a perfect breakfast. I cornetti are a different kind of dough, but I found inspiration for this post from this passage from before the sisters left Ireland. "Grace was putting the kettle on in the kitchen. 'I brought croissants from the French place you like, Niamh,' she said giving her a hug. 'Sympathy croissants?' Niamh asked with a grimace. She was pretty sure that Grace hadn’t allowed a croissant to pass her lips in over ten years. 'So is this tea and sympathy with a pity croissant thrown in for good measure?'"

Sympathy Croissants

Croissants are not new to my blog or my kitchen. I've made several of variations or just pastries made with laminated dough, including Pain au JambonPomegranate Kouign AmannItalian Cornetti, and Croissants aux Framboises. But it wasn't until recently that I decided to tackle using my sourdough starter in my croissant dough. It's not as light and airy as my regular yeasted croissants, but I love the toothiness of this pastry. And it's nice to have other ways to use my starter.

Ingredients makes a dozen

  • 200 grams sourdough starter
  • 500 grams flour plus more for rolling
  • 60 grams organic granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs for the dough plus 1 egg for baking
  • 160 grams warm water
  • 2 sticks butter, cold
  • Also needed: rolling pin, waxed paper, baking sheet, silicone brush for the egg wash


Place all of the ingredients (but only 2 eggs!) through the warm water in a large mixing bowl. Use a wooden spoon to blend until a shaggy dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a floured workspace and knead until smooth and well-combined, approximately 4 to 5 minutes.

Place the dough in a covered container and refrigerate for at 4 hours or overnight. Once you're ready to make the croissants, remove the dough from the fridge and let stand at room temperature while you prepare the butter.

Flour a piece of wax paper and pound each stick of butter into rectangle on that paper. Some people use a ruler and make it very precise. I am less precise. Wrap the pounded butter and chill.

When you're ready, sprinkle a piece of parchment paper with flour and place dough on top. Roll the dough into a rectangle roughly 12"x 20". Remember, I'm less than precise, but it was around that size.

Remove one rectangle of butter from the fridge and lay it in the middle of the dough. Fold the corners of the dough in to form an envelope. It should look like this...

Using the rolling pin, roll it out to 12" x 20" again. Place the second rectangle of butter on the dough and make another envelope. Then roll it out to the 12" x 20" rectangle, but this time, fold one third of the dough over the other third, like folding a letter. 

Now you have to turn the dough. Turning the dough, by rolling and folding, creates very thin layers of butter and dough. This recipe needs to be turned 4 times. If the butter pushes through a layer of dough, rub it with a little flour. If the butter seems to be melting, chill the dough between each turn. Keep the parchment, the rolling pin, and the surface of the pastry well-floured.

To turn: Rotate the package of dough and butter so that the narrower, open end is facing you, like the pages of a book. Roll the dough out to a rectangle and fold the top third down and the bottom third up, again like a letter. Rotate the dough 90 degrees so that the open end is again facing you. Repeat. Roll the dough out to a rectangle and fold the top third down and the bottom third up. That's 2 turns. Repeat two more times.

Place the dough in the fridge and let rest for 30 minutes. 

Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out to approximately 1/4" thick. Then cut a zigzag pattern to create ten to twelve thin triangles. Starting at the base of the triangle, roll all the way up and place the croissants on a baking sheet.

Beat the second egg and brush the egg over the top of the croissants.

Let rise for 30 minutes while the oven preheats. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the croissants in the oven and immediately turn the heat down to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes.

Pastries are finished when the tops are deep golden and the tips look as if they might be just starting to burn.

Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes on the sheet but be sure remove them after that. Transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.

Best served the day they are baked. These don't last long in our house!

I am adding this to the September #FoodieReads link-up.


  1. My poor starter has been very neglected. Once this kitchen is complete I will see if I can save it, otherwise I will have to start over from scratch.

  2. I am reading a few books set in Italy this year, in anticipation of an upcoming trip! I am impressed that you made your own croissants!


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