Thursday, January 9, 2014

Stretching, Cutting and Rolling

Our recent trip to New York City allowed me to have one of my favorite treats, Lobster tails from Pasticceria Rocco, a fine Italian bakery located in Greenwich Village. 

 A lobster tail is a Sfogliatella, a shell-shaped filled pastry native to Italian cuisine. Sfogliatelle means "small, thin leaves or layers," as the pastry's texture resembles stacked leaves.  

I don't know how Rocco's makes this pastry so delicious with its little bands of light, crispiness on the outside and soft tenderness on the inside.  I don't know what the heavenly cream is which fills them to bursting, but I know how delicious they are and how much I miss them when I am 1200 miles away.

The process for making Lobster tails is interesting. The dough, made simply of salt, shortening and flour, is stretched out on a large table.  After being brushed with fat (it tastes as if it could only have been brushed with butter), it is rolled into a many layered log.

Disks are cut from the log, and then shaped to form pockets. When the pastries are baked, the layers separate, forming the sfogliatella's characteristic, and quite delicious, ridges.

I can just imagine the bakers at Rocco's carefully stretching out the dough, probably on the same table dough has been stretched upon for decades.  I can see the copious amounts of butter brushed onto the dough.  I can see the baker cutting just the right portion of dough for each disk and then carefully shaping them by hand.  I can imagine them being filled with the perfect amount of cream that must come straight from Heaven.

The Lobster tail would not be so perfect if any of the steps were omitted.  The baker knows exactly how far to stretch the dough before it tears, he knows just how to handle the disks to form them into the perfect shape with a spacious pocket for cream.  He knows just how long to cook them and at the precise temperature to develop those crispy, yet tender, outer layers.  He is a Master-Baker who knows and applies his craft well and his lobster tails give evidence of such with every bite.

We each have a Master who is perfectly and completely knowledgeable in His craft as well.  In fact, it is said of Him, "His understanding is infinite."  He knows just how far to stretch us, but will not allow us to be stretched "above that ye are able."  He knows when we need to be shaped, measured out, cut.  He knows the perfect temperature of our fires to purge away our dross, and He fills us with His own Holy Spirit to complete capacity.

His objective?  Not to make a tasty pastry, but to conform us to the image of His dear Son.  It is His desire to complete us, to transform us, to change us "from glory unto glory" until we reflect a perfect image of His Son.

Just as the dough can trust the Master-Baker, we can trust our Master as well.  The stretching, cutting, rolling, shaping and baking we experience are all for our very best, so we might be "holy and without blame before Him in love."

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