Thursday, September 9, 2010

From the HOTRS Recipe Archives - Crescents in the Morning

Have you ever had homemade croissants? Not the kind in the can. I have, as I got brave and made some croissants. From scratch. Croissants are made of a leavened variant of puff pastry, by layering yeast dough with butter and rolling and folding a few times in succession, then rolling. Bread formed and baked in the shape of a crescent goes back to the Middle Ages, and crescent-shaped cakes,perhaps homage to the often worshiped Moon, have existed since classical times. Though the croissant is thought to be a French specialty, the earliest reference to it that I have seen is in the mention of luxury breads in Payen's Des substances alimentaires, 1853.

Many say the breads original origins are Viennese, invented in Vienna in 1683 to celebrate the defeat of the Turkish siege of the city, as a reference to the crescents on the Turkish flags, when bakers staying up all night heard the tunneling operation and gave the alarm.

Few in the US make them from scratch and the development of factory-made, frozen or canned crescent rolls has elevated them to fast food. And like much fast, most of those have the delicacy of a Big Mac
and all the taste of Styrofoam packing material So I made my own. After many, many hours of work, I had about a dozen plump little bits of crescent (sort of) shaped dough. I froze some and left the rest out to rise for a few hours.
Barkley patiently waited, hoping for a crumb. Or pound of bacon.
Were they worth it? Oh yes. I was only going to eat one, but after the first one, the second had about the odds of a bone in a dog factory.

I have to admit, these were better than any croissant I've eaten from a bakery. So buttery that I put the butter and jam away, and just pulled a couple apart to drink with a big cup of coffee.
Several food writers have argued against the pastry's connection to the Turkish invasion though saving the city from the Turks would have been a major accomplishment. In any event, the crescent shape did remind me of one of my favorite old weapons.

Here you can see a crescent emblem on the Model 1938, built at the arsenal in Turkey. Which leads to my promise for a post on the Turkish Contract models 1890 through 1938. We can have pastry and coffee with the 1954 ATF Marked Rifles and some others another morning.

The earliest model of a Turk Mauser I have data on is the 1887. The Ottomans placed their first order with Waffenfabrik Mauser for over half a million rifles patterned after the Gew. 71/84 bolt action rifle. This black powder rifle was to be chambered for the 9.5x60R military round. When the Ottomans terminated the contract, they made the switch to smokeless powder after accepting less than half of their original order.

Then followed the 1890, and the 1893, and the next interesting modification the 1903. Although the Turks had a modern and well equipped army, and upgraded their weapons far more often than other nations in the Middle East, in this rifle the Ottomans were "keeping up with the Joneses". In this case, the German Army, and they ordered rifles modeled after the Gew. 98 and chambered for 7.65x53. (Note: The 7.65x53 and 7.65x54 are essentially the same cartridge and seem to be interchangeable.) It also came with some other small changes similar to previous designs. If you don't know if what you have is this model, the straight bolt handle has a distinctive tear-drop shape. That will give you a solid clue. The stock should also have a pistol grip and the rear receiver bridge will have a "high hump" at the clip loading point. This hump was necessary to support the unique stripper clip in use at the time. .

There was also two carbine versions of this rifle with 21.65 and 17.72 inch barrels. When converted to 8mm this is often called an 03/38. This is a gun my Dad had, originally my grandfathers I believe, and one of the first I ever shot. The really short barreled Mauser was nick-named the 'Camel Carbine' as it was issued to mounted troops, and it had a VICIOUS muzzle blast and recoil. I think the intent was to make me VERY aware of a power of a weapon at an early age. It did that.
Plus when you've been knocked on your ass by the Camel Carbine you're less likely to go running to Mom to whine when you've barely skinned your knee playing outside.
This post's feature is the model 38. The Turkish Republic updated their old rifles to a common configuration commonly know as the Model of 1938 and all in 8x57 Mauser. Although they started the conversations in 1933, ANY rifle converted to that standard is known as the Model 38, even if it was built later. For they were not actually a model of a rifle, but really a standard for rifles to be arsenal reworked.

The Mausers assembled from accumulated parts started during WWII as Turkey became isolated and began assembling their own rifles from stored up parts. The first time both the receivers and parts were made in Turkey was starting in 1940. I'm not an expert by any means, but it appears that all Turkish assembled rifles were marked 1938/K. Kale, for the arsenal where they were assembled. There are also other numerous model 38 Mausers, marked with the 'Ankara' arsenal marking, and these are usually German made rifles that have been refitted. The Home on the Range Mauser is, I believe, a 100% Turk 1943 K. Kale. This is a large ring model with a small shank (normally 0.980 inches in diameter with 0.645 inches of threaded area at 12 TPI) rifle.

The large ring (1.410 inches in diameter) is unique to most Mausers made from 1898 onward. This was along with other features that showed up on the scene at the same time, like the third safety lug, cock on opening, and the gas escape features (after eating a piece of that prime rib I discovered Barkley is equipped with that feature). Though the original idea was for those to take a large shank barrel, the the Ottomans and Turks had large ring receivers made that would accommodate the small, likely to maintain part commonality with their older models. Since they ended up rebarrelling most of them later, it might have been just as good an idea to keep with the old basic Mauser design, but at the time it seemed like a good idea (like making pastry at 5 am).
Having typical 1898 Mauser actions, it's robust and simple. The same techniques used by generations of shooters on Mausers work just fine on this old Turk. And it works for me.

This rifle did get a little "fine tuning" to ensure that all rounds, including old 50's 8 x 57 mm ammo, shoots reliably in the form of a new 24 pound firing pin spring. If you were almost 70 years old, you'd lose a little spring in your step, and the old Mausers are no different. Springs weaken with age and that wear is hereditary with the old Turks. It also has a front sight from a VZ24 Mauser, which puts it on point of aim at 100 yards, rather than 6-8" high at 100 yards as the original sight would have.

Those were really the only changes. This weapon wasn't rebarrelled as many of the old Turkish models were but the birch stock appears newer than manufacturer. Many of the old Turk models are "Frankenguns" with many of them arsenal "reworked" too a more convenient style (read. . a short rifle configuration., typically about 44 inches, this one being 49).

It's a find, and especially at a good price. Like finding anything in the historical market, do your homework, and ask around. Many different rifles can be called the Turkish Model 1938. This would include but is not limited to the GEW 98, Cz 98/22, Turkish Model 1903 and the Model 1893. These are readily available today from varied suppliers for prices ranging from about $150 to several hundred.

Like a the perfect breakfast pastry, sometimes you have to do a little homework and take some time and care when procuring a classic weapon. Quality can range from the "freezer burned" to the painstakingly crafted and cared for.
For some of us, that makes all the difference.


  1. Tasty & informative: an altogether excellent arrangement. And that shot of Barkley waiting for bacon is wonderfully expressive.

  2. This latest juxtaposition, bridging a tasty food topic with a "back story" of interesting hardware lore, is Pure Brigid. ("Bridging with Brigid" I'm tempted to say.) Not only did I learn a lot, but you gave me quite an appetite, young lady! And now, I feel the need to run out to the bakery for a "second breakfast". But before I do, I'm going to check out that old Polish Mauser that sits in the corner of my office for any type of marking that might translate as "kielbasa"...

  3. Those thing looked real tasty and I should not have looked when I was already hungry.

    Whitetail Woods Blog / Blackpowder Shooting

  4. Travel mercies.
    Nothing better than home made crescents with "dessert".


  5. Excellent article (I learned something, so I must still be alive), and fun eat/reading.

    Scratch Barkley behind the ear, and have a great time with the family. You've earned it.

  6. Mmmmmmm, flaky, tastey, buttery goodness. I could eat my weight in good crossants, however the one -eyed scale monster is complaining these days.

    While the 7.62x54 might, fit in the x53 I'd advice against it. The incresed pressures makes it as dangerous as trying a 9mm Para round in a 9x18 Markarov pistol.

    Excellent work on the Turk Mauser, I knew the Turks were heavy in Mausers but not that intertwined in the German arms at the time.

    As for the 17 inch 8mm Mauser... OUCH!

  7. Seriously - this has got to be the only place in the WORLD that I can visit to be educated on pastry and classic rifles in the very same posting. You, my lady, are undoubtedly far more buttery and rich than even those croissants.

  8. Croissants with a side of a pound of bacon sounds great!

  9. Would you mind sharing your recipe for the croissants? crystal.n.nick (at)gmail(dot)com I've been searching for a good recipe and yours look AMAZING!


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