12 October 2010

Croissants

So, you'll recall that on my list of things to do by the time I turn fifty was "Teach myself how to make croissants - probably with Julia's help."

That "teach myself" thing was a little disingenuous. I have attempted croissants before, a long time ago. By now, I can't remember what recipe I used that first time out - but it was probably Julia Child's (from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, volume 2).  She was, after all, one of the kitchen gods in my childhood household. What I do remember was that that first batch was disappointing - they were too hard, too crispy, not nearly flaky and airy enough. They probably tasted fine, but the texture was wrong.

So, by challenging myself to "teach myself", I was really meaning try them over and over and over until I get them right - figuring that it was my lack of technique, not a flaw in the recipe.

I think I was wrong. Because the batch of croissants that I made, using the recipe in Baking with Julia, and following it to the letter? Hands down awesome. I mean, the best. I mean, equivalent to anything I've ever bought in a store, bakery, pastry shop, Payard, you name it. My husband concurred. He can't stop talking about them. They were that good.

Do you know how to make croissants? You make a yeast dough, with a little milk in it. You roll out the dough, spread butter on it, and fold and roll and fold and roll. The goal is to make many layers of dough and fat. After the last crumb had been sucked down, I went back and checked the older recipe. Julia in Mastering calls for 1 3/4 cups of flour in the bread dough, with one stick of butter layered into it. Julia in later life calls for 3 3/4 cups of flour and 4 1/2 sticks of butter. In other words, old Julia requires a lot more butter. That has to be a big part of why these were so so very good.

Incidentally, they are kind of a lot of work, but it's the kind of work that doesn't have to be done all at once. There's a lot of resting time - and there's no good reason why the rests can't be longer. I made the dough, and did almost all of the rolling and folding, over two days last weekend. I then bundled it up and left it in the fridge for a week. I cut the dough in half, and formed and baked 12 croissants, and packaged up the remaining half of the dough. It's in the freezer now, 'til we need another croissant feed.

Not that we need any more butter any time soon.

13 comments:

de said...

Isn't it awesome to be able to cross this one off the list, just like that? Yay.

My friend tells me that her shortcut to chocolate croissants is to slice a plain one open, stick some chocolate in and heat until melted in the microwave. I don't know about that last bit, as most pastry gets ruined in the microwave, but I've never tried it, seeing as I really don't need handy access to something so decadent.

kathy a. said...

omg, 4.5 sticks of butter? it must have been delicious. and will be again.

i used to order a croissant every morning at a long-gone coffee shop in berkeley. it wasn't a real croissant, just good fresh bread shaped that way and brushed with egg white. so, i didn't die of clogged arteries. but the occasional indulgence in the real thing -- worth it.

liz said...

Now I need to wipe the drool off my keyboard.

word verification = "luven"

Becky said...

Ooh, they look amazing!

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Oh, yum! Quite impressive looking.

painted maypole said...

they look worthy of blowing my diet.

alejna said...

Oh, Magpie, can I come live with you?

Kaye said...

A croissant is a lot of butter held together by a bit of flour.

bipolarlawyercook said...

I need tesseracts. Or transporters. Stat. Because now I have to bake these myself, rather than just running next door.

Bee said...

WELL-DONE.
I've wanted to attempt croissants for some time -- and I do have Julia's Baking book -- but I'm not sure that I can face eating that much butter!

On the subject of croissants, my husband went to France for the weekend and I asked him to PLEASE bring back some croissants . . . but he brought him a box of fancy cakes instead. They were the kind of thing that you like to look at, but not eat. I was a little cross about it. Was that churlish of me?

The Library Lady said...

MAGNIFIQUE!

I'd love to attempt these, and I may very well have this cookbook among Nanay's books. But I can hear my own mother yelling all the way from NY just at the idea of my attempting something with this much butter!

I can dream though.

Ms. C said...

Hell-o: I am searching for a good croissant recipe would you share the actual recipe you mention on your blog with me please. Thx

MDTaz said...

These look just like the ones in the patisserie down the street (maybe even better). I hope someday you'll find yourself here so we can do a taste-test together.