I’ve been baking yeast bread on a weekly basis for at least three years now and yet I hadn’t even thought of making croissants before.
It’s not because Matt doesn’t like croissants (a fact that I didn’t discover until after I made them). It’s not because they’re loaded with butter either (that never stopped me from making pie crust or a million different types of cookies).
I think it’s because they’re so hard to make. Or at least that’s the widespread belief. But there’s also widespread belief that artisan breads are hard to make, and I make them all the time.
Who is spreading this propaganda anyway? I should start my own “Breadmaking is Easy!” campaign. I’ll design wartime propaganda-style art deco posters and they’ll be famous. People the world over will frame them and put them in their kitchens. They’ll be like the “keep calm and carry on” posters but obviously cooler and more upbeat because we’re talking about bread here.
Where was I going with this?
Oh yes, “Breadmaking is Easy!” and you should try making your own croissants.
I spent Saturday morning watching this old time The French Chef video, giggling at Julia Child’s loveable awkwardness, and following her process for making croissants. (side note: Julia Child would have totally put a “Breadmaking is Easy!” poster in her kitchen.)
It’s quite a bit easier than you might expect. It takes a long time to make the croissants and they require a bit more hands-on work than regular yeast bread but they’re doable and definitely worth making. I started the inital dough on Friday night, proofed it in the fridge overnight, and by Saturday afternoon I had fresh delicious croissants.
I liked Julia’s recipe because the croissants:
-weren’t too flaky. I like flaky, but it’s still bread, not pastry and I want to be able to eat it without a huge crumbly mess all around me
-weren’t too buttery. The butter adds great flavour and of course creates the flakiness, but I find a lot of croissants are greasy and way too buttery for my preference.
-were a reasonable size. They’re about 5″ in length which is perfect for breakfast or a light snack. Think Pilsbury Crescent Roll sized, not Costco sized.
I’m not going to write out the whole recipe and the process. I think it’s easier to get the idea of what to do by just watching the video.
But I will give you some tips that I learned in the process:
-roll out your dough on floured parchment instead of the counter. It’s less messy and sticky that way. When the dough required refrigerating I just wrapped it in the parchment that I rolled it on and put it in the fridge. I used the same parchment to roll it out on the next time around.
-do this on a cold day in a cold house. The butter will stay cold and you don’t have to worry about overworking the dough with your warm hands. And it’s always fun to be able to see your breath indoors, isn’t it?
-let the dough rest. When the dough feels elastic and shrinks back as you try to roll it out, walk away for 10 minutes and let it relax on the counter. It’s not ready for you to roll it, why you gotta pressure it like that?
- don’t put chocolate chips in it. If you want a pain au chocolat, fill the croissant with shavings of baker’s chocolate instead. Chocolate chips won’t get hot enough to melt inside the croissant. You’ll just end up biting into the thing and having a bunch of whole chocolate chips tumble out and you’ll be like, “…the fuck?”
Anyway, chances are good that you are saying to yourself “Oooh I should make these croissants!” or maybe you’re actually saying “Who the fuck makes their own croissants?”. Either way, you probably won’t end up baking them because you still think they’re too hard/too time consuming/too insert-excuse-here.
But if you do happen to be inspired by a half-pound of butter, a desire to nibble like a French woman, and a poster that says “Breadmaking is easy!” then let me know how your baking experience goes. These croissants do not disappoint.
P.S. My husband, the self-proclaimed croissant hater, actually liked these. Homemade Croissants for the WIN!
This post was submitted to Yeastspotting.