Saturday, April 2, 2011

Enchanté, croissant

I did it! J'ai fait mes premiers croissants. And if I do say so myself (well who am I kidding, this entire blog is me saying so myself), they turned out très magnifiques et exquis. But I had my misgivings.

When I approached this project, croissants were, to me, formidable but friendly. I knew the process was long and exacting, but the product was so simple and thoroughly pleasant. I dove in knowing full well this may not work out, even if I adhered most strictly to the directions. I buffered this potential blow with a light musing that perhaps one must be French to craft a truly superb croissant.

Not so.
Cake flour, hot milk, warm cream, and sugar make croissant dough what it is. But only one ingredient can create those flaky layers...

Do NOT spread butter on a croissant. It's built in.

Fold like a letter. (By the way, it shouldn't look like this. In my eagerness to begin the hallmark folding of croissant dough, I forgot to roll out the first layer. Oops.)

Fold like a book.
Freehand triangles for croissants with character
A light egg wash

Behold, le croissant. According to my bread book, Parisians like their croissants a deep brown, almost burned.
I think I'd make a fine Parisian.

Croissants probably shouldn't be made when one is craving croissants. The tedium of preparing the butter and kneading, rolling, folding, cutting, and shaping the dough would be frustrating to someone seeking instant gratification; then add the hours of cooling, rising, chilling, rising, resting, baking, shuffling, baking. The process is high-maintenance and long-winded, and it mustn't be cut short. Take it on when you have plenty of time and a scrupulous passion for every part of it. 

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