Our recipe this week for the TWD Baking with Julia group is croissants. For the recipe, please visit Amanda at Girl+Food=Love
Wow. When I first purchased the Baking with Julia book this was the recipe that jumped out at me. And now, that
day week is finally here. It is with some excitement and a great deal of trepidation that I begin.
The book describes how wonderful a croissant can be from a “patient and gifted baker”. I don’t think either adjective has ever been applied to me. Foolishly undaunted, I am ready to begin.
Make the dough. This looks simple enough. Until I realize that the recipe calls for compressed (fresh) yeast rather than the dry or (lifetime supply) of instant yeast that I have on hand. I spend the next 30 minutes researching how to convert compressed yeast into instant yeast. I keep finding differing sources so I finally decided to go with the SAF conversion printed right on the package. 1 ounce of compressed yeast = 9 grams of instant yeast plus 18 grams of extra liquid. Thank goodness I have a good scale.
Next challenge is to convert skim milk into whole milk but luckily I have heavy cream in the refrigerator. Phew.
Looking a little dry so I added additional liquid
The dough assembly really is quite straightforward, flour yeast, sugar and milk. A short rest and then into the refrigerator for an overnight stay.
The last step for the day is to whip up the butter, wrap it tight and send that into the refrigerator to chill out with the dough.
Butter ready to chill
Read the instructions for how to roll the dough. Reread. Reread again. Realize I need some visuals so I head to my computer to look for the video. Luckily, the PBS Video with Esther McManus is available online.
Hmmm… while watching the video I realize that I forgot to add 2 tablespoons of flour to the butter. Esther explains that this will help reduce the water content in the butter and, frankly that sounds important. Dang.
Pull out the butter, chop it up into 1/2 inch pieces (again) and whip it up with 2 tablespoons of flour. Send back to refrigerator and hope that the butter is not too oily from all the mixing and that the dough will hang out for another day.
I plan to get a good night’s sleep and start early with the rolling tomorrow. Sigh.
Ah. Now I see where the patience comes in. The dough is rolled out, packaged around the butter and then pounded with a rolling pin to integrate the butter into the dough. Then comes more rolling and folding each with a two hour rest in the refrigerator.
Esther had a great idea to document the process on the parchment paper.
Eight hours into day 3 I elect to freeze the dough and rest up for a new day before shaping the croissants.
A few days later…
After an overnight thaw, I start early in the day to roll out half of the dough. I decide to keep it simple and stick with traditional croissants. After watching the video, the rolling and shaping was easier than I expected. Unfortunately, after 3+ hours at room temperature the croissants had barely risen and they certainly didn’t look puffy. Maybe I didn’t calculate so well on my yeast conversion after all? I decide to put the shaped croissants in my warming oven at a nice gentle 80 degree temperature.
Aiyeeeee! Major tactical error!
All that butter I worked so hard to incorporate in the dough…
What a mess. But… they did rise! I’ve got way too much time invested in this project so there is no way I am quitting now. I carefully clean up the melted butter and begin baking.
Shockingly, these didn’t turn out half bad!
Were they delicious? Yes indeedy. Were they all eaten? Another responding yes.
Would I bake croissants again? Well, I’ll certainly bake up the other half of the dough I still have in the freezer. And I’ll even try some with chocolate. Still… I’m not sure that the investment in time and planning is worth it except for a very, very special occasion.