filling the empty nest with food
I’ve never really considered myself the scientific type in the kitchen. I don’t take notes when something doesn’t turn out right. I rarely make something twice unless it succeeded the first time. And I haven’t considered my cooking as experiments to tinker with and improve. But something just changed.
I took a croissant-making class a couple of weeks ago and I’ve become obsessed with making a croissant worthy of a French bakery. I’ve made two batches so far. The first was a big disaster (no photos allowed!) and the second batch (below) not too shabby. Disaster is a relative term in the croissant-baking business, as any dough that involves incorporating nearly a pound of butter will knock your socks off no matter how much you screw up the process. Trust me. You will want to eat your mistakes.
Making croissants requires precision and attention to detail. To make a long, two-day job into a short description: you make some bread dough (from a mathematical formula rather than a recipe), let it rise, then refrigerate, roll it out to a precise width and length, place a large square of butter (mixed, refrigerated, molded, refrigerated again, shaped), also a precise width and length to match the rectangle of dough, fold it, refrigerate, roll out again, fold it again, refrigerate, roll out, fold, refrigerate, and roll out one last time. Then you’re ready to cut and shape the croissants. Let them rise again, and bake.
At this point, some bakers will tell you how easy and doable it is to make croissants at home. Don’t let them snow you. These are not easy, not simple, and not for the faint of heart.
But, wow, are they crispy, buttery, flaky, rich, and downright heavenly when you get them right! I wouldn’t let my French friends try them yet, but some day soon . . .