I had all the time in the world earlier this month to get on with the Daring Bakers challenge but for some reason I chose to postpone it until the day before the deadline. By the time I printed out the recipe and gave the instructions a once over, I soon discovered that croissants cannot be made in a day. Actually, it is possible but since my supply of yeast had died some months ago, I figured I’d just have to be a late poster this month.
This month’s challenge was hosted by Sarah, “a Canadian non-blogger, currently living and baking in Warsaw, Poland” who gave us a quintessentially French baking challenge. Daring Bakers is indeed an international affair! I was quite excited about making croissants as I had missed out on the Baklava challenge which involved a fairly labour and time intensive recipe. I wasn’t sure how my batch of croissants would turn out but I was keen to give it a go.
I find croissants can be a little hit or miss in Perth. A lot of artisan bakers can produce some amazing croissants but for every incroyable experience, there’s many examples of bread products disguised as croissants. Faux croissants with no or little butter and certainly no Gallic soul that instantly transports you to the streets of Paris singing Edith Piaf with robust pride.
Anyway, I am not one to knock others’ efforts (hint hint, nudge nudge franchise bakeries…) until I make the product myself and understand the process and costing involved. I know butter is becoming more and more expensive in our country so croissants are more or less exactly what you pay for. If it’s a dollar a pop, then you’re probably not going to get anything a Parisienne would feed her lap dog. However, if it has the right amount of butter in it, a croissant is just magical. Even my vegan colleague misses them.
So on procuring a new supply of yeast, I got on with the show. It’s quite easy to forget that a croissant is essentially a type of bread more than a sweet patisserie item. The process involved in making the croissant dough is not dissimilar to any other bread dough so if you’ve baked bread, you’ll be fine with croissants. Just allow sufficient time for the thrice proofing :)
If you have worked with pastry dough before then you will also appreciate the need to keep the dough and butter as cold as possible and to not over-handle. This is easier said than done as you do need to fold the dough quite a few times to give the croissant the lovely flaky layers. If you like folding origami or paper aeroplanes (or being crafty in general) then you’ll enjoy Steps 33 to 49 of Sarah’s recipe…
If you are considering trying the croissant recipe I followed, then I suggest starting the day before you need the croissants. Covered bread dough lives quite happily in the fridge until you’re ready to bake. If anything, it improves the flavour greatly so I’d time it so that you can give the second proof an overnight stint in the fridge. Just get the dough out and prepare the croissants an hour and a half/two hours before you want to serve the beauties. As for preparing the crescents, I think I’ll know when I bake croissants again a few more times but the edges need to be sealed together well or they become unraveled while baking. Hence, my croissants don’t have their obvious folds :|
I must say that croissants are something else when fresh out of the oven. Hubby had some misgivings about them being doughy when warm but if you think about it, how many of us actually gets to eat homemade croissants like that? They are mostly cooled at a bakery before sale and gets to settle down. I reassured hubby that he should revisit my croissants for afternoon tea later that day for a more familiar texture. As for Miss 3 and I, we cracked open some gorgeous Beerenberg strawberry jam and scoffed a good share of them down. Delicious!
I can’t give Sarah an online nod as she is a non-blogger but her recipe comes courtesy of Julia Childs. I do thank her for the challenge and for mercifully making the recipe easier to follow!
NB – The amazing Daring Baker Audax Artifex has a wonderfully detailed post on croissant making and very useful tips so please also refer to it if you are going to give it a go :)