Monday, April 28, 2008

Star-crossed Croissants

Couch potato day.

It's gorgeous outside, but I'm feeling under the weather again, so since I've done my portion of work for the day, I'm giving myself a break and sitting on a couch watching "America's Next Top Model" and eating "America's Ugliest, Fattiest Croissants."

Not that I normally watch this show, I must hasten to add. I'm just curious after hearing so much talk about the Latina model who won Cycle 2,786. ANYway. I'm merely struck by the fact that I'm scarfing down double butter croissants while watching stick thin women looking terrified by whatever-the-heck that pie crust thing is around J. Alexanders' neck.

Since we went to bushi-tei and had those adorable little brioches and croissants, I've had a croissant obsession. We made some cute croissants with scraps of leftover commercial puff pastry. Flush with that success, I decided to attempt actual real croissant dough.

Pull up a chair and pour yourself a lemonade. This is going to take a while. In my procrastinating and remarkably disorganized sort of way, I lengthened the already lengthy process turning what normally takes a couple of days into a week-long project.

To begin with, I went and measured out the flour, sugar and salt. Then realized I had no yeast. So I covered the bowl and the flour sat there for several days until I finally got it together to pick up some yeast. And butter: pound of Plugra, just for good measure.

I left the butter out to soften and then realized it needed to actually be in a block for the croissant rolling, and it needed to be chilled. More time for chilling.

Oh, and now I have yeast. Mix the dough and knead it a bit. And now the dough has to rest and chill. Or is it rest, rise and then chill? More time. How long to chill? Overnight.

The next day I had sort of forgotten about the dough quietly oozing its way out of the bowl in our fridge, until much later in the evening. Now I'm having scheduling problems, though. When do I have time for the two hours of rolling and chilling, then rolling and chilling, and then rising and then baking?

See what I mean? Disorganized and not very focussed.

At some point I managed to get it together enough to start the rolling process. I think that after all that though, I didn't knead the dough enough because after making three turns, the dough started to separate, letting the butter squirt through. I chilled it again, but I'm a little worried about my layers with butter squirting out at all ends.

Dang. The dough has to rest again. Because I have the attention span of a chipmunk on speed, I proceed to forget about my project for several hours more. Have I mentioned that sometimes I walk from one room into another to get something, and when I arrive in the new room, I can't remember what I wanted? Must be the high fructose corn syrup. Hah.

So when I finally got around to it, the rolling and the cutting wasn't difficult, but it never looked as easy as this video makes it out to be.

However, I read in one recipe that you should let the croissants rise by placing them on a baking sheet and putting the whole shebang in an unlit oven with a pan of water underneath.

I guess it was warmer than I thought in the oven because the butter melted too much and my neat rolls basically slimed themselves apart as they rose.

Plus they were supposed to rise to triple in size, why seems unduly optimistic. I don't think I could have borne the sight of them if I'd let them slime apart any further.

Here they are after baking -- not much better.

All told, the texture was pretty good and they were rather tasty, although the recipe I used was kind of excessively yeasty. I think--and I know this will come as a shock, but brace yourselves--I might use less butter next time too.

My Omnivore and I have fond memories of the perfect croissant from Grimm Bakery in Vienna. Well, after all, Viennese pastries are legendary, so maybe I'll try Wolfgang Puck's recipe.

When I get some time.


cindym said...

you're a brave woman. i've had some encounters with laminated doughs that have left me in tears, and them in a pile of melted butter about to spill over the sides of a jelly roll pan in my oven. traumatic, i tell you.

the pre-made jean yves charon croissants from Williams Sonoma are shockingly good, if you can get somebody to give you a box as a christmas present, cause they ain't cheap.

ME said...

LOL, I'm not sure I've gathered the strength of nerve to try it again just yet. I was standing over the dough whining, "Nobody told me that the butter would come squirting out!!"

Pre-made croissants you say? Gotta be better than the sorta fake puff pastry croissants...

Haley said...

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