Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Homemade Christmas Croissants! (aka Don't Try This at Home)

Have you ever thought, "I should totally try to make croissants at home (like not the ones in the tube)"? Of course you have! Who hasn't?! I know I have. Multiple times.

Allow me to divest you of this brilliant idea.

Here is the recipe I used. "Classic Croissants" from the Fine Cooking website. You can read the recipe itself, and they have SOME step-by-step photos, but I'm going to show you what I did.

First note: THIS RECIPE TAKES THREE DAYS TO COMPLETE.

Since I wanted to have these on Christmas Wednesday, I had to start on Monday (or "Christmas Adam" as the internets is so fond of saying this year. I saw it first attributed to Jon Acuff's wife; I don't know where the rest of you got it.)

DAY ONE: Make the dough. That's the easy part.

DAY TWO: Create a big old butter pocket.

I took the advice I read in a comment or somewhere and made guidelines. One smaller square for the initial layout...

And a second for the final shape.

Note: if you prefer not to have graphite touch your food, be sure to draw on the "back" side of the parchment.


Dough with butter on.



 Now comes the rolling. Good gravy, Mabel, the rolling.

"I'm just starting! I haven't lost the will to live yet!"

Roll it out until it is about 22 inches long. Now it's a long piece of dough with one butter layer inside.

Fold a third of it.

And the other third.
At this point, you have 6 layers of dough and 3 layers of butter. You have to freeze the resultant block for 20 minutes. Then repeat.

Roughly 22 inches, but who really cares.

Now 18 layers of dough and 9 layers of butter.
Freeze it for 20 minutes AGAIN. Hope you didn't have any plans!

Last roll-out. The edges aren't happy.
By the time you wrap and refrigerate the dough for the last time, you have 54 layers of dough and 27 layers of butter.

DAY THREE: Merry Christmas! You're going to be busy!

The breakfast pizza recipe is here!*

You're supposed to roll this out to 41 inches or something, but after a combined half hour of rolling, it was somewhere in the 30-inch vicinity, at the longest points, and I call "close enough."

You're supposed to use a yard stick and measure and straight edge, but, come on, people. Pizza cutter, and knowing that they're supposed to be pretty much triangles, and boom!

Oooh, right, they're supposed to have points. Whoopsie!

Fortunately, I had some good-looking help.


The recipe said that this would make 15. We made 18, not including the turn-over I did with the scraps and the little ring of dough one of the cats managed to pull off the cookie sheet before we threw her outside for the rest of the morning. Our croissants were fatter than they were supposed to be because I could not roll out anything anymore.

That ended up being okay, because as it was, butter was coming out of the dough as we worked with it. It's the weirdest feeling. As we'd pull on the points to elongate the dough, you could feel that it wasn't a solid block of dough. 

Egg wash looks nasty up close. Their pictures look a lot tidier. I call "fake."

We made sure the chocolate chips were visible on the chocolate ones, so we wouldn't try to make ham sandwiches with those croissants.
They bake for 20ish minutes, and you have to move the trays around.

We ended up "losing" a lot of butter due to our handling of the dough. I know there's a way to prevent that, but you have to be so meticulous and careful, and ours still turned out fine.

Unfortunately, all of that butter in a 450-degree oven set our smoke alarm off three times.

Merry Christmas, neighborhood! Hope you weren't trying to sleep late!

When I pulled the croissants out of the oven, I was a little disappointed at how brown/black the bottoms were. But it's just super brown from the butter; they aren't and don't taste burnt.

Croissants with flash.

Croissants without flash.



Yes, they're beautiful! Yes, they taste great! Yes, I can see how making the dough thinner would help the flaky layer effect continue deep into the croissant (which is pretty moist and chewy in ours). But I'm plenty happy with these, and we'll enjoy them for days.

However...

In the future, I will purchase croissants. This was a lot of work for a generous baker's dozen pastries, and a fun experiment, but now that I've done it, I will appreciate paying $3-7 for a really good croissant that someone else made.



______________________________

*The breakfast pizza recipe is the third time I've made something with the instructions "make a well/crack the egg" and had the egg go EVERYWHERE. What am I doing wrong? "Make the well deeper!" Well, yeah, I get that. But this was supposed to be a pizza, and if I'd put it in a muffin tin, the shape would have been off. If I'd made the pizzas wider, then I wouldn't have had enough dough on the bottom to keep the egg from leaking through.

These ended up being beautiful AND delicious, but when I saw that white oozing all over the cookie sheet, I was initially extremely disappointed! I'd love your advice!

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