Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Daring Bakers Challenge: Croissants

Blog-checking lines: The Daring Bakers go retro this month! Thanks to one of our very talented non-blogging members, Sarah, the Daring Bakers were challenged to make Croissants using a recipe from the Queen of French Cooking, none other than Julia Child!

Recipe Source: Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume Two. Julia Child and Simone Beck.

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I didn’t always have a weakness for croissants. The affair started January 18, 2011, around 1 PM at a high-end grocery store, where I had sat down to consume The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells and a crisp, buttery, and tender Danish. A Danish, you say, why that’s not a croissant; I thought this story was about croissants? Well, this story is about a girl and a cream cheese Danish. We’ll get to the croissant later.


Although it I had school that fateful day, I felt entitled to an afternoon off, for reasons which shall remain unnamed. I had just gotten through a mentally, physically, and emotionally straining event which I had been working towards for years and was nervous about the results. As cliché as it sounds, a chapter of my young life had closed and I wanted it to stay buried, at least for a little while longer. I was giddy from closure and stressed from worrying about the possibility of whiplash. I’m not the kind of person who eats ice cream and watches sad movies after a breakup; instead, I take myself out and gorge on crepes and French pastries.


So I went to the store and bought a croissant and a cream cheese Danish. As I looked for a seat, I debated which pastry I should eat first. I decided on the cream cheese Danish, for the croissant was much too plain-looking. I sat down in the cafe area, the huge glass windows opening up the street. Outside, people hustled and bustled about and a soft snow fell, blanketing the city in whiteness. Propped open in front of me was The Invisible Man and in my other hand laid a half-eaten Danish. The cash registers and automatic opening doors faded away as I become lost in the beautiful scenery of the old English countryside.

Hours later, I broke away from the book and realized that it was time to go. I was already full from the Danish so I decided to take the croissant to go. I reasoned that a friend of mine who I was going to see could definitely use the calories. She had just experienced a rather awkward and difficult event herself and could probably do with some comfort food.



When I saw my friend, I gave her a warm hug and some words of encouragement. I offered her the croissant and she accepted it gratefully and soon everyone was picking for a piece. It was really good, she said, and a couple other friends agreed. Instantly, I was jealous. I’d been sitting with the croissant for the last couple hours, but I had been preoccupied with the Danish, which honestly, didn’t taste as good as I thought it would. Now that I knew that the croissant tasted good, I wanted to try it. I grabbed a morsel and put it into my mouth. Oh, what luscious buttery and flaky pastry it was! I savoured every flavour and before it had even slid down my throat, I knew that I had chosen wrong. I loved croissants, not Danishes.


Since that momentous meeting, I’ve been searching for delicious croissants far and wide, near and far. I’ve found a couple places that sell flaky, rich, and tender croissants, so I’ve never had the need to make them.

When croissants were announced as this month’s Daring Bakers Challenge, I knew I had joined at the right time. I had been toying with the idea of making croissants for the whole summer, but with all summer co-op and volunteering, I had not had a spare weekend to try my hand at croissants. School began and the challenge continued on, but I cut my finger, and had to sit out of baking/cooking/using my left hand to do anything for a couple weeks. Still, I didn’t want to miss my first DB Challenge so I trudged ahead and made the croissants right before the deadline.


The closest I have ever come to making croissants was making puff pastry a couple years ago. The experience had been so traumatic and the results so disappointing that I’ve never tried to make it again. I know lamination doughs take time and patience to perfect, but as a hectic junior, I don’t have weekends to spare. I will admit that part of the reason why my croissants probably didn’t turn out as well as they could have was because I rushed the process and attempted to roll out the dough in succession with minimal resting and chilling periods. By the second turn, I was calling mercy, succumbing to the wrath of the beautiful croissant. I vowed never to question why a delicious croissant was upward of two dollars and ploughed through the rest of the recipe.

The croissants turned out way to be really salty, but besides that they tasted okay. Texture-wise, they were more bread-like than like the delicate French pastry I had fallen in love with, but my brothers obviously didn’t mind because the croissants were gone within hours. At least for now, I leave the art of croissants to the little cafes that do it best.

7 comments:

  1. Welcome to the Daring Bakers!! I probably would have gone for the danish first, too... :) How great that croissants were your first challenge, after having an actual story to accompany your introduction to them. You did an absolutely, amazingly beautiful job on these - they look fantastic. Awesome work on the challenge. I look forward to baking with you again next month! :)

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  2. Ha I always want what my fiancee has too... and end up wishing I had chosen his entree instead! I have been CRAVING croissants lately!! Badly! And your post made me want them even more. Your photos are nice... those croissants are so lovely and golden brown. Too bad they were a bit salty... at least they look perfect! Let me know when you find that perfect croissant recipe :)

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  3. Welcome to Daring Bakers'....from one newbie to another !!!
    Your look so flaky and beautiful !!

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  4. I definitely felt like my croissants were more bread-like too. I assumed it was because there was so little fat in the recipe. Your pictures make them look so delicious though. I love how you can see all the little layers in the dough! Beautiful!

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  5. These are beautiful! This month was my first Daring Baker's Challenge too and I had so much fun making croissants. I'm so impressed you did this with such a busy schedule...even if they did taste more like bread than a pastry.

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  6. There's a book called French Women Don't Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano; on or about page 200, there's a recipe for Croissants that you make over the weekend, a few steps at a time (total work time is about an hour and half). You get started on Friday evening and wake up on Sunday morning with ready-to-bake croissants. So. Very. Good.

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