Friday, November 10, 2006

Wheaten Croissants


Friday, November 10, 2006
I just couldn't allow the croissant to be my very last bread. The very idea of actually baking a croissant on my own was causing me far too much consternation. I got the day off today, and, while a French roll is perhaps not the most appropriate thing to make for Veterans' Day, the French were, after all, our allies in two world wars, so it wasn't completely off the wall.
I mixed up the dough last night. That part was easy. This morning, after a big mug of strong coffee, I was ready to tackle the butter package and to start the process of rolling the butter into the dough. You know what? It really wasn't that hard. As I rolled, folded, refrigerated, rolled..., I forgot my fear and just concentrated on the project at hand. In that respect, it was a little like labor, where you become so focused on what you're doing, you have no time to worry. (Lest the labor analogy scare anyone, I want to assure you that in no other way is making croissants like labor, except the finished product makes it all worthwhile).
My big worry was that the butter would break through the dough and make the whole thing a big mess. That didn't happen. I also wasn't quite sure that I could follow all the detailed instructions, but I did--and it would be much easier next time.
The only problem was that I didn't let the rolls rise enough. My friend Teddie planned to drop by today with her daughter, Clea, and I promised her a fresh-from-the-oven croissant at 4:30. I started the rising process at 1:30, so I thought they should be ready to go into the oven at 3:30, making the timing just about perfect. At 3:30, they hadn't doubled in size yet, so I put them in a warmer place for another 20 minutes. They still hadn't doubled, but I put them in the oven anyway. And I ended up making 14 instead of 12 because that's the way the triangles turned out. Consequently, the croissants were a little smaller than I'd envisioned.
I took them out of the oven just as Teddie and Clea walked in the front door and Jim walked in the back door. The house smelled heavenly, and I doled out the croissants like Lady Bountiful herself.

Teddie, Clea, and Jim ate theirs plain, and I put orange marmalade on mine.

Perhaps they were not quite perfect, but they were delicious, with a crusty exterior and an inside that was all flaky tenderness.

I don't know what French cook got the idea to take a big chunk of butter and work it into buttery layers, but whoever it was deserves a Medal of Honor. Or the Croix de Guerre. Or the Croix de Croissants.
Jim said, "Don't you feel proud of yourself?" Well, yes I do. But what I really want to do is to make them again in my new oven that will have a bread proofing setting and that will, I hope, not be anywhere from 25 to 75 degrees off. If only I had had the foresight to include baking croissants on my list of life goals, I could now cross it off!

22 comments:

kneadtobake said...

Oh Marie, your croissants look just perfect, I think I may have to try and make them for Thanksgiving, I wonder if they can be made a few days ahead of time, frozen, and then reheated??
Now that you are almost finished with your project, I am curious to know which breads were your favorites.

evil cake lady said...

BBC: being who I am, I liked the labor anaolgy! Your croissants look fabulous! I am afraid to make them because if I find out that it really isn't so difficult I might make them ALL the time, and not share them, and that would be bad.

breadbasketcase said...

KneadtoBake,
I know that these croissants take to freezing very well. I put most of them in a freezer bag after they were cooled to save myself from gluttony, but I took a few out for breakfast this morning. They were perfect after a brief reheat in a 250 oven.

breadbasketcase said...

Never fear, Evil Cake Doula,
Even though you've probably heard many women say, "Well, that wasn't so bad after all," after labor, you've probably seen very few who have actually done it again the next day.

Lien said...

O you're a brave woman! Your croissants look terrific. Coissants are still on my to-bake-list, you've gave me courage!
Your goal is very close by now!!!

breadbasketcase said...

Lien,
You can do it! Anyone who can bake those beautiful Linzer cookies can bake croissants.

Nabeela said...

bravo bravo!! croissants!!! what an achievement!

Chubbypanda said...

Croissants. *twitch* My last attempt didn't end anywhere near as well as yours. Great work.

- Chubbypanda

Rose Levy Beranbaum said...

go to the head of the class--your croissants are magnifique!!! very wise not to have them be the final bread as it would have been a cloud hanging over your head instead of the joy they turned out to be. i'm beginning to think you should open a bakery!
i too am interested to know which are your favorites.
and by the way whenever i look at my own directions for making these i think--wow--how elaborate but then i do it and realize it really is quite straight forward. the trick is to make them again right away while the fear is gone and the process fresh in your memory and it becomes so very much easier. wonder what's next!

sbfinct said...

Those croissants look really good.
What about trying this recipe when this project s complete.
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/08/dining/081mrex.html

Its a NO-Knead bread. Even I made it. Came out lovely...You inspired me to bake bread...

breadbasketcase said...

Rose,
The wonderful thing about these croissants is that they actually seemed to improve after being in the freezer and reheated. I'm embarrassed, but not sorry, to say that Jim and I have, by Sunday night, eaten every one of them!

breadbasketcase said...

SBFinct,
I'm very interested in trying this new method for baking bread! I cut out the recipe from the Times, and Chris of RI has also baked this bread successfully.

Anonymous said...

I baked this bread from the 11/8 NY Times. It was excellent. It's a definite "do over". Just as promised, large holes inside and a crusty, crackly crust outside. This systemof heating a pot (I used a Le Creuset) probably works like the covered terra cotta baker sold by Bakers Catalogue. Excellent result..
Highly recommended.
sheilasbaking

Rose Levy Beranbaum said...

please check my blog posting about the ny times no knead bread before you launch in--i have a few helpful tips the most important being that there's a typo--it's not 1 5/8 cups water it's 1 1/2 cups! though i must add that an experienced bread baker used to handling very sticky doughs would suceed even with the extra 2 tablespoons of water!

pinknest said...

those look amazing! congrats on completing such a daunting task!

Anonymous said...

Real beauties Marie! I got so excited when I saw that you made the croissants, and was so busy reading, I let my toast burn.
(I am suppose to have my dissertation done on Friday...between reading Rose's blog and yours I have had such fun wasting time...my husband thinks I am busy because I am at the computer. But I am being very bad!) I decided to try the NYT bread as I had all the ingredients and don't need Christmas presents to start my baking.i.e. book or mixer.
I used Canadian 'very strong flour' so hope it turns out. I watched the video and (Rose's spotted error) only 1 1/2 cups water was used. Only 7 hours till it should be risen and there will be fresh bread,hopefully. Reading about all this baking made me want to get in on all the fun.
I wonder what you will bake next? To top your croissants is going to be tough. Looking forward to seeing it on the blog. Cheers, Melinda (Sisters said a puff of flour arrived with the air kisses)

breadbasketcase said...

SheilasBaking,
I can't wait to try this bread! Did you see Rose's comments on her blog?

breadbasketcase said...

Rose,
Thanks for trying this bread out and especially for finding the typos. I was very curious to see how you would like this bread. I also think it's exciting that this recipe is causing people to try their hand at baking bread. I'm such a convert now I can't understand it when people aren't fascinated by baking. By the way, I finally picked up a copy of The Pie and Pastry Bible and can't wait to try out some new pies for Thanksgiving.

breadbasketcase said...

Pink Nest,
You should try the chocolate croissant variation! You could fill it with chocolate to your heart's content. And it honestly was more daunting in the reading than in the doing.

breadbasketcase said...

Melinda,
Good luck on the bread--AND on the dissertation!

Rose Levy Beranbaum said...

marie--i'm so happy you're going to make pies for thanksgiving! please note that my fav. cream cheese crust is that much more tender and delicious replacing the water with heavy cream!
back to that nyt bread--someone pointed out that i used 1 3/4 t salt and the video and paper listed 1 1/4 t salt. again i think theirs must have been a mistake bc the 1 3/4 t was the usual 2.2% and the 1 1/4 would be a very low 1.76%. anyway the bread did not taste a bit too salty.
i can't believe how many of us got sucked into making that bread RIGHT AWAY putting aside all sorts of other deadlines. i think this a great thing!!!

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