Croissants: A French classic, demystifiedPosted on February 13, 2012
There was a time when I was intimidated by the idea of making my own croissants. Not just intimidated, but downright scared; croissants, with their impressive French pedigree and their multitudes of flakey, buttery layers coiled into neat crescent shapes, were the type of pastry I envisioned master chefs with years of formal training carefully preparing in vast stainless steel kitchens. Then there was me, the girl with no training at all and a minuscule apartment kitchen with less counter space than the average person’s coffee table. And I was going to attempt to bake my own croissants?
Well, yes, actually.
The first attempt was a certifiable disaster, complete with airborne chunks of butter and a mixer sacrificed to the gods of flour and butter. The things that emerged from the oven weren’t so much true pastries as they were logs of dense dough – hardly anything worth eating, let alone attempting to bake again. And yet, I tend to be somewhat stubborn. By my second attempt, the croissants were undeniably edible, and no kitchen equipment was damaged in the process. And on the third attempt, something happened, some kind of magical interaction between butter and flour, and when I opened the oven door after twelve nerve-wracking minutes, there they were: Croissants, true croissants, neatly coiled and deeply golden with the kind of tantalizing aroma that normally belongs inside a French patisserie and a flavour so good it nearly demanded that I reached for a second, and then a third…
As it turned out, croissants weren’t so difficult to master after all. They just required patience, some time, and a little attention to detail. And because I think you might enjoy baking croissants too – after all, the world’s tastiest pastry is all the more enjoyable when it’s just emerged from your own oven – I’ve put together a short video taking you through the croissant-making process.
(For the preparation method, see the video – in this case, it’s much easier to show than to tell)
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon plus 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flower (plus more for dusting)
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 3 sticks cold unsalted butter