In our house growing up, we spent many many many Saturday mornings watching episodes of cooking shows on PBS interspersed with bouts of cleaning. Sometimes, we’d forgo an episode here and there (a repeat of The Frugal Gourmet, for example) for something more interesting, but there was one chef that would never be turned off. That chef? None other than Julia Child.
We were thrilled every time a new series debuted. Julia Child with Master Chefs? Yes please! Cooking in Concert? Fantastic! But one show, for reasons we’d later figure out, was quite the favorite. Baking with Julia. It was like two worlds colliding, as pastry chefs we’d actually heard of joined Julia on the small screen to make amazing desserts and pastries.
But sometimes, someone I’d never heard of would bake something with Julia that was so amazing, so out of the ordinary, and looked so fun to make that it would stick in my mind for years to come. One such thing was deep-fried truffles, which I have yet to try. Another? Homemade croissants.
I still remember, to this day, the visual of Julia and her sous chef for the episode pounding away on a brick of butter, then a brick of dough, then rolling and folding and rolling and folding… finally they baked the pastries after a remarkable amount of time, and they puffed like nothing I’d ever seen before. All that butter, all that time, all that work… and it made the most beautiful-looking croissants.
So when I woke up this Saturday morning, and there was over 8″ of snow on the ground, a severe chill in the air, and bright sun shining, I decided “today is the day!” And I took out the reserved butter I had in the freezer.
Googling the heck out of recipes led me to a truly wonderful tutorial, and I’m not even going to copy and paste the recipe. The only thing I changed was an addition of 2 teaspoons of sugar to the initial flour mixture, and I only used three sticks of butter (only!).
The process was an adventure. So much kneading, rolling, pounding, and waiting. And then more waiting. And then folding and rolling…
Look at all those layers! Each one is dough-butter-dough, and the moisture in the butter is what causes the “puff”. I made relatively small croissants. The recipe called for a yield of 12, but I ended up with 21.
Nearly 40 minutes in the oven, the house smelling of rich butter and pastry, and watching of the oven… and we had croissant success!
I gave the small test croissants to Adam and his mom to test out while I photographed the rest. The crackle from the breaking crust could be heard in the kitchen as I shot photos of the full-sized croissants. The other noise that could be heard? “MMMMMMM”
And there were so many layers. Oh so many layers.
I have this insane feeling of accomplishment. It’s like I conquered this huge task, since making croissants was always this “untouchable” scary pastry thing. And I did it! And it was FUN! I wouldn’t say it was easy, but it certainly isn’t something that I’d avoid. Next time, I’m stuffing them with chocolate.