What a (successful) weekend! As with most weekends, it went by too quickly. I got through most of my weekend checklist and took on an additional large weekend project–croissant making. I’ve been dreaming of the perfect croissant ever since my trip to Tartine last fall, wondering if it would be possible to recreate such a thing at home? Plus, I wanted to cross off another item off of my resolutions list.
Some time ago, I picked up a copy of Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Bread Every Day. I’d heard it was slightly less intimidating than The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. I don’t have the Bread Baker’s Apprentice so I can’t make a comparison. What I can tell you is that Artisan Bread Every Day is not a book for the casual baker or the faint of heart. Most breads, even the lean ones, require 2 days (because of a cold fermentation process, which is supposed to give a more controlled rise and better flavor) from mixing to baking and ample proofing time. That being the case, I figured the added step of laminating the dough couldn’t be that much more work so I got to work.
The recipe (a five page ordeal, which is too long and detailed to share here) requires the preparation of an enriched dough and a butter block. The block is then folded into the dough multiple times, creating the hallmark fluffy croissant layers. Reinhart’s recipe requires three rolls and folds, yielding, according to the recipe, 81 layers of dough and butter. My first few rolls went pretty well but as the layers got thinner and thinner, a few of the layers broke through and I think that affected the final product. Also, my kitchen was pretty warm, so I may have overproofed the dough which yielded some comically large croissants (Exhibit A: see above, chocolate croissant the size of my head). I made a half batch of plain croissants and a half batch of chocolate croissants. (Reinhart’s recipe for the “chocolate baton” filling was super simple and the perfect texture.)
The final product was pretty tasty although not quite as buttery and flaky as I would like. Also, I’m thinking that the croissant could have used a little more salt? Still, I learned a lot in the process and am hoping to improve on the process next time. Oh yes, there will be a next time. As crazy as it sounds, I’m thinking about giving this another go next week, using a recipe from the Joy of Cooking (which, I should add, requires TWICE as much butter as Reinhart’s). Expect a full report soon.