Monday, January 02, 2006

are they really worth the trouble?

I decided that before I start the new semester I needed to do some complicated, time-consuming cooking/baking project, something that I wouldn't have time to do otherwise. So, I picked croissants. Ever since I saw the lengthy recipe in the Gourmet cookbook last winter, I added them to my list of foods to attempt.

I started the dough last night. After mixing, kneading, and briefly chilling the dough, the tedious part begins. Pound out a big slab of butter and then fold dough over it. Roll out the dough and fold again. Then chill. Then roll out the dough and fold. Chill again. You repeat this process four times and then the dough goes into the fridge over night.

This morning, I had this:

Isn't it pretty? Look at that butter oozing out.

Then, I had to roll out the dough again, cut it, roll it and put the prepared croissants in garbage bags. Then, 2-2/12 hours to raise the dough. The baking itself is tricky. Heat the oven to 425. Spray the oven with water. Put the croissants in the oven. Spray again. Turn down the heat. Bake 10 minutes. Swap the location of baking sheets in the oven. Turn down the heat again. Bake 10 minutes. Sigh--they are finally done.

I burned the first batch a bit, but the second round turned out quite well. And they are tasty. Buttery, salty-sweet and flaky. I love the first bite into a croissant, when all the flaking bits stick to your lips. So, were they worth it? I wouldn't bake them every day, or even every month, but I feel satisfied with the effort. It was rather meditative, folding and refolding, working to pile up the layers of dough and butter. Now I have 24 lovely croissants which I will store in my freezer and deliver to friends (but only a few) and I as I eat them, I will try not to think about that big slab of butter.

And in other non-related food news, I made a happy purchase:

I'm not sure why I picked lemon yellow since everything else in my house is rather subdued. The burst of color on my kitchen counter is still surprising me. Maybe it was the lovely weather yesterday, and some desire to maintain a sunny environment despite the continuation of winter (and today, of course, is rainy and gloomy). But I'm delighted by the new machine.


Blogger Sarah said...

Croissants are one of the foods that I never even considered making myself, because they taste sooooo good when they're fresh and warm and I'd rather just buy them (in France, preferably). I'm still not convinced that they're worth the effort--but yours look gorgeous.

Even more than croissants, I love "pain au chocolat," which is croissant dough wrapped around a strip of dark chocolate. It's a divine combination. If you have any left, try that!

6:21 PM  
Blogger Lisa B. said...

Yellow is the bomb. Your machine is beautiful. And I think croissants are totally worth it. I learned to make them from a very detailed step-by-step Nick Malgieri wrote in the long-defunct and still mourned mag Cuisine. I was so impressed with myself that I auctioned off several dozen at a church budget benefit thingie.

10:24 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

I think Cuisine magazine became Cuisine at Home--my husband's mother got him a subscription years ago and it's still just about the only magazine he reads (cooking or otherwise), and he does cook from it from time to time! I like the detail in their introductions and descriptions of how to accomplish the recipes. I've seen old issues of Cuisine, and Cuisine at Home doesn't seem that different to me. It's worth looking for!

8:12 AM  
Blogger tara said...

Very impressive. I've always been too intimidated to try making my own croissants. You are my baking hero!

6:11 PM  
Blogger kitchenmage said...

applause Isn't it wonderful when you tackle something really intimidating and pull it off? I've been working up a danish recipe for some friends with a bed and breakfast (so they can have that delightful assortment of goodies in the morning without spending all night baking) and they've been coming out decently. Croissants are on the list so this is encouraging.

The yellow KA is gorgeous. Does it inspire you to bake more?

2:52 PM  

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