Friday, March 15, 2013

TWD: Croissants

Tuesdays with Dorie baking through Baking with Julia
by Dorie Greenspan
Contributing Baker: Esther McManus


Finally!! These puppies were due two weeks ago. My tardiness was not due to lack of desire; I have always wanted to make croissants. The procrastination was born from finding three days in a row to commit to make these. There are several rising periods and resting times to deal with here.

There is a PBS video of Esther and Julia making these same croissants. Watching the video was extremely helpful, especially since this book is not real clear in the instructional department and I just love Esther's way of explaining as she bakes along: "To help the mixer, because I can see the mixer is struggling." "The dough is not the boss, YOU are the boss." and "Do not be afraid of the dough - the dough should be afraid of you."  Even if you don't plan on making your own croissants, it's fun to watch the video - Esther is a kick in the pants.

OK, take a deep breath and let's get started!

Day one you mix the dough, let rest for half an hour at room temperature, then chill for at least eight hours or overnight. You also prepare the butter (mixed with two tablespoons flour) and chill it along with the dough (separately).

Day two you incorporate the butter block, yes I said block, it is one pound of butter mixed with a bit of flour and formed into a huge block. Chill again for one to two hours - unless you're feeling courageous (this being my second attempt, I chose to chill it for a bout an hour and a half) and can work quickly before the butter softens too much; then you can go ahead and make the first "turn" of the dough (rolling and folding), after which it gets chilled again for at least two hours. Then comes turn number two of three, a repeat of the first turn, and another chill for two hours. For the final turn of the dough, it too will get chilled for two hours, then the dough is ready to be used for shaping your croissants.

Day three you get to form the croissants (the fun part!). Once formed you give them an egg wash, and guess what?!!! They get to rise (proof) at room temperature for another three to four hours!!* After that, give them one more egg wash and finally into the oven.

*I formed my croissants in the evening of day two and wrapped them in plastic wrap for a slow rise in the refrigerator as mentioned in this post (one of the benefits of getting a late start - you get to read the other baker's posts for tips and issues) to be baked the following morning. However mine did not rise at all in the refrigerator and still needed a three-hour proofing period at room temperature.

The proofing period would not have been a problem since I was planning on taking these out to the boys for their morning break at around ten O'clock anyway. However I awoke with a migraine and did not even get up till ten. It was well after two before I was ready to share these delights ~ so the lucky recipients were two of my neighbors, my sister, our daughter and her co-worker, whom she affectionately calls Boss Lady (she is her boss..).

I don't feel bad that the boys did not get to indulge in these; they received the Mocha Chocolate Chip cookies (next post) two days earlier. 

Consensus so far:

Ashley: My mom rocks
Boss Lady: AWESOME
Liz: WONDERFUL - even better than the ones in France :) 

Would I make these again? Yes. Probability of making these again ~ slim.

Success meter (1-3): 3

I chilled my counter by leaving pans filled with ice for about fifteen minutes.

Hard to find "fresh" yeast. To my surprise and after calling around to specialty stores I happened upon this at our local Nob Hill/Raley's market (at a ridiculous price). Several of the bakers from our group were able to get a whole pound from there local Bakery/Deli for the price I paid for one ounce!

If I were making a pie crust my dough would be any shape other than round!

The fillings: Chocolate, almond and for the plain, a piece of scrap dough to give the croissant its belly.

Can you say flag overkill? I can't believe I did not take any pictures without them!

If you are feeling adventurous and have three days to spare, and are thinking you would like to give making these a try, you will find the recipe and detailed photos of this crazy long process over on Amanda's beautiful blog, Girl+Food=Love; and for more beautiful photos, tip and tricks, check out the results of the many talented bakers in the group. Just look for the LYL: Croissants link on the Tuesdays with Dorie website.


  1. Lovely photos! Glad to find another fan of Esther. Wasn't she awesome? And don't knock the flags. I'm diggin' the French feel they provide.

  2. Beautifully done! Bravo! Love the flags.
    Yes - it was a bummer that this was the first recipe of the month. I basically had to start them the day the challenge was announced or I would never have been able to fit them in in time.

  3. Oh Cathleen, you really took this recipe seriously! Wonderful pics showing the whole process, and those pains au chocolate are gorgeous!

  4. Absolutely gorgeous! The croissants look delish and the pictures are wonderful. Love the flags too. And I hear you about the pie crusts being not round. Happens to me too. Great job!

  5. Your croissants look great. I love the writing in the flour on the countertop. Esther does have a very physical understanding of the dough.

  6. Cathleen, you win the prize for the most wonderful croissant post of them all, I am speechless, the photos are fantastic, the explanations to the point and the croissants and pains au chocolat look so perfect!!! Hats off, Cathleen!

  7. Your croissants look wonderful!!!! and your pictures make me hungry!! it is certain, they must be much better than some French bakeries!!
    Your post makes me want to re make them very soon, thank you!
    Well done Cathleen!!!

  8. Beautifully done, Cathleen! And your pictures are phenomenal!!!

  9. Beautiful photos! I loved making these croissants and this made me excited to pull the rest of the dough out of the freezer!

  10. Your croissants are beautiful!!! Loved your post :)

  11. Gorgeous! I can almost taste them again looking at your pictures. Good job!

  12. Fantastic post! I loved all your pics. Well done! The croissants look wonderful. I made them twice and was happy with the ones I made with fresh yeast.


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