Blog Checking Lines: The Daring Bakers go retro this month! Thanks to one of our very talented non- blogging members, Sarah, the Daring Bakers were challenged to make Croissants using a recipe from the Queen of French Cooking, none other than Julia Child!
When I was about 16, I worked briefly one summer in a croissant shop. Strangely enough, though the shop was owned by a genuine Frenchman, the croissants were all baked by a non-English speaking fellow from China. Despite this cultural crossover, the croissants at the shop were large, flaky and really delicious. At the end of each day, I was allowed to take home as many leftover croissants as I wanted. Within a couple weeks, I was thoroughly sick of croissants and I don’t think I ate another one until my honeymoon in Paris many years later.
I was eager to jump right into the challenge this month to make croissants following a recipe/method adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume Two by Julia Child and Simone Beck. A very helpful retro video of Julia making croissants was included and is fun to watch. The croissants made by this adaptation of Julia Child’s recipe are much more like the ones I had in Paris for breakfast, fairly small by American standards. That makes sense, considering that Julia Child lived in France for a while. One of the things that appealed to me about this recipe was that it makes only 12 small croissants and uses a mere 1/2 cup of butter for the dough. This makes for a manageable amount of dough to work with and is much friendlier on the waistline. Another positive aspect of this recipe is that there are definite points at which the dough can be set aside in the refrigerator. Croissant making is a lengthy process, not so much in hands-on time, but in the length of time from start to finish, so it’s nice to be able to break it down into stages. I made this recipe three times, once all in one day and twice spreading it out over three days. I much prefer spreading it out over several days. Unbaked croissants also freeze very well, so they can be made ahead and kept frozen and baked as desired.
While croissant-making seems intimidating, it really wasn’t that difficult. I didn’t quite achieve the honeycombed layers of a professionally made croissant, but my finished croissants had definite layers and were nicely browned and tasted like the genuine article to me. I think this will improve as I practice more and try out some of the techniques recommended by my fellow bakers. For fun, I made both filled and plain croissants and my favorite (surprise) was the chocolate-filled croissant. While I’m not going to be making croissants on a weekly basis, I definitely will revisit this recipe now and again!
The process and recipe are longer than I want to go into here (not to mention that I forgot to take pictures of the process all three times), but the full challenge and recipe is documented at The Daring Kitchen.