This past weekend, I spent the day with my favorite foodie, Emily. We met about 15 years ago when we had both joined a non-profit organization and were at the same orientation meeting. We didn’t chat much that night, but I knew we were going to be friends. I’m elated that we’re now lifelong friends. Every time we get together, we cook, bake, and talk about which cookbook we're currently obsessing over. We turned each other into pizza snobs years ago, and the bellies of our families and friends are forever grateful.
I hesitated when I found out what we were going to be making…croissants. There are a few things in the kitchen that intimidate me. Making beautiful pastries is one of them. I’ve walked the streets of Paris and been amazed by all the patisseries and their delicious works of art in the windows. Croissants have always looked hard to make. Turns out they aren’t hard and shouldn’t be intimidating. The steps are easy; you just need a bit of time and amazing butter.
Traditional French croissants are made with a laminated dough, which is a dough that has been folded and rolled between layers of butter. This process creates a flaky, layered texture and a rich, buttery flavor. A key component is European-style butter as it has the highest butterfat and least amount of water. Having less water for the flour to create gluten with makes the dough easier to work with during all the folding and rolling while laminating in the layers of butter. A high-quality artisan butter made with fresh sweet cream enhances the overall taste of the croissant.
Emily made the dough the night before, and I showed up with a few pounds of Royal Guernsey salted butter that was nice and cold, and away we went. The hardest part was making a solid square of butter that would be layered in the dough. We cut the butter into ½” pieces, placed it between two pieces of parchment paper, and using a rolling pin, pounded it until we had the size we needed. Don’t be shy about taking your time during this step. The butter should be cold, so you may need to pop it in the fridge during this step. After that, it was as simple as rolling the dough into a rectangle, placing the square of butter on the dough, and sealing it tight. We rolled the dough and butter out nice and flat, folded it several times, and let it rest. Then we repeated the roll, fold, and rest a few more times. After the final rest, we cut the dough into triangles, rolled them up, and placed them on a sheet pan to proof. When they were ready, we brushed them with egg wash and into the warm oven they went.
They turned out amazing, and I highly recommend getting these chocolate batons to make some pain au chocolat as well. Some may question using salted butter for baking. Our butter is lightly salted, so you’ll find it difficult to notice any difference. I’ve been using salted butter in my baking for a long time to help balance the flavors.
Thanks, Emily, for making something intimidating easy!
Want to know what else I’m hesitant about in the kitchen? Making marshmallows from scratch. I think my nieces and nephews wouldn’t mind being my taste testers if there were a bonfire, graham crackers, and some chocolate involved. I’ll work on building up my courage. Emily - are you in?