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Sometimes, I get urges to bake things. Challenging things. Things that you are supposed to just buy for yourself because they’re work and worth the four bucks simply for the time you’ll save. I want the challenge. And if I fail at it, I’ll know that the four bucks I’ll shell out at the bakery are well deserved. Mainly though, I just want to see what’s so hard about it.

Croissants have been on my radar for a while now. It started with a trip to Continental Bakery in English Village. One of the cutest shops you’ll ever see, it’ll make you want to run away and open a little French bakery as soon as you step out of the car. Then you’ll try to make croissants, and you might decide to just visit Continental every once and a while instead.

image via Alabama Eats

Things really got started when I stumbled upon this photo on Pinterest:

Eat your heart out, right? If only my food photography was half as good as this—you might eat your computer monitor! It’s via How Sweet It Is, and once I read her accompanying blog post about making croissants, it was a done deal.

Last weekend, I took the plunge. I used How Sweet It Is’ recipe (via the link), and have to say that even though it was work (work), I’d do it again just for the way it made the house smell.

The lowdown:

It took two days and a few hours worth of work. Croissants are so dang good because you knead in layers and layers of butter, and then bake them off and eat them immediately. What could be better?

So I started on Sunday (should have started on Saturday). I made the dough, which was very simple to put together, and then did some light kneading, and tossed it into the fridge to rest for an hour. Then you take three sticks of butter (European butter, I read later, works best. Higher fat content. Of course.) and smash them together with your hands and a rolling pin. You form the butter into a rectangle, and when you roll out the dough, you put the butter slab in the center of the dough and fold the dough around it. Then you chill it another hour, re-roll and form it again, and again, and chill another hour. You do this entire process four times, for a total of four hours worth of chilling, rolling, and folding. I’m really simplifying this. There are specific measurements and stuff. I used a yard stick. ‘Nough said. And no, I did not take photos of all of this. I was just hoping I was doing it right. I didn’t want any evidence hanging around in case it was a disaster.

Then it chills overnight. After all of this has taken place, you roll the dough out into one very, very long rectangle, cut it into triangles, and form the croissants. Then you bake them off.

Yessssss. By the time you get to this point you are practically giddy with anticipation. Croissants are supposed to be eaten slightly warm, i.e. not piping hot straight out of the oven, which was hard to resist.

I made four flavors this time around: plain butter, cinnamon sugar, chocolate filled, and almond. Next time: ham and jarlsburg and an almond-creme topped with an orange-syrup glaze.

I need to work on actually getting the shape down, but despite all the work, I really enjoyed it. There’s something in rolling out dough and shaping it that, when I know what to expect, is really quite enjoyable. I’m not going to say these lasted a long time, because they didn’t. But even the next morning, they were delightful with some Belle Chevre honey goat cheese smeared over them.

If you’re up for it, check out How Sweet It Is‘ recipe and give it a try! I can’t promise they won’t make your arms hurt, but I can promise they’re worth it.