I cannot believe how long I have been gone from this blog. I've been so caught up in finishing my thesis (defense date still TBA, but it's out to the committee so there's some relief) and of course attending classes, running other studies, taking care of the puppy, baking for assorted friends' birthdays, etc. that I hadn't realized how much time it had been!
However, I'm pleased to say I'm at the end of Spring Break, which has been relaxing and wonderful, and I have so many baking and cooking adventures to share. The theme for this week has been a bucket list of sorts, for me; since my thesis was submitted I wanted to spend some time attempting culinary feats I had long dreamed of but never attempted, including the croissant you see above. I know, it may seem strange to unwind from a monster project with more monster projects, but in my defense these are much shorter and more delicious. Plus, I've always been one to push myself just beyond what I might be capable of, which is how I ended up making my junior prom dress my second sewn garment ever. This sometimes results in plenty of frustration and tears (over yards of tulle and satin) but the feeling of finishing something I believed I never would is amazing, not to mention plenty of life lessons learned along the way.
Okay, so let's talk croissants. Way back when, I had just begun to dabble in cooking. My mother started subscribing to Martha Stewart Living when I was just finishing up at FIT and I would spend hours poring over her magazines. I dreamed of someday having the skills to whip up the amazing meals detailed in each issue, but not having the know-how, confidence, or opportunity to attempt some of the larger-scale recipes, they remained just that: a dream. One of the spreads that remained with me was and article about homemade croissants. It had never occurred to me before then that these French pastries could be made at home. I longed to make them, but never really mustered up the courage to tackle a recipe that involved 2 days, yeast, and lots of folding. However, last week I decided I was going to go for it and it was glorious.
I'll spare you the nitty-gritty details of making them, as I am at this point certainly a novice (see the from MSL here, and a video here, the wonderful step-by-step instructions appear to only be available in the May 2006 issue).
However, I will share a few things I learned along the way:
- Give yourself lots of time. It takes the better part of a day to prepare the dough itself, and then the following day you need to cut and shape the croissants and let them rise for 2 hours. So, unless you're an early bird who does not require food first thing, you won't just roll out of bed and have them on the table for breakfast.
- Don't throw away the scraps from the end! Lay some chocolate chips on one end and roll them like a cigar. This will yield bonus chocolate croissants, which are amazingly delicious.
- It's difficult to describe the delicious, yeasty, butter fragrance and taste of those freshly baked croissants, but fresh out of the oven they are beyond amazing. However, the recipe makes a whole pile of them and unless you're feeding an army, you will have leftovers. Fear not! The next day, just reheat what you want in a 350 degree oven for 5-8 minutes. If you have even more (as I did) stow them away in the freezer, tightly wrapped, and reheat in a 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes.
- Homemade croissants are well worth your while. The recipe may look intimidating (heck, I was intimidated for... almost 6 years?) but it's really pretty simple once you get into the rhythm. Just take a day when you know you won't be leaving the house and given them a go! At worst, you've lost a few relatively inexpensive ingredients. At best, you have a pile of delicious croissants plus a stash in your freezer.