I am, no question, a complete sucker for laminated pastry. I love tearing a horn off a croissant and biting into There is a small French bistro-type franchise in East Cobb called La Madeleine, that Mom and I must go to in order to have a proper visit over lattes and croissants, maybe a quiche. For a franchise, its pastries are delightful, thankfully fresh-baked every day. The Bunnery in St. Augustine, FL has every manner of pastry and baked sweet I could want; their croissants are as big as an appetizer plate, and you have to get there early to appreciate them fresh and warm from the oven. (Their coffees are equally huge-sized, and the specialty beverages artfully done.) I have yet to find a local (Athens-area) bakery that I can rave over for their pastries and atmosphere, but I haven’t been looking too hard, especially after recently I made up my mind to tackle croissants at home.
There seem to be some common hurdles in learning to bake, a few regular obstacles that loom over any baker exploring the delectable world of flour, sugar, and butter. Pie dough/pate brisee/tart crust/pate sucree seems to be one; any cake over two layers; yeast breads and other yeast doughs seem to be another; and last, but assuredly not least, laminated doughs. Yeast breads seem to give me occasional fits, but mostly cooperate; the only issue I ever had with laminated dough is the time involved to do it right if you’re making it at home. Lots of turns, lots of rolling, lots of… work. And ingredients.
Not really! Knock me over with a feather, but after reading over the recipe at Fine Cooking, I realized the hands-on time wasn’t really all that much. Most of the time involved in the recipe is refrigerated resting time, compared to a couple of hours of real “working” time, total. Patience is key when you start rolling out the dough, especially as you get into the later turns and the layers get thicker. Have patience – it will work out. And really, you don’t need as much butter as you might think. Three sticks!
For the sake of my fingers and your eyesight, I’m linking to the recipe directly over at Fine Cooking. There are many recipes out there – just Google “croissant recipe” and see what you get – but Fine Cooking seems, to me, to be the most comprehensive recipe without being too over-the-top. I’m also including the link to the recipe on Sunday Hotpants, as I like Lisa’s pictures for getting a feel for the shaping.
The best part about this whole three-day ordeal (yes, I said three-day, don’t flip out) is that you can make them ahead of time, then stick them in the freezer for the next time you want some flaky, warm pastry with your coffee. Or your hot chocolate. Or glass of milk. Or whatever your fancy. Bourbon, perhaps. Up to you.
You can also use the dough for pain au chocolat (chocolate stuffed pastry), or stuffed breakfast rolls (ham and cheese, sausage links, whatever your little heart desires). That’s what we’ll be doing next go-round. See you next week! ;)