Croissant at Home

I know, I know, laminated dough-making seems impossible. I felt the same way myself the first time I was asked to make it — 11 pounds at a time, rolled out in a giant sheet that covered an entire work table (the rolling pin was as long as my arm!). Yet a little moxie is all it really takes to turn out truly superior croissant dough, which you can freeze and pull out whenever special occasion demands. Who do you know, after all, who makes their own croissant? And if you fail? Well, actually you can’t fail, for as I’ve said before, with this much butter there is no losing, only degrees of winning.

That said, I wanted to extend a few pointers. First, have a look at the posts I’ve written on laminated doughs entitled Making Puff Pastry. There are three of them, installments I, II and III, each of which takes you through a different step in the laminating process. Though they’re not croissant-specific, the process is exactly the same (croissant dough is actually easier since there are fewer “turns”). Just run a search over there on the right and scroll down to the bottom of the page, they’ll be there.

Second, I want to urge you not to respect a key section of the Baking with Julia recipe I linked to. It’s the part that instructs you to refrigerate your dough between “turns” for two hours or more. Do this and I guarantee your croissant dough will end in disaster, as the rolling and folding process depends on the butter’s ability to spread. Were you to refrigerate your dough that long the butter would turn hard as a rock and shatter as soon as you applied any pressure to it (I think Making Puff Pastry III deals with that in more detail). I don’t know why such an excellent book contains such a critical error, but I hope it’s just a typo (Julia Child is akin to a god to me).

The last thing I’ll suggest is that you double the recipe (at least). Why? For the same reason Dr. Frankenstein made his monster as big has be could: because bigger is simpler. A big slab of dough demands to be manhandled, as layered dough should be. It’s my belief that most kitchen mistakes happen a result of timidity. A little piece of dough tempts one to be fussy. A big one must be brought to heel! And anyway, once you cut it up into 1-or-so pound slices and freeze it, it’ll keep you in fresh croissant for weeks.

So get up, get motivated, and give it that layered dough hell! It’s over the top tonight, my lads!

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