Another goal accomplished! I have made croissants before, but not in many years. After making the coffeecake, my baking confidence was bolstered and I decided to tackle another challenging pastry.
I love authentic French croissants--all the flaky, buttery layers, but good croissants are hard to find around here. Usually, store-bought croissants are puffy and soft and not at all flaky and crispy; there's no crackle when you take your first bite. My croissants came out really well and brought back fond memories of Paris boulangeries. I know French food can be fabulous, but every time I've been to France I pretty much ate croissants, baguettes, crepes, fruit, and cheese the whole time, and I was perfectly content.
This is another recipe from The Art & Soul of Baking, and it's available online from google books. The recipe makes a huge amount of croissants, so I froze about 2/3 of the dough to use later.
Making croissants is time-consuming and rather laborious. Still, there's no need to be afraid! If you go step-by-step, the recipe is easy to follow. I suggest reading the recipe through a few times before you start just to get an idea of the steps involved and the timing. You make a yeast dough, let it rise, roll it out and add a layer of butter. Then you fold and rest the dough. You do the roll, fold, rest part a few times and then you're ready to shape the croissants. Fortunately, this is an easy dough to work with. It's not super fussy and you don't need to fight to roll it out. I actually found croissant making to be fun--the timing is leisurely and the actual hands-on time is not that great. And best of all the dough is forgiving.
Here's a little video clip of a Parisian boulangerie.
And here's a video of Julia Child demonstrating croissant making.
If you've been wanting to make croissants but have put off trying since the recipe looks so complicated, fear not. With a little planning and advance preparation you'll be a croissant master in no time. And eating homemade criossants with your eyes closed is almost as neat as being in Paris. Almost. Try it and see!