I hate these assholes. But I love them. Like a cheating significant other you just can’t let go of. I will fix you.
Sadly, or happily, depending on the day, it’s not them, it’s me. Croissants want to be light, airy, flaky and buttery. If they’re not, it’s something I’m doing. Or not doing.
In true confusing relationship form, I have no clue and I can’t read these fuckers for shit. "What do you want form meeeee???!!!"
To further infuriate me, my efforts have only yielded increasingly ghastly results. The first time I attempted to make croissants, results were edible. Ugly, not quite there, but edible. Attempt Four Results: Heavy, tasteless, dry inards with a thick, greasy outer crust that is too firm in some spots and spongy in others.
This post chronicles attempt four.
"They kind of look ... like deep fried unicorn horns."
Which, maybe, MAYBE, would be fine if they were stuffed with cheese or whatever goodness they jam into crab rangoons.
After baking, removing the pan from the oven was an escapade. Like grabbing a shot glass filled to the top with boiling oil and transfering it 10 feet without spilling any. Hence the deep fried look on the outside to accompany the tasteless cardboard inside.
Croissants should never yield the possibility of burns from hot frying oil. But WHY the butter leakage?
Countless reasons. Mine likely come down to:
1. Butter was not taken all the way to the proper pliable consistency and temp before the first fold.
2. Kitchen hotter than I thought.
3. Didn’t work fast enough during the subsequent turns.
4. Brazenly ignored all the trouble signs.
This is not what your dough should look like. Butter busting out everywhere, uneven, crudely incorporated and over-floured because of the aforementioned butter escape.
Below is where it started. I did not get my butter block to the proper point of piability. It was quite firm and unmangeable, The edges of my dough were dry and crumbling apart. But I pressed on anyways.
The next of my problems after the inflexible butter block and subsequest uneven butter distribution during the first fold was that my kitchen was too hot.
I run cold, so the idea it was a little wam in the kitchen was beyond me. We're talking a cold rainy October day! Of the few things I really know about croissants, this was the most memorable and therefore most personally disturbing that I chose to ignore it. The room needs to be cool, as does the working surface. No exceptions. The one truly easy thing to ensure beforehand and fix whilst in the midst of ... DOH! I just assumed I was good to go on room temp. I'm comfortable, so my dough must be, n'est pas?
What I thought was 70 degrees was actually nearly 80 degrees.
You should keep your workspace in the area of 70 degrees when making laminated doughs. Otherwise, you run the risk of your butter liquifying. Not just the ambient temp. Your work surface should be cool as well.
Lastly, I didn't work fast enough when turning (and LAZY GIRL BONUS - I'm pretty sure I didn't turn enough -3 times as opposed to typically recomended 4 or 5). Had I worked a bit faster and on a colder surface, my dough may have stood a chance.
Shaping went swimmingly. My first batches looked like twisted, gnarly blobs, These actually appeared to be smooth and evenly shaped.
All shaped and ready to proof. Upon quick first glance they look nice, Lines apear to be clean, dough is appropriate-"looking" consistency and thickness, I can even see slight layering going one. But(ter) they are bleeding, weeping and leaking butter.
45 minutes later these babies were sitting in their own little pools of croissant juice (though proofing quite nicely.)
I did not take a picture of them leaking - out of shame.
It was pretty obvious they were goners before I threw them in the oven. The recipe called for 18 min. at 425 degrees. That seemed extreme for the current situation. I thought doing 350 degrees would work as possible damage control. Couldn't hurt at this point.
Certainly did not help though!
Compared to my first effort, which was exponetially better, some other possible problems:
1. Fermentation problems? This (and my third try), I did a pre-fermentation (with an overnight poolish concoction and dry active yeast, respectfully) and then got right to it with locking in the butter and folding. My first two tries I used instant yeast directly in the dough mixture and proofed the dough overnight before I tried to lock in the butter and fold.
2. Proofing problems? I have no clue. They proofed nicely in two hours other than the butter melting out, which would have happened regardless of how warm the room was and how long I proofed. They not quite doubled in size and were wiggly when jostled four out of four times.
3. Other ingedient problems? My very first try I did 100% all-purpose flour. Later recipes (which, again, deteriorated in quality with each try) I did with a ratio of 2:1 part all-purpose to pastry flour. I also substituted milk with water in my fourth try (I saw a recipe that omitted milk completely - not sure how or why) It was a mistake. I dont even really know, scientifically that is, why it is a mistake. It just is. Don't. JUST DON'T.
4. Other Problems? Oh yeah. I have those too.
Did I do anything right this time? Probably not. I thought I let everything rest enough. I rested in the fridge for 1 to 2 hours between turns. Everything seemed cold yet mostly pliable and non-resistant when I rolled it out. I have seen a few recipes that calls for resting to be done in the freezer. For now I plan on keeping the resting phase in the fridge unless my kitchen is too hot. And if it is too hot, I shouldn't be sticking my nose in croissant dough anyways.
For next time?
Cold kitchen and counter
Let dough do it's initial rise overnight
Properly plastisize the butter block. (Stop being lazy and impatient)
Turn four times. (Stop being lazy)
Use 100% all-purpose flour
Don't get cute with the milk/water ratio
Following, though very poorly, this recipe
Commence Attempt 5.
Cliffhanger - The motor on the KitchenAid blew halfway through the mixing ...
To Be Continued ...
There are dozens of ways to make duck à la orange. Traditionally, it’s made with a whole duck, although that’s not always conducive to cooking for one or two. This is the #parfumetboeuf version, modified for one.
1. squeeze the juice from the blood orange. Set aside.
2. Remove the orange flesh, leaving the peel (including the pith). Roughly chop and then blanche orange peels for 2 minutes,
3. Transfer the blanched peels to a small bowl and fill with the Grand Marnier. Let sit.
4. Score the skin side of the duck breast in a diamond pattern, salt and pepper to taste and place skin side down in a dry pan, cool heavy pan or French oven, preferably cast iron. Set heat to medium and let the fat slowly ender out of the skin.
5. Remove ends from hericots verts
6. In a pan, heat olive oil and garlic on low-med heat. Add crushed red pepper flakes
7. In a sauce pan, combine vinegar and sugar and let carmalize
8. Once carmalized, add orange juice and simmer for 10 minutes
9. Add orange juice mixture to the pan with the duck breast, add 1 tsp each of salt, pepper and thyme, white wine and orange flower water.
10. Cover and let simmer to just before desired doneness (135 degrees F for medium rare) about 5 minutes
!!. Add Grand marnier and peel mix and simmer uncovered another 2 minutes. Remove duck breast once it reaches desired doneness and and place on resting plate.
12. Add juice from the orange and the zest to the haricot vert, saute on medium-low to medium until just tender but still bright green.
13. Meanwhile turn the heat up on the orange juice and peel mixture to high and let render down for 10 minutes. If you desire a thick sauce, stir in flour, little by little to desired thickness. Strain.
14.Carve duck breast after resting for 10 minutes. Plate with green beans, and orange piece if desired, (yeah I eat them!) drizzle with sauce
15. BON APPÉTIT!
Canard à L'orange is a French classic, though, quite franky, I haven't a clue how the most classic recipe goes. There's duck. There's orange+more ingredients of an orange flavored persuasion (orange soda?!). Those points are always a given. Typically, a whole duck is used, but honing in on just the breasts is more convenient, especially if you're cooking for one or two. Although, by all means, make a whole duck. Either way, left over canard à l'orange begs to be heaped on to a croissant sandwich.
Ok, so there’s nothing really French about this except perhaps the croissant and the aïoli ... which is really just French style ... the aïoli is unFrenchified via the chipotle peppers. But who doesn’t like chipotle anything? Like croissants, chipotle is #lifenecessity.
We’ll cover various croissant recipes at a later date. There’s more than one way to birth a croissant and I’m on a constant quest for the best. If you haven’t already discovered one that works for you, or don’t have the time, get familiar with an emergency source, be it a local bakery (best), a reliable chain (if we must), or a frozen commercial product (no, I don’t mean Pilsbury Crescent Rolls - check out“The Pantry” for options).
Let’s start with the aïoli. Traditionnellement, it’s egg yoke, olive oil, garlic and lemon. There are many bastardized versions out there (pesto, red pepper, cilantro lime, etc.) and this is one of them. Sorry, purists! Up till the salt, it’s traditional aïoli, after that, we get down and dirty.
Now, sandwich assembly:
About The Author
I like croissants. And French stuff. Obvi.