Croissants are probably one of my favorite foods. I am really not a bread person. I don’t really buy it and I don’t miss it. I will make a cinnamon roll or the like, but I consider that to be a sweet. I prefer a savory breakfast and eat eggs in some form every morning. However, if I am having a rough time of it, a croissant is in order. When I was working in NYC, every time I departed from the subway in the morning, I passed a bakery that had bagels, rolls, and fresh croissants. It was so easy to dip in, get my warm, buttery, flaky croissant, and continue the route to work. Also, my favorite place to eat in NYC is City Bakery. They take the classic croissant and step up the game with a Pretzel Coissant. They use a salt wash on the outside of the pretzel and it is a bit dryer (in a good way) than a classic croissant. The croissant at Starbucks is not great, but not bad, and it will do in a pinch. Also, it has less calories than most of the stuff in their pastry case. So, croissants are a health food.
I am currently in transition from one job to another and I have some extra free time. It is just so much easier to devote your time to these lengthy project when you know you have limited distractions (like a job – hah). I was inspired by Dominique Ansel’s Cronut recipe that has been recently published. However, I thought if i were going to ever attempt making the cronut, I needed to make a classic croissant first, to understand the basics of a laminated dough.
I did some research and was pointed to the Cooks Illustrated method. I read about other home baker’s errors and made a game plan to avoid them. I loaded up on King Arthur All Purpose flour (not an ad), just recommended since it has a slightly higher gluten content than other all purpose flours. I also loaded up on Plugra, a high fat content butter. I scoped our house for a cool spot for the final rise. I was concerned about this, being in the desert, but I found a closet that is nice and cool. I watched the Cook’s Illustrated video about a million times and got to work. The process was lengthy, but straightforward. I was nervous at the end, just because so much work went into the pastries, but they turned out great. When I was rolling them, I put some 60% chocolate into some of the croissants, and gruyere sticks and prosciutto in others. I left more than half plain and wish I had filled more, but all were wonderful. I found the process a lot less tedious than making a pie. I think that says something about me, not sure what!