The moment when you get to snap pretty little pictures of something it took you 4 days to make. Priceless.
Making croissants from scratch may be the one of the toughest things I have accomplished in the kitchen so far, but has definitely been so very rewarding that I will now make them again and again! After 4 days of spending time talking to dough, kneading and pounding it in anger, tossing a bad batch, finding encouragement to make another one, feeling hopeful and finally being successful and filled with accomplishment, I can now say that I am so much wiser, more experienced and even ecstatic to make more of these tasty dough babies soon!
Given the first failed attempt, I decided to go more traditional in my flavor choices and so I chose to make butter, ham and cheese, marzipan, and dark chocolate croissants. Next time I make this dough, I will go for more German style pastries including a pudding pastry and poppy seed pastry! So hang in there, I am learning all of this with you guys!
Croissants though are immensely popular in Germany as well, including the varieties I made today and others. They don’t usually make it on the everyday German breakfast table, but are the special treat that is added along with other pastries on the weekend. Oftentimes, I would also pick up a pastry at a local bakery for a satisfying afternoon snack with coffee.
I used this recipe I found on epicurious after my failed attempt with a different recipe. I am convinced that there was a misunderstanding between the recipe and I the first time around as it called for instant yeast, which I now believe must the fresh yeast that is sold in little cubes in Germany, and not the dry packaged yeast that is sold in the U.S. Either way, my dough did not rise in either one of the steps, leaving me with very dense dough balls that were barely baked on the inside.. and making me feel very sad :(.
The recipe I ended up using has been developed by Nancy Silverton, a chef, artisan baker, book author and pastry genius (she won the James Beard Foundations Outstanding Chef Award last year!). With her reputation, expertise and knowledge, I thought I couldn't possibly fail at trying her recipe for croissants! And as if it was guaranteed by the recipe, my croissants turned out the be some of the best I have ever heard (and I say this having spent the first 20 years of my life living and breathing some of the best croissants in Europe).
My second try at making croissants, I only used the best ingredients including Plugra european style butter, bread flour instead of all purpose flour which made the dough rise like a dream, 70% Green & Black's organic dark chocolate, Grand Cru alpine style cheese from Wisconsin, organic cheerywood smoked ham and SOLO premium marzipan.
Every. Single. Bite. Paid. Off. BIG. Time. I love me a good and satisfying challenge!
To help me better understand how to cut, shape and bake the pastries, I highly recommend this video of Nancy teaching Martha Stewart how to make croissants with her croissant dough. Once the dough has been rolled into pastries, I only let it proof for about an hour and a half before giving it a slight egg wash (mix one egg with a splash of water and brush onto pastries) and letting it take the 425 degree hot plunge into my oven. As soon as the croissants hit the oven, reduce the temperature to 400 degrees and bake for 10 minutes. I also added a casserole dish with some water onto the lower rack for steaming purposes. After 10 minutes, I rotated the croissants, removed the dish with the water, and reduced the temperature to 375 degrees; the croissants then bake for another 8 to 10 minutes until they are golden brown, crispy on the outside and flaky on the inside.
The croissants looked so amazing once they exited the oven, that my fiancé Jason became extremely upset with me when I told him I first needed to document my long-awaited success before we could eat. Amazing croissants evoke very intense feelings in people you know. Forgiveness kicked in as soon as the warm, flaky, buttery goodness hit his saliva-flooded mouth. Only happy faces in our house now in case you were wondering :).
I deeply encourage you to take on the challenge of making croissants yourself now.. and hopefully you know someone that you want to impress and share these with! 😉
Good luck with your own baking and cooking, stay tuned for a blog post on Swiss style cheese fondue to come next week, and I look forward to hearing about your experiences, tips and tricks below and on Instagram and Facebook!
Much love and how about that Royals win!!! 🙂