Monday, July 19, 2010

Croissants and des pains au chocolate (by Kat)

Earlier in the month, Julie, over at Willow Bird Baking, challenged her readers to attempt to make croissants and les pains au chocolate.


Wait, what? What did I just agree to do?!!

Actually, I made croissants once before, I think when I was about thirteen or fourteen. I began very early in the day, and worked away in the kitchen. There was kneading, there was margarine (no butter in our house!), there were muttered grievances (also, no swearing in our house!). It was just me and my mom's cookbook, out to set the world on fire.

The recipe made exactly twelve croissants. The twelve croissants were perfectly aligned on their baking sheet and baking in the oven when Russ and Evelyn, my grandparents of sorts (my grandfather's cousin and wife, to be exact) stopped in. I was thrilled! I loved Russ and Evelyn.

With my brother and parents, the count was now six. Then my other grandparents, who happened to live next door, came over to see Russ and Evelyn as well. The count was now eight. Then and aunt and uncle were on scene. Ten.

So, my twelve croissants were gone in less than ten minutes from oven removal. I was lucky enough to get one, though! I made sure Russ and Evelyn each got the extra one, and they each split half with me. Two! I had two! Still, it felt like an awful lot of work just for that...

So, fast forward back to present, and my wondering why I was doing this again! Russ and Evelyn are both long gone, and no matter how good these smelled I new it wouldn't bring them back again.

Having made puff pastry a few times now, I've got a much better handle on laminated doughs. The trick is to have the dough and butter at just the right temperature. Too warm=butter squishing out everywhere. Too cool= butter breaking through the dough, which then results in butter squishing out everywhere. The trick is to use the fridge as a lifeboat. Every time something seems to be heading south, throw it all in the fridge. After it's cool, take it out, let it warm just a bit, and then continue.

Julie's challenge was to make the traditional crescent-shaped croissants as well as les pains au chocolate. It's the same dough, but rather than being baked in a crescent shape it's formed into a rectangle with a nice melty piece of bittersweet chocolate baked into the center. C'est bien, bien sur!

Here's the photos from my challenge. Look at Julie's site for the recipe and detailed instructions.

Most importantly, have FUN!

three cubes of butter, cut in half the long way, rolled into a rectangle

dough, after mixing

butter centered on rolled-out dough

dough folded into thirds, surrounding butter

two dents indicated two "turns"

after six turns, the dough is split in two and rolled flat

a pizza cutter gives you sharp edges that raise well

raising in my 1910 home's warm upstairs bedroom
(this heat is good for something, right?)

Une pain au chocolate!

Beaucuop des pains au chocolate!

et les croissants....
bon appetit!


  1. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!!!!! Kat, these look so wonderful; I'm sure Russ and Evelyn would so appreciate them if they could be there.

    Thanks SO much for letting me goad you into tackling croissants once more! You are truly a laminated dough master :) May I use a picture or two and a quote from you in my round-up post? I will link back to your blog!

  2. Good gosh!!! Never in a million years would I attempt croissants but after you've showed us how to do it....maybe I will. Beautiful pictures and good explanation. I think I'll recruit my neighbor in a day of baking.

    - Suzanne

  3. Julie~
    Feel free to use whatever you want, with linkage of course, and many thank again for the impetus to tackle these again!

    Do try it! They're simply wonderful, and unlike anything you can buy at the store. Of course, I'm from nowhere, so maybe a larger city has a bakery that could produce something similar...but you should still give it a go!

  4. Your croissants came out beautifully!!! I'm trying to find time to do mine! Great job!!!

  5. Good for you! I made croissants exactly once and it was such a poor experience that I doubt I'll ever try again - although it did give me a greater appreciation, that's for sure!

  6. How DARE You!!! I can no longer eat in feigned ignorance now! I have been fully confronted with PICTURES of exactly how much butter is in there. I knew it all the time of course but it was a bit like a broken cookie...I didn't see it/make it so it didn't really count...sigh! Great tips just quietly about the dough making as I have experienced the butter squish frustration also.

  7. But Tanya, didn't you read the recipe? Unlike most bread recipes, there isn't even the tiniest bit of fat in the dough. Truly, that should qualify it as a diet food!

    Paperseed, just give it another shot!

    Thanks, Maranda. I can't wait to see yours. Also, I love the name of your blog!