Gals & guys. It’s Friday. Not to mention, it’s cinco de drinko and I think we have officially had our last day of the high temperature being in the 40s! Does it get much better? Yes. Yes it does. Because I have conquered my fear of croissants.
Baking them. Not eating them. Eating never scares me. And you can take that to the bank. 😉
For a little over a year & counting, Anthony & I have spent our Sunday mornings at a cute little relatively new bakery called Daily Baking Company. We joke about how our weekends are basically a food tour up and down the west coast of Lake Michigan, and if anyone has seen my Instagram, you know that me drooling over baked goods from this little spot is basically a weekly staple.
Anyway, this amazeballs bakery makes these P H E N O M E N A L chocolate croissants. We’re talking to die for. I mean, if you’re me, at least— food > life.
You won’t find any photos of them, because eventually it got to the point where we (I) trusted that the croissants would still be there if we (I) wanted them, and we (I) had reached a place emotionally where we (I) could try something else. But I never forgot about those croissants, and I’m convinced they are why my mom visits us so frequently. 😏
Now folks, don’t get me wrong. I am far from having created an even remotely close substitute for DBC chocolate batons of heaven baked in butter, but Anthony’s family, who haven’t been to DBC yet and are visiting in a couple months may be fooled. Maybe. If I make them again. Because, I’ll be 100% honest, this shit is a labor of love. Be prepared (like I wasn’t) to spend a handful of hours spread out between two days on this delicious little project. There is a lot of rolling, folding, and chilling the dough. Rinse & repeat. Times five. And then let it sit overnight in the fridge. Then, and only then, can you finally start splitting up the dough and making a dozen little deformed croissants.
But hey, if I can do it, anyone can do it (and I really mean that. I’m a regular Burn-it Betsy over here, and I wish I were kidding). I do recommend setting aside 30-45 minutes for the first part, and then go about your day going back to it every hour or so. It’s not as monotonous as I’m making it sound, I promise. In fact, the laundry and cleaning I was doing in between was more monotonous, so it was actually kind of nice to have a break!
As it turns out, croissants are a pretty standard project. Every recipe I found on Pinterest was pretty much the same as the one before it, and in the end, the most helpful one for me was actually a WikiHow page- ha! A WikiHow for croissants. What a time to be alive. 😂
If you’re anything like me, recipes are all well and good until yeast enters the picture. Then it gets scary. For starters, if you’re not a hardcore foodie or baker extraordinaire, yeast sounds like, looks like and smells like an infection rather than an ingredient for two of the most delicious menu items on earth: croissants & pizza. However, it’s actually pretty neat, and as long as you give it a few minutes to get its shit together, it isn’t that intimidating at all. Luckily, for this endeavor, I did already have some yeasty (ew.) experience under my belt from a few months ago when I tried to tap into my inner honorary Italian (Anthony is 100% Sicilian, so imagine coming from that dinner table to mine. Baha. Poor guy. 😂) and make pizza dough from scratch, so I wasn’t as wary of the ingredient as I was back then.
You basically just let the stuff sit in the milk for a few minutes until it gets frothy. (I guess this is how you can tell if the yeast is… alive? Or something?)
If you don’t have to call time of death, feel free to move onto the next step: flour! But don’t get too excited, because this is where shit gets really real, really fast if you’re too cheap to own the right equipment. #me 🙋🏻
The countless recipes recommended a mixer with a bread hook. Whatever that is. I mean, I think I know, but I wasn’t about to run out and buy a KitchenAid mixer and a bread hook all so that I could butcher a couple croissants. So I turned back to Google, and I learned you can also accomplish the same thing with your hands, and just knead it for several minutes until smooth, like the good ole days on the prairie before electric mixers and WiFi.
Caution: This stuff is S T I C K Y AF. It clings to your hands and you pray that you don’t get a phone call or hear the doorbell while you are elbow-deep in yeasty floury milk (not that I don’t welcome an excuse to ignore either with open, dough-covered arms). So, while it’s totally possible to combine these ingredients into dough without using modern technology, — if you don’t count Google — if you need full mobility at a moment’s notice, (parents, I’m looking at you) I would recommend buying a less expensive little hand mixer with a bread attachment to avoid having to take a small bath in the sink when it’s time for the next step.
After the dough rises for 1-2 hours you’re going to roll it out with a rolling pin, unless you’re once again me, and you will use a long, slender water bottle because I didn’t have a bottle of wine or vodka lying around as per Google’s suggestions for “rolling pin substitutes.” After it is rolled out to about a 10×16 inch rectangle (or 8×12, depending on the recipe you use) you’re going to fold it in thirds like a letter and set it aside once again, letting it rise.
Next stop, butter. You want three sticks (😵) of fridge-temp butter rolled into one thin layer.
This step was a real bitch for me just because my plastic water bottle lacked the weight a rolling pin would have. So, while I definitely got an arm workout, I also had to employ a good ole meat tenderizer to help me beat the butter into submission before I could roll it into anything.
Like I said. If I can make the above disaster look and taste like croissants, A N Y O N E can do this.
After your butter is a couple inches shorter on all sides than your 8×12 or 10×16 dough size, you’re going to re-roll your risen dough back to its said dimensions, center your layer of butter, fold that baby like a letter, and walk away for an hour because by now you’re sick of freaking rolling and folding.
Oh yeah, and because it has to rise.
Don’t be scared if, by this point, your dough looks like it has a bunch of little butter tumors all over it. You won’t see a photo like this on Pinterest, and I’m 99% positive it’s not supposed to look like this at all, but hey, the end justifies the means, right? Just trust it & keep going. It’s all going to melt in the oven anyway.
The rest of your afternoon will be spent rolling and folding three more times with an hour in between each, and then after all that work, just when you think it’s time to transform it into something oven-worthy— nope! Put that guy back in the fridge for eight hours. Yes. Eight. No croissants for you today.
But tomorrow, you’ll take that puppy out, cut it into sections, water bottle those out to about 1/4″ thickness, cut that into triangles, and roll those little buggers up into croissants! If you want, you can up your risk for heart attack and add some chocolate to the recipe that already requires three sticks of butter by lining the wide end of the triangles with strips of semi-sweet baking chocolate before you start rolling them up.
Lastly, you’ll brush them with an egg wash. However, because it wouldn’t be a normal day if every step of the process wasn’t hindered in some way by my failure to plan accordingly, I happened to be out of eggs this day, so I used milk instead. Protein is protein right? #thanksgoogle
And voila! By some miraculous act of God, those things up there spend 12 minutes in the oven, and come out looking something like actual croissants. Well, at least three of them did. But whatever, it all tastes the same, and if you photograph it right, Instagram will be none the wiser. Next time I’ll be less mentally exhausted when it’s finally time to shape them. 💁
So, I hope I haven’t left you too afraid of the process. If anything, I was hoping to do the opposite and convince people as inept in the kitchen as I am that it is still 100% possible for us to succeed in life, ha!
If anyone is still with me by this point and is interested in an actual step-by-step recipe, here is the other recipe I bounced between along with WikiHow (linked above). Happy baking! And rolling! And folding! And waiting!
But it’s okay because it’s Friday & cinco de mayo, so at least you can sip on a corona or a margarita in between, right? 🍺🍹