I've finally done it! I've finally baked my first ever batch of croissants! I've called this post "batch 1" because for those keen bakers out there, you'll be able to tell these ones didn't come out perfect! So there will be a batch 2, probably a batch 3, maybe even so far as a batch 4, as I try to perfect these! We'll have to wait and see, however, if the time its taken me to make the first batch is anything to go by, it could be another few years before we get there!
I always thought making croissants would be like running a marathon in that there's this overwhelming sense of achievement once you accomplish the end result, however the journey to get to the finish line can be long, arduous and at times, plain tedious. Croissants have been on the "must do" list for quite some time now, basically ever since I started baking! Because I knew how involved the process would be, I kept putting it off. But it seems the world has been hinting to me, nay, urging me to get off my lazy behind and just do it!
In fact, a few weeks ago, my girlfriend and I were talking about how we should just set a day aside to make croissants. In my head, and I think I said it out loud too, I knew it wasn't going to happen because I simply could not be bothered! As if the world overhead our conversation, I then watched Masterchef and seeing the contestants bite into freshly made croissants in Paris really made me want to make some. What sealed the deal was when I then watched the Great Australian Bake Off where an entire segment was devoted to making croissants! By the way, love love love the Great Australian Bake Off! Tuesday nights watching my favourite tv show with a cup of tea is my kind of heaven *bliss*!
Although far off from being a croissant you'd find in Paris, I'm pretty happy with these for a first attempt! Croissants, like macarons, sound simple to make when on paper but are hugely technical with a zillion things that could possibly go wrong with it! I've never baked bread before, so prior to this baking adventure, I didn't know how to knead dough and I didn't know how to proof dough. The two things which I believe led to the demise of these croissants (amongst others I'm sure).
You can tell from the pics that the croissants kind of "poofed" out rather than poofed up! That was definitely due to over proofing the dough! I knew that was going to be the case when we stupidly decided to head out to Chadstone while the croissants were proofing so I couldn't keep an eye on them to see when they had doubled in size. When I came back and touched the dough, it still left my fingerprint there, which is apparently a tell tale sign that they had been over proofed.
You'll also be able to tell from the pics that the croissants have come out "doughy" rather than light and flaky. Apparently, this is due to over kneading the dough. Now I don't know how to lightly knead, so I ended up kneading the dough proper, and doing the "window panel" test where you cut a bit of the dough and gently stretch the dough into a thin membrane. If you can make a membrane (i.e. window panel), it has been kneaded proper. If it just pulls apart, it hasn't been kneaded enough. So I kneaded it proper. Bad mistake.
Despite the technical flaws, I am happy with the taste! I'm really pleased that my Le Cordon Bleu baking book is no longer collecting dust on the bookshelf.
Now I just have to set aside another weekend to make these croissants again! Making the croissants isn't actually as bad as I thought the would be. Kneading dough is very therapeutic likewise pounding the butter to make the beurrage (particularly after discovering the neighbours egged our balcony in a drunken state, a story for another time)!