Merry Christmas! I hope everyone is enjoying a day of merriment with loved ones. Right now, I’m hanging out at home with the fam for a very traditional Christmas Day in Ventura County… you know, where it’s blue skies and 74 degrees outside!
So, my gift to myself this year was mastery of the croissant. After three weeks apprenticing in a professional pastry kitchen, where I was able to observe and practice skilled production, proofing and baking techniques, I finally felt ready to attempt making my favorite breakfast pastry at home. I opted for the longer, indirect method, starting with a preferment (aka mother dough) to extend the fermentation process in order to develop more depth of flavor and aroma (which is sooo worth it!). It was a two and a half day effort with multiple rolling, folding and chilling stages. Without a pastry sheeter machine, I got a pretty good upper-body workout, rolling out a tri-fold plaque of dough the size of a phone book into the length of a yard stick… which I had to do three times!
The dough got a brush of egg wash in the morning and baked for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. In the end, I was extremely satisfied with the results. The exterior was nicely caramelized and shatteringly crisp with the correct number of six to seven ridges and crunchy, pointy ends. The interior was airy with tender, tented swirls of softness. A big hit at the breakfast table. But, holy schnizz, it was so much work for something that disappears off your plate so quickly! Outside of a real pastry kitchen, I’ll probably save croissant-making for special occasions and holidays like today. Luckily, I made enough to freeze some for later… New Year’s croissants, anyone?