When the going gets tough………

……..the tough get baking.

I’ve been in a bit of a mood lately. So that’s a good time for me to head to the kitchen and lose myself in following recipes for baked goods. I am not by nature a baker – I’m not one of those people who can eyeball the ingredients for making a cake or pie, or even bread. I make really good bread, but I have to use a recipe every time. So I have to focus. In the past few days I’ve made a Rosemary Olive Focaccia, a “no knead” country loaf (it’s round), and croissants. Yes! Croissants!

I have to say, my heart was in my throat the whole time (i.e., almost 24 hours!) and I didn’t sleep that well either. I must have read half a dozen recipes for the dough and another 6 blogs regarding technique and baking. Each is a little bit different – eggs, no eggs; more butter, less butter; cream or milk; sugar or no sugar; 4 folds, book folds; baking temps between 325F and 425F………..you get the idea. In the end I settled more or less on the recipe linked here because I had seen this recipe in a couple of other places, and this blog (Willow Bird Baking) also includes photos and a cutting diagram!

Unfortunately, all the things that she warns can be problems, were. But I persevered. I started yesterday by preparing the dough and giving it its first rise. Piece o’cake! The next step was turning 3/4 of a pound of cold butter into a 5″x8″ rectangle. The trick is to keep it cold but malleable. Uh huh. Long story short, I did the rolling of the dough and the folding/turning with butter (4 times with 1 hour between each fold) and put it in the fridge overnight.

By this time I had decided that I was probably going to get a lot of buttery biscuits that bore little resemblance to croissants. The butter looked pebbly and was poking though the dough in places. Apparently that is not a good thing. I had probably used too much flour while rolling. Also can be a problem. Oh, and I neglected to mention earlier that during the first folding, the handle of my rolling pin broke and left a little puff of rust dust on my dough. A trip to WalMart ensued.

This morning I prepared the dough for shaping and baking. That included another 2-1/2 hour rise. And it turns out that I am not better with diagrams after all; I misread them and my first dozen croissants were half-sized. Then I got fed up and cut 6 normal sized triangles and the rest of the dough into rectangles for pain au chocolat.

Okay, here is the reveal: IMG_3171


Not bad hey? We ate 3 regular croissants and a pain au chocolat for lunch. Not buttery biscuits after all! The twisty thing is a couple of scraps of dough filled with Nutella. And I froze another 6 unbaked pains because the recipe says you can and I was done with baking. For now.

My mood is better though.