After returning from France, I was desperate to continue many of the delicious culinary habits I’d learned, one of which was a steady diet of croissant and coffee in the morning (okay, not every day, but at least with regularity!). It will not surprise you that Columbia, South Carolina, is not a haven of French patisseries. So the self-described intrepid baked set out to recreate the dream herself. From scratch.
There’s no way (that I’ve found) around the three-day process, but the time is worth the reward. No one day demands very much time–the first day is easiest by far (the mixer does all the work!)–and each day’s activity, while unique, is meditative. The entire process is both mystical and deeply calming (yes, making croissants is starting to sound like a spiritual experience. I wouldn’t deny it).
I found and followed this recipe, with much success. However–as aforementioned, I was making the delicate bread in an especially hot and humid climate, things which significantly affect the moisture of dough, the activity of yeast, and therefore, the finished product.
So, I started again, adjusting the recipe’s ingredients to account for a significantly warmer and moister environment:
1 lb. 2 oz. (4 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour; more for rolling
4 oz. (1/2 cup) cold water
5 oz. (1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs.) cold heavy whipping cream
2 oz. (1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs.) granulated sugar
2 Tbs. soft unsalted butter
1 scant Tbs. active dry yeast
2-1/4 tsp. table salt
For the butter layer
10 oz. (1-1/4 cups) cold unsalted butter
For the egg wash
1 large egg
All the directions are the same, but the liquid amounts vary from the original recipe from Fine Cooking; below is the quick-and dirty narration–do consult the real original recipe for actually attempting croissants!
Day One: assemble dough, cover and refrigerate.
Day Two: Make “butter layer,” fold up in the dough like an envelope, and roll…
Day 3: Roll again, cut, form, proof…
Bake–and if you’re not eating them ALL immediately, wrap ’em up in foil for the freezer (highly recommended! Each one I’ve eaten out of the freezer–heated at 350 degrees for 10 minutes exactly–has been absolutely perfect).