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Croissants - The best recipe for the first time?

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
What's the best recipe you've used to make croissants for the first time?

I've looked at a few recipes so far. Though the basic process is similar in that they all make a dough, encase the butter, and roll a half dozen turns, there is really a lot of variation in the details of the technique. There are even 2 slightly different versions by Silverton (one in her book, one on Martha's website). My personal experience with pastry for pies tells me these "details" can make the difference between failure, success, and great success.

Also, when I make tarts, I find that starting it on the stone that lives on the bottom of my oven really helps in creating flakiness. Can I assume this will be a safe place to start the croissants, too?

I have some time to research this as I'll be living without an oven for a couple weeks. When I do something that takes this much effort I want to be sure it turns out, even the first time. And I'm not an instinctive baker.

Added note: Thought I'd mention that without guidance to another source, I'm inclined to use Biranbaum's recipe as she has SUCH detail. While I'd made pie crusts long before reading her book, I did find details that helped refine it and eliminated my pie-anxiety.
" ...but in the spirit of 'stop, think, there must be a harder way, 'I figured starting from scratch might be more gratifying.'' (Judy Rodgers)
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" ...but in the spirit of 'stop, think, there must be a harder way, 'I figured starting from scratch might be more gratifying.'' (Judy Rodgers)
Reply
post #2 of 21
For a first timer, I would go with Esther McManus. Do you have Baking with Julia? If not, check out the PBS's Julia Child's Lessons with Masterchefs
K

«Money talks. Chocolate sings. Beautifully.»
«Just Give Me Chocolate and Nobody Gets Hurt.»
«Coffee, Chocolate, Men ... Some things are just better rich.»
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K

«Money talks. Chocolate sings. Beautifully.»
«Just Give Me Chocolate and Nobody Gets Hurt.»
«Coffee, Chocolate, Men ... Some things are just better rich.»
Reply
post #3 of 21
I have used Ester McManus' recipe in Baking with Julia with great success. It is a protracted exercise and fitting the wait times into your domestic schedule can be tricky. My advice would be to take a deep breath, count to 3 and go for it. :)

Jock
post #4 of 21
I third it, go with the recipe from Baking With Julia.
"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
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"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
Reply
post #5 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks, I'll order the book while I'm away. It's nice when the decision is unanimous.
" ...but in the spirit of 'stop, think, there must be a harder way, 'I figured starting from scratch might be more gratifying.'' (Judy Rodgers)
Reply
" ...but in the spirit of 'stop, think, there must be a harder way, 'I figured starting from scratch might be more gratifying.'' (Judy Rodgers)
Reply
post #6 of 21
You know...I have the book and trying that recipe is on my list. But I'm afraid. The last time I tried to make croissants, I made doorstops. I'm really good at breads and not bad at cakes...but pastries....oh my.

Any really helpful tips to add to the recipe?

Nancy
post #7 of 21
I used Nancy Silverton's recipe from Pastries From La Brea Bakery. I can't recall why I decided to go with her recipe but the croissants were wonderful.


All this talk about croissants is giving me craving...:lips:
When I get a little money, I buy books. And if there is any left over, I buy food.

- Desiderius Erasmus
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When I get a little money, I buy books. And if there is any left over, I buy food.

- Desiderius Erasmus
Reply
post #8 of 21
Thread Starter 
Nancy, I've been reading a number of recipes on croissants. (Yes, I get obsessive about such things.) This way I get a sense of the issues that every one agrees on, disagrees on. I plan to follow all the advice about using McManus' recipe, but I'm going to keep Biranbaum at my side, too. She gives such a wealth of detail, even suggesting the specific kind of flour and butter to use. The common complaint I see about her is that she is too detailed and her recipes are too annoying to follow, but as a reference or a source of tips in refining technique I've found her right on.

From my own working efforts on flaky pie dough, I'm bringing four principles: visible butter, "wet" pliant dough, refrigerate often, and bake high. (Once the croissant dough is made I'll bake it in small, separate batches to experiment with temperature and using/not using the pizza stone, etc.)

We also have the wonderful backup of our CT bakers.

If all fails, we can bat our hockey pucks at each other cross-continent.
" ...but in the spirit of 'stop, think, there must be a harder way, 'I figured starting from scratch might be more gratifying.'' (Judy Rodgers)
Reply
" ...but in the spirit of 'stop, think, there must be a harder way, 'I figured starting from scratch might be more gratifying.'' (Judy Rodgers)
Reply
post #9 of 21
Thread Starter 
Isa, I've only used her recipe for the orange poppy seed cake. Magnificent. :bounce:

I have read her croissant recipe. Did you use the starter? or just the yeast? I have visions of spending a week making the starter and then the croissants themselves. :D
" ...but in the spirit of 'stop, think, there must be a harder way, 'I figured starting from scratch might be more gratifying.'' (Judy Rodgers)
Reply
" ...but in the spirit of 'stop, think, there must be a harder way, 'I figured starting from scratch might be more gratifying.'' (Judy Rodgers)
Reply
post #10 of 21
Alexia,

I would add a fifth one: on a warm day, WORK QUICKLY!

I like Silverton but she can be overwhelming at times.

Stick to the McManus recipe.
K

«Money talks. Chocolate sings. Beautifully.»
«Just Give Me Chocolate and Nobody Gets Hurt.»
«Coffee, Chocolate, Men ... Some things are just better rich.»
Reply
K

«Money talks. Chocolate sings. Beautifully.»
«Just Give Me Chocolate and Nobody Gets Hurt.»
«Coffee, Chocolate, Men ... Some things are just better rich.»
Reply
post #11 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks Kimmie, I'll add it to the list.

I do intend to use the McManus for my working recipe. But for me it's important, to check several others when making something technically challenging for the first time. It gives me a firmer sense of the process instead of a list of instructions, and I feel more in control.

Lucky for me, it's almost always a cool day in my house. :) It takes a string of 90/90+ days to really warm it up and in the winter I keep the thermostat 55-60 most of the time.
" ...but in the spirit of 'stop, think, there must be a harder way, 'I figured starting from scratch might be more gratifying.'' (Judy Rodgers)
Reply
" ...but in the spirit of 'stop, think, there must be a harder way, 'I figured starting from scratch might be more gratifying.'' (Judy Rodgers)
Reply
post #12 of 21
Barb, I do the same thing...check all my books for a similar recipes and compare, learn etc... I think it's a great way to learn.
"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
Reply
"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
Reply
post #13 of 21
I used the recipe found in Pastries From The La Brea Bakery, it's not made from a starter but from active dry yeast or fresh yeast.
When I get a little money, I buy books. And if there is any left over, I buy food.

- Desiderius Erasmus
Reply
When I get a little money, I buy books. And if there is any left over, I buy food.

- Desiderius Erasmus
Reply
post #14 of 21
Thread Starter 
I've mislaid my copy of "Pastries" :( so I was looking at the one in "Breads." (I think I may have left pastries at my son's house. I was so engrossed with it, I took it along when I travelled there.)

For anyone who doesn't have her books, Silverton has a croissant recipe on Martha Stewart's recipe file.
" ...but in the spirit of 'stop, think, there must be a harder way, 'I figured starting from scratch might be more gratifying.'' (Judy Rodgers)
Reply
" ...but in the spirit of 'stop, think, there must be a harder way, 'I figured starting from scratch might be more gratifying.'' (Judy Rodgers)
Reply
post #15 of 21

one last croissant question...

I hope no one forgot about this thread because it is a good one. So I just watched the Julia video online. I wrote down everything except one problem, they never mentioned the amount of yeast that was used. Anyone have any ideas?
post #16 of 21
That is a line I have to remember. :D
post #17 of 21
If I remember it was 1 oz of cake yeast but I'll look it up tonight and confirm that.
Do you have a link to the on line video?

Jock
post #18 of 21
this link should work...if not, just paste it: http://pbs-juliachild.virage.com/cgi...ord=croissants

as for cake yeast, can instant be substituted? I have seen instant and active be interchangeable with certain adjustments, but I have no experience with cake yeast?

I actually went out and bought Baking with Julia today, so I will be referring to that also.

Thanks for the info!
post #19 of 21
You probably know by now that the recipe does call for 1 oz of fresh yeast since you have the book and yes, all the yeasts are interchangable.

If fresh yeast represents 100%, substitue 40% active dry or 30% instant.

1 oz = 28.4 grams (close enough) so you would substitute 11.5g of active dry or 8.5g of instant yeast.

A packet of yeast is 7g and I would go with that using the instant. It's a smidge less but you can adjust the fermentation time a bit to compensate if you need to. The other good thing about instant yeast is you don't have to proof it - you can just throw it in with the other ingredients.

Jock
post #20 of 21
OK, I finally made them. I don't recall the amount of yeast I used, but I did use an adjusted amount of instant/rapid rise yeast instead of fresh yeast. (I had learned that rapid and instant were 1-to-1 interchangeable, but Julia says otherwise....but 1-to-1 instant to rapid rise seemed to work fine for me in this batch--off the top of my head, I don't recall the exact amount I ended up using, but it was somewhere in the ballpark of Jock's post.)

Using the recipe and techniques demonstrated on the Julia video, I had GREAT results. The croissants came out flakey and buttery and did not leak too much butter during baking. Delicious! However, for the first few minutes of cooling in the baking sheet, I placed a ball of tin foil underneath the sheet so any leaking butter would be drawn away from the sitting croissants-also, I rearranged some of the croissants on the tray so that the butter would not flow onto another sitting croissant. I think on all of my batches I would end up with roughly a tablespoon or more of leaking butter. (baking the croissants on parchment helped with cleanup.)

My only advice or tips or things I would change:

1) to chill the counter prior to rolling and folding: I placed a couple of large and shallow baking sheets on the counter and filled them with ice maybe 15-20 minutes prior to flouring the counter and rolling out the dough--this helped. (I do have granite counters, so I don't know the results on other surfaces)

2) In the Julia video, the guest chef rolled up the butter into a ball shape before cooling. I would recommend shaping it flatter and maybe more rectangular before cooling. Once you start beating the butter with the rolling pin, the top layers of dough may begin to get really thin and prone to tears. So I would probably preshape the butter better.

3) a few of the croissants came out a little TOO buttery in taste and each baking tray yielded butter during baking. So next time I may try a cube less butter than the recipe calls for.

4) The recipe calls for proofing in a cool oven with a boiling pot of water. I dont know how necessary that is--I did not see too big of a difference between those that proofed without the water and those that proofed with (although the batch that proofed with water appeared more fluffy but leaked out butter at the prebake stage--while after baking there was little difference between the wet proofed and non-wetproofed croissants). However, I did add plenty of steam the oven with a mister (not a spray bottle) 3 times at 30 second intervals during the first few moments of baking--similar to bread baking. I don't know if this had any advantages, but I am now used to creating steam when baking.

5) You gotta make sure you have ALOT of time to do this recipe--I think I started mine on Monday and finally baked on saturday. Tough fitting the recipe into a normal schedule.
post #21 of 21
Instant yeast and rapid rise are interchangable terms for the same product. I agree with your assessment that fitting this process into a "normal" schedule is difficult. I would make them more often if it wasn't so time sensitive. The actual time with hands on the dough isn't that long but it's all the waiting time in between that breaks your day up into unworkable bits.

I'm glad it worked out for you though. Now you know what a really good home made croissant tastes like it will be hard to eat store bought any more.

Jock
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