I was a little disappointed in the class. It moved a bit too slowly for me, and I wanted to experience making more than just two kinds of tarts. I chose to use the remainder of my gift certificate (along with the coupon I received for taking the course) to purchase some items at the store. One of the things I purchased was their new book, The Art & Soul of Baking. All of the tarts we made were from the book, as well as all the recipes used in their other baking courses. I reasoned that since the class felt too slow to me, if I owned the book, I could teach myself.
The book is wonderful. It has primers before each chapter with tips and things to avoid to be successful with each type of baked item (each chapter is a type of baked good ie pastries, cookies, breads, etc). There are all sorts of great techniques and photographs.
There are probably at least 50 things I wanted to make just from reading the recipe's title- and there are over 250 recipes in the book. But the book just sat on my shelf, collecting dust.
After conquering my fear of cheesecakes, I resolved to try one new recipe from the book every month. This past weekend, I decided to tackle one of the recipes: Croissants.
After two days of making my dough block, laminating my butter, and I don't even know how many envelope and book folds I still don't know why I started with such a complicated recipe. Probably because I love Chocolate Croissants.
People, this is not an easy baked good. I started on Saturday morning, by making both my dough and my butter (and I'm not using the proper terms because the book is at home, and I don't remember them) blocks. That was probably the easiest part. Both have to sit in the fridge for a bit, to cool down and the dough needs to proof (expand/rise).
After that, I spent the majority of my Saturday rolling and folding and rolling and folding the dough. I should have used a ruler to ensure I was rolling and folding to the appropriate dimensions, but I'm not that kind of baker. Putting the laminated butter (which means- I mixed up my butter with a little flour, that helps create the flaky layers in the finished pastry) into the dough was fairly easy- roll out butter into a flat rectangle, lay on top of dough, fold dough over.
Every turn (fold) of the dough got tougher. After the last turn, I told my husband there was no way we were eating croissants until Sunday. I was too exhausted.
Sunday morning, I got up, and got my dough out of the fridge. I rolled and I rolled and I rolled, but I never got the dough down to that magical 1/4 inch that the book called for. I gave up and just cut the croissants thicker than what the recipe said. I wrapped them up, complete with my grated chocolate inside, and popped them into the oven.
People- if you EVER get a hankering to make croissants? One tip- do NOT use sideless baking pans. That was a big ole mistake on my part. Technically, from what I understand, the butter is not supposed to melt out of your croissants onto your baking sheet. However, I obviously did something (or more than one thing) wrong, because it totally did. And my sideless baking sheet resulted in a ton of melted butter dripping all over the oven, the pan, the floor, myself, my dog, and who knows what else. The second pan was fine because it had sides- but the damage was already done. All that melty butter from the first pan? Caused my kitchen to smell like burnt butter and smoke like we had a fog machine running.
The croissants turned out ok- the bottoms were clearly soggier than intended. I can safely say that I was probably baking beyond my abilities and I won't be craving croissants for quite some time.
If I do get a craving for them? Well, I'm sure there's a good bakery nearby.
Here's my helper dog, Wallace, who always seems to forget that flour doesn't taste nearly as yummy as it looks: