There are multiple things that can bring a semi experienced home cook into a complete frenzy. Here are just a couple of them:
1) Macarons. If you know what these magical treasures are, then there is no need for further explanation. When people say to me: “Oh yea, I think I’ll try making those.” I imagine myself slapping them in the face while laughing violently because truly, that is an ABSURD statement. No you are not going to go home and make them. You can try, sure, but get ready to throw twenty-seven sheet pans of failed round discs right out the window. K. Okay.
2) Watching someone bring a bottle of Yellowtail wine through the door. I mean, I’m no wine snob but give me a fucking break with that shit. Seriously.
3) Watching certain family members grab the “Italian Seasoning” and almost reach the sauce pot. I mean, w-o-w, I think my heart just stopped. I will wrestle you down and tear that banana right out of your hands. It’s not happening. It should never happen. Other things that should never occur in sauce: oregano, sugar, basil (unless it’s fresh people) and anything else from your gross cabinet you may want to toss in there.
4) Croissants. similar to the macaron, it’s an illusive pastry that few home cooks seem to be able to master. I mean, just reading the directions can send one into a full scale panic attack. While whipping through Julia Child’s croissant instructions, I felt like I needed a cold towel and an IV drip.
So, #1 I have mastered, almost to perfection, it was no easy endeavor but I think, I’ve just about got those suckers down. I have managed to offend anyone who ever thought it was acceptable to bring #2 to my home to the point where now they bring nothing. I guess that might be considered a win. #3, well, I think my facial expression which gave way to the implosion I had directly following, assures that no one will ever do that again. #4, I conquered on Sunday, finally finding someone who seemed to be able to give me instructions I could handle. I read them multiple times, I lined up all my ingredients, I took deep breaths into a paper bag and then proceeded. I am sharing this very simple recipe with all of you fine people so that you too, can master the great #4: croissants. Yes, these measurements are indeed, given to you in grams, etc. If you don’t have a scale, go buy one, don’t be messing around with cups when trying to master the great unknown.
300 g butter, room temperature
40 g all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons dried yeast
230 ml whole milk, cold
2 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons honey
380 g bread flour
2 teaspoons salt
egg yolk + pinch of salt for glaze
1) For the laminating: Place the butter and flour in a mixer and mix on medium speed until well incorporated. Turn the butter+flour mixture onto a piece of plastic wrap, forming it into a neat rectangle, place another piece of plastic wrap on top and roll until about 4 inches or so across. Place in the fridge for 1 hour to harden. (The point of everything in this recipe is to keep the butter cold, warm butter=terrible result. Work quickly and efficiently and keep your damn butter cold)
2) For the dough: Put the yeast and the milk in the bowl of your mixer (after you cleaned it, obviously and make sure you are using the dough hook) and mix until the yeast has dissolved. Add the sugar+honey and give it a mix once again. In a separate bowl, mix together with your fingers the salt and the flour, slowly add to the mixing bowl on medium speed. Once incorporated, turn the mixer up to medium high and allow the mixer to knead the dough for 10 minutes. Then, turn onto a lightly floured work surface and allow the dough to rest 10 minutes.
3) After your 10 minutes is up, using the rolling pin, roll the dough out into a rectangle, about 8×12 inches long. Take your butter block out of the fridge and cut it down the middle. Place one half in the middle of your dough rectangle, bring one side of the pastry up and over the butter to cover it, stretching if needed, then place the second butter block on top and flap the remaining flap of pastry over. (think of this as folding a letter) Then turn the dough 90 degrees clockwise so that the fold is on the left side. Roll out the dough into a rectangle once again, then repeat the folding technique (just like a letter). (This process of flattening and folding is called a “turn”) This fold was your first turn. Wrap lightly in plastic wrap and stick in the fridge for 30 minutes.
4) Give the dough another turn (roll out into another rectangle and fold into a letter) and stick in the fridge another 30 minutes, covering again lightly with plastic wrap.
5) Give the dough your last and final turn and stick back in the fridge, this time for 2 hours.
6) After your 2 hours is up, roll the dough into a long rectangle, trim the sides if necessary to neaten things up. Your dough should be rolled out to about 1/4″ thick. Cut out isosceles triangles (tall, with 2 equal sides) measuring about 4″ across the base. They will naturally alternate direction along the strip. (These do not have to be perfect, you are just rolling them up, so don’t fret about how pretty they look, the important thing is to not work your dough too much)
7) Start at the base and roll up each triangle to make a croissant. Place the croissants on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place for 2 hours, or until they have nearly doubled in size. (I like to place them over my oven, while it’s on low heat)
8) Uncover the croissants and brush them lightly with the egg wash. Bake in a 400 degree preheated oven for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.