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CaliPoutine

"Baking With Julia" by Julia Child (2005 - )

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I wouldn't mind doing brioche I just don't know if I'll be able to fit it in before I go on vacation. ldubois2, when are you going to start it? I might be able to give it a start on Thursday.

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I could start on Friday (taking July off from work while I'm between jobs!) I'll have lots of baking time!

(Actually, the job thing is a little scary. I anticipate a lot of comfort baking.)

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Croissant heaven this weekend:

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I spread the recipe over several days, letting the dough rest for 24 hours between each turn. I'm sure that this was a good thing. Here's the dough pre-butter packet, after its rest in the fridge:

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It's still wrapped in plastic wrap in this photo, and you can see that it expanded quite a bit. I should have wrapped it more loosely.

Next, rolled out with the butter packet centered (more or less):

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As you can see, I didn't do a stellar job of shaping the butter and the dough initially, though it doesn't seem to have done any harm.

The next step is the only one that confused me -- the recipe states that after centering the butter, you pull the top and bottom flaps over the butter, and then stretch the folds to the side to make a neat packet. I just couldn't picture that, and here's what I did do:

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I wasn't quite confident it was going to work out -- the first rolling looked like this:

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You can see that the butter is starting to break through in places, so I quick folded it and threw it back in the fridge for 24 hours. Here's the second fold -- still a bit rough.

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By the final ("book") fold, things had come together:

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Shaping the little monsters is where the real patience is needed. I wasn't able to roll half of my final dough "book" to the required size of 14" x 26" (the only time that happened throughout the recipe), so I settled for about 15" x 15" and started cutting out triangles. I kept the triange bases to 3" to make up for the lack of length, which may have been a misstep. The stretching of each triangle prior to rolling was the most nerve-racking step for me. It was a hot day, which I'm sure didn't help, but the butter kept breaking through, which caused me to lose my nerve and not stretch them as far as recommended. I kept half of the triangles in the fridge while rolling the first half, and the second half were much easier to manage -- so I suggest that anyone attempting this recipe add a 10-15 minute chill for the triangles prior to stretching and rolling. I have no pix of the stretching and rolling as I was freaking out just a bit! But here are the final rolled croissants, prior to the final rise:

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Those are half-sheets, for scale. You'll notice that I acheived 3-4 "ridges" per croissant, so I have a way to go to acheive the perfect 6!! Good thing I still have half of the dough in the freezer for practice. Here are the risen croissants"

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I found that any amount of curvature that I had managed to acheive while rolling was lost in the final rise -- the rising tends to flatten out the shaping. Note to self -- make rolls more curvy next time. Or make more curvy rolls.

These were absolutely delicious -- crackley crisp outside, flaky-chewy-sweet inside. I brought a bunch to Virginia while visiting friends this weekend and they raved. Ten minutes in a 350* oven the day after baking restored them to almost-fresh-baked quality. I'll definitely be making these again.


Edited by RuthWells (log)

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Oh my goodness, those are beautiful!

I have been lurking on this post (as well as eGullet) for the last week or so, and I think the croissant photos have pushed me into buying the book, and joining in!

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Great job as usual Ruth! Those look amazing. The interior looks perfect to me and made me forget that croissants are supposed to be crescent-shaped. Did you say that's your first time making croissants? I want to make some, but I better wait when my entire family, or some friends are around to ensure that I don't eat them all.

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It's been a while since I looked at the thread and wow -- so much has happened. Ruth, your croissants look fabulous! As you've discovered, patience is really the key. Making croissants is a finicky -- ok, fussy -- process that requires lots of intermittent adjustments, as you found it. You have to keep looking at the dough and making decisions about whether to continue or to stop the process for a chill. When we invited Esther McManus to participate in the show and book, she called me and said she didn't want to just send me the recipe, she wanted to come to my apartment and show me how to make croissants. I was thrilled and it turned out to be a great experience. Her croissants were spectacular and I was so excited about what I'd learned that the minute she left, I started my own batch. I was so disappointed in what I turned out -- a few hours earlier, I would have thought they were swell, if I hadn't just seen and tasted Esther's. I think it takes experience to get a feel for the dough -- and, depending on your personality -- to gain some confidence in making and working it. Like puff pastry, the first turn does look rough -- although Ruth, yours looked very good -- then, as the butter gets worked into the dough, it starts to look a lot better. The cutting and shaping is also something that takes practice to perfect. But I found that from the first batch on, I was so pleased with the results -- even if they often took me hours longer to achieve than I'd expected. As Ruth found out -- chilling is the solution to almost all the problems you might come up against with croissants. Patience, too.

Ruth, you're right about the instructions for folding the dough over the butter package -- they're not very good. Sorry. Of course, I never realized the problem until you pointed it out, but the directions don't make clear what to do with the sides of the dough after you've folded the top and bottom over. I know this is ridiculous, but I'm in Connecticut and don't have a copy of BwJ with me -- so I can't read thru the recipe -- but I'm remembering that the butter packet should be enclosed on all four sides to form a rectangle, the way you would do it if you were making puff pastry.

One last thing, the croissant dough does freeze, but the best thing to do is to shape the dough into croissants, freeze the croissants on a lined baking sheet, then pack them when they're frozen. Defrost the croissants, still wrapped, overnight in the freezer, then give them a rise and a bake in the morning.

Again, bravo Ruth.

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Oh my goodness, those are beautiful!

I have been lurking on this post (as well as eGullet) for the last week or so, and I think the croissant photos have pushed me into buying the book, and joining in!

Thanks, and glad to act as enabler! :laugh:


Edited by RuthWells (log)

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Great job as usual Ruth! Those look amazing. The interior looks perfect to me and made me forget that croissants are supposed to be crescent-shaped. Did you say that's your first time making croissants? I want to make some, but I better wait when my entire family, or some friends are around to ensure that I don't eat them all.

Hi, Rhea -- you are the same Rhea S from CooksTalk, yes? Glad to see a familiar face! :wink: Yes, this was my first time making croissants, and if I can do it, so can you. Go for it!

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Thanks so much for the feedback, Dorie. It must have been an amazing experience working on BwJ and getting to see all those wonderful bakers in action.

... I'm remembering that the butter packet should be enclosed on all four sides to form a rectangle, the way you would do it if you were making puff pastry.

That makes perfect sense to me, and I can even visualize it -- thanks for clarifying! If I'd had more confidence in my knowledge, that's probably what I would have done, but I really wanted to follow the recipe as closely as possible.

One last thing, the croissant dough does freeze, but the best thing to do is to shape the dough into croissants, freeze the croissants on a lined baking sheet, then pack them when they're frozen.  Defrost the croissants, still wrapped, overnight in the freezer, then give them a rise and a bake in the morning. 

This also makes perfect sense. I think I'll do this with half of the croissants from the second half of the dough -- I have a tendancy to eat more of these than I should!!

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Like puff pastry, the first turn does look rough -- although Ruth, yours looked very good -- then, as the butter gets worked into the dough, it starts to look a lot better.

Oops -- I think the picture I labelled as the first turn was actually the second. I've edited the thread accordingly.

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Ruth, I'm very impressed. Well done! Enjoy eating as many as you want. :biggrin:

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I made two batches of croissants this weekend, too.

The first was from Julia's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I ultimately didn't get much rise from them, which (I intuited--no real basis for concluding this! :wacko: ) seemed to have been the result of all the chilling. It rose fine on the intermediate rises. I think I let the first rise go a little long, but only 20-30 minutes. Formed them Saturday night, refrigerated immediately, brought to room temp for an hour or so before baking. Hardly any rise. Baked at 475 for 10-12 minutes. The middles were not consistently baked through, so they weren't as flaky as I wanted, but had gotten darker than I'd wanted.

I gave them a B-.

Competitive as I am (even with myself), I "knew" I could do better. I have a set of books "La Cuisine" and "La Cuisina" that somebody picked up at Costco a few years ago. The croissant recipe called for the initial proofing to be 1/3 c. water, 4 1/2 tsp yeast (2 pkg) and 1 c. flour. I couldn't get all of the flour into the yeast mix, so I took the recipe up on its offer to add more water, if necessary. I probably added 3 or 4 T. water, then let it rise, which it did beautifully. The dough called for 2+ (I'm at work now--it was 2.5 cups or 2 1/3 cups) of milk, and another 3 c. of flour. Result was flour soup. There was no offer to add additional flour, but I had to. I lost track after adding 1.75 more cups--I might have added 2.5.

Now I have a huge hunk of dough that I don't decide to divide into two until after the first two turns. I increased the butter to account for the extra dough, and was satisfied that I'd added enough. This recipe did not call for another rising period after making the soup into dough, so I went ahead. Nothing unusual, except I had to use more flour on my pin and board than I had with Julia's.

This recipe called for forming, then letting them triple in size before washing w/ egg. At tripled, they were too delicate for egg, so I forwent that step. These turned out to be really breadlike but very light. I gave them a C. (Of course, my coworkers were impressed no matter what--they don't know anyone who could make croissants!)

While I was forming the second batch, I used a dry pastry brush to get rid of the extra flour on each piece. That felt really fussy. I think that was the right thing to do (right?), but it was awkward.

Any thoughts would be extremely welcomed!

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A week away from here, and there's lots to catch up on. Ruth, your croissants look great, especially considering it was your first try! The stretching part is really nerve-wracking, isn't it? I had the same problem and broke the "tail" off more than one croissant in the process.

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Nice to have some recipes to compare. Being a croissant neophyte, only a few things from your experience jump out at me --

Formed them Saturday night, refrigerated immediately, brought to room temp for an hour or so before baking.  Hardly any rise. 

For comparison with the BwJ technique, after forming mine they rose for 3+ hours (and no refrigeration beforehand). I'm guessing that yours needed several more hours at room temp prior to baking.

This recipe called for forming, then letting them triple in size before washing w/ egg.  At tripled, they were too delicate for egg, so I forwent that step. 

The BwJ recipe has you brush with egg wash immediately after forming, which probably makes more sense -- they're much less fragile before that final rise. Then, BwJ has you do a second egg wash after the final rise. I'm sure that the lovely golden brown crispy crust is thanks to that final egg wash.

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A week away from here, and there's lots to catch up on. Ruth, your croissants look great, especially considering it was your first try!  The stretching part is really nerve-wracking, isn't it? I had the same problem and broke the "tail" off more than one croissant in the process.

Thanks, Jennifer. Yup, that tail is quite tricky! I was quite proud to progress from 3 ridges to 4 by the last set.

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I wouldn't mind doing brioche I just don't know if I'll be able to fit it in before I go on vacation.  ldubois2, when are you going to start it?  I might be able to give it a start on Thursday.

Thursday would work for me, too. Too hot to be outside anyway!

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I'll see what I can do in making the brioche. I realised that I have made the dough before for the caramel roll recipe in BWJ. But I've been wanting to try something else with the dough for ages. Fingers crossed I can fit it in. If not I'll learn from all of you and when I get back, give it a try.

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Hi, Rhea -- you are the same Rhea S from CooksTalk, yes?  Glad to see a familiar face!  :wink:  Yes, this was my first time making croissants, and if I can do it, so can you.  Go for it!

Yup, tis me. Croissants and danishes have been on my "must-try at least once list" for a very long time. I think it's finally time and it'll get me back on this thread again.

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I wouldn't mind doing brioche I just don't know if I'll be able to fit it in before I go on vacation.  ldubois2, when are you going to start it?  I might be able to give it a start on Thursday.

Thursday would work for me, too. Too hot to be outside anyway!

I may or may not be able to join in on Thursday, but I'll try!

Ooh, I want to bring something to a big pool party on Saturday -- maybe the twice-baked brioche would fit the bill?

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I'd love it if we held off starting brioche until Friday, my first day as a free woman! :biggrin::biggrin::biggrin:

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Sadly I won't be able to do brioche with you guys. :sad: Can't wait to hear about your experience and see your pics, however. :smile:

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Sadly I won't be able to do brioche with you guys.  :sad:  Can't wait to hear about your experience and see your pics, however.  :smile:

I'm not going to get to it until next week, myself -- this week just disappeared somehow.

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Yesterday I received my copy of BWJ so I hope I will try a recipe as soon as possible (it's very hot here).

I'm new in these forums (and my english is also not very good) but your marvelous photos have conviced me to buy the book :biggrin:

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Sadly I won't be able to do brioche with you guys.  :sad:   Can't wait to hear about your experience and see your pics, however.   :smile:

I'm not going to get to it until next week, myself -- this week just disappeared somehow.

I have decided to push brioche to next week and make some ice cream instead. Got inspired by the other current thread and will use my White Mountain Electric machine. This is the one that requires rock salt and chipped ice. Had alot of luck with vanilla last year...also peach. This year I am challanged by chocolate. Looking at the Pierre Hermes recipe. But....I am on for Brioche after the 4th.

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Yesterday I received my copy of BWJ so I hope I will try a recipe as soon as possible (it's very hot here).

I'm new in these forums (and my english is also not very good) but your marvelous photos have conviced me to buy the book  :biggrin:

Welcome, Staximo! Let us know what you start out with.

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