It’s my job to make croissants for family feasts. I’m not much of a baker, but I get the nod in my family because basically no one else wants to bake at all. This year we had no prospects for a big Thanksgiving dinner and no real plans for ourselves, and that was okay, because Dave has never particularly like turkey anyway. He always made the turkey, and the stuffing, and the potatoes, and the side dishes, and the gravy, and the peeled prawns with tarragon mustard sauce, and a selection of Horse Doovers, and he opened the can of cranberry sauce and shlorped it onto the plate, but he always groused about the turkey (little ground bird humor, there) and wondered why we couldn’t have prime rib instead.
Anyway, this year seemed like a good opportunity to not have turkey, and we didn’t have any other plans, and then it occurred to me how about I just make a batch of croissants and we eat them all? A jug of wine, a freaking mountain of butter-saturated bread and thou. As soon as it came to me I knew it had to happen. I don’t even eat wheat much anymore, but I’m willing to destroy my health for homemade croissants. Mine aren’t bakery-pretty, but they are spectacular. By the time you read this, I might almost be ready to sit up and take soup again.
This sort of thing is not unprecedented around here. Dave has always been a very good cook but one day I asked him what he was making and he said “All the bacon you ever really wanted.” And that’s what we had. It was a lot of bacon. We were not at all well afterwards.
This is the first year I’ve made croissants since I started watching the Great British Baking Show, though. So I’ve seen how puff pastry is supposed to be made, and it’s a somewhat delicate and painstaking process that rewards perfectionists and painstakers, none of whom live here. I planned to make them as I always do. I always check the recipe even though I’ve made them almost a hundred times and there are only four ingredients. (“Oh yeah,” I say, when I look them up.) The cookbook springs open to the right page, spang in the middle like the Psalms. It’s an old Joy Of Cooking with grease stains and a sprung spine, and it was given to my mother-in-law Murry (yes) in 1948 with the penciled inscription “Good luck, ole pal, love, Helen.” This cookbook is so old it has references to the “colored cook.”
I’m good at making the dough but I get lazy when it comes to dotting the butter on it and folding it over. You’re supposed to whip the butter so it’s easy to Dot but I’ve never bothered. I just put a couple sticks of butter in my bra for a while and it’s soft enough when I’m ready to go. Also, as someone who has never given milk, I think it’s impressive to pull butter from my bosom.
So while I had the recipe in front of me, I re-checked it, as I had the previous 99 times, and what the hell but I’ve been doing it wrong all this time. I’ve always read “dot 1/4 of the butter on l/3 of the rolled-out dough and fold into thirds,” and then swing it around east to south (I think north to east works just as well), and do it three more times. And that is what I have always done. It’s hard to fit all the butter on a third of the dough after you’ve folded and rolled it a few times but I do my best. But it doesn’t say that. It says to dot 1/4 of the butter on the whole dough layer and fold into thirds. Much easier. It says that plain as day and presumably always has. This is why it’s hard to edit your own copy. Once you’ve read it wrong, it just stays read wrong.
Anyway my way does result in more chunks of butter that want to bust through the layers of dough and leak out, so my croissants are not only packed with butter, they’re also swimming in it in the oven, resulting in sautéed butter rolls, which is even better than the professional version. The judges of the Great British Baking Show would demerit me into exile, but I don’t care. And if I have a soggy bottom, ’tain’t nobody’s business but my own.
Murr! You're always saying that you're lazy, and here you go making croissants, FFS?! I am not a lazy cook; I bake bread, make yogurt, make my own stocks, can vegetables, etc. But even I would not want to make croissants. Just looking at the recipe gives me dry heaves. As you say… it is just too fussy and painstaking.
I think perhaps that you are not actually lazy at all. You are only pretending to be lazy to counter all these homemaking blogs. I'm onto ya!
Clearly, you're not–she said, waiting for enough dust to fall on the table that she can peel it off all at once.
I've always wanted to do a home decor blog and call it Smart Ass With a Paint Brush, but I don't think I would get all those sweet partnerships with big brands. Anyway, I thought the item in front of Pookie was one of those braided loaves that came out wrong.
I LOVE the memes about cute baking or craft projects as they're supposed to look vs how they really turn out.
Just Google cake wrecks. Go ahead. I'll wait.
I certainly applaud you for making those whether right or wrong. My daughter always has them at our family Thanksgiving but we did not get to gather this year. I would have suggested they have a Croissant binge this year with bacon at her house.
They're really not that fussy. Even in the recipe, she calls the "rich, somewhat fussy, but unequaled by any other form of roll." Somewhat fussy.
I applaud you as well, for the simple fact that few people in this world can make me laugh and you do it so well! Anyway, love the idea of eating piles of croissants or bacon–now I can't get those images outta my head 🙂
AND cheese! OMG… those three things together would put me into a food coma that I would gladly submit to!
You know before you even start in that this is going to hurt you terribly and yet…and yet…
In our family, croissant-shaped rolls are a staple at family Thanksgiving meals; but, they are not made of puff-pastry – just an airy-light yeast dough perfected by my beloved mother-in-law. The airiness is amazing considering the amount of butter therein.
My husband has his mother's "Joy of Cooking"; but, since it has "1965" inscribed inside, I'm sure it was not her original copy, however be-spattered it is. She gave me a copy that has "1962" inscribed and I know that she had been using the book for years before she gifted mine to me. Mine is held together with heavy-duty (as in shipping) transparent tape.
Mom made crescent rolls too, out of her usual white bread dough, for which she was famous, because nobody else made bread back then. These came out as flat as I've ever seen them. They're usually fat and fluffy. I believe they trembled in the oven because they were going to have their picture taken.
White bread dough (with a tablespoon of extra sugar) goes into my sweet rolls – with lots of butter, pecans, and plumped raisins spread before rolling. Christmas and New Year's Day mornings don't seem right without those rolls.
That sounds delicious, but I lost concentration on my recipe reading where we got to the buttered breasts. Nothing made sense after that.
Another thing for you to be thankful for!
PS you reminded me of a friend who saw an extremely tall woman at a party and he and his buddy were surreptitiously glancing at her. He said "I just want to cover her in butter and see if I can climb her."
And thank you for that helpful homemaking hack, Murr! I frequently forget to take the butter out to bring to "room temperature", but have never thought of tucking it into my bra. Probably because for so many years I had no tits and would barely get them warm. Since menopause, though….
Post menopausal mammaries. I hate them.
Ha! A now departed friend said she rolled over one morning and there "they" were. She asked her husband, "What are we supposed to do with *these*?" He shrugged and said, "I dunno, I'm a leg man myself."
I suspect that Pootie went into a food coma as well.
And some things are worth the after effects even though you know (before you start) that they wont be pretty.
Pfft to Paul Hollywood.
Strong language, that.
Your closing line is a work of art.
There is a tiny bit of art there, yes.
Well even I got a copy of that Joy cookbook in my teens here in GTA. My fav recipe was Chinese Chews made with lots of dates at this time of year. After my stay with a French family I began collecting cook books. But in 2009 I became Julis Child Fan and still watch her old shows on You tube. I love her Teak Tartar served to David Letterman from long ago. Good laugh.
And she likely has made croissants on her shows. She loved butter. And I love this post. Pootie is lucky to be so up close to those yummy creations and I bet Pootie’s bottom is safe from melted butter.
We skipped turkey in October but may have to bake some at Christmas as Buddy is a traditionalist and keeps reminding us not to omit it again.
Last time we went to the Smithsonian we spent fully a half hour at the Julia Child kitchen watching reruns on the TV.
My mom made crescent rolls. I hated the loud bang when she whacked the Doughboy’s tube on the edge of the counter.
Love it! Thanks for the chuckle.
Those thing scare me. "Press in with a spoon" and prepare for an airbag explosion.
I have never attempted puff pastry or croissants, it's much quicker to just buy them, but I did occasionally try flaky pastry to top a savoury pie. It never worked out quite as expected, but the pie got eaten regardless. I gave up pie making several years ago, except for the little Christmas mince pies (fruit mince) and even gave up making those last year. Your croissants look yummy, do you tear them apart and dip them in raspberry jam?
Straight butter for me! A chunk with every torn piece!
Horse Doovers? When my mom was young she and her friends called them "horses ovaries."
You. make. croissants. from. scratch. I genuflect oh great domestic goddess.
No, they're not hard at all. Be not afraid!
Remind me to make some if you visit.
I've never tried making croissants. I do occasionally attempt Danish pastry, which also has the massive amount of butter and multiple foldings and rollings. I figure GBBO ruined me because now when I make Danish I think about laminations.
Baking is a marvelous art that requires practice and more practice which means I would get fatter and fatter. I am having the last of the pumpkin pie for breakfast…maybe at Christmas I will make two pie forus.
I used to bake a lot but since I (mostly) got off wheat I don't. I could make gluten-free things but my entire appetite has changed and leans more in the vegetable direction, so I don't bother.