Daring Bakers: Fresh, Fluffy, French: Croissants!

The Daring Bakers go retro this month! Thanks to one of our very talented non-blogging members, Sarah, the Daring Bakers were challenged to make Croissants using a recipe from the Queen of French Cooking, none other than Julia Child!

The Daring Bakers have done croissants before, but long before my time, and they are one of the things on my mental “bucket list.” I am think I should actually write out that list one of these days and start crossing things off of it, I can think of a few right off the top of my head that my blog and being part of the Daring Kitchen have pushed me to do, pretty keen to think about it actually!

And to make croissants using Julia Child’s recipe? The perfect way to start if you ask me.

Now, first things first: this recipe is long and has a lot of directions for how to do these babies the right way. I am sending you here for the pdf file of the recipe that Sarah prepared for us. She did an absolutely amazing job with tons of pictures to guide us along the way, and they were all such a huge help. Now, please don’t be intimidated, if you’ve considered making croissants, it is more of a time issue than a difficulty issue, the recipe just requires patience and time.

And now I will share with you what I did wrong the first time I attempted to make my croissants.

Don’t rush your yeast! Don’t put it in too warm of an oven thinking it will help it proof while you are off running errands early on a saturday morning! I went and tried to use a slightly preheated, warm oven because our house and the morning were cool the first day I started. The oven ended up being too warm and I killed off some of my yeast. I powered through but ended up with dough that wasn’t very elastic or forgiving and small, not risen croissants:

I also determined that the 475 degree temp was too warm for my oven, hence the slightly burned bottoms on the almond croissants you see there.

The next week, I tried again, again on a cooler morning in the house, but I did something different this time, a trick I’ve used before with great success.

That my friends is a heating pad, turned to low nestled around the bowl with my dough in it. And because of it, I got a perfect slow rise in the morning. Once the day and the house warmed up I didn’t need it any more, but if you have a day that the house isn’t quite warm enough to make your yeast happy, give this a try, I swear it works!

So now, with happy dough, I set about getting it laminated, that is the process of rolling the butter in and turning and rolling again.

Then, once it was turned and rolled and rested appropriately,  I shaped my croissants. I went with three flavors for this second attempt, 4 plain; 4 almond, rolled in the traditional crescent shape with a little almond paste in the center; and four with a nice, dark bittersweet chocolate, essentially just folded around the piece of chocolate. And this time I baked them for the recommended time at 450 degrees, which was perfect.

And amazingly, there was only 1 stick of butter for the full dozen. My mother in law was surprised, she assumed they would need far more than 1 stick. So while not a common item found on diets, they aren’t a complete deal breaker either.

Now the big question; will I be making croissants again? Absolutely! I am already planning on making them for Christmas Day breakfast. They are easy to make ahead and freeze, then defrost over night in the fridge, proof the last hour and bake as normal. That makes them a great option for a family gathering around the holidays, you won’t be running around crazy in the kitchen, trying to get something made.

I hope you consider making your own croissants. Also, head over to the Daring Kitchen and see what my fellow Daring Bakers created!

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34 Responses to Daring Bakers: Fresh, Fluffy, French: Croissants!

  1. That platter of pastries is so luscious I love how you made three types. And the warming mat is a great idea, though in Australia even in the depths of winter I don’t this would be needed. And to make these for Christmas Day sounds superb. Well done. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

    • Jo says:

      Thanks Audax! We don’t get too cold here in So Cal, but in winter it can be cold enough for yeast to be unhappy. The heating pad has been a big help in the past.

  2. Liz says:

    Oh, Jo, you executed these perfectly!!! I forgot to do the last step and make mine into crescents…oops…but they were still marvelous!!

  3. Jodell Jackson says:

    Awesome! I just made these about a month ago. I loved laminating the dough! So fun :-) The recipe I used let them proof for 2 hours at the end (after they’re rolled out), and also I did an egg wash before and after the proofing, to help with trapping the moisture and they puffed up so much. Unfortunately the recipe I used called for 3 sticks of butter, but looks like yours worked pretty well with just one, I might try cutting it back a bit then. Thanks for sharing! Yum yum!!!

    • Jo says:

      Give this recipe a try Jodie, it is Julia’s, so you know it is a good one! And I saw your croissants, I wanted to say something about my adventures, but couldn’t at the time, of course!

  4. ceecee says:

    Oh your results look so delicious!

  5. Laura says:

    Great job!
    I certainly did the yeast kill by placing the dough in a too hot oven. Yeast can be do finicky, can’t it?

    Looking forward to checking your blog out!

  6. pastry says:

    I also had a temperature problem with proofing which caused the butter to melt out of the croissants before baking… However yours turned out great and the shots are perfect!

    • Jo says:

      Thank you so much! I will say this, the second pan of croissants lost a bit of butter. I only baked one pan at a time, so I am thinking it was out long enough for the butter to soften up before i baked them. Live and learn though, now I know for the next time!

  7. Patri says:

    What a great idea (the heating pad!). Congrats on a wonderful result!

  8. Renata says:

    I was also surprised at the amazing results with far less butter than other recipes call for. Your croissants look delicious, and I love that you made three variations, they are gorgeous!

  9. Ruth H. says:

    Good job coming back for a second round! I think it helps that you knew what went wonky the first time – I might have been to discouraged otherwise! Your second batch looks heavenly! I might just have to pop in on Christmas morning, huh… (Ok, maybe not. But it is tempting!) Great job!

  10. These look totally delish! I should have tried other flavors. Great job :)

  11. Ilke says:

    What a great idea with the heating pad. Your family will be the happiest when they wake up to these beauties on Christmas morning :)

  12. Valerie says:

    Your photos are gorgeous (and helpful)! I made the same mistake, I placed the dough in an oven that was too warm…it stuck like warm glue to the bowl. Your idea to use a heating pad is brilliant, especially since my kitchen is either too hot or too cold (it’s never a happy ‘Goldilocks’ medium). :D

    Great work!

  13. Kim says:

    Your croissants look great! I’ve never heard of the heating pad trick before, and I agree about the oven being a bit too warm at 475. Next time maybe I’ll try them at 450 so the bottoms don’t get so brown. Nice job on the challenge!

  14. Jo….what an absolutely beautiful array of croissants! Since it was my first time…I didn’t fuss with other flavors….but almond croissants are by far my favorite! I also found 475 to be too hot, and I think I took mine out too soon when I saw the bottoms getting a bit dark. And what a FABULOUS tip about nestling your bowl in a heating pad! Genius! You did a great job with these!

  15. Inma Miranda says:

    Lovely work, your croissants look luscious!!!

  16. Lisa says:

    I love the shapes of your crescent croissants, a beautiful horseshoe! To echo most of the above, the heating pad idea is fantastic! Gorgeous platter of flavors too!!

  17. Rituparna says:

    Those croissants look delicious. I like the different style folding that you used, I will give them a try soon & what delicious Christmas breakfast they would make.

  18. What a beautiful result with a lovely array of croissants! I like that heating pad idea. I usually put it in a bowl of warm to hot water to speed it up if it is cold.

  19. Suz says:

    What a beautiful plateful of pastries! The perfect thing to wake up to on Christmas morning & with that buttery smell filling the house as well. Mmm. Nice idea RE the heating pad. I’ll definitely keep that in mind.

  20. Jenni says:

    Great job on your croissants! And that’s a good trick to know about the heating pad! I’m going to stash that one away for this winter!

  21. JM says:

    That’s great that you made a second attempt! Yes, yeast can be pretty fickle. Your croissants turned out gorgeous – they look like the kind you see at bakeries, although I’m sure yours tasted even better. Kudos!

  22. Jacque says:

    Mmm, those almond croissants sound delicious. You get bonus points for making two batches, they look delish!

  23. Korena says:

    Your three varieties look great! I was also surprised at how little butter was needed to get such buttery, flaky croissants. I like your idea to freeze these and bake them for Christmas morning – I might just do that too!

  24. Beautiful! I made similar mistake in rushing the yeast. The key to making this month’s challenge really is patience.

  25. Carol Anne says:

    See, I had sworn off making croissants again after finishing the challenge… but pain au chocolat for Christmas breakfast? Oh my, that does sound tempting! I’m sure my family would be delighted! Yours look beautiful, really well done.

  26. These look scrumptious! Great job on the challenge.

  27. Pingback: SRC: Chocolate Bananas Foster Ice Cream | The Mommy Bowl

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