French Crossiants: Pain au Chocolat and Croissant aux Amandes


French Croissants and Baking with Jill 201

This post is for those of you who shared in baking bliss and the Christmas

Ham and cheese croissant

Image via Wikipedia

frenzied marathon of making enough baked goods to stuff us all silly. I didn’t quite surpass past years of making 100 sticks of dutch banket to satisfy all the expectant taste pallets…but I think I still managed to get 90% of my banket out the door (much to the chagrin of my family…there’s never enough for them). I must’ve reached my production limit because just last week I passed over the almond paste sale display at my favorite imports store in Grand Rapids, Peter’s Imports, without even flinching.

Now we move on.

So let’s think of love.

And nothing rings more true to love than French food …and when I think of french baked goods, I think of croissants. A croissant, when done to perfection is flaky and buttery…it has a shine to its exterior but yields an interior that shares layer upon layer of thin buttery richness…. shards of flaky baked perfection with a chew to a silky textured interior.
Croissants only find perfection when they are:
1) made with butter
2) eaten within an hour or so of baking.

I confirmed this thought when in my last Williams Sonoma catalog I saw the pitch for homemade croissants…15 of which you can buy “frozen” and ready to bake for a mere $39.95 (plus shipping). Then I saw that Oprah had given them as part of her annual and last ever “favorite things”.  Wow, I really didn’t think what I was doing was that exceptional.

This leads me to believe that almost every living soul, except perhaps fitness junkies, will see a deep appreciation for a well-made croissant.

The surprising fact is that you can easily reproduce fantastic croissants at home….turning even the novice baker’s home into a french bakery…and, in turn, making them an addict for life.

I began making croissants after trying Mereille Guiliano’s recipe in her book, French Women Don’t Get Fat. At the time, I was still working with an old electric oven with serious hot/cold spots so my weekly results were far from consistent. Even so, the aroma of my Sunday morning croissant baking session was intoxicating.

I searched for recipes that would turn out better results and I began filling them with almond frangipane and chocolate…myhusband and children would share their visible disappointment if a week passed when I didn’t feel like making them (beginning the process on Friday night and finishing with getting up at 5:30 on Sunday mornings to roll out and cut the dough). We were all hooked.

After a few years, I have now honed the task.  It doesn’t take me hours and I don’t get up at 5:30 anymore.  I’ve modified the way I roll and bake.

Since I don’t want to make croissants for the world, it’s in my best interest to share the love and the skill. Why not?   It really is not fair to withhold something so wonderful with others who may never get to have one in Paris at the Aux Peches Normandes.

I will teach a two-part class on making Chocolate, Almond and Plain Croissants on Friday and Saturday, February 25 and 26. In the class, held at First CRC Church, I will teach even the newbie baker how to turn out a wonderful looking croissant, worthy of the Panera Bread display that not only looks good but tastes out of this world and will turn their kitchen into a French Patisserie.
Share the love with me.   RSVP soon because the class will fill up fast!

p.s. for those of you far away, I may do a webcast.  Please post a note if you’re interested.

Croissants emerge from the oven flaky, golden and buttery at Paris bakery Aux Peches Normands. (Ben Barnier/GlobalPost)

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About Riding for Chocolate...and Beer, Wine, Cheese and Bread!

Avid baker and eater, mom of 2, wife of 1, daughter (and daugher in law), sister....chauffeur, homework consultant, coach and chef and maitre'd...recreational bike rider, wine producer, volunteer and travel geek.
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