Inspired by my friend Astrid, I attempted to make croissants. Per usual, I used the Cook's Illustrated recipe, aided by Sherry Yard's instructions in The Secrets of Baking. Despite my poor and lazy effort, they tasted pretty darn good, probably because of the 12 oz (24TB) of butter for 12 croissant. I ate three in one day (one slathered in Nutella) and felt like I might have a heart attack at any minute. They were definitely better than Swiss croissants, but as Astrid says, that's not saying much. Here's what I learned (I was in a hurry so I didn't take pics of all the steps and the pics are blurry and ugly - sorry)...
This is the butter block that will be rolled between the dough layers. Getting this cold butter into a 7in square was the hardest part. Obviously, I'm not a perfectionist. That is the smoothest I could get that stupid block o' butter without throwing it out the window and calling it quits.
Then I folded the corners over the butter and chilled for 2 hours. Then I rolled out to 14in square. This involves banging the dough/cold butter with the rolling pin to soften it. I thought bang meant bang, and I banged too hard creating lots of chunks of butter in my dough instead of smooth layers. Must be more gentle next time.
I folded it in thirds like a business letter, then again, creating two "turns" in pastry terms. Then chill 2 hours and repeat. I chilled the dough in the fridge overnight before the final roll and shaping. This didn't have any poor effect on the dough (like over yeasty flavor or something).
I rolled to 20in square, cut and rolled up the croissants. Mine are so ugly, esp. compared to Astrid's. Only that one in the top right-hand corner any hope of being pretty. Then they rose for an hour or so.
After a couple minutes in the oven, there were pools of butter under every croissant and I was expecting the worst. However, they puffed up nicely and were flaky, buttery, and delicious. They were however, quite heavy - not sure why. Next time I will roll more gently so the butter evenly spreads in the layer - I think that's my main problem. I froze six shaped but not baked ones. I'm curious to see if they bake up ok.
there's nothing better than a croissant fresh out of the oven - ok, maybe two croissants fresh out of the oven