That of course involves food. We visited the baker’s mecca–King Arthur Flour in Norwich Vermont, for a class on croissant baking. And like everything KA, it was excellent.
But first stop–the Norwich Farm Market where we found cheese vendors, bakers, produce, pickles, and no surprise–maple syrup in all its amber grades.
Our teacher, Jessica Meyers, started the class by asking if anyone had attempted croissants, and how it went. I’d had significant butter leakage and others got flat results. Her first tip that would help solve both those problems–REST and CHILL. (Good advice generally.)
All that resting and chilling takes place over three days–so how were we to accomplish this in four hours? We started with the last step first–cutting and shaping croissants from dough that had been made for us.
We then made our own dough (a very simple affair–five minutes of work and at least five hours of chilling). And then the meat of the class–working the butter block that we made into dough made for us.
We would go home with cooked croissants, “de trempe” dough ready for butter, and butter-laminated dough ready for cutting, shaping, and baking.
More Jessica tips–cut a notch opposite the point of triangle to shape and gently stretch outward and roll to remove a wad of dough from the croissant’s center. You can rest the shaped croissants overnight in the oven and bake them straight from the fridge in the morning. You can add nut meal or substitute whole wheat for up to one half of the white flour.
The big controversy was how dark these croissants cooked. They are not your flabby Dunkin Donuts croissants; these are muscular, all butter, mahogany beauties.
Sure you can make them with half shortening/half butter, or use less egg wash, or undercook them, or you could just get over it and learn to love a properly baked croissant, which will of course, spoil you for 99 percent of what’s sold out there. But that’s not a bad thing.
And if your own attempts come out less than perfect, don’t toss the dough. Jessica made a Tarte Flambee to keep us fortified and prove that no effort with butter and flour is wasted!