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Friday, July 24, 2009


I must confess that I’m not a Croissant lover. I know, I know…but I prefer desserts that are fruit forward, nutty, deeply deliciously chocolate...or heck, all of those. And as much as I can see why other people love them, I have “eh” feelings towards Croissants. However, after making them for the first time, I feel kind of enlightened.

I think it is the very fact that I’m not mesmerized with eating Croissants that allowed me to focus on (and become mesmerized with) making them. I am fascinated by the skill and science behind these flaky, layered, crescent-shaped butter fiends. They take real skill and precision to perfect.

First of all, it’s true that Croissants are primarily butter…with a little flour, sugar, salt, yeast, egg and milk thrown in the mix. Here’s how it goes…

There are two basic components to making Croissants (same thing is true for Puff Pastry and Danish dough as well):

1. The Dough Block (called the “Detrempe”)

2. The Butter Block (called the “Beurrage”)

The two are pretty self-explanatory. After making, rolling and chilling the Dough Block, it’s time to make the Butter block…which is literally a block of butter. The recipe I followed uses 3 sticks of butter in the Butter Block (not to mention the 1 stick already in the Dough). The butter sticks are halved and pressed together into a square to create the Butter Block, which is then inserted into the rolled out dough.

The dough gets wrapped up around the butter and the edges are pinched shut. Next, the whole thing gets rolled into a rectangle, folded into thirds (called a “letter fold”) and refrigerated again. The rolling and folding step gets repeated three times.

When Croissants bake, the water in the butter (butter is 20% water) evaporates creating steam. The steam then lifts the dough layers apart, poofing the whole thing up. The layers then set as they cook and create the airy, flaky texture that many people know and love.

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