Croissants, a la Bertinet
We had invited friends for brunch the weekend after New Year's day and I had already decided to make zolablue's cinnamon rolls. It seemed, though, that something else would be good to have with the quiches that my wife was making; something not quite so sweet as the cinnamon rolls (which were fabulous, by the way). It occurred to me that a croissant's buttery, flaky lightness would be a perfect accompaniment for the richness of the quiche. There was one minor problem: I'd never made a croissant in my life.
The first step: search TFL for threads dealing with croissants. I found two things that proved to be very helpful. The first was a formula for Bertinet's croissants, posted by dolfs. The second was a link to SteveB's Breadcetera site, which included some very helpful videos and other instructions for croissants. Armed with this information, I decided to forge ahead. If the croissants turned out well, I would serve them to my guests; if they turned out badly, my guests would never hear about them but my wife and I would have some very tasty french toast.
The next step was to assemble all of the ingredients and start building the dough. I'll spare you all of the process steps; Dolf and Steve have done an excellent job of documenting those, which you can read by clicking on the links, above. My laminated dough skills, being essentially non-existent, caused a couple of butter breakouts during the turning and rolling steps. Happily (for me, anyway), the end product didn't seem to have suffered as a result; although M. Bertinet may not have wanted his name attached to them.
I was grateful to have a largish island on which to roll out the final dough before cutting the croissants. A 3-foot long strip of dough is much longer in reality than it would seem to be in concept. While I suspect that I may not have rolled the dough as thinly as a professional baker would have, I did get 14 croissants out of it, plus a couple of smaller scraps from the ends (which served well for QA testing).
Here's a picture of the shaped croissants during their final rise, after shaping:
By this point, I could already tell that they would taste wonderful. All I needed to do was bake them successfully. Here's how they looked after coming out of the oven:
I could probably have left them in the oven another couple of minutes for additional browning, but I was very skittish about burning them after having gotten them this far. (By the way, Dolf, thanks for including the tip on applying the egg wash.) Turns out they were fully baked and absolutely delicious, as confirmed by our QA samples. Lots of tender, buttery, flaky goodness.
So, our guests did get croissants to go with the quiche, although the cinnamon rolls were probably the bigger hit of the party.
As good as they are, these will probably remain on my "special occasion" baking list. For one thing, there's almost a tablespoon of butter in every single one of them. For another, they require significantly more effort for the yield than a similar quantity of dinner rolls. Still, after a bite of one warm from the oven with a dab of marmalade, I know I'll be making them again.