When I was a kid and the Internet, capital I, was becoming a thing that everyone had, our family got our first computer. There are a few things I remember about those early computers in relation to my family:
- The sound of dial-up.
- The pinball game. (My family played all the time and there was a magnificent competition for the highest score. My dad always eventually won it back, but we all stole it from him at least once.)
Emode.com was a website FULL of personality quizzes. Each quiz was pages and pages long, Buzzfeed definitely couldn't touch these babies. I loved them, from the bottom of my eight-year-old to twelve-year-old heart (really not sure about this timeline, you all). One of the things that I remember the most about Emode is actually not the quizzes or the results, but the "Next Page" button at the bottom of the page. Weird, right? Well, maybe not so much for me.
You see, I'm a not a very patient person. I'm really not. There are certain situations where I have infinite patience - like with family and friends and little kids and puppies. There are other situations, not people-centric ones, that really test me. Technology. Traffic. Technology. Technology. I'm not sure why, but when technology doesn't work I totally lose my cool. And I usually make everything ten times worse. I won't stop clicking things. I might bang on some buttons. I'm a work in progress.
This technological impatience was also a flaw when I was a kid. So when I got to the bottom of that Emode quiz, when I was ready to go to the next page of questions or, even better, the result page that would tell me everything about who I was and who I'd marry and how much money I'd make and my hidden talents, I couldn't handle how long the computer took to just get to it. I'd hit the "Next" button once. Twice. Three times. Click-click-click-click without even lifting my finger. And the amazing thing was that the button changed text. "Hold On." "Working On It." "Sorry for your wait." And, my favorite, the line that changed my nine or ten or eleven-year-old heart, "Patience is a virtue."
I've been trying to learn that one for awhile. And baking has helped. Baking has helped tremendously. I'm not always very patient, but as impatient as I can be, I hate food waste even more. If you rush things in baking, if you don't read the directions carefully and multiple times, bake at the right temperature, give the dough time to develop, you get subpar (sometimes not really edible) results. You have to be patient if you want good results. You also have to be okay with trial and error. You have to make recipes a lot of times, you have to pay attention and take good notes about what you've done and how it was different from the last time. Baking is, after all, science and each new go at a recipe is another experiment. Patience is my first croissant baking tip, and it's at the top of the list for a good reason.
Top Tips for Baking Classic Croissants
- Croissants are the ultimate test in patience. Literally, every step along the way is 80% waiting. And a lot of waiting. So that's my first piece of advice when baking croissants. Be very, very patient.
- My second is to have a kitchen scale. This is a general good kitchen gadget to have and is more important for recipes I have planned for later (macarons in a few weeks!), but they are affordable and incredibly helpful in baking.
- Have good butter with a high fat content. Croissants, and a lot of bread recipes, don't actually have a lot of ingredients. That means that the ingredients have to do a lot of work to build flavor and texture. They are the stars, the supporting players, the production team, the sound team... You get it? So splurge a little on butter. It'll make a difference.
- Be okay with the first few rounds turning out like trash. This might not happen. My first two croissant recipes were good, but they were a lot more like dressed-up biscuits if the dresses were from H&M and the biscuits had been wearing the dresses all night and the biscuits were already at their third bar. I enjoyed eating them, but they weren't croissants is all I'm saying.
- Make a preferment! Just do it. There are recipes that don't require it and it will lengthen the overall prepping time for an already long process, but it's so worth it. My croissants went from H&M biscuits to Marchesa French pastries (I know it doesn't make sense anymore, but I've already committed.)
- Let the dough rest between turns. It really does wonders to the happiness of your dough and happy dough listens better.
- If the dough isn't rolling out as long as you'd like, don't force it. Either rest it a little longer in the refrigerator or else be okay with a slightly shorter measurement. The only real concern should be if the dough isn't stretching at all.
- Freeze the croissants you don't want to bake immediately. Fresh-baked croissants really are the best and this recipe makes plenty. And it really is so easy to pop them out of the freezer and let them proof overnight.
- Make sure to use the egg wash. It really does make a difference in attaining that golden crisp on the outside of the croissant.
- Add chocolate! Forever and ever, amen.
Please use the next week of your life (not really kidding) to make these croissants.