(The Daring Bakers go retro this month! Thanks to one of our very talented non-blogging members, Sarah, the Daring Bakers were challenged to make Croissants using a recipe from the Queen of French Cooking, none other than Julia Child!)

Croissants have been on my list of things to try for a long time, ever since I saw Willow Bird Baking’s tutorial.  But I never found the time, until I saw this month’s Daring Baker Challenge. 

Then I found the time.

There’s not a whole lot to say about the process, and I didn’t take a whole lot of pictures.  It can be best summed up as: 

  • Roll
  • Fold
  • Rest
  • Repeat

There’s some mixing at the beginning.  There’s some smashing of butter, too, but mostly, it was rolling and resting.  The whole recipe should have taken 12 hours, but I spread it over three days.  Most of the resting steps could be done either one or two hours at room temperature, or overnight in the fridge. 

After three days of rolling and resting, I had croissants!  They were all supposed to come out as neat triangles, but each half ended up with one oddly-shaped leftover piece.  So I grabbed a few chocolate-chips from the pantry, and stuffed the odd ones with chocolate.

Croissants! Then, 15 minutes of baking and they were done!

Croissants!

They came out really quite good.  They were more dense then they should have been – the first few risings went fine, but I noticed by the end they really weren’t rising much. I  blame the yeast – mine is getting a bit old. I had plenty of layers, and they were nice and buttery – just not very fluffy. 

A few other notes – the marble rolling pin was a great help, and it made the rolling go a lot faster then my old wooden one.  The silicone rolling mat kept the flour mostly-contained for 3 days, and really made the cleanup faster.

I’ll probably give them another shot with fresher yeast.  They really weren’t a whole lot of trouble, and they were quite good.  Now, I just have to find a bread pudding recipe to use up the stale ones…

Macarons – the real, French kind – have been on my to-bake list for a long time.  I imagined it would be an all-day process, and I just kept putting it off.

Until I got a dinner invitation, and I offered to bring dessert, and nothing in my recipes looked good.  I did have all day to work on them, so I pulled up the Definitive Macaron Guide and got started.

This will all make sense if you follow along in the guide. 

I started by marking circles on parchment to pipe them into.  I didn’t have a 1.5 inch cookie cutter, and the closest round thing I did have was a give-away champagne glass that lurks in the pack of my cupboard.  So I used it.  The important note here is that you must remember to flip the paper over before you start piping onto and, and also that blue sharpie is a pain to get off your good cookie sheets.  A pen would have been a better choice.

Macarons

Next, the measuring:  4 ounces of almond flour and 8 ounces of powdered sugar.  I actually had almond flour in the fridge from an almond cake recipe I made earlier this year, so that made this part simple.  Macarons

Then the eggs.  I really did weigh the eggs.  It came out to about 5 eggs for me, but I get farm-type eggs which cannot be restricted by labels like "large" or "extra-large".  I followed her instructions exactly – 3 minutes on medium, 3 minutes on medium-high, and 3 minutes on high.  And they looked perfectly meringue-y to me:

Macarons

Then the folding.  All the dry ingredients get folded into the egg whites.  This is where I deviated, and I should not have.  She said about 40 strokes was right – I stopped at 30, because I was afraid they were getting too runny.  The result was that I had an awful lot of big bubbles in my shells, instead of many more little bubbles.  I won’t make that mistake again!

Macarons

Next, piping.  I should have knocked down those little points on top before I baked them, because with the points, they don’t lay flat on the table so you can fill them.

 Macarons Then, off to the oven for 18 minutes.  Mine took closer to 20 minutes, but I suspect my oven thermostat is drifting.  Perhaps the next time I buy an oven thermometer, I’ll actually remember to remove it before I run the self-cleaning cycle?  No, probably not.

Macarons

I was genuinely impressed.  They weren’t perfect, but they were very close, especially for a first try.  While they cooled, I whipped up a batch of vanilla buttercream to fill them with.  I piped in the buttercream…

Macarons

…and then we went out to dinner.  Everyone loved them, even if they could have been a bit flatter and less airy.  My impression was that they weren’t nearly as hard as everyone says they are, and they were well worth the trouble.  I can see myself making a huge batch, with different colors and fillings, for a party.  I’m thinking cherry shells with a chocolate ganache, to start with…

( see the recipe )