Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Croissants ala Tartine

Have I ever told you how much I love croissants ?  How just biting into one with crumbs flying puts me in the middle of Paris outside at a little cafe.  I can close my eyes and smell the hot steaming espresso sitting in that little white cup at my table. The tabletop is a beautiful worn wood, it's a light chestnut color, worn lighter in some areas from years of usage. It causes me to wonder how many lovers have shared a croissant and espresso while sitting in this very spot.  It's a little chilly to sit outside the cafe today, a slight Spring breeze blows through occasionally dusting me with more croissant crumbs, but I love sitting outside. 

Taking in the smells of the city, you can smell the green from Spring in the air, the melting  Gruyere cheese from the croque-monsieur at the table next to me.  That mild acrid smell of the french cigarette from the oh so charming young Frenchman at the table to my left. I love watching everyone walk by, the grand mama scolding her 2 little grandchildren-just a few quiet words puts them in their place and they walk quietly and politely along side her. She looks so elegant in her grey wool coat with her black beret placed just so on that gorgeous silver white hair.The young couple wrapped in each others arms nipping gentle little kisses at each others faces, the way young horses nip at each other in the Spring-heads back, manes flying in the wind. The blossoms from the trees are falling and scattering everywhere they walk-little flowers dancing around them-happy to be whirling around two lovers. Because Paris after all is for lovers.  And croissants . And lovers of croissants. 

I am striving for that perfect Parisian croissant, flaky,buttery and crisp-the kind I've had at that outdoor cafe, the kind I've had at Cafe Besalu in Seattle and the kind I've read about in Tartine. I've made the pain au chocolate with the croissant recipe and those turned out pretty close to the perfection I strive for,  so I have high expectations for the croissants.  They are in the refrigerator this morning after being removed from the freezer, I will roll them and let them rise when I get home tonight.

I rolled my little beauties for the last time after work last night, set them in the cold oven with a pan of hot water to proof.  I'm thinking these are going to be giant croissants.  I followed the instructions so that the dough was 12" wide and cut the croissants so that they had a 4 inch base-I ended up with 10 croissants ,8 sized according to directions and 2 made up from the scraps.  Once I rolled them into the beautiful croissant shape I knew they were going to be the croissants that ate Seattle-oh well, such is life. They at least looked like they would be the most delicious tasting giant croissants!  The Tartine recipe calls for immediately lowering the oven to 400F once you place them inside and not opening the oven for at least 10minutes, which I did. But when I did open the oven to do the first pan turn (so they bake evenly) I lowered the oven to 375 and baked them at that temperature for the duration.  After another 10 minutes I turned the pan again. It took a total of 30 minutes to complete baking with a total of 3 pan turns but I think they came out beautifully.  It was a challenge to watch them sitting on the rack and not tear into them.  But I was patient and watched the steam escape as they set up on the counter. That first bite-there I was back at the table in Paris, hmm, these were delicious.  They had a slight buttery taste along with that mid yeast taste that comes with good bread.  And oh so flaky and caramelized on the outside.  I have a few other recipes to try and compare to these but it's going to be hard to find one that will match these. I'll let you know, but in the mean time Bon Appetit.

This is another book you really should have in your kitchen library

Until you buy the book you can find the croissant recipe here . And some really good instructions along with a review of the book here.


Elaine said...

I loved your description of sitting outside at a cafe table in Paris. I can just picture the scene in my mind. My husband would be in heaven if I made these croissants for him! He just polished off the last ones he bought from Costco. :) I simply must get Tartine's book!

Elaine said...

Sandy, I think these look pretty darn gorgeous to me! I only wish I could pipe as wonderfully as you do! Okay, this is another must have book to add to my collection. Oh, and I am also so happy that Richard won! :)

Jaime said...

These look delicious! I have been wavering on buying this cookbook (do I really need another cookbook?), but you have convinced me that I just might :) Yummy pictures.

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

I have your pain au chocolat on my list of things to bake. I want to perfect croissants at some point in my life:D