Two Hungry Boys have been watching an awful lot of Julia Child on Youtube recently. They don’t make them like that any more: tarte tatins fail, cooking utensils spill over counter tops, glasses fall from her head narrowly missing bubbling saucepans (when she can find where she last put her glasses in the first place) but, all in one unedited thirty minute take, she always manages to remember a trick to save the dish and teach you a valuable lesson about how to actually cook. Her programs aren’t about lifestyle or foodporn like most of today’s tv cookery, but an attempt to educate us in basic French cooking. We find her all the more endearing knowing that she swore like a sailor and had a filthy sense of humour.
A Sunday ritual of ours is a mocha pot of coffee with shop bought croissants, so we thought we would try to make our own following a recipe in Julia’s show The French Chef, in which she demonstrated how to cook the recipes in her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
Basically a cross between flaky pastry and bread, there a very few ingredients.
You combine a frothy yeast-salt-sugar-water mix with the flour and a little milk to make a sticky dough, then chill before rolling out into a rectangle.
The butter (which must be cold, but beaten with a rolling pin so that it is soft) is then spread over the centre, before the sides of the dough are gathered up to make a dough-butter parcel.
The process is then a process of rolling, folding, and chilling the dough. You do two folds, chill in the fridge for a couple of hours, then two more folds – chilling ensures that the butter stays in layers rather than melting into the dough.
The finished cut out and formed croissants should be allowed a final proving to double in size before baking, but these just wouldn’t rise. Maybe there was a draught in the kitchen, or the dough was overworked, but after an hour and a half nothing was happening. So into the oven they went.
The finished croissants were rich, buttery and had a flake to them, but had too close a texture to be a true croissant. No less delicious with a blob of jam.