Cockiness has no place in a kitchen, no matter what Bobby Flay believes. It could have been my complete and utter downfall this past weekend when I flippantly decided to try my hand at croissants. I found an entry on Veronica’s Test Kitchen and cavalierly said, “Gee, I think I’ll make croissants this weekend”. These are the words of quite the fool indeed. And I found that this flaky creation lulled me into a false sense of security before giving me a Van Damme move at the end.
It started off well enough…I prepared the starter on Saturday morning and then went out to work the farm stand for a couple of hours. When I got back, the starter looked very much like the description in the recipe, so I was quite pleased with myself…mistake number one. I pulled out Big Red, put the starter and the rest of the dough ingredient into the mixing bowl and fitted it with the dough hook. This is when the first signs of trouble started.
Veronica had warned that her stand mixer had a tough go of kneading the dough, but I thought to myself, “Well Big Red can handle anything”. This would be mistake number two. My poor baby heaved and hawed as it tackled the dough. I panicked, thinking no recipe was worth losing my stand mixer. But after reading Veronica’s notes, I persevered. I must at this point give Veronica huge thanks for her very well written step by step instructions and notes on her experience. Had I not known other people were having similar mixer issues, I would have panicked, threw off my apron and curled up into the fetal position on my kitchen floor.
The recipe called for the dough to be kneaded until smooth and elastic. My dough looked like it had chicken pox. Fearful that Big Red would end up smoking, I took the dough out of the mixing bowl and onto my floured kitchen cart surface. I kneaded it by hand for a while, trying in vein to reach smooth and elastic…it never happened. My arms started to hurt a bit (and this is coming from a woman who can do military style push ups on command), so I just decided to go with what I had. I fashioned the dough into a rectangle as instructed, placed it in a big ass Zip Loc bag and placed it in the refrigerator for six hours. And seriously considered throwing in the towel. But as in every bad 80’s movie, a burst of cheesy inspirational music (in this case, “Eye of the Tiger”) gave me the will to continue.
I moved along to the buttering/placard forming phase and started to feel a bit more confident. I mean, this was a hot lookin’ piece of dough! Not only that, the dough had a very smooth finish to it. I was actually crushing on my dough…something I’ve been known to do before. This would be mistake number three. I lost sight of the prize, so enthralled with the dough was I. I sailed along through the recipe, pleased as punch that everything was working out…until I got to the final roll out. I read the recipe and did a double take. I was supposed to roll out the dough to 32 inches in length! I don’t have 32 %#%^#&@& inches of counter space! I live in a $^@^@^$&@*&%@%@^&$ basement apartment! How in the hell was I supposed to roll out this #&$&%@^@# dough to 32 inches!!!! Yes, this is when I hit the panic button.
I pushed my kitchen cart (pictured above) up against my limited counter space in an attempt to gain some much needed surface space. No go: the kitchen cart was lower than the counter. Nothing else seemed to work, so I just rolled the dough out as long as the kitchen cart surface would allow and hoped for the best. When I started forming the croissants, I realized they were going to be huge! But I was tired, my arms hurt and I didn’t care anymore. Besides, I like my croissants big (this is called rationalizing).
After all the croissants were formed, I had to let them rise…and they all looked like one of the American Gladiators after visiting a doctor’s office for “special medicine” when they were ready to go in the oven. These babies would be able to feed a family of four when they were done. I anxiously followed the baking instructions, eagerly anticipating the first bite. The house smelled heavenly and I almost couldn’t stand it.
When they came out, I let them cool for a few minutes and then immediately tore into one. And it was good…but I really think failing to roll out the dough completely reduced some of the flakiness. But did I mention it was good?!?! After all the panic and preparation, it was nice to sit down to a warm, freshly baked croissant and some tea…unfortunately I had a sink full of dishes. And no, the Diva still won’t do them for me.