Sunday, February 8, 2015

First Time Making Croissants... with Craftsy!





I made croissants for the first time last weekend!! Five words to describe what that was like? Time Consuming But Worth It. Worth alllllll those butter calories, all 1 pound 4 oz of butter calories… >.< but let’s not dwell on that little detail… because when your croissants come out of the oven all golden brown, crispy and flaky on the outside, but also soft on the inside with all those puffed layers, you’re like… dang… This. Is. Good.

As a beginner baker, my experience with baking has been primarily mixing a bunch of dry and wet ingredients together, pouring it into some mold, and baking it for some amount of time. In comparison, I’d say this croissant process is advanced because there are SO many intermittent steps, and I’m proud of myself for getting to the end! Read on to find out about my croissant-making experience: my review of the Craftsy croissant class, what to expect if you want to make croissants too, and challenges I faced.

CRAFTSY CLASS REVIEW: CLASSIC CROISSANTS AT HOME WITH COLETTE CHRISTIAN
(Not paid by anyone to write this post)
For those of you who don’t know what Craftsy is, it’s an online learning platform with all sorts of craft classes covering various projects in topics like sewing, crocheting, baking, woodworking, and drawing that you can take in the form of videos. Some are free but most of them cost $ (but much less than an in-person class; this course is about $20 right now!), and they’re taught by experts in that craft area. I’ve taken sewing classes on Craftsy before, but this was my first baking class. Once you purchase a class, you get access to the lesson videos and it’s your forever. You can take the class whenever you want and take however long you want to finish it… I actually bought this class over a year ago and spent 3 weeks slowly watching the videos and gathering supplies. You can also comment and ask questions throughout the lessons which either the teacher or other students will respond to.

Features I think are cool on the Craftsy platform:
·       Offline Mode
o   You can download specific lesson videos for offline viewing. This was helpful because I spent several in-flight hours watching my lesson videos! I usually spend these hours in uncomfortable slumber but made use of that time watching several videos instead! Please note that the videos do take up a lot of space on your device and some features are disabled, like being able to view the Q&A and looking at uploaded pictures from other students while in offline mode.
·       Note Taking
o   Throughout the videos, you can pause and take notes at specific spots. So, if in the “Making the Dough” video, I want to remember that I have to pre-beat the eggs before adding it to the mix, I can make that note at the 2:10 mark. Or, if I want to remember where the part is about examples of overworked dough, I can make a note and get there quickly next time.
·       30 Second Repeat
o   Under the video, there’s a button called “30 second repeat” which will replay 30 seconds of video over and over so that you can see a specific part as many times as you want. Helpful for if you just can’t get how to do a particular part.
·       Speed Up/Slow Down
o   You can watch the video in speed up mode, or slow down mode. The instructor for the croissant course spoke pretty slowly, which can get annoying sometimes when you’re like, OMG there’s so much more to learn and it’s going by so slowly! Speed up and slow down to meet your learning needs.
·       Questions
o   Throughout the videos, you can ask questions and get answers to them pretty quickly (not instantaneous quick but like 1-3 daysish quick). It’s pretty cool that the class is like a “living document” of sorts where additional questions and answers are added all the time. It was through the questions I learned that it was OK that my dough became monstrous size after it rested overnight and all hope was not lost. Or that I can use my scrap dough to make cinnamon twisted bread sticks.
·       Pictures
o   Pictures from other students helped me see all the possible ways my croissants could turn out and still be ok! Some were darker than others, some were larger than others, but it’s all good.

The class is taught by Colette Christian, a professional chef instructor, who teaches culinary arts at various institutions like Le Cordon Bleu, Art Institute of Hollywood, and Sur la Table. I thought she did a great job teaching the course by breaking steps down into easy, digestible pieces (e.g., saying mantras like “push, fold, turn” to help us remember how to knead the dough by hand). I think the Craftsy class sets everyone up for success because it’s targeted for the home-baker.  Colette gives us a list of vocab words so that we don’t get hung up on small things in the learning process, like “what the heck does laminating the dough mean??”, she suggests particular ingredients like La Baleine sea salt or Plugra butter, but offers alternatives if you can’t find them, and she provides options for how do certain steps if we don’t have the tools, like making the butter block and dough without a Kitchenaid mixer.


WHAT TO EXPECT
This class will take a good amount of time to learn and the croissants surprisingly take a long time to make!! I wouldn’t try to make the croissants while watching the videos for the first time. This will require prep “study” time. There are 16 videos equating to about 3.5 hours. But you do have the speed-up feature so… you could potentially shorten the time. And there are supplemental videos that you don’t have to watch, like how to use special gadgets like a six-wheel croissant cutter. My first time making croissants took about 8 hours much of which is due to all the waiting time in between steps (not including the 8 hours of overnight waiting time). 

Videos and Their Time Lengths

Video Clip
Length (min.)
What It Covers
1
Introduction
6:31
Intro to the instructor and course
2
Supplies
24:42
Tools and ingredients needed
3
Making the Butter Block
13:03
Making the butter block with the mixer
4
Making the Dough
19:20
Making the dough with the mixer
5
Locking in the Butter
19:03
Rolling out the dough and locking butter into it
6
Turning
23:16
The first, second, and third turns
7
Shaping the Dough
19:39
Cutting out and rolling regular croissant pieces
8
The Chocolate Croissant
16:12
Ways to shape chocolate croissants
9
Savory Shaping
12:47
Ways to shape ham & swiss and spinach & feta croissants
10
Proofing the Croissant
13:37
Proofing croissants to give it the last little lift
11
Baking the Croissants
11:28
Pre-oven prep and what to look for once they’re out of the oven
12
Garnishing the Croissants
4:17
Garnishing the chocolate croissants
13
Pastry Chef Secrets 1
7:53
Using the dough whisk instead of mixer
14
Pastry Chef Secrets 2
5:45
Making the butter block by hand without a mixer
15
Pastry Chef Secrets 3
5:07
Using specialized tools
16
Pastry Chef Secrets 4
13:12
Using dough scraps and making mini chocolate croissants

Timeline of the Croissant Making Process and Waiting Periods
Just so you’re not surprised by all the “resting” periods, I made a timeline of the entire croissant making process and highlighted all the waiting periods in red. Why dough you need so much rest time??

FYI, Colette says that the dough needs the 8-12 hours of rest after the 3rd turn so that the gluten can relax, otherwise, the dough will spring back and shrink in the oven. I know, I wanted to bypass that overnight waiting period too.

You’ll probably have to buy new supplies and ingredients, but that’s fun! I’m the type of person who wants to do things the correct way, exactly how they did it in the video, so I acquired a few new tools like a dough wand, bench scraper, Home Depot yard stick cut at the 18” mark…Thank goodness Amazon carries most of the stuff I needed!

How many croissants does one batch of dough make?
Colette’s instructions gave us the dimensions to make regular croissants; one batch would make 24 croissants. I wanted some regular and some chocolate, so I split my dough in half. She didn’t include dimensions for that so I calculated it and included it below! This yielded me 12 regular croissants and 10 chocolate croissants.

























If any of you are sewers, I thought this croissant making process was actually kind of similar to sewing! Measuring out the dough was similar to measuring out fabric, rolling out the dough was similar to ironing fabric (especially with the long ruler), and cutting the dough with a pizza cutter was similar to cutting fabric with a rotary cutter!

Storing Croissants
After watching all the videos, I seemed to have a ton of questions around all the different ways to store croissants, so I’ve compiled my questions and dug around the discussion board for the answers.

·      At what points can you freeze the dough?
You can freeze the dough at any part of the process; to resume, you have to thaw the dough in the fridge overnight and start back where you left off.

·      Can you freeze both unbaked and baked formed croissants?
Yes. For unbaked croissants, after you’ve thawed them overnight in the fridge, they need to be proofed before baking. For baked croissants, you have to thaw them overnight in the fridge and refresh them at 350 degrees for ~5 minutes.
Just as a side note, I have thawed the unbaked croissants on the counter for about 2-3 hours, and proofed before baking… seemed to turn out fine!

·      What’s the best method to store frozen croissants?
Once you’ve formed the croissants, lay them flat on a baking sheet and freeze them until sold. Then, move them to a plastic bag, remove as much air as possible, and keep in freezer. Make sure to label and mark the date.

·      How long will croissants keep?
Frozen croissants can keep in the freezer for 1 month. Once baked, they keep about 1.5-2 days before going stale.

CHALLENGES I FACED
Making the Butter Block
     The first step to make the butter block is to fold your parchment paper into a folded square so you can roll your butter into a perfect contained square. I got too overzealous when pounding the butter block that the air ripped a hole in the side of the parchment paper so my butter popped out the edge! I had to make another parchment paper butter block square… oops!





Making the Dough
      Colette showed us what the dough would look like if you overworked it – stretch marks in the dough! While hand kneading the dough, I kept on thinking, is this overworked?? I don’t think mine became overworked, but it was scary thinking that it’d develop stretch marks any second!









 Turning
     The process that took the longest for me was rolling out the dough to the exact size needed and with sharp corners.  I think it all comes down to needing more practice.








Shaping the Dough

     When I rolled out my dough for the last time to start cutting out the pieces, I noticed pretty apparent butter chunks, and with a clear line for where there wasn’t butter. Colette’s dough didn’t have those, so I was concerned mine wouldn't turn out right. In the end, my croissants turned out fine; it seems that this was due to my butter being too cold therefore shattering a bit.







If you've made it this this far, I hope you found this post informative! I love sharing my lessons learned to help others! I still have yet to try making the savory croissants, but I’ll probably wait a while before doing this whole thing over again both for time and calorie purposes haha! Let me know what your croissant-making experience was like! 

3 comments:

  1. OMG! You KNOW that's too much work for those.

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  2. OMG! You KNOW that's too much work for those.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. haha there may be a reason why I haven't made them since... but I appreciate all the work that goes into them! and all the butter....

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