Thursday, 14 March 2013

Croissants et Petits Pains au Chocolat : 'TWD : Baking with Julia'

When I first started baking from the book, 'Baking with Julia', I remember looking at the recipe for croissants and shaking my head and saying, "It will be a long time before I even muster up the courage to look at this recipe"!! And yet, little over a year after we started with the book, we were ready to tackle the recipe. That I believe is a big compliment to the book, that a bunch of amateur bakers can today muster up the courage to tackle a complex recipe like croissants and achieve reasonable success with it.

A couple of pressing issues saw me missing the deadline of last Tuesday, when this post should have gone up. However, I was extremely keen on baking these croissants along with the rest of the group because then you get to learn from the experiences and tips of others in the group, making it that much simpler for you. So, better late than never!


I won't get into too much detail on the recipe. You can see this video where Esther McManus (the contributing baker) shows Julia Child the entire process of making these croissants. But, I will say this much, the recipe is 6 pages long and took me 3 days from start to finish. There was an obnoxious amount of butter involved that we had beat into submission. The dough is subjected to 3 'folds' so that we can achieve those multitude of layers that one sees in a croissant. If anything, it is almost an anti-climax, when after all that bashing, folding, rolling, shaping and flour all over your clothes, it takes the croissants barely 12-15 minutes to bake!!


The weather out here has gotten hot and dry and that made working with all that butter, tedious and frustrating. For the purpose of making it easier, the final dough is divided into two parts before shaping it. My first attempt with one half of the dough was such a disaster that I despaired about all the effort and butter that had gone into it.

Two days later, with a calmer mind and an air conditioned room, I attempted them again. And this time round, I simply stared at the baking tray, not quite believing that I had actually made croissants. Are they perfect?? Of course NOT!! Owing to my clumsy rolling, these croissants turned out smaller than intended, with fewer folds. But,am I proud of them?? Oh.. You bet I am!!


These beautiful, golden-brown croissants were buttery, flaky and tender. Cut through the centre and you can see all those beautiful layers that you worked hard to achieve. These are so buttery that you can eat them just plain.

But, my attention was won by the immensely delectable petit pain au chocolat. Unlike the traditional crescent-shaped butter croissants, these are rectangular in shape. Take a bite and when you reach the luscious, dark chocolate through the various, pillowy layers of buttery pastry, you can't help close you eyes and smile! You will understand why these are the traditional late afternoon snack for French school children. If it were not for a small issue of metabolism, these would be my favourite tea-time treat!!


Would I make these again?? Initially, right after I pulled them out of the oven, my answer would have been that this was, at best, an academic exercise for an enthusiastic baker. It was just too much work. A few days on, I am feeling a little more pleased with myself and am amenable to giving it another shot at a later date, probably when the weather is cooler and more charitable.

Because there is an inexplicable charm and romance to baking your own croissants. It almost transports you to one of the many quaint sidewalk cafes and patisseries of Paris!!

Due to copyright considerations, only the person hosting the recipe for the group 'TWD:Baking with Julia' can post the recipe on their blog. The recipe for these croissants and petits pains au chocolat will be available on Amanda's blog (Amanda has done an excellent pictorial step-by-step of the recipe).  

16 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Gauri...afterall that work .. they look perfect to me too!! ;).. but they could have been better.. but for a first attempt I am happy!!

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  2. Hi there. The current Food on Friday on Carole's Chatter is collecting links to posts about breakfast dishes. I do hope you link this in. This is the link . Please do check out some of the other links – there are a lot of good ones already. Cheers

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    1. Hi Carole.. Will definitely look up the link.. thanks for dropping by!!

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  3. Looks amazing!!!! Good job!

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    1. Thanks Manu..like I said.. for a first attempt I'm tickled!!

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  4. You did a great job Sarvani! I know how horrible it is to work with buttery dough in the summer.
    It took me 3 batches to get decent croissants last summer when we did these for the daring bakers
    As always I am in love with your pictures, the background allows the colors to really shine

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    1. Thank you Sawsan!! Thankfully I could get the recipe done now.. a few days more..and Iwould have had to wait till winter to give these a shot!! Talking about the base on which I take my photographs.. would you believe it .. it is an old rusted trunk lying neglected in a corner of my home.. my mother shakes her head in disbelief when she sees how I've put it to use!!

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  5. So incredibly gorgeous! So envious of your beautiful photos. :)

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  6. You should be proud of these - they are gorgeous!

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  7. Sarwani, you made Croissants and miniature Pains au Chocolat as well...sounds like what I liked to make with this recipe. This was quite a lesson in baking wasn´t it?!

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    1. Andrea, i figured i wont be making this dough too often, so when the book suggested that you could make pain au chocolat with the dough.. i just had to make them.. and who can resist pain au chooclat!!! and after all the time and effort that went into these.. it will long while before i attempt these again!

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  8. I was thinking a lot regarding this topic, so thanks for bringing it up here. You certainly have a good writing style i like, so will be subscribing to your blog.

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words!! :)) Hope to see you more often here!! xx

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