January 12, 2011 3:51 PM   Subscribe

Mmmm...croissants (yt).

Recipes: 1, 2, 3
The best croissant in: Paris, New York
The birth of the croissant and the bagel
posted by AceRock (58 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
Pfft. Machines.
posted by koeselitz at 3:59 PM on January 12, 2011

Just kidding. This is awesome. Thanks!
posted by koeselitz at 4:00 PM on January 12, 2011

... and, having made croissants by hand, let me say that is a really, really cool machine.
posted by koeselitz at 4:00 PM on January 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

Any excuse to hear CCR's "I Heard it Through the Grapevine" is just fine with me. And just for good measure, let's hear the original, too. And Marvin's utterly sublime vocal only, which is bound to send shivers. I've always been crazy about Gladys Knight's version, too.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:01 PM on January 12, 2011 [4 favorites]

I clearly need to find a girlfriend who is a French baker and likes CCR.

That stuff looked so good.
posted by lampshade at 4:03 PM on January 12, 2011

My blood sugar went up 150 points just watching that.... Nomnomnom.
posted by pjern at 4:04 PM on January 12, 2011

This post is evil. I am supposed to bring my cholesterol level down.
posted by bearwife at 4:05 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Amazing video! I have so much more respect for my pastry after seeing those perfectly layered... layers.

It's also a hairstyle. Just ask Croissanda.
posted by hermitosis at 4:06 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh, and one more thing: charming though it may be, the Viennese story of the croissant is not true. Croissants aren't attested until well after 1800. Sorry.
posted by koeselitz at 4:08 PM on January 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

Once you've had a really great croissant--all light and flaky and crispy on the outside and soft and moist and buttery inside--there's nothing worse than the disappointment you get biting into what looks like a delicious croissant and finding out it's one of those fraudulent bready croissant-shaped lies.
posted by Hoopo at 4:08 PM on January 12, 2011 [36 favorites]

I want one!!!!

A pastry chef that is.
posted by GuyZero at 4:08 PM on January 12, 2011

Hoopo speak truth.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:11 PM on January 12, 2011

Obligatory cat post for this thread: Cats morph into croissants.
posted by Fuego at 4:15 PM on January 12, 2011

posted by griphus at 4:22 PM on January 12, 2011

And I was proud of my bagels until I saw this. *Weeps* over food porn.
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:26 PM on January 12, 2011

Best New Year's breakfast ever:

- croissants (Costco bakery's are scrummy)
- cream cheese (your choice, I used to be die-hard about Philly but recently tried store-brand and it seems decent to me)
- smoked salmon

Pop croissants in oven at about 350 degrees for five minutes or so; slice carefully with serrated knife, taking care not to crush the delicate pastry. Smear with cream cheese (room temperature cream cheese works best - again, working with a light hand to prevent compressing the croissant. Top with smoked salmon, one good piece is sufficient, less is more with the smoked salmon. Serve open-faced or, if you prefer, as a samwich.

Serve with orange juice. Oh, the gluteny ecstasy!
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 4:27 PM on January 12, 2011

I just watched a ten-minute video of a baker baking.

And I enjoyed it.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 4:32 PM on January 12, 2011 [3 favorites]

Cream cheese on croissants? You must have an extremely light hand or non-stick spreading knives or something, because the only baked goods that survive under cream cheese for me are bagels and english muffins. And I'm using the "1/3 less fat" American Neufchatel which is notably easier to spread.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:34 PM on January 12, 2011

Awesome video. Really well shot, too.
posted by monkeymadness at 4:36 PM on January 12, 2011

My doctor has told me not to eat wheat (food sensitivities, grr) so you can imagine how tantalizing and frustrating this is for me. Oh, croissants, how I miss you!
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:40 PM on January 12, 2011

hnnng. I can practically smell the buttery awesomeness through the internets. *weeps*
posted by elizardbits at 4:40 PM on January 12, 2011

You can get spreadable cream cheese, or you can kind of slice it thinly while cold and place it on the croissant manually. What I do instead of smoked salmon? Lay fresh strawberries and canned peaches or mangos over the cream cheese, then lightly sprinkled with icing sugar. Then put the top back on and drizzle it with melted chocolate.

I'm hungry.
posted by Hoopo at 4:42 PM on January 12, 2011

Sidhevil, I feel your pain. I have celiac and I can replicate a lot of the stuff I ate before, but croissants aren't ever going to happen. Rice flour, my ass.

Why do I open threads like this? It's the same sick instinct as when I watch the videos about impossibly high towers or clock spiders.
posted by sugarfish at 4:43 PM on January 12, 2011

Sidhedevil, even. My kingdom for an edit window.
posted by sugarfish at 4:44 PM on January 12, 2011

Should you ever find youself with some slightly stale croissants (about 3 days is right) its time to turn them into Almond croissants
posted by Lanark at 4:48 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Not to be a downer on this awesome post, but I really feel like that's what is getting lost with all of the mechanization and desire to drive down costs. I would much rather have more people attaining mastery at a craft like this than punching buttons at some kiosk to push out the flavorless, soulless beige paste that passes for food these days. It's the same sort of feeling that I get when I'm at someone's house and they have the nice looking espresso colored four piece dining table set that I see everywhere. It's the same way every town I go to feels vaguely familiar and watered down because I have seen the same menu and the rows of houses and apartment blocks hopelessly unable to distinguish themselves.

I want everyone to be able to work passionately, and if they can't, at least make sure that they make enough dough to live passionately by enjoying the work of others.

Anyway, I know there are pockets of resistance to the conformity, and making croissants by hand to CCR is one of them. Thanks AceRock.
posted by notion at 4:49 PM on January 12, 2011 [3 favorites]

Oh, and obligatory Aquabats: The Baker

(Atlanta on the 18th!)
posted by notion at 4:51 PM on January 12, 2011

Croissants aren't attested until well after 1800. Sorry.

So no "Let them eat croissants" cracks, either, I guess.

More mythbusting here, though no good verified origin story. Still no explanation as to the Frenchified name.
posted by IndigoJones at 4:51 PM on January 12, 2011

I've recently made the crouissants from the Tartine Bread Book, and they're one of the top 5 most delicious food items I've ever had. The recipe was daunting, especially because it uses sourdough starter (which they call "leaven" in the book which strikes me as a bit pretentious but I'll forgive them because the recipes are so damn delicious) AND active dry yeast, as well as a poolish, and because there are a million steps and because of all the butter that makes you have to work fast and refrigerate constantly.

But it's so, so satisfying, too. Especially the part where you have a giant rectangle of dough that you fold into thirds. Using an egg wash made of yolks and heavy cream is so damn decadent.
posted by ORthey at 4:57 PM on January 12, 2011

I think I'm going to have to marry a baker. And then I'll watch him make all that every morning. And I will gain 300 pounds, and it will be awesome.
posted by lilac girl at 5:05 PM on January 12, 2011 [4 favorites]

God, that was a fucking lot of work. No wonder they tastes so good. I'm a purist with my plain croissants; they can only be eaten plain or with jam. And croissanwiches (sp?) are an abomination. It's a pastry, not a sandwich bread.

I recently bought the Tartine Bread Book too. Right now I just look at it for the food porn until I get my kitchen supplies out of storage.
posted by shoesietart at 5:13 PM on January 12, 2011

I...uh, I think I need a few moments alone.
posted by digitalprimate at 5:20 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

they can only be eaten plain or with jam. And croissanwiches (sp?) are an abomination. It's a pastry, not a sandwich bread.

I agree if you mean just slicing open a croissant and putting sammich fixiins inside, but do you mean even the baked-in kind? Don't tell me you've never had a ham and cheese croissant from a good bakery. I don't even like ham and I could eat those things exclusively for the rest of my life. I call it a croque mon-dieu.
posted by Hoopo at 5:31 PM on January 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

Yes, i feel like I've had croissant interruptus bc I really want to eat one now!! And I didn't even think I liked them that much. And I would like to move to france and make croissants with that guy every morning....(and I might actually send that cats turning into crossiants to a few friends so they can think I am am even weirder than they do already!) To live is to dream...sigh.
posted by bquarters at 5:33 PM on January 12, 2011

God, I miss baking. The machine is great and all, but what I really could have used is one of those snazzy cutters.
posted by sunshinesky at 5:49 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Mmmmmm.......almond croissants. Best at Cafe Besalu in Seattle. I'm not kidding. Sometimes you have to wait 20 minutes for the next batch to come out. Mmmmmm.....warm almond croissants.
posted by little miss s at 5:58 PM on January 12, 2011

My four year old watched this with me and said "Now can we make croissants, mommy?"

"I don't know how, sweetie," I said.

"But the movie SHOWED you how! let's make them right now!" she said.

Herein lies a flashback.

My father, a British chemist, decided when I was about six to learn the French pastry arts. The problem is, we lived in Houston at the time, and our air conditioner wasn't that great; it was ruinously expensive to run, so we kept the house at about 85 in the summer to keep our bills down.

Hot humid weather is not exactly a friend of puff pastry, and my father coveted the marble pastry board in the Williams-Sonoma catalog. But it, alas, was also ruinously expensive, at least for a junior research chemist with two children and a wife who raised them. He kept trying, but the mile-high vol-au-vents and flaky croissants he dreamed of continued to elude him.

Until, that is, the day that he learned about a local building supply surplus yard. Quick as a candle, he drove down there and pored through their surplus materials, mostly either failures of engineering or things that had been salvaged out of remodeling experiments. And there he saw it: a marble bathroom double-sink countertop, the sink holes already cut out of it, except that whoever had done the cutting had made a mistake and there was a huge chunk missing from one of the sink hole edges. The marble was gorgeous and exquisite -- this was the 80's, in Houston, and there was an enormous amount of nouveau riche gaucherie on display in many of the homes -- but the piece was useless. Dad picked it up for thirty bucks.

He stopped on the way home and rented a tile saw, clamped the piece of marble to his sawhorses, and cut off three 15x21" pieces of marble, one from each end and one from in between the two sinks. Hey presto, problem solved. Two pieces of marble could live in the freezer, and when the one he was working on started to warm up, he'd just swap it out. The edges of the pieces were a little rough, and maybe every cut wasn't perfectly square, but they were of black marble with gold veins and cost him a whole twelve bucks each, counting the six dollars to rent the tile saw for an hour.

The vol-au-vents were delicious.

I live in Seattle now, where it is currently cold and unpleasant. Perhaps I should take advantage of the temperature, turn my thermostat down, and learn to make croissants with my daughter.
posted by KathrynT at 6:08 PM on January 12, 2011 [17 favorites]

I don't know about the origin of the pastry itself, but I was always of the understanding that the shape of the pastry reflected one of its ingredients; namely, butter. After WWII, butter was in short supply, and sometimes bakers had to resort to using margarine in their pastries. The customers wanted to be able to tell immediately which were made with butter and which were made with margarine. Since the traditional shape of the pastry was straight, the bakers made the ones with margarine into a curved shape which was different enough from the straight ones to be instantly recognized.
posted by starvingartist at 6:11 PM on January 12, 2011

Well, heck, I don't get much chance to link this: I've got your croissant right here...
posted by sappidus at 6:23 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

I tried making croissants once. I rolled out the butter between two sheets of wax paper until it was a giant rectangle. I rolled out the dough into an even larger rectangle. And then I read the next instruction:

For the next three hours, fold, roll, refrigerate; fold, roll,...

So, I went out and bought some expensive croissants and over the next month, I broke chunks off my rectangle of butter every time I needed to make eggs.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 6:37 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't know about the origin of the pastry itself, but I was always of the understanding that the shape of the pastry reflected one of its ingredients; namely, butter. After WWII...

Croissants have been around under that name and that shape since the 19th century, so that's not the origin.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:37 PM on January 12, 2011

And there he saw it: a marble bathroom double-sink countertop

So, sometimes, the people who make headstones for graveyards make mistakes, and they just, you know, throw them away, so...

Why are you looking at me like that?
posted by underflow at 7:39 PM on January 12, 2011

Echoing Hoopo - the best croissant I ever had, bar none, was one I had the morning I was scheduled to fly out of Nice. I was staying at a hostel, and was likely the first guest up, given how early my flight was. The baker had just delivered that morning's delivery of croissants and brioches for the morning breakfast rush. I grabbed my still-warm croissant and a bowl of cafe au lait and had breakfast out in the courtyard.

Virtually no croissant I have eaten since compares. But to me, the best garnish for a croissant will always be cafe au lait.
posted by LN at 7:41 PM on January 12, 2011

I will say that the ham and cheese croissant at tartine in san francisco is concentrated* foodgasm in a crescent shaped pastry package.

Something to do with the butter density in the pasty appoaching that of a neutron star.
No, not a neutron star made of butter.....wait
Mmmm................. buttertrinos.

posted by lalochezia at 8:04 PM on January 12, 2011

I liked the part with the butter.
posted by danb at 8:31 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm loving the video but when the refresh rate on the camera is syncing up with the florescent lighting in the kitchen it gives me a headache!
posted by thecjm at 9:36 PM on January 12, 2011

I wasn't expecting to be totally transfixed by this, but man, I totally was. I felt like I was a kid watching Mr Rogers' Neighborhood. Those factory segments were always so cool.

And when he cut open the croissant at the end, I actually said "Ohhh!" I've eaten croissants that looked like that inside, and they were well worth eating.
posted by little light-giver at 10:21 PM on January 12, 2011

Will classify the croissants as a vegetable
posted by knoyers at 11:03 PM on January 12, 2011

That's what I was doing wrong!
posted by therewolf at 11:13 PM on January 12, 2011

I served a house guest croissants recently. She giggled and asked if I'd seen this video. I had not. Now, when I hear of croissants, I think of pickup lines in movie theaters.
posted by knile at 11:39 PM on January 12, 2011

I just made about 125 of them, by hand. They are sitting behind me cooling, right now. I can't watch the video at work, but I just wanted to say that.
posted by bzbb at 3:05 AM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have never baked a thing in my life, yet I sat transfixed through 10 minutes of this and my Thursday is greatly improved for it. Thanks!

(Also, thankfully I watched this after lunch.)
posted by slimepuppy at 5:19 AM on January 13, 2011

Also up thumbing Tartine Bread Book. It has changed my life and added to my weight.
posted by IndigoJones at 6:11 AM on January 13, 2011

I am a French baker. I like CCR. Thanks for the self esteem boost, team! Also, props to those who made croissants from the Tartine book, presumably without one of those fancy pants cheatin' laminating machines. Let's champion the p√Ętissier who does it all by hand! (Rare, these days, but we're cooler and way less efficient.)
posted by Lisitasan at 6:22 AM on January 13, 2011

I just now got around to checking what the best croissant in New York is, because I realized I could go get one TODAY. And while I was not surprised to see that it is at Ceci Cela, I can't help feeling a little disappointed, because I've already had their croissants. And yeah, they were amazing, but that means I already had the BEST CROISSANT IN NEW YORK and didn't really appreciate it as such, and it also means that I don't get to go somewhere new today.
posted by hermitosis at 7:13 AM on January 13, 2011

Just went to Ceci Cela, am eating one of their croissants as I type this. I am disappointed. Patisserie Claude is better! Their Pain au Chocolat is ridiculous.
posted by prefpara at 2:32 PM on January 13, 2011

This is a great post. Thanks.
posted by OmieWise at 3:54 PM on January 13, 2011

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