The good things about this recipe are that there are no special ingredients, croissants are really inexpensive to make (as opposed to buying one at a bakery), and Sarah was oh so helpful with step by step instructions and photographs . The 'what have I gotten myself into' parts of this recipe are that these croissants take approximately 12 hours to make... bare minimum and there are 57 steps as Sarah wrote them out. In the original recipe published in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 2 the steps were covered in 8 pages, so you can only summarize so much. There is no way I want to try to spell out this classic recipe for you, but I did locate direct verbiage from the cookbook itself here (the whole 8 pages!). Reading through the cookbook, the only variance I could find is that it calls for 2/3 cup of milk and Sarah advised us to use 1/2 cup. The 1/2 cup worked fine, so hey. I did let the second rise go overnight in the refrigerator as suggested, meaning I started these Saturday evening around 6 and let them rest overnight, then got back at them at 8:30 Sunday morning and we were eating them with gusto around 2:45 Sunday afternoon... and they were well worth the wait!
Before I started these Saturday evening, I re-watched the episode of The French Chef where Julia made croissants. The measurements are a bit different with the recipe she uses in this episode, but seeing the technique was just what I needed, sometimes photos just don't tell enough of the story. The ONLY part where I strayed from the recipe is that I formed the final rolling into 8 croissants instead of 12 small ones... I like big croissants and I cannot lie. Following a tip from another Daring Baker, I put a tin pie tray with an ice cube in it on the bottom rack of the oven when I popped the croissants in (mine took the full 15 minutes at 475), this is to create steam which in turn makes a crispy outside. Whether that helped or not, I don't know, but I will tell you, these lovelies had flaky crunch! I had to wrap and freeze half of them as soon as they cooled so that we wouldn't eat them all in one sitting. The ones we did eat were spread with home made strawberry jam and Nutella (not at the same time, but that might have been interesting).
Croissants are definitely not something I will be making weekly, but I can't wait to try some again around the holidays and make some Pains au Chocolate... mmm!
If I can do croissants... anyone can do croissants!
p.s. To the customs agent who is probably currently enjoying the bottle of real Nutella my sister was bringing back to me from Italy this week until you confiscated it... may all of your teeth fall out except for the one with the toothache!