Monday, May 17, 2010

Cafe Summers-Couch

Since the life-changing advent of the espresso machine into our little home, Matt and I have been making noises about baking our own croissants.  This Saturday, we allocated the morning to finally making good on this big dream ... only to discover that a morning does not contain nearly enough hours to successfully make croissants. One week from exams, I spent fourteen hours making French pastries instead of studying:

 At 9:00 AM, we printed off the recipe from Epicurious, pulled out the big bowl and hand-mixer, and industriously whipped together some flour, yeast, and whole milk.

At 10:00 AM, we pounded three sticks of butter between the folds of a dishtowel into a thin slab half an inch thick, then chilled both dough and butter slab.

At 11:00 AM, we rolled out the dough and placed the butter on it, folding like you would a piece of paper you want to stuff in an envelope, rolling out again, folding again into envelope shape, before putting the whole thing back in the fridge to chill.

At 12:00 PM, we did this again.

At 1:00 PM, again.

By 2:00 PM, the butter slab had started to roll into the dough, starting to look kind of flaky (like a croissant!) so after a final roll-out and envelope fold, we could put it away to chill for ABSOLUTELY NO LESS THAN eight hours and ABSOLUTELY NO MORE THAN eighteen.

Eight hours from 2:00 PM is 10:00 PM.  Eighteen hours from 2:00 PM is 8:00 AM.  Neither is ideal, when you have friends coming over for the evening and an intent to drink a few beers on a Saturday night.

This is why you should always read through instructions all the way through before beginning a project.

In the end, we'd just worked too hard all day not to have the flaky, buttery reward at the end, so we pulled the dough out a little early (oh nooo) and started in on the next (no less complicated) steps:

We measured and cut half the dough into six rectangles, then measured and cut those rectangles into twelve triangles, then rolled those triangles into little crescent shapes on a baking sheet.  The other half the dough we measured and cut into eight rectangles, rolling each of those around an ounce of bittersweet chocolate, placing on another baking sheet.

We then placed these baking sheets into two trashbags, propping the trashbags up with glasses:

 We then let them rise for -- I kid you not -- another two hours.

A little after 11:30 PM, they had doubled in size and were ready to bake.  They baked for precisely ten minutes at 400 degrees, at which point we rotated them 180 degrees (exactly!) and baked for an additional ten minutes at 375 degrees.  We spritzed the oven with a water mist each time.

The person who first made these things must have been either OCD, wildly bored, or completely off his rocker.

But Internet, when they came out of the oven, they were worth EVERY. MINUTE.

Do you see how exhausted we look?  I haven't yet run a full marathon or birthed a child, but I can only imagine this must be a similar experience...

Cafe Summers-Couch is open and ready for business.  Please come buy some croissants, so that when I fail out of law school I have something to pay my loans back with.


  1. SO FABULOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!! Also, I will never begrudge a cafe $3 or more dollars for a LE CROISSANT!

  2. Oh my god. Those look completely delicious and, I'm sure, well worth the effort.

    The real question though -- will you do it again?!

  3. HA. That is the question, right? Answer: probably yes, sometime. But as Lauren says, the major result is that I also will stop feeling guilty about shelling out $4 for one at a bakery...

  4. I'm late to coming to this post. But there is only one word: WOW.
    Hmmm.... Maybe when you decide you are ready to make these again, you will be in Omaha! Ever the optimist.