Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Croissant We Have to Bear

Once a year or so, I get the urge to make fresh croissants. I don't really feel the need to make them more often because let's face it, that's a lot more butter than I really need in my diet.

(Well, that and the fact that a full recipe of croissant dough, judiciously parceled out, can last several months for the occasional decadent brunch.)

But since I haven't made croissants since last June, when I taught the lovely Phoenix how to make them, I thought I would pull out the recipe for the fair Titania's visit.

I did, however, think that it was time to try a variation on the recipe. After all, I've been baking white-flour croissants for twenty years, so I should be comfortable enough with the recipe to flirt with it a little, right?

The challenge I set for myself was both to make the dough more wholesome (whole grains and less refined sweeteners) and more local, and I think the results can be summed up in one word: success.

I replaced most of the flour with locally ground whole wheat flour, keeping some all-purpose flour both for texture and for the necessary gluten. I also added in a little bit of ground flax seeds, which added a slight nuttiness. I replaced the sugar with local honey (which then, of course, meant adding a little more flour), and the butter, egg, and milk all came from the local dairy.

I started the dough last night as Titania sat and read (after a lot of driving during the day, she deserved the respite), and after working several turns and layers into the dough, I wrapped it up and slid it into the refrigerator overnight.

This morning I let it warm and rise while I walked out on a quick errand, and when I returned, I fired up the oven and rolled out the dough, shaping it into long, slender crescents. After adding a quick egg wash, I popped the rolls into the oven and let them bake and fill the house with their delicious buttery and yeasty fragrance.

One small croissant, fresh and steaming, was enough to lure Titania from the Land of Nod, and we enjoyed the wholesome, nutty pastries with a selection of homemade jams. What bliss!

I'd like to tinker with the recipe a little more. While the texture and flavor were both good, in a way it left me wanting something slightly different (perhaps pecan meal instead of flax seeds). So I'll try it again sometime, and once I have a recipe I'm satisfied with, I'll post it.

It's a tough life, but someone's got to do it, right?


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