Baking class – pizza dough, croissants & pain au chocolat

Today was my last class and it was a good one.  It was also a way for me to tackle “the beast known as yeast”.  Those of you who have seen my past attempts at pizza dough know that yeast and I aren’t exactly the best of friends.  However, I think I may have learned just enough today to make half decent pizza dough in the future.

One of the keys to getting pizza dough right is to knead the heck out of it.  Show that little doughy lump who is boss and knead it until you can do the “window test”.  Sadly it doesn’t involve throwing dough at a window to see if it sticks.  Instead you take a small piece of dough and pull it to determine if you can see through it.  If a hole forms, keep kneading….Please note that humidity makes dough grumpy and surly, so best to make dough when it’s not raining outside – or if you live in Saskatchewan….

Perfect pizza should look like silk

Perfect pizza should look like silk

Croissants and pain au chocolat are labour intensive creatures.  The dough is quite similar to pizza dough, but it isn’t kneaded – otherwise you’d have very chewy croissants.  Additionally, the dough must rest for 8 hours in the refrigerator before you can work with it.  If not, it will be extremely sticky to use.  

Other than sensitive dough, croissant & pain au chocolate involve copious quantities of butter.  It gets beaten down into thin layers that resemble large slices of cheese and beating the butter is actually quite fun…. One third of the croissant dough will have no butter on it, while the other two thirds are laden with the stuff.  There’s some fancy dough folding and then you gently pound the dough so the butter won’t squish out of it.  Then the dough is rolled out some more….Like I said – it’s a labour intensive process – these ain’t no Pillsbury crescent rolls…

Butter & dough together at last.....

Butter & dough together at last.....

The dough is cut into triangles and then carefully stretched out so that it resembles the Eiffel Tower.  Then it is folded up to look like a croissant.  Mine looked like freaky cartoon crabs.  Must practice….  

Triangles of pastry ready to be rolled in croissant form

Triangles of pastry ready to be rolled in croissant form

Pain au chocolat are relatively simple in comparison.  The croissant dough is cut into small rectangular pieces and rolled around small pieces of dark chocolate.  Both croissants and pain au chocolat are brushed with an egg wash before putting them in the oven.

Croissants ready for the oven

Croissants before baking

Pain au chocolate ready for the oven

Pain au chocolat ready for the oven that you pesky dough!

Croissants out of the oven....

Croissants out of the oven....

Here’s a quick recap of what I learned:

1. pizza dough will no longer be my nemesis

2. humidity = grumpy, surly dough.  Best to bake when it isn’t humid or in a climate controlled environment…must find a vacuum to live in with Daisy…

3. croissants & pain au chocolat = future angioplasty

4. Roquefort cheese is lovely on pizza

5. I think I’m the only person who talks to food…



Filed under Nom nom nom, Paris

5 responses to “Baking class – pizza dough, croissants & pain au chocolat

  1. kookiemaster

    The butter looks weird to me. How can you have thin sheets of butter this huge. Does the butter come in cement block size pieces?

    How did the croissant turn out? That pizza looks yummy!

    • Rach

      Actually, they sell giant sheets of butter to bakeries – we saw a couple of them and he said that’s how they get them. For the home baker, don’t think they’re available.

      Croissants we made using dough from the day before (b/c we didn’t have 8 hours to wait) didn’t turn out – he oversalted the dough. He redid them and they were amazing! The pizza was soo good 🙂

  2. So you can make me chocolate croissants before you leave for Van-city? Yay!

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