Croissants Have Become My Nemesis
Updated: Jul 7, 2020
I don’t know why, but during these lockdown times I’ve been borderline obsessed with baking croissants. Baking croissants from scratch is a two day (I’m not even joking) process. The best parts are: punching dough (it’s fun and violent), watching your dough triple in size when it rises, cutting your dough open to look at the layers of butter, and when you shape the croissants and they actually look like croissants (that doesn’t happen very often for me). The best part is pulling them open and seeing well-formed layers, the honeycomb structure that proves you’ve baked a successful croissant. I’ll never be able to eat another croissant again without looking for honeycomb in its layers.
This is my second time making croissants. The main thing I’ve learned in my attempts is how many things can go wrong with making them. The first time, I over-watered and over-floured my dough, my butter was too soft and there wasn’t enough of it. It was too hot in my house, there was too much moisture in the air. It’s not very often in life that it’s easy to fix things. I just ask google. It’s satisfying to work out why. Its satisfying to try new ways of making and to have them work. Its satisfying to have hours and hours of work wrapped up into layers of buttery dough.
I’m aware, if it wasn’t for the lockdown, I wouldn’t be doing this. I would be out in a London field somewhere with some tins from the supermarket. I’d be sitting in the sun, I’d be talking out the end of my degree. I’d be flying to New York in two weeks, I’d be looking at where to go, what things to do.
But croissants are still fun. Trying to get them right is a near obsession, an emotional journey as well as a physical one. I feel the trials and joys of baking, even though I’m not a baker, by trying these stupidly technical and difficult recipes. The lockdown has given me time and space to allow myself to do things that eat up time. Life's too short! (not in Lockdown it isn't). I’m reading the Goldfinch, all 900 pages of it. I’m baking croissants, wrapping them up in (what seems like to me) 900 layers. I’m walking in circles. There’s new thrills for me, the thrill of working fast before the summer sun melts the butter under my hands. There’s the thrill of learning a new language for baking, for knowing the science behind food and how its constructed.
Sometimes I think about how this time will leave marks on everyone. For me, I know in years to come I’ll be looking for the honeycomb, cringing, telling someone: remember when we all stayed inside?