Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Practice Makes Less than Perfect

I cannot keep this to myself any longer. My croissants were total beginner's luck. Batch 1 was a decent first attempt, batch 2 was pretty darn good, but batch 3 was... this:

Hard, dense, dry croissants

I can't help thinking there must be a mistake in the quantity of water specified by Herme's recipe (there are quite a few typos in this book, which I otherwise love): with a dry dough, the butter pierces through and you lose the flaky layers. I will update this post if I ever work up the courage to try again.

Update March 2008: Fewh, the last attempt was more successful.

Another shocking case of beginner's luck was my first attempts as macarons. Yes, macarons. A few years late, I am finally bitten by the bug. And what a bug it is. I'll expand some more on the theme in another post, this here post is about foolish pride and lessons in humility.

My first and second attempts at macarons turned out surprisingly well.

First try: coffee macarons, Hermé's recipe. Not perfect, but not bad

Second try: coffee and chocolate macarons. I thought I had them all figured out...

All of a sudden I was picturing myself churning out multiple batches of many-flavored macarons, and lecturing the blogging world about how I choose to avoid using food coloring. I then made batch after batch of duds (macarons lovers beware, the following pictures may upset you):

Third try: sure there's "feet" (the lacy stuff around the edges), but they shouldn't be spreading out all over the place

And here I thought I had found clever ways to color macarons naturally... Into the garbage with all of them

Oh the horror of prying these limp, fragile shells off the baking paper

Cookies shaped like baseball caps, anyone?

Small consolation: at least these came off the paper fairly easily

With their rims snipped off

The prettiest of this crop: of course these silly-looking macarons are edible, but that's not good enough

Well, so that's off my chest. I was a little demoralized to see my baking going downhill rather than progressing. Of course, I have a couple good photos up my sleeve still, or I would be too depressed to post tonight. But I have to say, my confidence is a little shaken.

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Update: Summary of my croissants endeavours

I've written a total of four posts about croissants (yes...), so here's an overview:

- First attempt, recipe from Le Pétrin
This post provides the first recipe I used, a lot of process photos, and links to many other croissant resources.
- Second attempt. The recipe from Hermé is included in this post. This is my current favorite recipe, provided the water is increased.
- Third attempt (this post), and total failure, still using recipe from Hermé. This shows what happens when the dough is too dry (yuck)
- Fourth attempt, using recipe from Hermé.
Good croissants. Increasing the amount of water and improving proofing made a huge difference. Some process photos.