Mar 06 2011

Breakfast of Champions

Published by at 2:15 pm under Brunch,Cooking Classes

Anyone who’s been lucky enough to spend time in Paris knows that nothing compares to a flaky croissant first thing in the morning. No butter, no jam. No honey. Just a shot of espresso and a spoiled smile.

Early on in my cooking career I naively thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be special to whip up some of my own croissants?” I consulted a few recipes and quickly threw that idea on the back burner. Any recipe that begins Friday evening and doesn’t deliver any goods until Sunday morning isn’t going to find its way into my kitchen. Before starting school, I never counted patience among my virtues.

Fortunately, the last third of my culinary education has been largely dominated by laminated doughs — the ones with ultra-thin layers of butter and bread dough that create the flakes we so long for. First we made puff pastry, the simplest; then croissants, a richer dough; and finally Danish pastry, the sweetest and most American of them all.

And in reality, none of these are that tough or time-consuming to make (isn’t that always the lesson here?) Croissants take about an hour and a half, and then you can throw them in the fridge and bake them off the next morning. And if you’re like me, they’re quite fun to roll up.

An empty Danish is your blank slate. Fill it with cream cheese, lemon curd, jam, or dust it with cinnamon sugar. Just consult the door of your refrigerator and be your own guide.

Croissants, however, have rules. You have two options when it comes to this dough, and they are Croissants and Pain au Chocolat (with a small amount of dark chocolate tucked inside). Don’t even think about trying any creative shapes or smearing on — gasp! — Nutella.

Because as we know, the French have a very particular way of doing things, and it’s best not to mess with it.

And for the Americans… we can have sugar for breakfast.

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