Croissant: Illusatory Magic
by McGonagirl & Hagrid
The secret truth actually went beyond being a stickler for old-fashioned methods. Chef Bullshot was a squib -- a child born of magic parents who had no magic abilities of his own. But he discovered in chemistry and pastrymaking that he'd be more than justified in not using time-saving magic spells, and he'd even be applauded for his efforts! As for his accent -- it was a fake. He deliberately spoke that way so that he could avoid having to clearly answer anyone about why he didn't use magic. The Two Fat Saxon Witches, who ran the Culinary Institute of Witchery and Cookery and where young Jack Cowsill attended, advised him to not only put on the accent, but to choose a flamboyant name, the better to create a mystique and to market himself!
What's more, he was famous in the Muggle world as well as in the Wizard realm -- a rare sample of a person who co-existed in both worlds. After the demonstration, Hermione studied him carefully, for she intended to reside in both universes as well. And in her research, she discovered the truth about Bullshot's origins, but she didn't blow the whistle on him. After all, she was the inverse of Bullshot's situation, where she was the only magic person born into a Muggle family, and she had a lot to learn from Chef Bullshot!
But in the meantime, Hermione and her friends sat with rapt attention at this so-called "science demo," following the pastry chef's hands as he magically manipulated common, cheap ingredients into something full of air, flavor, texture and beauty. Then he showed them how he used this one dough to make a variety of traditional French pastries -- called viennoiseries -- croissants, danishes, etc. He made it look so easy and made science look like so much fun, but they suspected that like Joaquim Bullshot, what you see is often merely a well-crafted illusion.
Croissant dough is not terribly difficult to make, but it takes a lot of time: knowing when to stop, when to refrigerate, recognizing problems as you go ... if you screw up, toss it out and start over. The ingredients are generally cheap ... it's all the waiting ... and waiting ... and proper handling. Read the recipe through completely before starting! It's broken down here in parts, and illustrated, too! This batch of dough makes a dozen large croissant, and can be used for making the other French-style pastries.
Roll out the dough to about 3/16" depth. Cut into strips about 6 inches wide and as long as the dough. From there, cut into isosceles triangles approximately 30 OR 60g weight each. The batch should make about a dozen croissants in the bigger size, two dozen in the smaller. Save the scraps toward the leavan for the next batch -- wrap and plastic very well and store in the freezer.
Cut a notch in the center of the base of the triangle, about an inch deep. Pull on the dough in the corner directions to give a nice shape. Tuck down the notched corners and roll tightly, stretching the tail as you go to make many layers. Tuck the two "arms" in front of the croissant -- in the direction of the roll. Place on a parchment paper-lined baking tray, about 2 inches apart. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and proof till doubled in size.
Some words on proofing -- this happens best at high humidity and a temperature between 80°F to 90°F / 62°C to 72°C. A "proofing box" is an expensive piece of equipment which regulates humidity to about 90% (hot summer day) as well as controlling temperature. To proof at home, most cooks just cover their dough and let it sit in a draft-free, warm place. However, you will be waiting a long, long time for croissant if you do this. To jerry-rigg a proofing box, you can turn the light on (do not turn the oven on itself!) in your oven and put a heavy pan or cast-iron skillet on the floor of the oven and fill it with boiling water. Put the croissants on their baking trays in the oven to proof. Others have rigged a lightbulb in a styrofoam or metal box ... think "incubating chicks to help them hatch" -- that sort of temperature. You will want to put a reliable thermometer in there to make sure you don't exceed the upper range of temperature, or the butter will melt out and you won't get the flaky puffiness that croissant is so famous for.
Heat oven to 450°F / 250°C. Place the racks of croissant in the oven, the lower the temperature to 380°F / 195°C. Bake till deeply browned and crispy, about 20 to 25 minutes, but watch them carefully. If you eat the croissant "hot out of the oven" it will always be damp and doughy in the middle. Let it sit for a few minutes to dry out. Once "just warm" to the touch, they can be covered in plastic wrap and frozen immediately.
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