To Hungary, with Love Part One: Croissants are not French
The time period of social distancing definitely has given me the opportunity to think more about sharing what’s been going on in and outside of the kitchen since I moved here.
One of my most favorite things I discovered since 2018 in Europe is Hungary. We went there for a brief period of time in late 2018 just after the wine harvest, and it definitely falls into the “All I want to do is go back” category. There is so much culture to see, eat, and drink, and I think this is an understatement.
Another item that I have become obsessed with over time since moving here is the croissant. I am not as obsessed with the pastry as my partner, but there is a genuine, lovingly fascination that I have about the “patisserie of patisserie”.
Two things that I did not know until recently:
- Croissants are not French. In fact, there is quite a bit of discussion as to where they originate. The most obvious answer is Austria, as they were originally called Kipferl before the French took it away to become the jet-setter that it now is forever. However, there is discussion that it traveled from what was the Ottoman Empire and was called a Kifli, the Hungarian name for the pastry before it made its way to Vienna.
- Croissants are astonishingly easy to make. Yes, this magically, ever-lasting layered creation of butter, yeast, and flour is surprisingly a breeze to make, particularly if you have the patience for 2-3 days.
After going to Paris last year and trying practically every croissant that we could find along the streets, I decided to finally face my fears of the “patisserie of patisserie” and give this a go myself. I found a recipe via Pintrest that I highly recommend, especially if you have time constraints or if you just cannot wait 3 days to indulge your croissant craving.
We gave the three-day recipe an initial try around Christmas 2019, and it was a huge success that we decided to do it again for Easter 2020. Now, trying it a second time, I want to share some quick tips if you decide to face your fear of patisserie:
- Don’t worry if you did not have enough yeast (we ran out and due to the panic buying that is going around town, we had to cut the portion slightly shorter). I was worried at first, but they rose just as much the second time around as they did the first so do not worry.
- Make sure you do set the butter in pieces as recommended overnight. This helps them spread within the flour evenly when it’s time to laminate the dough.
- The splits in the middle of each triangle help the croissant dough form the crescent shapes. I found that not exactly clear in the recipe so hopefully this clarifies that step when its time to shape the dough into crescents.
- Take your time in the oven. Just because they are browning, doesn’t mean they are burning. If fact, they might not be completely baked through so have patience. We noticed that we needed more time in the oven than what the recipe states, but we also live in another part of the world, and our oven is a little older.
Go ahead and give these magnificent gems a try. When you have a little more time than you normally would these days, projects like these definitely are worth the time and satisfaction they create.