It is so easy to think that something which requires your patience must also be difficult, and this common confusion is perhaps best exemplified by our attitudes toward cooking.
Take, for example, the making of croissants. The ingredients are almost identical to the making of other types of bread: flour, water, yeast, sugar and milk. The main difference is that the making of croissants involves a whole lot of butter (or just about any other type of fat, such as margarine or shortening). And of course, a pinch of salt, which is a given in nearly any recipe. As a side note, it has been said that salt serves as a magnifying glass of taste because it amplifies whatever flavours that are attached to it.
The dough for croissants is first made without butter, and it is prepared by simply mixing all the other ingredients after measuring them. The butter is handled separately. All you need to do is place the block of butter in between sheets of baking paper or cling film, and knock at it with a rolling pin until it becomes a flat slab no thicker than your little finger. You then use a knife to trim off the rough edges so that the slab of butter is now in the shape of a rectangle. Finally, you wrap the dough snugly around the butter, and it should look like a card sealed in an envelope.
The next few steps are the reason why bakers must wake up at ungodly hours, and why many people would rather get their croissants at the local bakery. Once you have made sure that none of the butter is peeking through the seams of the dough, you fold the entire thing multiple times, and then roll it flat again. But because the butter is melting, in between each folding and rolling procedure you must freeze the block of dough and butter for about thirty minutes. The entire process of folding and rolling, then freezing, then folding and rolling again, and so on, takes hours. This is what creates the flaky texture of croissants.
These steps are usually repeated three times, although there is nothing stopping you from repeating the procedure four or more times, which would result in more layers of dough and butter, and therefore a puffier croissant. Next, you roll out the block of dough and butter into a flat sheet, cut it into triangles using a pizza slicer or knife, and then roll the little triangles with your hands like how you would roll a carpet. At this stage, if you wish, you may bring the two ends of the croissants together to give them that crescent shape. Finally, after giving the croissants some time to rise, you brush them with a beaten egg diluted with a little bit of water, and then you bake them.
The entire process of making croissants is time consuming, but not difficult. It is merely a series of simple steps spread across an extended period of time. One might even argue that it is trickier to make scrambled eggs without turning the eggs into overcooked yellow sponges. Legend has it that the croissant takes the shape of a crescent because it was created in Europe during the 8th century to celebrate the fall of the Umayyad empire. Two years ago, a sharia committee in Syria issued a fatwa against croissants because the pastry apparently ‘celebrates European victory over Muslims’.
The Gregorian calendar follows the sun, while the Islamic calendar is lunar. In other words, some civilisations are never fated to be able to agree on anything. Then again, French culinary law requires that croissants made using any fat that is not butter be in the shape of a crescent, while croissants made using butter are to remain straight, which suggests that the shape of a croissant is nothing more complicated than an indication of its ingredient.