Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Make Your Own Croissants

This was officially one of my biggest endeavours yet...the croissant.  I honestly did not realize what a process making a croissant was.  I can now fully appreciate the effort bakeries put into making these little pastries of perfection (and why the prices are sometimes so over the top)!

The recipe below is my modified version of the Classic Croissant from Fine Cooking magazine.


French Croissant
Makes 15
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp cold water 
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp milk (I used skim)
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar 
3 tbsp soft unsalted butter 
1 Tbs. plus 1/2 tsp. instant yeast 

Butter layer:
1 1/4 cup unsalted butter

Egg wash:
1 large egg
1 tsp water

Day 1
Step 1:  Combine all of the dough ingredients in a stand mixer.  With a dough hook, mix on low speed (speed 2 on a KitchenAid mixer) for 6 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl if necessary.  The dough should not be sticky.  Transfer the dough to a lightly floured pie pan and lightly flour the top of the dough.  Wrap tightly in saran wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Before refrigeration
The dough will rise slightly overnight and be relatively tough.

After refrigeration
Day 2
Step 2:  Cut the cold butter into 1/2 inch slabs lengthwise.  Arrange the slabs into a 5-6" square on wax paper.  Top with another piece of wax paper and press & roll the butter into a 7.5" square (trimming the edges if necessary).  Refrigerate the butter layer while you roll out the dough.
Top view of butter
Side view of butter
Step 3:  Roll the dough into a 10.5" square, trimming edges to remove overhanging excess.

10.5" square of dough
Step 4:  Unwrap dough and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll into a 10.5" square.  Remove butter from the fridge (it should be firm, and be easily removed from wax paper without cracking -- if not, return to fridge until firm).  Place the butter on the dough so that butter resembles a "diamond" on the dough "square" (see below).  Fold the visible flaps of dough over the butter, stretching if needed, so that the butter is no longer visible.  Ensure the flaps of dough are tightly sealed so that the butter cannot escape. 

Dough "square" and butter "diamond"
Flaps of dough sealed over butter layer
Step 5:  With the rolling pin, press & roll the dough to elongate it to 8x24".  You do not want the dough to widen, just lengthen (press sides inward if the dough starts to widen).

Roll the dough to elongate
Step 6:  Take the short end of the dough and fold it inwards, leaving one-third of the other end of dough exposed. Then fold the exposed dough over the folded side. Put the dough on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze for 20 minutes.

Step 7:  Repeat the same process 2 more times, rolling the open end of the dough to elongate it to 8x24".  So you'll have to roll, freeze for 20 minutes, roll, then freeze for an additional 20 minutes.  Then refrigerate the dough on the baking sheet, covered, overnight.

Day 3
Step 8:  Roll the open end of the dough to 44" in length (remember, we want to elongate, not widen).  The dough may become sticky as it begins to thin, so ensure your work surface is appropriately floured.  Trim the ends of the dough, removing excess, so that the length of the dough is now 40" in length.

Step 9:  Measure the bottom (long) end of the dough into 5" increments, marking off the increments by notching the dough with a knife.  You should have 7 notches.  On the top (long) end of the dough, measure 2.5" in and notch.  Then measure every 5" thereafter, notching as above.  You should have 8 notches on top.

Step 10:  Make diagonal cuts with a knife or pizza cutter, starting at the 2.5" notch on the top of the dough to the first notch on the bottom of the dough.  Continue until you have 15 triangles.

Dough after it has been cut
Step 11:  Stretch the triangles lightly until they are 10" in length, then cut a 1/2" notch in the small end of the triangle (this will help elongate the croissant).

Notch in the bottom of the triangles
Step 12:  With the small end of the triangle facing you, begin rolling the dough towards the pointed end, pressing lightly so that the dough seals.  Bend the two legs of the croissant together (they will come apart during proofing, but will help the croissant keep its crescent shape).

Step 13:  Make egg wash by whisking egg with water.

Egg wash
Step 14:  Coat croissants with egg wash and allow 1.5-2 hours to proof.

Egg wash coating
Step 15:  After allowing to sit for 1.5-2 hours.  Coat the croissants with another layer of egg wash then bake at 400 for 18-20 minutes (or until lightly browned).

Finished product

Hints:  Although the recipe requires 3 days, I managed good results within 2 days.  Instead of refrigerating overnight for a second time in step 7, I just continued straight on to step 8.

Be prepared for your biceps to get quite the work-out with all of the rolling! But the work is well worth it.

Serve with honey, jam or marmalade.

xo Ceilidh

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