Thursday, September 26, 2013
I love croissants! They are definitely my favorite pastry. I have never made them before but I recently read a fiction book about 3 girls who inherited a bakery from their Grandmother they had never met. The book went into detail about these women learning to make croissants and I instantly knew I wanted to give it a try. While they can be labor intensive, they are not difficult! I actually loved the process and the outcome. I filled about half with good quality chocolate chips and those were the best! Don't let these lovely pastries intimidate you, give them a try, you will not be disappointed! I found this recipe over at King Arthur Flour's website. Make sure to read through the whole recipe as there is quite a bit of fridge time needed! But don't worry, they are totally worth the wait!
2 large eggs, plus enough warm water to make 2 cups of liquid
1/4 cup sugar
5 1/2 to 6 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 t yeast
1/2 cup dry milk
1 scant tablespoon salt
2 T butter, melted
1 7/8 cup butter, cool to the touch
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
For the dough:
Male a sponge by cracking 2 eggs into a 2 cup measuring cup and add enough warm water to make 2 cups. Beat well and put into a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your electric mixer. Using the dough hook, add one Tablespoon of the sugar, 3 cups of flour and the yeast. Mix until smooth, cover and set aside.
For the butter:
While the sponge is doing its thing, set up the butter inlay. Mix the butter and flour together until it is smooth and there are no hard lumps. You can do this using a spoon, food processor, mixer or by hand. Be careful not the use a high speed, that will incorporate air and we don't want that! Lightly flour a piece of plastic wrap and shape the butter into an 8 inch square using a dough scraper or a spatula. Wrap up the butter and place it in the fridge on a flat surface for at least 30 minutes.
Finish the dough:
Stir the melted and cooled butter into the sponge. In another bowl, whisk together 2 1/2 cups of the remaining flour, the sugar, the dry milk and the salt. Add this to the sponge and mix until you have a soft but kneadable dough. Check the dough after kneading for 4-5 minutes and add more the remaining flour if it is still sticky.
Once the dough is smooth and elastic, pat it into a square, loosely cover it and place it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. (The goal is to have the butter and the dough the same consistency, that will make it easier to fold them together to create layers).
Remove the dough from the fridge and place it on a lightly floured surface. Roll it into a square about 12 inches across. Unwrap the butter slab and place it in the center of the square at a 45 degree angle so it looks like a diamond in a square. Fold the flaps of the dough over the butter until they touch in the center. Pinch them together to seal in the butter. Lightly flour the top and then turn the dough over so the seams are on the bottom. Gently tap the dough into a rectangle using your rolling pin. Lift the dough to make sure it isn't sticking, dusting with flour as necessary. Gently roll the dough from the center out until you have a rectangle 20 inches long by 10 inches wide. When you have reached this size, brush off any excess four and fold the bottom 1/3 of the dough into the center and the top 1/3 over that, like folding a letter. Turn the dough 90 degrees to the right so it looks like a book ready to open. That is your first turn!
You need to do this a totally of 4 times. Between each turn wrap the dough and return it to the fridge for up to 30 minutes. This will keep the thin layers of dough and butter you are creating from breaking open. Also remember to keep your surface and rolling pin lightly dusted with flour. (Don't worry if your layers break open, that is how I knew it was time to put it back in the fridge). Also, I would flip my dough and make sure the underneath was lightly floured, this seemed to help too. When my layer would break, I would just make sure that it was on the inside when I folded the dough into a book. Once you have done this 4 times, wrap the dough and place in your fridge for at least 1 hour but preferably overnight.
Shaping the dough:
using half the dough at a time, roll it into a 12" x 18"rectangle. Trim the edges, on every edge with a ruler and a pizza wheel. (this will allow the croissant to puff up when baking). Cut the dough in thirds length wise and in half through the middle. This will give you six pieces. Now cut each of those in half diagonally, making twelve total. Roll the dough starting with the point facing away from you. It is ok to stretch them a little as you roll them. If you want to put filling in your croissants, this is the time. (I highly recommend chocolate.) Place a table spoon of filling at the wide edge near you and roll from there. I used Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips, they were heaven! Make sure the tip of the croissant is tucked underneath. Place the croissants on a lightly greased or parchment papered cookie sheet. Cover and chill for 30 minutes, or you can freeze them at this point.
Baking the croissants:
take the croissants out of the oven and preheat the oven to 425. While the oven is heating, brush the tops with 1 well beaten egg mixed with 1 tablespoon of water. When the oven is hot, bake the croissants for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 and continue baking for another 15-20 minutes. The croissants should be a golden brown, even where the folds overlap so you don't have a doughy center. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.