Saturday, April 13, 2013


Okay people: this is big news.  Huge.  And buttery.  I have mastered the art of making croissants.

Here's the thing: croissants are nothing like what you are picturing or tasting in your mind.  They are not the cardboard-y things you get your breakfast sandwiches on at Dunkin' Donuts, or anything you grab at the air port at Au Bon Pain - and don't get me started on the canned ones.  I don't know what those things are exactly, because I highly doubt any of those places spend the crazy amount of time making croissants the right way... but I did this year on Easter.  And let me tell you, it was worth it.

I have wanted to try these out for over a year, but they looked pretty intense and I knew if I was going to spend hours making a bread, it would need to be for a special occasion.  When Kenzie took over making Easter dinner, I knew the time was right!  I got up really early so that I could start the dough, which was a fairly simple pastry dough.

And then it was time to make the butter square.  Yeah you read that correctly: I had to make a square out of butter.  That would be three sticks of butter, cut into tablespoons, mashed together with a dough scraper until you form a lovely rectangle made solely out of butter.  I admit that doing this made my arms hurt and my mother declare that she would not enjoy eating anything with so much butter in it, but they, it was Easter!  A time to celebrate!  A time to make a 7-inch square of butter!

Then comes the fun: you roll out the dough and place the butter square right in the middle, and then fold it up like a delicious buttery present.  You gently tap the dough with your rolling pin until you have rolled it out flat and the butter has become one with the dough.  Fold into thirds, chill, and repeat the process of rolling out and folding.

The shaping of the croissants was my least favorite part because I really sucked at folding them.  I wasn't even that great at cutting the dough into triangles, which is probably why I was so bad at folding.  Some of my croissants looked more like crabs than little crescents, but that's okay - they tasted the same.

Since these really did take me all day, they weren't done until after dinner, but it's okay because they would have stolen the show.  They are so amazing.  Obviously they are buttery, but they are flaky, savory with just a touch of sweetness, and just the most amazing carb you may ever put into your mouth.  Kenzie agreed that it was the best thing I ever made.  The two of us chowed down on them for days - but they are definitely the best that first day, still warm and steaming... oh my god, I am getting a severe croissant craving.

Anyway these are definitely not a weeknight bread to try out... in total, I think it took me about 8 hours, even if most of it was waiting and chilling.  But WOW were they worth it.  



from Annie's Eats, originally adapted form Baking Illustrated
Yield: 12 croissants


For the dough:
3 cups (15 oz.) all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
1 tbsp. instant yeast
¼ cup (1¾ oz.) sugar
1¼ tsp. salt
1¼ cups whole milk, cold
2 tbsp. unsalted butter

For the butter square:
24 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 1-tablespoon pieces and kept cold
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour

Egg wash:
1 large egg, lightly beaten

1) To make the dough, combine 2¾ cups of the flour together with the yeast, sugar and salt in a medium bowl.  Whisk together and set aside.  Add the milk to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.  Add the dry ingredients and knead on low speed until a ball of dough forms, about 5 minutes.  Cut the butter into small pieces and add them to the dough.  Continue to knead until the butter is fully incorporated and the dough is smooth.  The dough should form a ball and begin to clear the sides of the bowl, about 5-6 minutes more.  The dough should be sticky but if the dough sticks more to the bowl than itself, add the remaining ¼ cup of flour a small bit at a time as needed.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

2) To make the butter square, toss together the butter pieces and flour on a clean work surface.  Smear the butter back and forth using a bench scraper against the work surface until they have combined into a smooth, homogenous mixture.  (See this post for Annie's photos of making a butter square.)  Wrap the butter mixture in plastic wrap and use the edges of the plastic to form it into a 7-inch square.  Refrigerate until ready to use, at least 30 minutes.

3) Dust a work surface with flour.  Roll the dough into an 11-inch square.  Place the chilled butter square directly on the dough.  Fold the corners of the dough up over the butter square so that they meet at the middle and pinch the edges of the dough together to seal them.

4) Using a rolling pin, gently tap the dough starting from the center of the dough and working outward, until the square becomes larger and the butter begins to soften.  Start gently rolling the dough into a 14-inch square being careful to make sure the work surface is well-floured and the dough is not sticking.  Fold the dough into thirds to create a large rectangle.  Starting from the narrow ends, fold the dough into thirds again to form a square (this completes two turns of the dough).  Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate 2 hours.

5) Repeat this entire process again: tap the dough starting from the center of the dough and working outward, then rolling out to a 14-inch square.  Fold the dough into thirds to form a rectangle and into thirds again to form a square, completing two more turns.  Wrap tightly and refrigerate for at least 2 more hours.

6) To shape the croissants, line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.  Place the chilled dough onto the floured work surface and roll into a 20-inch square.  Cut each half into three rectangles and then slice each rectangle in half to form 12 triangles (I used a pizza cutter).  Working with one triangle at a time, gently stretch the dough so that the two long sides are equal in length.

7)  Cut a 1-inch slit at the base of the triangle.  Fold the two corners of the slit outwards and begin rolling the triangle up, gently stretching the dough as you go.  Leave the last 1/4-inch of the tip unrolled.  

8)  Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and fold the ends toward each other to make a crescent shape.  Repeat with the remaining portions of dough.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap.  Let rise at room temperature until puffy, about 45-60 minutes.

9) Preheat the oven to 400˚ F.  Brush the shaped croissants lightly with the egg wash.  Bake until the croissants are golden brown, 18-22 minutes, rotating halfway through baking.  Allow to cool on a wire rack at least 15 minutes.  Store airtight at room temperature for up to 2 days or wrap well and freeze.  Reheat in a 300˚ F oven for 5-10 minutes.

No comments:

Post a Comment