I cook & bake a lot. Nick, my son and awesome sous chef, and I like to try out things that we have not made before. One of these is croissants. There is an awesome little bakery about 20 minutes down the freeway - thank goodness because if it was any closer we would be in big trouble with our jeans - they have these wonderful flaky croissants. They have plain that are super buttery and light and they always have stuffed - bacon egg and cheese to chocolate to apple and everything in between.
I have to admit I was a bit intimidated by making croissant and puff dough. I have yet to come across something that I can't make. That doesn't mean I don't fail but that I make it until I get it right. So I am not sure why I have avoided making croissants. Whatever the reasons, they are no longer a factor because we conquered making croissants... and did it quite tastily I might add.
I like to spend time on joepasty.com. If you haven't checked out his site please do so and take the time to sit and read his many wonderful posts. What I love is how he breaks down what could be thought of as complicated into simple and easy to follow instructions.
His three pieces of the puzzle ~
laminate the dough
the final product
This will be a long post so go ahead and get a cup of coffee to drink while we go through this. Coffee really does go so nicely with a croissant. Waiting....
Ok let's make flakiness happen!
I slightly warmed the milk and let the yeast sit on the warmed milk for a couple of minutes before I added the rest of the ingredients and proceeded to mix it all up in my trusty Kitchen Aid mixer.
This is the part that Nick was looking forward to. The beating of the butter! Such a simple thing that can bring such a smile to people.
Put the butter onto a couple of layers of plastic wrap. Sprinkle the flour over it then top with a couple more layers of plastic wrap. Now whack it! One thing that kept happening to our whackable package is the flour would scoot to the edge of the butter and then get poofed out when whacked.
We found that if you held the plastic at the edge and folded the butter in on itself, you could get the flour to work in easier. Fold, cover, turn, whack whack whack!
Bahahaha! Listening to music as I type and Ottis is singing Tenderness in my ears! Which is opposite of what Joe says - "when making pastry, violence is always the first resort." Not quite tenderness eh?! LOL!
Once the butter and flour are making nice nice form it into a square and cover with the plastic wrap again and set it in the fridge while playing with the dough.
You might think this dough will need more flour for handling but it needed a surprisingly small amount to be worked.
Roll out the dough to make a square a bit larger than your butter square. Bring your butter back into play. Set it into the center of your dough. (Joe shows this next part well - which is good because I forgot to picture it! I would face palm myself but then I would make my son's day and well I am just not that nice of a mom!)
Grab a corner of dough and bring it around the butter up to the center. Do that with all for corners - remember making cootie catchers?! Yeah! Then pinch the seams together. If they don't want to stick dip your finger in some water and get the seam just the teeniest bit wet and that should help.
Now you have your nice package of dough with that flat of butter inside. Time to whack it again. Whack it in an asterisk pattern. Corner to corner, turn 45 degrees, whack, turn 45 degrees and you got it - whack! Do this for a few go a rounds. Your butter will become a nice layer in your dough and it is now time to roll.
Roll it out to a nice rectangle. You should be able to feel lumps of butter all around the edge. Yay for butter lumpies! Brush off excess flour - you don't have to be totally OCD about it but there shouldn't be any
particles thick spots of flour on your dough.
Using your pastry blade - great tool, get one if your tool bin doesn't have one - tri-fold the dough.
Like when you send a fancy letter to a lawyer or someone you care to impress. If there are spots where the butter is trying to poke through just sprinkle with a bit of flour and pat it in.
Turn the dough and roll it out again.
Tri-fold the dough once again and transfer it to a baking sheet, cover and let it rest in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
I was surprised by the puffiness when I pulled it out for the next step. That is just happy yeast!
If you are making croissants then this can be your final turn. It is up to you. Mine came out just right with three turns.
Time to roll and fold again. You want to do a book fold this time. Roll out the dough in a long rectangle. Take one end and fold it to the center. Take the other end and fold it into the center to meet the other end. Now simply close the book by taking one side and folding it over to the other side.
Using your pastry blade cut your dough into desired amounts.
Look at those layers! Ahhhhh!
I finished with three pieces of dough just over a pound each. I wrapped one in plastic wrap for use the next day and I bagged the other two and put them in the freezer for later use.
Let the dough rest in the fridge for at least 4 hours - I let it chill overnight.
Next morning .... puffy in da house!!
This dough is such a delight to work with. Not too much fight but you can tell it will stand its ground.
As you can see I am not so good at that precise corner thing ha! But I did get out the ruler to try to get that dough as rolled out as instructed.
Using my pizza cutter I cut out half of the dough in triangles for croissants and half in rectangles for pain au chocolates.
Pull the little points out a but and cut a small slit to give it a bit of a bend.
Fold the slit end up and tug those points again.
Roll 'em up!
Place your croissants on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bend them or leave them straight. Time to rest for about an hour until nice and puffy looking.
I wasn't quite sure about how to roll up the PAC. (Now with more information I could have done it a bit differently.) I put the chocolate on the end and folded the sides over and hen rolled it up.
Makes for a neat little package. But maybe a bit smaller than I like.
Place on a lined baking sheet and rest like the croissants.
Puffed and then brushed with egg wash for shininess. Pop into the oven and bake!
Golden brown puffed flakiness!
Croissant recipe from Joe Pastry....
For the dough (détrempe):
22 ounces (about 4 cups) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons (2 packages) instant yeast yeast
14 ounces (1 1/2 cups) milk at room temperature
4 ounces (1/2 cup) half-and-half at room temperature
For the butter slab:
3 Tbsp flour
12 ounces cold Euro-style (cultured) butter
Go make some croissants!