Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Flaky Croissants & My 201st Post!

I just finished putting together a massive 50 something page report from my term long project at school. So incredibly happy that's complete! I was thinking my reward should be some new cookbooks, don't you agree? Anyway, now I finally have time to post about these amazing croissants! I meant to post them as my 200th post but then lost track so now this is my 201st post! Croissants seemed like something big enough for such an occasion. They're something I've wanted to make for a long long time. Well I think they're something that most bakers want to make at some point, if they haven't already.

I'm so happy with how mine turned out. I thought they'd be really difficult to make, but they're actually not - it's just time consuming. And they're not even that time consuming. You just have to be around to do the turns every hour or so for a few hours once the dough is made. The thing I was most scared about was preparing the butter. I thought it would be impossible to roll out butter but it actually went okay. I used half the dough to make 16 little croissants (and ate at least half of them!) and have the rest of the dough in my freezer. I want to try out some of the recipes in Carole Walter's book that use the croissant dough.

While I'm really happy I made croissants and really happy with how they turned out - so flakey and buttery - I'm not sure that I'd make them again. Most baked goods are so much better when baked at home, and these croissants were really good, but I think I'd rather buy 1 or 2 when I'm craving one. I meant to take more process photos but kept bringing the camera over and forgetting to actually take a picture. There's a couple of pictures below in the recipe though of the sponge and the finished dough.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Golden Cinnamon Loaf
Soft Pretzels
Honey Pecan Sticky Buns
Caramelized Apple Danish Braid

Flaky Croissants
Adapted from Great Coffee Cakes, Sticky Buns, Muffins & More

Makes 3 pounds dough, enough for 32 small/mini croissants

2 cups milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1 package active dry yeast
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour, spooned in and leveled

1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly firm (I used European butter.)

4 cups unbleached flour, spooned in and leveled (I used 540 g.)
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft
1/3 cup milk, for brushing croissants
1 large egg lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon of water, for egg wash

The sponge.

Make the sponge:
1. In a 2 quart saucepan, warm the milk to 110F to 115F. Stir in the sugar and sprinkle the yeast over the top. Do not stir. Cover the pot and let the mixture stand for 5 minutes. Stir it briefly with a fork, cover again, and let it stand for 5 minutes longer, or until the yeast is bubbly and dissolved. Using a small whisk, stir in the flour. It's okay if the mixture is somewhat lumpy. Cover and let stand until the sponge has doubled in size, 25 to 30 minutes or more as needed.

Prepare the butter:
2. Sprinkle a cool work surface with 1 tablespoon of flour. Unwrap the butter and lay the bars side by side on the work surface. With floured hands, push the bars of butter firmly together to form a solid mass. Sprinkle the top of the butter with one more tablespoon of flour, patting it over the surface with your hand. With a floured rolling pin, roll the butter into an 8 inch square, using the additional 2 tablespoons of flour as needed. Cover the butter with plastic wrap and place it on a cookie sheet. Refrigerate while you prepare the dough.

Make the dough:
3. Place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. On low speed, mix briefly to combine. Add the 2 tablespoons of soft butter and mix for 30 seconds. With the mixer off, add the sponge to the bowl, then mix on low speed until all of the dry ingredients are incorporated and the mixture is fairly smooth, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Do not over mix.

Encase the butter:
Note: For the butter to be rolled through dough, ti is essential that it be pliable. It is ready when it has reached the same degree of softness as the dough. Then it will roll smoothly through the dough.

4. Place the dough on a lightly floured, cool work surface and gently knead for six to eight turns, or just until smooth. Pat the dough into a 6 to 8 inch rectangle and let it rest for 2 minutes.

5. With a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a 12x16 inch rectangle with the 12 inch side parallel to the edge of the counter. Center the block of butter on the dough. Bring the lower portion of dough up and over to the middle of the butter, then fold the upper portion over to cover the remaining butter, firmly pinching the seam together. You will have a 1 to 2 inch margin of dough on the right and left side. With your thumb, press these edges thoroughly together to seal them.

Make the turns:
6. Give the dough a quarter-turn clockwise. Roll the dough lengthwise into a rectangle measuring about 21x12 inches. Flip the dough over, brushing off the excess flour as needed. If the butter seeps through, seal it by brushing the exposed butter with a light coating of flour. When the desired size is reached, fold the dough into thirds, letter style, making sure all the edges are even. It's okay to gently stretch the corners to even the block. Enclose the dough in plastic wrap, place it on a cookie sheet, and chill for about 1 hour. You have now completed the first turn.

7. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and turn it so the open seam is to your right. Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface into a 21x12 inch rectangle. Fold into thirds, stretching the corners as needed. You have now completed two turns. Wrap and chill again for 20 (or 60) minutes.

8. Repeat the procedure two more times, giving the dough a total of four turns. Wrap the dough with plastic wrap, making the package airtight. Chill for at least 6 hours, or up to 3 days. If you wish to freeze the dough, be sure to deflate it first.

Shape the croissants:
9. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Line the baking sheets with parchment.

The finished dough before being rolled out.

10. On a cold, lightly floured work surface, divide the dough into quarters using a dough scraper. Working with one quarter at a time, roll the dough into a 16x8 inch strip. Turn the dough so the 16 inch side is parallel to the edge of the counter. Angle the bottom right hand corner outwards and the upper left hand corner outwards to form a parallelologram. This will enable you to shape the croissants without wasting the ends. Pierce the dough with a fork at 1 inch intervals to prevent it from shrinking.

11. Lay a ruler against the long side of the dough closest to you. Make three light indentations in the dough, spacing them every 4 inches. Lay the ruler against the opposite side and repeat, starting at the left side. With the indentations as a guide, cut the dough into eight triangles, using a pizza cutter or a dough scraper. At the wide end of each triangle, cut a 1/2 inch knick using the pizza cutter or dough scraper.

12. Stretch the corners of the wide end of the dough outwards slightly and begin to roll the dough. After you roll about one third of the way up the triangle, begin to stretch the tip outwards with the opposite hand that you are rolling with. Continue to roll the triangle, making three complete turns. Place the croissant on the prepared pan, making sure that the tip of the croissant is on the bottom. Curve the ends of the croissant to form a crescent shape so the widest part of the arch is at the top and the tip is underneath. Continue working with one quarter of the dough at a time, making thirty-two croissants.

13. Brush the tops and sides of the croissants lightly with milk, and place in a warmish spot to rise until puffy and almost doubled, 45 to 60 minutes. Brush the croissants again with the milk two or three times during this rising time.

Bake the croissants:
14. Fifteen minutes before baking, position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Heat the oven to 400F. Gently brush the tops of the croissants with the egg wash, working from the bottom upward. Do not drip the wash onto the baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350F and bake for 10 to 12 minutes longer, or until golden brown. Place on a rack to cool. To ensure even browning, toward the end of baking time, rotate the pans top to bottom and front to back.


Erin said...

These look so beautiful and flaky! I made my own croissants a few months ago and it was so satisfying.

Hannah said...

Very impressive! I've only made croissants once so far, so I know how demanding they can be... You're definitely inspiring me to give them another go though, since yours look so flaky and delicious.

Helene said...

You did an incredible job. They are beautiful. I love croissant with Nutella.

Elyse said...

Wow! I'm totally impressed. Your croissants look amazing. You have inspired me to try to make them. How great do they look!!! Happy 201 posts. That's so awesome. Oh, and you definitely deserve to get some new cookbooks after finishing that research project :)

Pearl said...

your croissants look like they belong in a bakery! :)

Johanna said...

congrats on both 201 posts and making croissants - I'd love to make them one day and hope they will look as good as yours

Grace said...

incredible! they're the perfect degree of crispy and buttery on the outside and soft and flaky on the inside. magnificent!

Ben said...

Oh they look amazing! And congratulations on your 201st post! Time flies, doesn't it?

Siri said...

they are sinfully yummy and I love their shape. May you celebrate yours 500th soon!! :D


Anonymous said...

Wow. This is beyond impressive. You've outdone yourself! What a way to celebrate 201 posts.

Lisa said...

Oh my, those look perfect. And yes, you should treat yourself to a cookbook or two, or three :)

Tracey said...

Wow, your croissants look phenomenal! Great job for your first attempt! I've been wanting to make them for a while too.

jodye said...

The croissants look incredible! I must make these ASAP!

Pam said...

I am so impressed! They look absolutely perfect. I could eat way too many of those beauties.

Coralay said...

These look incredible. And I'm French! I wish I had the patience to try it out...

Anonymous said...

These are beautiful! And they look so impressive. I've always wanted to try my hand at croissants but have always been intimidated by the process... Yours do look incrdible though

Steph said...

That looks really good! Wasn't it fun to use 1 pound of butter? I don't know why, but I love it when I get to feel like Paula..haha. I hope the report went well, 50 pgs is a lot! Thanks again for taking the time to type out the recipe for me. Congrats on post 201!

Dana said...

They turned out beautifully. Croissants are a someday goal for me. Yours are an inspiration!

Teanna said...

I just printed this out... I have been wanting to make croissants for the LONGEST and I love your picture tutorial! I need all of the help I can get!

Maria said...

They look perfect! Nice job and keep on posting:)

Memória said...

Wow! Your dough and croissants look absolutely perfect.

I know how you feel about not making croissants again. I made danish pastry dough, and while it was very good, there was too much in the house. I still have half of the dough in the freezer waiting for me to do something with it.

C said...

Wow, they look absolutely stunning!!! I'd love to give croissants a go! Congratulations on your 201st post too!

Hendria said...

Your photos are outstanding... I have thought about trying croissants...you have made it not seem so overwhelming... :)

Mermaid Sweets said...

Wow, congrats on the posts and this is amazing. I am sooo intimidated by croissants, nicely done.

Ricki said...

Stunning croissants! And congrats on your 201st post--quite an accomplishment. :)

Lindy said...

I just stumbled upon your blog and it is wonderful. I just wanted to compliment you on your excellent photos and abby's pictures are great too.

eatme_delicious said...

Lindy: Aw thank you so much. =)

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Magpie said...

Wow! how gorgeous do those look! Just got addicted to baking bready things and now I just have to makes these!

none said...

Hi Ashley!
I tried your recipe and it come out quite satisfied. I like when you shown how the dough rise up. I also tried different recipes but your recipe is great. thanks Buddhist I still recognized your blog. I will have guest at home so I am gonna bake croissant for them for breakfast.
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