I MADE CROISSANTS! I MADE CROISSANTS!
Ahem. So, this weekend I made croissants as part of a croissant challenge that other baking bloggers are doing. Ok, I can't contain myself. Weeee!!!! I MADE CROISSANTS. I'm very excited about the fact that I made these because I didn't think I was going to be able to. The recipe shared as the base recipe on Heavenly Housewife's site was Julia Child's recipe.
Um, I live in the city that never sleeps. How was I going to accomplish a recipe that takes a day and a half?
Well, we didn't HAVE to use that recipe. So, as to not let my other bloggers down, I found a "quicker" croissant recipe. And I have to say, they turned out great!
I didn't dare try to make these at the end of August. It was still super humid in New York and the yeast/dough would have pffffft on my plans to make croissants. Since the weather just dropped into Fall this week, I knew the weather conditions would be better for working with yeast.
Well, Fall also means more miles to put in for marathon training and it is also the begining of opera season in NY. I am lacking time to bake even simple things!
I guess the fact that I made wonderful tasting croissants during a busy weekend helped to make the croissants even tastier to me. Maybe you would feel as elated too if you also ran 17 miles Sat morning, had an opera audition afterwards, took a 30 minute nap, recorded 2 hours worth of arias, started croissants, went to bed, made croissants in the morning, went to church, went to opera rehearsal, sang at a wedding, and hung out with friends at the San Gennaro Festival. (Are you exhausted yet from reading all of that?)
I've only baked with yeast once before. The first time was a slight disaster so I was quite nervous starting this project. Everything went smoothly and I quite enjoyed working with the dough. Very therapeutic after long days. Oh, and did I mention it's quite messy? :)
I looked silly walking into to the laudromat with flour on my jeans. People there were probably thinking I should toss the jeans in the washer too. Or maybe they were jealous since I was obviously baking something good!
I enjoyed my croissant making so much that with the second half of the batter I made Nutella croissants. One word: AMAZING!
I found the outcome very lovely. They were crispy on the outside, flaky enough on the inside, and super buttery altogether. (If you do a more involved recipe you will probably get more flaky layers.)
PS I used farm fresh butter and eggs and organic flour and milk. The better the ingredients, the better the croissant. (Do you really want to spend so much time making something without using the best?)
PPS If you want to see the other bloggers who participated in the croissant challenge, check them out. (Trust me, you WANT to.)
Heavenly Housewife at Donuts to Delirium
Stevie at Weird Combinations
Anna at Keep it Luce
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup cold milk
1 large egg
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick salted butter, frozen
1 stick unsalted butter, frozen
Optional: Chocolate or other filling
1. Take the butter out of the freezer and let it sit at room temperature while you work. You want it as cold as possible, but still cuttable. Put the yeast, water and sugar into a medium bowl and stir to combine. (The water should NOT be warmer than 110 degrees F.) Set aside until it begins to get foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the milk and egg and beat lightly to break up the egg and combine it all.
2. Put the flour and salt into your food processor and pulse to distribute the salt. Cut each stick of butter into tablespoon-sized pieces, then cut each of those pieces in half. Put all of the pieces into the food processor with the flour and pulse about 10 times to distribute the butter and break the chunks just a little. You don't want small pieces as you would for pie crust; larger chunks are preferable. (So bigger than pea size is fine.)
3. Add the flour and butter to the liquid in the bowl and fold gently with a spatula until all the flour is moistened and it is well combined, being careful not to break up the butter. The butter should still be fairly hard at this point. The dough will be very wet; don't worry about it. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight. Enjoy your zzzzzs.
4. The mixture can be used the next day, or kept refrigerated for an additional day if you aren't ready for it. When you are ready, flour your work surface generously and have more flour standing by. Turn the dough out onto your work surface, sprinkle some additional flour over the top, and form it into a rough square. Working quickly, roll the dough out to an approximate 16-inch square. Because it's so wet, it should roll easily, but it might be a bit sticky. Add flour as needed on top and underneath and also on the rolling pin to keep it from sticking. Fold the dough in thirds, like a letter.
5. Then fold it in thirds again, to make a square. Do the same roll-and-fold two more times. As you work, keep the work surface lightly floured, just to keep it from sticking. Since the dough is so soft, you should be able to do this fast enough that the butter won't get too soft and squishy. If the butter does soften, put it in the fridge and continue once the butter has firmed up again. After the last fold, flatten it a bit, then put it into a plastic bag and put it into the refrigerator for at least an hour, or up to three days.
6. When you are ready to make the croissants, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or butter the sheet. The dough will have risen while refrigerated. Cut the dough into quarters.
7. Roll the first quarter into about a 6-inch square. Cut the square into quarters diagonally (so you're making an X on the dough).
8. Take one of your right triangles of dough and roll or stretch it into a pie-shaped wedge at least seven inches long. You can make it longer or a little shorter depending on how long and plump you want the croissant.
9. Starting at the wide end, roll the dough toward the the point.
10. Place the finished croissants on the prepared baking sheet with the point underneath. Form the dough into a crescent shape.
11. Cover them with plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes. They won't rise much at all, but they should feel puffy instead of firm. Brush the croissants with an egg wash, if desired, or leave them plain. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until they are golden brown. Remove to a rack to cool.
12. Filling Variation: For chocolate croissants, follow the original recipe though Step 6, then roll the quarter of dough into a rectangle about 10 x 6 inches. Cut that into strips about 2 1/2 inches wide x 6 inches long.
13. Put your favorite chocolate at one end and roll up. (I used Nutella.) It works best to make sure the dough is just a little wider than the chocolate and fold it over to enclose the chocolate when you start rolling, so it doesn't seep out during baking. Place the rolls seam-side down on the pan and allow them to rise and bake as in the original recipe.