I was in Paris taking a French class a couple of years ago, and we had to listen to a dialogue on tape about a boy and his mom at the bakery.
The boy would say, “Mom, can we get some croissants?” And the mom would say, “Yes, honey.” Or something like that.
In class we were asked whether the boy was asking his mom for bread. I said yes. The teacher turned around and said, “Wrong!” Then everyone in the class agreed that he had not asked for bread, but for a pastry. So, I learned that croissants are NOT bread. At least not in France. But I’ll include them in my bread blog.
I’ve been intimidated by croissants ever since my interest in bread-baking started, but I bought some fine butter, and my friend DanB has been requesting them for some time, so I decided to start. Does anyone else have requests?
I got the best recipe, according to Cook’s Illustrated (in a kind of insane manner, they test a recipe ~40 times to find the best way to make it.) You have to pay to see their recipes online, so I signed up for a free trial to see this one. And I’m sharing it with you!
Wow, you can really see the layers of dough/butter in that first picture.
They’re so flaky!
Makes 12. Published by Cook’s Illustrated on December 14, 2006.
"Make sure the dough is thoroughly chilled before it is rolled out. If the butter becomes too warm, it will melt, making the dough difficult to roll and shape. If the dough becomes too warm and sticky at any time during the rolling and folding process, wrap the dough in plastic and chill until the dough becomes workable. This dough is best made in a cool kitchen; if your kitchen is warm, place a large tray of ice on your work surface to chill it down before rolling the dough.
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (15 ounces), plus more for dusting work surface
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1/4 cup sugar (1 3/4 ounces)
1 1/4 teaspoons table salt
1 1/4 cups whole milk, cold
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
24 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (3 sticks), cut into 24 pieces
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 large egg , lightly beaten
For the dough: Whisk 2 3/4 cups of flour together with yeast, sugar, and salt in medium bowl. Place milk in bowl of standing mixer fitted with dough hook. Add flour mixture and knead at low speed until ball of dough forms, about 5 minutes. Add butter pieces to dough. Continue to knead until butter becomes fully incorporated and dough becomes smooth, begins to form ball, and clears sides of bowl, an additional 5 to 6 minutes. (Dough should be sticky, but if more dough is sticking to sides of bowl than to itself, add remaining 1/4 cup flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, as necessary.) Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.
For the butter square: Following illustrations below, shape butter and flour mixture into even 7-inch square. Refrigerate butter square until ready to use, at least 30 minutes.
Lightly dust work surface with flour. Following illustrations 1 through 5 for making turns (see below), roll dough into 11-inch square. Place chilled butter square diagonally onto dough. Fold corners of dough up over butter square so that they meet in middle and pinch ends of dough together to seal them.
Using rolling pin, gently tap dough, starting from center of dough and going outward, until square becomes larger and butter begins to soften. At this point, start gently rolling dough into 14-inch square, checking often to make sure dough is not sticking and dusting with additional flour as necessary. Fold square into thirds to form long rectangle. (This method of folding is called a “turn” and resembles folding a business letter.) Starting from narrow ends, fold rectangle into thirds again to form square. You have now given dough 2 turns. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Repeat step 4, giving dough 2 additional turns (for total of 4 turns) and chilling again for at least 2 hours.
To shape croissants: Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place chilled dough on floured surface and gently roll dough into 20-inch square. Following illustrations 1 through 6 for shaping dough (see below), cut dough into 2 rectangles, then cut each rectangle into thirds. Cut each rectangle on diagonal to yield a total of 12 triangles. Lift one triangle off work surface, holding base (triangle’s short side) in one hand and tip in other and gently stretch. With base closest to you, cut 1-inch slit into center of base. (The small slit will allow croissant to roll evenly.) Fold two sides of slit outward and with both hands, roll triangle, gently stretching dough as you roll, leaving last 1/4 inch of tip unrolled. Gently transfer croissant to prepared baking sheet (unrolled tip facing downward). Bring ends of croissant toward each other to form crescent shape. Repeat with remaining triangles.
Cover croissants loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature until puffy (they will not double in size), 45 to 60 minutes.
To brush with egg wash and bake: Meanwhile, adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 400 degrees. Using pastry brush, brush croissants with beaten egg. Bake until croissants are golden brown, 18 to 22 minutes, rotating baking sheets from front to back and top to bottom halfway through baking time. Cool croissants on wire rack until warm, about 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. (Although they are best eaten fresh out of oven, baked croissants will keep at room temperature for 2 days or well wrapped, in plastic, in freezer for up to 2 weeks. To reheat frozen croissants, place them in 300-degree oven for 5 to 10 minutes.)”