Today is our 10th wedding anniversary, so to start the day on a wonderful note, I decided to bring a little bit of Paris – the place where we met and later lived for a year – to our home. Even if croissants are not originally from France, they convey its image with every delicious bite. When we lived in Paris, we used to go for long runs on Saturdays that always ended with a “pain au chocolat pour le monsieur, croissant pur beurre pour madame“. With the mandatory coffee or hot chocolate, depending on the weather, and our mood… Wonderful memories!
CROISSANTS DU BOULANGER
(original recipe from The Baker’s Companion, adapted by Ford, from The Fresh Loaf website)
for the dough
2 large eggs plus scalded low fat milk cooled to 90°F to make 2 cups (16 oz.)
1 tsp sugar for unsweetened dough
5 1/2 to 6 cups (23.3 to 25.5 oz.) all purpose unbleached flour
2 1/4 tsp (7 g) instant yeast
2 tsp salt
2 Tbs. (1 oz.) melted butter
for the butter
3 + 3/4 sticks (15 oz.) unsalted butter
1/2 cup (2.1 oz.) unbleached flour
flour for sprinkling
Beat the eggs and milk and 1 tsp 1 tsp of sugar. Beat in the yeast and 3 cups of flour until all is well blended. Cover and let stand at room temperature for an hour or so. In a separate bowl blend the salt, and 2 1/2 cup of flour. Hold until the yeast mixture has doubled in size.
Blend the 3 + 3/4 sticks of butter and the 1/2 cup of flour. Lightly flour a piece of plastic wrap and place the butter mixture on it. Shape the butter into an 8” x 8” square. Wrap it and place it into the refrigerator until the dough is ready.
Back to the dough, add the melted butter and beat well. Add in the flour mixture and mix well to form a rough ball, then knead for 8 to 10 minutes on a lightly floured surface, or knead in an electric mixer, using a dough hook. Cover the dough and place it in the refrigerator for an hour.
Rolling & Folding: Remove the dough from the refrigerator and put it on a lightly floured surface. Gently roll it into a square about 12 inches on a side. No need to obsess about the dimensions, just try to be close. Put the butter square in the center of the dough square but turn it so that the corners of the butter square point toward the sides of the dough square. Fold the corners of the dough over the butter until they meet in the middle. Pinch and seal the edges of the dough together.
Turn the square over and tap it gently with your rolling pin or by hand into a rectangular shape. Make sure everything is still completely, but lightly, floured. Begin rolling the dough from the center, away from and towards you, into a larger rectangle 20 inches long and 10 inches wide. Puncture any air bubble with a toothpick. Keep the dough, the work surface, and the rolling pin well dusted with flour.
When the dough is the right size, fold the bottom third of the dough up beyond the center and the top third over (like a business letter) and turn the dough package a quarter turn to the right so it looks like a book ready to be opened. If the dough is still cold and still relaxed, do another rolling and turning as before. If it begins to feel too soft or wants to resist being rolled, cover it, put it on a small baking sheet, and refrigerate it for 15 minutes or longer (even a day) to chill and relax.
If you’ve successfully rolled it out and folded it twice, you’ve completed two turns. Classic puff pastry gets six; and puffed dough gets four. Continue refrigerating it after each two turns, or more often if necessary, until four turns are completed. Refrigerate the dough for at least two hours or preferably overnight. One recipe is adequate for two dozen croissants.
Making the croissants…
1 recipe of dough above
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Cut the chilled puff dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll one half of the dough to a 12” x 18” rectangle. Trim the edges, using a very sharp knife or a pizza-cutting wheel. This removes the folded edges that would inhibit the puffing of the dough.
Cut the dough into three strips lengthwise, 4” x 18”. Then cut these strips in half to give six rectangles 4” x 9”. Make a diagonal cut on each of these rectangles to give a total of twelve triangles. Make a 1” cut in the 4” base of one of the triangle. If you desire to fill the croissant, place a small amount of filling along the base before rolling it. Pull this base slightly stretching it, and then roll the dough toward the apex. Tuck the point on the bottom and bend the ends to make a crescent. Repeat with the other eleven triangles.
Place the croissants on a lightly greased, parchment-lined baking sheet about a half-inch apart. Cover with a greased plastic sheet, and allow to rise until doubled. When fully proofed, about 45 to 60 minutes, brush the croissants with the egg wash. Bake in the 400°F oven until deep golden brown, about 20 minutes. The interior temperature should be 195 to 200°F. Cool the rolls on a wire rack, before eating or storing.
Repeat with the other half of the dough or store it in the refrigerator or freezer for later.
Well, I wish there had been a happier ending to this little story, but sometimes things don’t go as well as planned… My croissants did not work very well. I placed the dough in the fridge overnight, then rolled it out, cut and shaped the croissants next morning. Even after two hours, I could not detect much rising. They rose in the oven, but clearly not enough to produce a light, flaky croissant.
I lost a battle, but not the war. The quest for a perfect home-made croissant is officially launched! By the time we celebrate 11 years of marriage, I intend to bring Paris to our home with all the bells and whistles it deserves… 😉