February 7, 2009

Can You Use 'Croissant' As a Verb?

Guess what? I MADE CROISSANTS. Do you actually know anyone who's done that?!? I think what enticed me to make this recipe (besides eating a lot of croissants when I was finished, yum) was that the dough didn't require any kneading, since I'm not a fan. But then I ended up kneading it... so, there you go. I am doubly proud of myself. And without any further ado.

from the Joy of Cooking

3 sticks cold unsalted butter
3 T all-purpose flour

1 c warm (105 to 115) whole milk
1 package active dry yeast
1 T sugar
2 3/4 c all-purpose flour
2 T unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 t salt

Place 3 sticks of butter on work surface (chilled marble if you're fancy) and sprinkle with a little flour (from your 3 T). Use rolling pin to work sticks until they are smooth and combined. Add the rest of the 3 T flour and work with your hands until combined. Shape into a 9"x6" rectangle, wrap with plastic and put in the refrigerator while you make the dough.

Combine milk, yeast, and sugar and let stand until the yeast is dissolved. Place your flour, salt, and 2 T of butter on your work surface. Make a well in the middle and add the milk mixture. Use a fork or your fingers to stir the flour into the milk, eroding the sides of the well until you have a dough. Knead dough for 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Refrigerate dough for 15 minutes.

Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface until it is in a 18"x8" rectangle. The short end of the dough should be facing you. Place the butter rectangle on the dough rectangle, with the butter covering the top two thirds of the dough, leaving a 1" border of dough around the butter.

Now for the fun part! Fold the unbuttered bottom 1/3 of the dough up over the middle buttered third. Fold the top buttered 1/3 down over the middle 1/3, like a business letter. Seal the edges of the dough and roll your dough back into an 18"x8" rectangle. If at any point in this process the butter starts to ooze out or your dough becomes too soft and sticky, put the dough back in the refrigerator for 10 minutes. So! Now for the 'turning' process, which helps to create the flaky layers. Mmmm.... So again, fold the bottom 1/3 up over the middle 1/3, and the top down over the middle. Turn the dough so the folded edge is to the left and the open edge is on the right. Roll into a 18"x8" square. Repeat the 'turn' two more times. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate half an hour.

Roll dough into a 24"x12" rectangle and let rest for 5 minutes. This relaxes the gluten so the dough will not shrink when it is cut. Cut dough down the middle so you have two 24"x6" rectangles.

This gets complicated to explain, so pay attention. Measure 2 1/4" from the end of the dough and make a little notch mark. Then make notches every 4 1/2" down the rest of the dough. On the other side of the dough, start making notches every 4 1/2". You'll have staggered marks on opposite sides of the dough. Cut diagonally from top to bottom and you'll have 9 triangles of dough. Tada!

Again, more fun. Stretch the triangles and start croissant-ing! Roll from the fat end to the skinny end, pinching the two ends together when you're done. Make sure the end of the triangle is tucked under your roll.

When you are finished rolling your rolls, you should have 18 3 1/2" croissants (unless you're working with men, who insist on having bigger 'man croissants.')

Croissants can, at this point, be refrigerated overnight. In the morning you can just take them out and let them rise for about an hour and a half. Or you can just let 'em rise and eat them right then! But I bet by now, you're tired, and you need a break. I was! After croissants have risen, brush them with a lightly beaten egg. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes.

And behold the croissant gallery...

Flake city!

And while I am very proud of myself for completing this undertaking, I say, for the effort, it's best to just buy your croissants from a good, local bakery. But it's fun to try once!