Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Daring Bakers Make Croissants!

Yum

The Daring Bakers go retro this month! Thanks to one of our very talented non-blogging members, Sarah, the Daring Bakers were challenged to make Croissants using a recipe from the Queen of French Cooking, none other than Julia Child!

I ate a few croissants still warm from the oven with a dollop of Nutella - YUM!
Ah, the croissant. Besides baguettes, the croissant is the quintessential "french" bread. To be honest, I've never been all that impressed with a croissant. Sure, its buttery and flakey, but I've just never really liked them. Maybe its due to the fact that my previous experience with a croissant has been either out of a refrigerated tube or out of a plastic box bought at a grocery store. But a homemade croissant, now that is an entirely different story. After my first bite I was really disappointed that there were only twelve. They didn't even last the day!
The rest of my croissants were enjoyed with my awesome chicken salad - and they were awesome. I ate three. In a row.
Now, I don't want you to look below here and see that it takes about 12 hours and 57 steps to make this and freak out. Take a deep breath. It's not that hard, trust me! While it is indeed time consuming, I was really impressed with how easy it really was to make homemade croissants! Most of the time is hands off time, while the dough rests and rises. And you can even split it up into two or even three days (which is what I did) and it makes it even easier!

Before you get started, I highly recommend that you watch this awesome video by the Queen herself, Julia Child: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfygewLUAmo&feature=related


Preparation time: In total, 12 hours.
Making dough, 10 mins
First rise, 3 hours
Kneading and folding, 5 mins
Second rise, 1.5 hours (or overnight in the fridge)
Rolling in the butter (turns one and two), 15 mins
First rest, 2 hours
Turns three and four, 10 mins
Second rest, 2 hours (or overnight in the fridge)
Forming croissants, 30 mins
Final rise, 1 hour (or longer in the fridge)
Baking, 15 mins



Ingredients
¼ oz of fresh yeast, or 1¼ teaspoon of dry-active yeast
3 tablespoons warm water (less than 100°F)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 3/4 cups of flour
2 teaspoons  sugar
1½ teaspoon salt
½ cup  milk
2 tablespoons tasteless oil (I used generic vegetable oil)
½ cup chilled, unsalted butter
1 egg, for egg wash
Directions:

1. Mix the yeast, warm water, and first teaspoon of sugar in a small bowl. Leave aside for the yeast and sugar to dissolve and the yeast to foam up a little.
2. Measure out the other ingredients
3. Heat the milk until tepid (either in the microwave or a saucepan), and dissolve in the salt and remaining sugar
4. Place the flour in a large bowl.
5. Add the oil, yeast mixture, and milk mixture to the flour
6. Mix all the ingredients together using the rubber spatula, just until all the flour is incorporated
7. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and let it rest a minute while you wash out the bowl
8. Knead the dough eight to ten times only. The best way is as Julia Child does it in the video (see below). It’s a little difficult to explain, but essentially involves smacking the dough on the counter (lots of fun if you are mad at someone) and removing it from the counter using the pastry scraper.
9. Place the dough back in the bowl, and place the bowl in the plastic bag.
10. Leave the bowl at approximately 75°F for three hours, or until the dough has tripled in size.

11. After the dough has tripled in size, remove it gently from the bowl, pulling it away from the sides of the bowl with your fingertips.
12. Place the dough on a lightly floured board or countertop, and use your hands to press it out into a rectangle about 8 by 12 inches.
13. Fold the dough rectangle in three, like a letter (fold the top third down, and then the bottom third up).
14. Place the dough letter back in the bowl, and the bowl back in the plastic bag.
15. Leave the dough to rise for another 1.5 hours, or until it has doubled in size. This second rise can be done overnight in the fridge.

16. Place the double-risen dough onto a plate and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place the plate in the fridge while you prepare the butter.
17. Once the dough has doubled, it’s time to incorporate the butter
18. Place the block of chilled butter on a chopping board.
19. Using the rolling pin, beat the butter down a little, till it is quite flat.
20. Use the heel of your hand to continue to spread the butter until it is smooth. You want the butter to stay cool, but spread easily.

21. Remove the dough from the fridge and place it on a lightly floured board or counter. Let it rest for a minute or two.
22. Spread the dough using your hands into a rectangle about 14 by 8 inches.
23. Remove the butter from the board, and place it on the top half of the dough rectangle
24. Spread the butter all across the top two-thirds of the dough rectangle, but keep it ¼ inch across from all the edges.
25. Fold the top third of the dough down, and the bottom third of the dough up.
26. Turn the dough package 90 degrees, so that the top flap is to your right (like a book).
27. Roll out the dough package (gently, so you don’t push the butter out of the dough) until it is again about 14 by 8 inches.
28. Again, fold the top third down and the bottom third up.
29. Wrap the dough package in plastic wrap, and place it in the fridge for 2 hours.
30. After two hours have passed, take the dough out of the fridge and place it again on the lightly floured board or counter.
31. Tap the dough with the rolling pin, to deflate it a little
32. Let the dough rest for 8 to 10 minutes
33. Roll the dough package out till it is 14 by 8 inches.
34. Fold in three, as before
35. Turn 90 degrees, and roll out again to 14 by 8 inches.
36. Fold in three for the last time, wrap in plastic, and return the dough package to the fridge for two more hours (or overnight, with something heavy on top to stop it from rising)

37. It’s now time to cut the dough and shape the croissants
38. First, lightly butter your baking sheet so that it is ready
39. Take the dough out of the fridge and let it rest for ten minutes on the lightly floured board or counter
40. Roll the dough out into a 20 by 5 inch rectangle.
41. Cut the dough into two rectangles (each 10 by 5 inches) 
42. Place one of the rectangles in the fridge, to keep the butter cold
43. Roll the second rectangle out until it is 15 by 5 inches.
44. Cut the rectangle into three squares (each 5 by 5 inches)
45. Place two of the squares in the fridge
46. The remaining square may have shrunk up a little bit in the meantime. Roll it out again till it is nearly square
47. Cut the square diagonally into two triangles.
48. Stretch the triangle out a little, so it is not a right-angle triangle, but more of an isosceles.
49. Starting at the wide end, roll the triangle up towards the point, and curve into a crescent shape.
50. Place the unbaked croissant on the baking sheet
51. Repeat the process with the remaining squares of dough, creating 12 croissants in total.
52. Leave the tray of croissants, covered lightly with plastic wrap, to rise for 1 hour
53. Preheat the oven to very hot 475°F.
54. Mix the egg with a teaspoon of water
55. Spread the egg wash across the tops of the croissants. 
56. Put the croissants in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until the tops are browned nicely
57. Take the croissants out of the oven, and place them on a rack to cool for 10 minutes before serving. 

14 comments:

  1. Awesome job and beautiful croissants. I was also amazed at how easy the recipe was, and ho much better these tasted than anything from the food store!! Did the little lady get a taste? :)

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  2. I'm so glad that you liked them so much YES there is a huge difference between home-made vs brought croissant lovely work on this challenge. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

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  3. I only tried mine with jam, but the nutella and sandwiches both look fabulous! I can't wait to try them that way. I was really sad that I only had 12 too after I took my first bite--YUM!

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  4. wow, the one filled with chicken salad truly looks tempting..well done on the challenge and tq for your lovely visit:-)

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  5. I want that chicken salad sandwich! Your croissants are stunning, and definitely worth every 57 of those steps! Beautifully done, Jenni!

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  6. Nicely done! I should have had mine with some chicken salad but was distracted by Nutella :)

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  7. Ahh, I can't believe you didn't used to like croissants but am so glad this challenge has convinced you otherwise! Yours turned out beautifully. Now I'm kicking myself for not having Nutella around when I made mine!

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  8. All I can say is YUM - to the flaky pastry, the big dollop of Nutella, and the croissantwich of chicken salad (I would probably eat 3 in a row as well!!). Nice job!

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  9. I love chicken salad in croissants and yours look delicious! Did you find yours to be a little bit more like 'finger' sandwiches? I thought mine were pretty small.

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  10. oooh, chicken salad on a croissant? YUM! You did a great job on the challenge!! :)

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  11. Your croissants turned out great! I am especially coveting the one sitting beside the Nutella - that looks irresistable.

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  12. Your croissants look beautiful! Your chicken salad looks really good too....I think that's what I'm going to do with the unbaked batch that I froze!

    Thanks!

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  13. OK, I'm late to the party... but how much do I love that chicken salad croissandwich? A lot, that's how much. A BIG lot :)

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  14. OK, I'm late to the party, but how much do I love that chicken salad croissandwich? A lot, that's how much. A BIG lot :)

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