BON MATIN MES AMIS!
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!
Well this is my first assignment as a Daring Baker! And what a doozy as I was challenged to once again stare down my old nemesis…..pastry dough! (I was secretly hoping for some kind of fancy cake to build my confidence!) But truthfully, pastry dough would not be my nemesis if I just worked with it more often! So this turned out to be a good exercise for me. These turned out quite light, fluffy, and buttery. And amazingly, something that took 14 hours to prepare, were gone in less than 1! Relieved to have this first challenge under my belt and looking forward to more!
Yields: 12 croissants
Level of Difficulty: a bit challenging and the prep time requires some patience! (But if I can do it, so can you!)
- 1 1/4 teaspoon of dry active yeast (about 1/2 of a sachet)
- 3 Tablespoons of warm water
- 3 teaspoons of sugar, divided (1 teaspoon will go into the yeast mix)
- 1 3/4 cups of all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 cup of whole milk
- 2 Tablespoons of vegetable oil
- 1 stick of chilled, unsalted butter
- 1 egg for egg wash
Mix the yeast, water and 1 teaspoon of sugar together in a small bowl. Set the bowl aside to allow the yeast and sugar to dissolve a bit and for the yeast to foam up.
Heat the milk until tepid, then add the salt and the remaining 2 teaspoons of sugar. Place the flour in a large bowl. Add the oil, yeast mixture, and milk mixture to the flour. Using a rubber spatula, mix all the ingredients together until the flour is just incorporated. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface to rest a minute while you wash out the bowl. Knead the dough for about 8-10 times only. Using a pastry scraper, remove the dough from the counter, place it back into the clean, dry bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Let the bowl rest in a 75° environment for about 3-4 hours or until the dough has tripled in size.
After the dough has tripled in size, gently remove it from the bowl using your fingertips. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and use your hands to press it out into an 8 x 12 inch rectangle. Fold the dough rectangle in 3 like a letter; fold the top third down, then the bottom third up. Place the dough rectangle back in the bowl and cover it again with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise again for another 1 1/2 hours and until it has doubled in size. This second rise may be done overnight in the fridge.
Now it’s time to incorporate the butter. And this is the fun part! Place the block of butter onto a chopping board. Using a rolling pin, beat the butter down until it is quite flat. Use the heel of your hand to spread the butter until it is quite smooth. You want the butter to stay cool, but spread easily.
Remove the dough from the fridge and place it again on a lightly floured surface. Let it rest for a minute or two and the using your hands, work it into an 8 x 14 inch rectangle. Remove the butter from the board and spread it on the top half of the rectangle. Spread the dough along the top 2/3 of the rectangle being careful to keep it 1/4 inch from all of the edges of the rectangle. Again, fold the top 1/3 of the dough down and the bottom 1/3 of the dough up. Turn the dough 90° so that the top flap is to your right like a book. Roll out the dough again gently to form an 8 x 14 inch rectangle again. Again, fold the top 1/3 down and the bottom 1/3 up. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate again for about 2 hours.
After the dough has chilled for 2 hours, place it on a lightly floured surface. Tap the dough with a rolling pin to deflate it a little. Then let the dough rest for 10 minutes. Roll the dough out again to an 8 x 14 inch rectangle. Fold in three as before, turn 90 ° and roll out to an 8 x 14 inch rectangle again. Fold in three for the last time, wrap in plastic and return it to the refrigerator for another 2 hours or overnight. (This time place something heavy on top of it to keep it from rising).
Now it’s time to cut the dough and shape the croissants. Lightly butter a baking sheet. Take the dough out and place it on a lightly floured board to rest for 10 minutes. Roll the dough out to a 20 x 5 inch rectangle. Cut the dough into two rectangles (each 10 by 5 inches. Place one of the rectangles in the fridge, to keep the butter cold. Roll the second rectangle out until it is 15 by 5 inches. Cut the rectangle into three squares (each 5 by 5 inches). Place two of the squares in the fridge. The remaining square may have shrunk up a little bit in the meantime. Roll it out again till it is nearly square. Cut the square diagonally into two triangles. Stretch the triangle out a little, so it is not a right-angle triangle, but more of an isosceles. Starting at the wide end, roll the triangle up towards the point, and curve into a crescent shape. Place the unbaked croissant on the baking sheet. Repeat the process with the remaining squares of dough, creating 12 croissants in total. Leave the tray of croissants, covered lightly with plastic wrap, to rise for 1 hour. Preheat the oven to very hot 475°F. Mix the egg with a teaspoon of water. Spread the egg wash across the tops of the croissants. Put the croissants in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until the tops are browned nicely. Take the croissants out of the oven, and place them on a rack to cool for 10 minutes before serving.
This is definitely a lot of work which requires patience and planning. But what a sense of accomplishment when you are done. However, I know that I will NEVER complain about the cost of a croissant ever again!
This recipe is from Julia Child in Mastering the Art of French Cooking and there are a number of videos on You Tube to help you through the process. Bon Chance!