August 28, 2013

Bake: Almost Croissants

When I first started reading up on this recipe (there are millions of them around), all I could think to myself was how there was absolutely no way I would be able to explain the recipe's many convoluted details to you, my readers, without absolutely confusing the absolute hell out of you. 

I tried to type out the recipe, tried to write it down in bullet-point, even draw it in a way that would make sense and end up with directions like a car navigation system gone wrong. (We all know those things are smug and tell us to continue going forward despite us being at the edge of a cliff.) 

So, I refer you to this recipe (gifs included) and this recipe.

Nevertheless, I will try to include the recipe I used, with my little tweaks:

1 cup milk, tepid
1/2 water, tepid
1 tbsp dry yeast (+ 1 tsp)
1/4 cup sugar

1 tsp salt
4 cups flour (unbleached, all purpose)
300g unsalted butter (frozen)

Combine milk, water, yeast and sugar together, letting it foam for about 5 to 10 minutes.
Add flour and salt into yeast mixture, kneading into a well formed dough that is no longer tacky, then place into bowl and let it rest in fridge for an hour.

While dough is resting in fridge, grate butter onto cling wrap (If you have hot hands like me, chill your hands in ice water so the butter doesn't melt as you grate it).
Form grated butter into a rectangle, roughly 8" by 5", patting together.
Fold cling wrap around butter and refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes.

When butter and dough has chilled adequately, roll dough onto a floured surface and roll into a rectangle roughly 20" by 10".

Place butter into the middle of dough.

Fold the two ends over the butter, pinching slightly to seal the dough over the butter.

**Turn dough 90 degrees, and use a rolling pin to press indentations into and throughout the dough, smoothing it out as a final step.
Roll into another 15" by 10" rectangle.

Fold the two ends of your dough over the middle again, resembling a letter.
Wrap dough with cling wrap and allow to chill in fridge for at least an hour.

**Every hour, repeat these steps, you will need to repeat them no less than four times, with an hour in between to rest in the fridge.

Once the four folds are completed, allow dough to chill in fridge for at least 6 to 8 hours, or overnight.

When dough has chilled adequately, unwrap onto a floured surface and divide into three sections.
Roll each section into rectangle roughly 16" by 6".
Cut further into thirds to form three rectangles, then cut diagonally into six triangles.
Gently stretch out the corners of the shortest edge of a triangle, cut a small slit in the base of the triangle, then roll up, twisting it downwards slightly so the two ends touch to resemble the final croissant.

*If you want fillings in your croissant, such as chocolate, place chopped pieces of chocolate at the base of the triangle before you roll them.

(My hands were too dirty to take a photo of this step so enjoy an artist's rendition of the process)

Place it with the seal side facing down, and repeat for all six triangles, placing them at least 2" apart.


Cover loosely with towels or cling wrap, and allow to proof at room temperate for around 2 hours, or overnight in the fridge.

When croissants have had time to proof, they should have risen significantly - meaning they are larger than when you first shaped them. 
Preheat oven to 220C.
Brush croissants with beaten egg, and place into oven.
Reduce oven temperature to 180 to 200C, baking for 10 to 15 minutes until puffy and browned.

I'm about 90 percent certain nobody will actually bother to read my recipe, and I don't blame you. I heavily recommend (if you ever decide to venture into this) to refer to the two recipes as they were the most informative for me. There is a fair amount of instructions from such simple ingredients, but once you get the gist of it, you'll find that practice makes perfect. 

I don't regret making these. They didn't turn out exactly how I visioned they would be, but that's what happens when you attempt to make a French classic pastry with no prior experience and keep prodding at your dough to see it's progress. Plus, it's my very first try, I'd like to think that it only gets better from here.

You will see in the photos that most of my croissants turned out into different sizes, and that's because I tried to save my dough and made as many as possible (I'm impossible with rolling out dough into rectangles, they always end up with round edges). I have a problem with measuring out my dough sizes, so when I end up with scrap pieces of dough I adamantly use them some way or another.

Most recipes will ask you to flatten your butter into a rectangle, but I chose to grate it as per the first linked recipe - grating the frozen butter meant I didn't have to spend time beating the butter into submission and allowed me to shape my butter into a sizeable rectangle without having it melt too quickly. Also, if the butter is grated it seems that it folded better into the dough between each turn. The biggest issue with making these is when you have to incorporate the butter into the dough - which is why you have to do so many folds with an hour of chilling it in between.

I tasted some after I pulled them from my oven, and they didn't have as many of the iconic filo-like layers, but I definitely tasted croissant in what layers I did have in my batch. They had that light crisp  surface with buttery flakes inside, but just not as many as a proper croissant.

It's like a weird croissant/bread hybrid, plumper and more Asian than French.


They aren't the easiest things to bake, but if you follow the steps and take your time, it all works out after some trying and a lot of deep breathing exercises to calm yourself down. I'm not the most patient of people and these really tested me. Also, if you are a precise person these will work out for you. I'm not, and I still got a semi croissant-bread product. 

Also, I have to remember not to use 85percent dark chocolate in the chocolate croissants (Pain Au Chocolate?), and I sprinkled some cinnamon sugar over them after, just because.

If you ever bake these, I hope you comment and let me know your results. It is really an experience to eat croissants you made from scratch, and it also makes you appreciate the work that goes into the croissant you buy from everyday bakeries and French boulangeries.

Or just be my friend and when I'm in the mood one day I'll bake some for you.

No comments:

Post a Comment