This weekend’s project was croissants! I’ve been shying away from certain items here, as I do not own a stand mixer and some things are made a wee bit difficult without one! Certain doughs are much nicer when kneaded properly in a mixer, but if you’re determined enough you can always make it work with those good ‘ol hands of yours! It’s sure not the healthiest of breakfasts, but who can really resist a fresh baked, from scratch butter croissant? I mean, c’mon.
Did you know that nearly 40% of all butter croissants sold in French bakeries are of the frozen nature?! Our developments in large scale food production have made nearly everything “fast food”-able, so if you attempt to make these babies from scratch, really savour it. Because even a coffee and croissant in Paris isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be. Want the real deal? Make it yourself, by hand. I dare you!
Croissant Dough: yields approx 10 croissants
375 g all purpose flour
35 g sugar
8 g salt
8 g yeast
30 g soft butter
110 g milk
110 g water
For Lamination + Wash:
240 g butter, cold
-Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in a large bowl. Add the butter, water, and milk, and knead into a smooth dough. Try not to overwork it, you are not trying to develop a lot of gluten as per a loaf of bread, you’re just looking for a nice smooth consistency. If the dough becomes tight and difficult to knead – rest it for 5 minutes at room temperature to relax it a little, then knead again until the dough looks smooth. Leave another 5 minutes at room temperature to relax, then using a rolling pin roll out into a disc about 3/4 inch thick, cover with plastic wrap and place into the fridge.
-Take the remaining 240 g of cold butter and slice into 3/4 inch thick square pieces. Arrange the butter pieces on a large piece of plastic wrap so that they resemble a big square, fold the edges of the plastic wrap over the top so it’s completely sealed inside, and then roll out evenly with your rolling pin. This will be the butter layer you place inside the dough for the laminating process. Be sure the butter is rolled out into a nice even square and that it is fairly thin (no thicker than 1/2 inch at this stage).
-When your dough has rested in the fridge for at least two to three hours (overnight is even better) pull it out of the fridge and prepare your work surface with a dusting of flour. Roll out the dough to form a square no more than 1/2 an inch thick, as even a thickness as you can get it.
-Place the butter square on the dough square so that it’s points touch the center of the flat edges of the dough. Like a diamond. Pull each corner of the dough gently outwards and fold them over the butter to match up the four seams. Pinch the seams together so that the butter is completely enclosed inside the dough.
-Flour the dough lightly once more, and roll the dough into a rectangle, rolling the pin towards you and away from you (rather than left to right). Be sure you work with the dough quickly so it doesn’t become too warm. You want the butter inside to remain cool enough that it spreads evenly between the dough layers, but not too cold that it begins coming apart in chunks inside.
***On my second letter fold I noticed I could see the butter coming apart in small pieces between the dough layers. I allowed the dough to rest at room temperature for 5-7 minutes and then continued on, which helped soften the butter enough to spread nice and smoothly inside.
-Roll the dough into a rectangle until the thickness is approx 1/2 an inch thick, no thicker, then fold it the ‘letter’ way (in thirds) on top of itself, and rest in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes. This resting period allows for the dough to relax so that it can be rolled out again easily, and ensures the butter and dough are kept completely cold.
From the top left, clockwise: chilled dough, square rolled dough with butter, butter enclosed in dough square, dough rolled into rectangle and letter folded
-After your letter folded dough has rested for a minimum of 30 minutes in the fridge, roll it out into a rectangle again to the same thickness, letter fold it, and stick it back into the fridge for another 30 minute rest.
-Repeat this process until the dough has been rolled into a rectangle and letter folded 4 times in total.
-Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out into a long rectangle once again, but this time a little thinner than in previous times. This will be the final rolling out of the dough.
-Allow the dough to rest about 5-7 minutes to allow it to relax so it doesn’t bounce back when you cut it. Cut long skinny triangles from the dough and then roll them up nice and firm. A quick one minute video shows you how, HERE.
-Once your croissants are rolled they need to be proofed before baking. Arrange them on a baking sheet leaving room for them to become at least 1.5 times their original size. Whisk together your egg and water for egg wash, and brush the croissants with an even coating. You’ll be able to see the layers of dough and butter once you’ve rolled the croissants up.
-Preheat oven to 400 F.
-To proof mine I left them sitting on their baking tray on top of my preheating oven. The top of the oven was warm enough to get the croissants to slowly begin rising. It took approximately one hour for these babies. You’ll know that they’re ready to bake when you shake the tray lightly and the croissants have a slight wobble to them. I egg washed my croissants a couple of times during proofing to ensure the dough’s surface didn’t dry out.
-When your croissants have a slight wobbly quality to them and have been liberally egg washed, place them directly in the oven at 400 F. Bake for the first 10-12 minutes and then check on their browning. If you feel the croissants begin to brown too quickly then turn down the temp by about 20 degress for the final few minutes of baking. They’ll take somewhere between 15-20 minutes to fully bake.
-Ensure they are well browned before removing from the oven. You want to ensure all of the layers inside have had a chance to puff up and become fully baked so they can retain their shape. (If they shrink down or collapse a little when you take them from the oven: they’re underbaked!)
-Don’t worry about a nice brown crust, I assure you they aren’t burned. You want the full flavour of the caramelized fats, that’s what’s giving the croissant it’s distinctive flavour!
-Remove the croissants from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for an additional 15-20 minutes.