Homemade Croissants

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I think they’re an east coast thang?

Scratch “Croissants” off my bucket-list. This is one of those things that now that I made it once, I never have to make it again in my life. Though, I told myself the same thing after making rainbow cookies (see left pic) and now I want to make them again sometime soon. I wonder if that’s how people feel after they have kids.

Croissants are not for the faint of heart, but if you like to bake or make bread, they’re kind of not an option. They take between 1-2 full days to make, depending on how long you want to let them proof each period. They require a lot of arm work as well because its a rolling-intensive process. These croissants are extremely buttery. You can reduce it from 2 1/2 sticks to 2 if you’d like, but butter does contribute to flakiness. Also, these croissants are very much savory but they can be used with a sweet filling (ie chocolate) or a saltier one (ie ham and cheesy).

Ask yourself first, are you ready to embark on the long unwinding road?? Then ask yourself secondly, do I have enough kitchen space to roll out almost 2 feet of dough??? The answer is not always yes.

P.S. I was honored to have my homemade sweet potato gnocchi post featured on BlogHer this week. 😀

Picture 2

Here they are….

Homemade Croissants

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Ingredients

1/2 cup warm milk
1/8 cup warm water
2 1/4 tsp active yeast
1 egg
2 1/3 cup strong white bread flour ( I used half all-purpose, half bread)
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp softened butter
2 1/2 sticks butter

1 egg, lightly beaten
Chocolate, ham&cheese, or some other kind of filling (optional)

BREAD MACHINE: Put the milk, water, egg, flour, salt, sugar, 1 oz butter and the yeast into your machine and select dough, normal. This will mix, knead and prove the dough and takes about an hour and a half depending on your machine.

BY HAND: Put the egg, flour, salt, sugar, 1 oz butter and the yeast in a large mixing bowl. Using a wooden spoon, slowly mix in the warm milk and the warm water until the mixture forms into a pliable dough. Knead for 5 minutes; cover and put the dough in a warm place, until it has nearly doubled in size.

BUTTER SLAB: Cut the cold butter into 1/2-inch-thick slabs. Arrange the pieces on a piece of parchment or waxed paper to form a 5- to 6-inch square. Top with another piece of parchment or waxed paper. With a rolling pin, pound the butter with light, even strokes, until it’s about 7-1/2 inches square and then trim the edges of the butter. Put the trimmings on top of the square and pound them in lightly with the rolling pin. (If you have the right sized ziploc, you can insert the butter pieces inside and pound them out, then cut away the ziploc). Refrigerate while you roll out the dough.

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DOUGH: Knead dough until it feels elastic.Return the dough to the bowl, cover and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Return the chilled dough to your floured work surface and roll into a square about 12 inches across. Unwrap the butter slab and place it in the center of the dough at a 45° angle, so it looks like a diamond in the square.

Fold the flaps of the dough over the butter until they meet in the middle. Pinch and seal the edges of the dough together; moisten your fingers with a little water, if necessary.

Dust the top with flour, then turn the dough over. Roll from the center out until you have a rectangle 20 inches long by 10 inches wide.

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When you’ve reached the proper size, fold the bottom third of the dough up to the center, and the top third over that (like a business letter).

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Line the edges up on top of each other, and even up the corners so they’re directly on top of each other (more so than what was taken in the photo!) Take a dab of water if you need to, to tack the corners together. You’ve now made your first “turn.”

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Turn the dough so the single fold (like the spine of a book) is on your left (See Above).  If the dough is still cool to the touch and relaxed, do another rolling and turning the same way. Make a note of how many folds you’ve completed by indenting your fingers print, and wrap the dough. Return it to the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, ideally one hour. Repeat the above folding and turning process; you should have four turns by the end. Once completed, wrap the dough well and refrigerate it for at least an hour, and preferably overnight before using, since proofing will improve the flavor of the dough.

Shaping the croissants: On a lightly floured surface, cut the dough in half.

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What the dough looks like after being sliced

Roll each half of the dough into a 6 1/2 x 20-inch rectangle.  (You can trim the edges of the dough if they’re ragged or really uneven.)  The dough will be about 1/8 – 1/4-inch thick. Starting on the left side of the bottom edge of the rectangle, measure 5 inches from the bottom and make a tiny notch.  Measure another 5 inches from that notch and repeat until you have marked off four 5-inch sections.

Turn the rectangle 180 degrees.  Starting on the other side, make a notch 2 1/2 inches from the end.  Measure 5 inches from the first notch and make a second notch. Repeat every 5 inches until marked into 5 sections – the 2 sections at the ends will each be 2 1/2 long and the ones in the middle 5 inches long.

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The notches on the far side are for the bases of the triangles and the notches on the near side form the tips of the triangles.  Use a large knife or pizza cutter to cut the triangles by connecting the notches on the near and far sides.  You should end up with 6 full triangles, each 5 by 6 1/2-inches, as well as some trimmings on the ends. I made mini croissants with the trimmings and they turn out extremely flaky and crisp.

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Repeat the process above with your second rectangle so you have a total of 12 triangles.  Make a small slit in the base of the center of each triangle.

If you want to, this is the time to place a teaspoon of filling at the base of the triangle. (I made some with chocolate chips, chocolate&pb, pb&jam, and half of them plain.)

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Roll up the dough, starting with the notched edge and working toward the point. Make sure the point is tucked under the bottom of the croissant. If you have to stretch the dough a little to make that happen, it’s okay. You can also use a drop of water on the tip to help it stay in place. Bend into the crescent shape.

Arrange the croissants on a sheet pan and cover them with plastic wrap to proof. You have several options for proofing: overnight in the fridge, ~3 hours in a cool place or ~1 hour in a warm place.  The book indicates that overnight proofing is best because the croissants develop more flavor thanks to the slow rising time. I  baked two separate batches to test out what was better. The first, I let proof in the fridge for 3 hours and then let rest in a warm place for an hour before baking. The second, I refrigerated over night and and baked the next day. The first actually rose more, and I’m wondering if the croissants from the second batch were too cold before putting them in the oven.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. While the oven is heating, brush the tops of the croissants with an egg well-beaten with 1 tablespoon of water.

When the oven is hot, bake the croissants for 12 minutes, then reduce the oven’s temperature to 350°F and bake for another 10-15 minutes. The croissants should be a deep golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack. Best eaten 10 minutes out of the oven. Mmmmm.
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