While I was browsing through Gourmet recipes I came across one for croissants. I immediately tagged it, knowing that I would never come up with the nerve to make them. It would be a reference, in case I ever wanted to know how to make them, or if someone wanted a link to a sound recipe. I really didn’t think I would be baking croissants any time soon, but I guess I surprised myself.
I’ll be honest with you, it’s a long process. However, it is not a difficult process. If you have a rolling pin, then half the battle is over. I decided on the spur of the moment after dinner to make mine. So, if I can handle pounding monstrous amounts of butter with that little preparation, until way past midnight, then you can make these too. They are definitely worth it. Crispy crust with soft layers. They were slightly flakey and very buttery. I admit, mine were probably technically all wrong. It was a shade too light, and the shattering flake wasn’t quite there. But today, these were perfect for me.
Next time, and there absolutely will be a next time, I want to make each layer thinner. The first batch I made only had three rolls while the second had four. The second batch had a much softer crust and the insides were also flakier. The photos showing the rolling step are from the first batch of croissants. It will be better to follow the written instructions. Just don’t be intimidated by the long paragraphs!
Adapted from Gourmet
Makes 24 croissants
1 1/2 cups whole milk, heated warm, about 105-110 degrees F
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon plus 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast or two 1/4 ounce packages (I used instant dry yeast)
3 3/4 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon kosher salt
3 sticks or 1 1/2 cups cold, unsalted butter
In a bowl, mix warm milk, brown sugar, and yeast. Let it stand for 5 minutes or until foamy. Add the flour and salt. Mix until dough becomes smooth and soft. If using a stand mixer, use the dough hook.
On a lightly floured surface, knead dough by hand for 2 minutes. Add a little flour if needed. Form dough into a 1 1/2 inch thick rectangle. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.
After chilling dough, place butter side by side. With a rolling pin, soften dough by pounding. Once soft, shape butter into a block. Get two kitchen towels and place butter between the two. Pound dough into a 8×5 inch rectangle. Tightly wrap butter with the towels and place in refrigerator.
Get the chilled dough and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll into a 16×10 inch rectangle. Stretch dough when necessary. Place the short side of the rectangle near you. Get the butter in the refrigerator and place in the center of the dough. The long sides of the butter should be facing north and south. Fold into thirds. Bring bottom third of dough over the butter. Then fold the top third down over folded dough. Brush off excess flour with a pastry brush or your hands.
Shift the dough so that the short side is near you. Roll dough into a 15×10 inch rectangle. Roll to the ends but not over them. Brush off excess flour. Fold into thirds again. Fold the bottom third up. Then the top third down. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour, or 20 minutes in the freezer.
After the dough has chilled, repeat the previous “fold” step 3 more times. In total, you will have made 4 folds. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for 8 to 18 hours.
Adapted from Gourmet
Cut dough in half. Wrap one in plastic wrap and chill.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the remaining half into a 16×12 inch rectangle. Stretch corners when necessary. Brush off excess flour and trim edges with a sharp knife and ruler.
Place the short side of the dough near you. Cut in half horizontally. Wrap and chill one of the halves. With the remaining dough, cut dough into thirds vertically. Three rectangles will be formed. Cut each rectangle diagonally in half to make triangles. Six triangles will be formed.
Get one of the triangles and place the tip north and the short side south. Carefully stretch dough using both hands. Starting from the south, or short side of the triangle, roll triangle up towards the tip. The croissant should form four steps. Place croissant with the tip side down, on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Repeat with the rest of the dough. Place 2 inches apart.
Put each baking sheet into a large plastic bag. Place cups around the croissants to prevent the plastic from sticking. Tuck open end under the baking sheet. Let stand for 2 hours. The croissants should rise slightly.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Remove baking sheets from plastic bags. With a spritzer, spray the inside of the oven generously with water. Close door. Get the baking sheet and put in the oven. Spritz again and close the door. Reduce temperature to 400 degrees F. Bake for 10 minutes.
Rotate the bakings sheet 180 degrees and reduce the temperature to 375 degrees. Bake for 7 minutes or until golden brown.