Thursday, 5 January 2012

French Croissants

This is a pretty instructive recipe and it's gonna be a very long post with lots and lots of pictures. So! Croissants, one of the most intimidating and time consuming things to make, but that's why I love it. I started at 8pm and ended at 2:30 am, but most of which are idle hours. If you are smarter than me, you would start earlier in the day, do other things during idle hours, and go to sleep on time.

4 cups of flour
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
4 tsp instant yeast
3/4 cup hot water
1 1/2 cup half and half
3 tbsp butter, room temperature
3 sticks of butter, room temperature

Combine the flour, salt, sugar, and yeast in a bowl and stir for a few seconds using a dough attachment. In another bowl, combine the half and half with hot or warm water until the mixture reaches 110 degrees. With the motor running on low, slowly pour in the milk mixture. Let the mixer go for 10 minutes until the dough is soft and smooth. Add in the butter 1 tbsp at a time. It takes a little bit of time, but I help it along by picking up the dough and rotating it every once in a while.

After the dough has come together, pour it onto your work surface and kneed it for a few more seconds. Form the dough into a rectangle, wrap it and put it into the fridge for 30 minutes.

1 pkg of butter is 4 sticks so I usually buy a pound/pkg of butter then divide it my self. For this recipe, I cut the butter side ways so that 1 stick is actually a square that's about 1.5 cm thick. Take that slice out and you'll end up with 3 sticks worth of butter.

Place the butter between 2 plastic wraps and hammer it with a rolling pin to flatten. My butter wasn't completely at room temperature so I microwaved it for 5 seconds and did some hard core smashing. Be very careful not to melt the butter in the microwave, you'll end up with a mess.

After the butter has softened, roll and form it into a rectangle. If the shape is off, just pinch some of one side and fill in another. Put it into the fridge to firm up.

To assemble, roll out the dough into a large rectangle thats about 1.5 the size of the butter. Place the butter on the dough so that it is covering 2/3 of the dough. Fold the uncovered third over once, then make another fold with the other side on top of the folded third.

Roll it out again and fold it in thirds again. Put it into the fridge for 30 minutes then repeat the roll and fold twice more. You know you have enough layers when you can just barely see the butter through the dough. If you go any further than that, the dough will break.

Let it rest one last time for an hour and roll it out as far as it can go. Take a pizza roller, cut the dough in half length wise, then cut each piece into triangles.

Cut a little slit in the middle of the triangle so you can stretch out the corners.

Turn it so the wider part faces away from u, roll it towards you with your palm while pulling on the tip of the triangle with your other hand.

Place it on a baking sheet and pinch together the corners. Let it proof for 2 hours. I made the mistake of letting it sit in a warm oven. Usually it's perfectly fine to proof dough in a warm oven, but since there was butter in this dough, it would melt under anything above room temperature. Mine did melt slightly but it wasn't too bad.

After it's risen, place it in a 435 degrees oven for 22 minutes, rotating half way. The corners came apart for some reason. I think it might be because it was too fat and not long enough. I'll probably cut the triangles shorter and fatter next time.

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