Hello! Come bake Croissants with me!
All year I have wanted to bake croissants, particularly pain au chocolate, the chocolate-filled ones. My research led me down a rabbit hole of recipes, youtube videos, and blog posts all bemoaning the amount of time one needed to dedicate to baking these. This is not something you could whip up on the day unless you severely shorten the time needed to proof the dough.
The final recipe I followed is by a chef names Anna Olson. I followed her YouTube tutorial and can honestly say it was the most helpful video I came across. She gave tips and little secrets and it was seriously just awesome to watch. Give the video a look here.
Now, it has been ingrained in me that the key to baking is ingredient preparation. I like to lay out all of my ingredients in the order that the recipe called for and to have them properly measured out and in separate bowls. I know this adds to the number of dishes and utensils you will need to clean afterward, but I can't even begin to tell you how many times I've nearly ruined a recipe by incorrectly measuring something.
Now I used low-fat milk as we don't have 2% milk and all I had on hand was self-raising flour. I found that, as long as it wasn't a bread flour which is much denser and more suitable for bread as opposed to croissants (even though croissants are technically made from a bread dough).
3 ½ (525 g) cup all-purpose flour
1 cup (250 ml) water, room temperature
½ cup (125 ml) 2% milk, room temperature
5 Tbsp (62 g) sugar
1 pkg (2 1/4 tsp/8 g) instant dry yeast
1 ¼ tsp salt
2 Tbsp (30 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ¼ (285 g) cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg whisked with 2 Tbsp of water, for brushing
For the détrempe, fit a stand mixer with the hook attachment and stir the flour, water, milk, sugar, and yeast on low speed to blend, then add the salt. Increase to one speed higher and knead for about 4 minutes, adding the butter mid-way through kneading – the dough should just clean the sides of the bowl. Shape the dough into a rectangle (it will be soft), place it on a parchment-lined baking tray, and cover with a tea towel and then plastic wrap. Let the dough sit out for 90 minutes, then chill for at least an hour, up to 8 hours.
As of right now, I don't have a stand mixer and so I did this whole process kneading by hand. While it did mean a little more effort and about 5 minutes more preparation time, the dough still tuned out exactly as it needed to.
Step 1: For the beurrage, shape the butter into an 8-inch square. Chill until ready to use if preparing in advance, but pull from the fridge to soften. Ensure that the butter offers the same resistance (is the same consistency) as the chilled dough – while the temperature of each may differ, the “give” should be the same.
Step 2: On a floured work surface, turn out the chilled détrempe and roll out to a square about 14-inches across. Place the beurrage in the centre of the square, but rotated so that the points of the butter square fall at the middle of each flat side of the dough. Bring the corners of the dough together, wrapping the butter like an envelope and gently pinch the edges. Roll the dough out into a rectangle about 20-inches long and fold the dough into thirds (this is called a single fold). Return the dough to the baking tray, cover with the towel and plastic and chill for at least an hour, up to 8 hours.
3. Repeat rolling and folding the dough into singles folds 2 more times, rotating the dough 90 degrees each time before rolling and chilling the dough for at least an hour and up to 8 hours before each fold. Let the dough rest for at least 4 hours and up to 12 hours after the final fold before using.
[Throughout the process I decided to let the dough proof for the maximum time of 8 hours.]
Now, to form the croissants
Step 4: For 12 plain croissants, measure out about 20 oz of dough and store the rest in the fridge. On a floured work surface, roll out the dough to a rectangle about 16-inches by 12-inches. Cut the dough in half horizontally and then cut 6 triangles from each.
Step 5: Make a 1-inch score on the short side of each triangle, and roll up the croissant from this side. Curve the croissant so that the point of the triangle is at the bottom and pointing in the opposite direction as the curve in. If you wish, you can pinch the croissant ends together so they hold the curve shape. Place these on a parchment-lined baking tray, leaving at least 3 inches between each other, and cover these with a tea towel and then plastic. Let the croissants rise for 2 hours.
For the chocolate croissants:
Cut the dough into rectangles and places a couple pieces of chocolate at one of the shorter ends. Roll the dough until it resembles a cigar and then leave to rise for 2 hours.
Step 6: Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C). Brush the croissants with the eggwash and then bake them for about 15 minutes until a rich golden brown.
[Anna's Tip: The croissants are best enjoyed the day they are baked. If you wish to prepare ahead, you can make the dough, fold it and let it rise, and then cut and shape the croissants. Freeze the croissants on a baking tray, then pack in a container. The croissants should fully thaw and proof for about 3 hours before then baking.]
My final thoughts:
These croissants were absolutely marvelous! I thought I had definitely messed them up when I was folding them. What I did was, I cut the triangles for the plain croissants rather small and so the end result was an array of croissants all the length of my palm. Next time I make them, I'll make the triangles larger surface area-wise and so hopefully, the end result will be better.
These were a definite win though. I made them for Christmas morning brunch for my family and they absolutely loved them! As I'm writing this, I am in the process of making a second batch which will hopefully turn out better. But if you are willing to put in the time and effort, I definitely recommend trying this out!
Wishing you all the very best for the new year. I hope 2021 treats everyone much better than this year did. Sending all my love and thoughts, always.