I don't know why these little beauties weren't on my Culinary Goals list. I love croissants! While in France last year I ate them every morning for breakfast with my chocolate chaud! Perhaps I realized that if I knew how to make them, or was successful at making them, that I would be in trouble.
The problem being, if twelve light and fluffy croissants come out of the oven and there are only two people around to eat them, how many croissants does each person eat? The inevitable answer is, too many! While the croissants are cooking in the oven, the house begins to smell warm and delicious. A sweet, yeasty fragrance starts to tempt you into the kitchen. You peek into the oven and see those crispy, golden layers and can't wait until the timer rings.
This is exactly how it played out the morning that I made these little darlings. I woke up at 6:00 to give the dough the final few turns and went back to bed for another two hours. Around 8:00, I got out of bed to cut and shape the croissants. They spent a little time rising and warming up, starting to fill the kitchen with their sweet smell. After a quick egg wash and short time in the oven I was ready to scarf down a few of these French treats. I held myself back and only ate two, then took the rest to work the next day to avoid any temptation!
Julia Child's Croissants
I had a lot of fun with this challenge, once I got the recipe right! After you have completed the first few turns, be gentle with your dough. Be sure to flour your rolling pin and rolling surface, otherwise your dough will stick and the butter will try to escape! I tried to take lots of pictures for you, to help you with all the crazy turns and rolls of these breakfast treats!
I also decided to make some chocolate croissants! Rather than cutting them into triangles, just make the last cut (step 47) into rectangles! We're folding them up like envelopes, so add some chocolate chips to the bottom third, all in a line. Fold the bottom third up. Add chips to the top third and then fold that down. Flip it over so that the crease is on the bottom when baked!
¼ oz (7 gm) of fresh yeast, or 1¼ teaspoon (6¼ ml/4 gm) of dry-active yeast (about ½ sachet)
3 tablespoons (45 ml) warm water (less than 100°F/38°C)
1 teaspoon (5 ml/4½ gm) sugar
1 3/4 cups (225 gm/½ lb) of strong plain flour
2 teaspoons (10 ml/9 gm) sugar
1½ teaspoon (7½ ml/9 gm) salt
½ cup (120 ml/¼ pint) milk
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil
½ cup (120 ml/1 stick/115 gm/¼ lb) chilled, unsalted butter
1 egg, for egg wash
1. Mix the yeast, warm water, and first teaspoon of sugar in a small bowl. Leave aside for the yeast and sugar to dissolve and the yeast to foam up a little.
2. Measure out the other ingredients
3. Heat the milk until tepid (either in the microwave or a saucepan), and dissolve in the salt and remaining sugar
4. Place the flour in a large bowl.
5. Add the oil, yeast mixture, and milk mixture to the flour
6. Mix all the ingredients together using the rubber spatula, just until all the flour is incorporated
7. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and let it rest a minute while you wash out the bowl
8. Knead the dough eight to ten times only. It’s a little difficult to explain, but essentially involves smacking the dough on the counter (lots of fun if you are mad at someone) and removing it from the counter using the pastry scraper.
9. Place the dough back in the bowl, and place the bowl in the plastic bag
10. Leave the bowl at approximately 75°F/24°C for three hours, or until the dough has tripled in size.
11. After the dough has tripled in size, remove it gently from the bowl, pulling it away from the sides of the bowl with your fingertips.
12. Place the dough on a lightly floured board or countertop, and use your hands to press it out into a rectangle about 8 by 12 inches (20cm by 30cm).
13. Fold the dough rectangle in three, like a letter (fold the top third down, and then the bottom third up)
14. Place the dough letter back in the bowl, and the bowl back in the plastic bag.
15. Leave the dough to rise for another 1.5 hours, or until it has doubled in size. This second rise can be done overnight in the fridge.
16. Place the double-risen dough onto a plate and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place the plate in the fridge while you prepare the butter.
17. Once the dough has doubled, it’s time to incorporate the butter
18. Place the block of chilled butter in between some plastic wrap.
19. Using the rolling pin, beat the butter down a little, till it is quite flat.
20. Use the heel of your hand to continue to spread the butter until it is smooth. You want the butter to stay cool, but spread easily.
21. Remove the dough from the fridge and place it on a lightly floured board or counter. Let it rest for a minute or two.
22. Spread the dough using your hands into a rectangle about 14 by 8 inches (35 cm by 20 cm).
23. Remove the butter from the board, and place it on the top half of the dough rectangle.
24. Spread the butter all across the top two-thirds of the dough rectangle, but keep it ¼ inch (6 mm) across from all the edges.
31. Tap the dough with the rolling pin, to deflate it a little
32. Let the dough rest for 8 to 10 minutes
33. Roll the dough package out till it is 14 by 8 inches (35 cm by 20 cm).
34. Fold in three, as before
35. Turn 90 degrees, and roll out again to 14 by 8 inches (35 cm by 20 cm).
36. Fold in three for the last time, wrap in plastic, and return the dough package to the fridge for two more hours (or overnight, with something heavy on top to stop it from rising)
37. It’s now time to cut the dough and shape the croissants
38. First, lightly butter your baking sheet so that it is ready
39. Take the dough out of the fridge and let it rest for ten minutes on the lightly floured board or counter
54. Mix the egg with a teaspoon of water
56. Put the croissants in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until the tops are browned nicely
57. Take the croissants out of the oven, and place them on a rack to cool for 10 minutes before serving.