Tuesday, March 5, 2013

TWD: Baking with Julia - Crossants

I have to admit, I was a bit intimidated to attempt making Croissants.  They are so light and flaky and buttery - is this something I could truly accomplish?  Plus, when reading through the recipe, there were many steps involved with lots of resting/refrigerating/proofing times - this was an intensive project to undertake.  However, I refused to be intimidated by this recipe!  After putting it off again and again, I finally dug in and got started in making croissants. 

In Baking with Julia, this recipe actually spans several pages.  The dough recipe is on pages 52-54, while the shaping and baking recipe is on pages 185-186.  You may also find the recipe on our host's blog, Girl + Food = Love

Step 1:  Make the dough
My first quandary with this recipe was with the yeast.  It calls for fresh yeast, which I could not find in my grocery store and didn't have the energy to go shopping around to find.  After some internet research I decided to substitute half the amount of active dry yeast.  Since the recipe called for an ounce of fresh yeast, I used a half ounce of active dry yeast and hoped for the best!  It worked!  I mixed the active dry yeast into about 1/4 cup of warm milk and let it sit for a bit before using.  Then the yeast, flour, sugar, salt, and remaining milk were put into the mixer to get moving.  Let me tell you, my poor mixer did not appreciate this at all!  Soothing words seemed to help and she turned out what appeared to be appropriate dough - smooth, elastic, and sort of like the consistency of soft butter.  Phew!  (By the way, I strongly feel that my mixer needs a name.  Any suggestions out there??  My sewing machine is named Ruby, what should my mixer be named???  Help!)

Once the dough was formed, it was wrapped in plastic wrap and a plastic bag, allowed to sit for 30 minutes, and then refrigerated overnight.  Step 1 complete!

Step 2:  The butter!
As you know, a crucial element of croissants is BUTTER.  And lots of it!  For this step, I mixed 4 1/2 sticks of butter and 2 TB flour in my poor un-named mixer, which again she didn't seem to appreciate that much.  I think this is because the butter was cold so it was in hard cubes for a while before it all squished down and became more pliable.  Anyway, the butter is mixed and mixed until it is about the same consistency as the dough from above, then it is refrigerated until needed.  None with Step 2!

Step 3: Incorporating the butter
Here is where your arm work-out begins!  First, the dough is rolled out into an oval about 10 inches wide by 17 inches long.  Then you plop the butter in the middle...

... and wrap it up like a package!  What a fine package that would be!  Now the fun part, beat it with your rolling pin!  The goal here is to spread the butter out evenly along the inside of your dough, so you beat it with your rolling pin to do so.  At this point, your dough is about 1-inch thick, and the rectangle is approximately 14 inches long and 6 inches wide.

 Step 4:  Rolling, folding, and more rolling and folding!
Remember the arm workout I mentioned?  Here we go.  The rectangle from Step 3 needs to be rolled into a bigger rectangle, 24-26 inches long by 14 inches wide.  This takes some work!  Plus a large place for rolling.  The good thing about this project is it confirmed my decision to have the kitchen island in my new kitchen built at a regular counter height, no taller.  It had been suggested that I could do taller for the island but after rolling out this dough, shorter would be better!  Maybe in a future kitchen I can have an island with two different levels - a regular one and then a shorter one for rolling out dough...  Hmmm.  Am I already designing a new house when my current new house isn't even built yet?  Someone take me to the looney-bin immediately!  

So I digress.  Apologies.  Once you have your giant rectangle, fold it into thirds like a brochure which is now about 8 inches wide by 14 inches long, put it on a parchment covered baking sheet, and put it into the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.  I marked the pan "1 turn" and then "2 turns" because guess what?  After those 2 hours are over, you take that dough out of the refrigerator, roll it into the same giant rectangle again, fold it up, and put it back in the refrigerator! 

This time, once you take it out of the refrigerator and roll it out into a gigantic rectangle again, you are finished making mere brochures, you create a BOOK!  Fold both ends in towards the middle and then fold the dough in half, making a book.  The "spine"of the book is closer to the rolling pin, and the "pages" are towards the bottom of the above photo.  Wrap it up in plastic and refrigerate for another 2 hours!

Now we can finally turn to the second section of pages for this recipe!  The above part was all in pages 52-54... now we turn to pages 185-186!

Step 5:  Cutting croissants
Well, actually, before you can cut the dough into croissants, you have to ROLL IT OUT AGAIN!  Yes, just when you thought your arms could take no more, we roll another rectangle.  Guess what?  This one is EVEN BIGGER than the last.  First, cut your "book" in half width-wise, leaving you with a rectangle that is about 6 inches wide by 7 inches long (it used to be 14 inches long by 6 inches wide.)  Use one piece of that dough and refrigerate the other half.  Now we are rolling a rectangle that is 20-24 inches long and 15-18 inches wide.  This takes a lot of work and a lot of flour for the work space!  Once you have said giant rectangle, fold it in half so you now have a rectangle that is 20-24 inches long and 7 1/2-9 inches wide.  

Get a very sharp knife or pizza cutter and trim one side of the dough on the diagonal a bit to start the triangular shapes.  The base of each triangle should be 3-4 inches wide.  I did 3 inch bases, which I think was not the best choice.  When I do the second half of the "book" I'll make the bases 4 inches I think.  Since you folded the dough onto itself before cutting, you actually have two triangles stacked up in each layer.  Separate the triangles and now you can start rolling croissants!

Stretch the base of the triangle slightly, then stretch the length of the triangle to about double the original length.  Pinch a bit of dough from the scrap you trimmed in starting and ending your diagonals, roll it into an oval and put it on the base of the triangle.  Fold the top piece over and start rolling.  Roll and pull a bit to the sides at the same time, until you have rolled up the entire piece and you have what looks like a croissant!  Place that beauty on a parchment lined baking sheet and curl the tips down so it is "C" shaped like a croissant!  Ta-da!  Do this for the remaining triangles, leaving lots of space between croissants on the baking sheet for rising.  Brush with an egg wash and then let them rise in a turned-off oven with a pan of steaming hot water underneath for 3 1/2 to 4 hours.  

Step 6:  Baking, finally!
Once the croissants have risen, brush them again with egg wash and bake at 350F for 12 minutes.  Then rotate the pans top to bottom and back to front, and bake another 4-6 minutes (6 for me) until they are golden browned.  Cool on racks completely before eating.  VERY DIFFICULT!  

Though the recipe states that the croissants are best the day they are made and should be frozen immediately if not eaten, I kept them in an airtight bag and then popped them into the toaster oven the next day and they turned out perfectly.  Nice and warm and crispy.  So, do what you like!

Can you believe it?  I made croissants!  They are light and buttery and wonderful.  The clever girl ate a bite and opened her eyes wide, flung open her arms, and said "Momma!  These are DELICIOUS!  Wow!".  (Have I ever mentioned that the clever girl is full of drama?)  Regardless, I appreciate the sentiment!  

In plan on making some almond croissants and some chocolate croissants with the remaining half of my dough "book" but that will be fodder for another post I think, as I haven't gotten to it quite yet!

Please visit the Tuesdays with Dorie blog and click on the LYL:Croissants tab to see what other bloggers thought of this recipe!

And, if you have any ideas as to what to name my poor mixer, please help!


  1. Wow, you measured the dough triangles! I gave up on precision by that point... Lovely golden croissants, and maybe call the mixer "clever mixer"?

  2. Woot! Successs!
    These are perfect - and I don't care what anyone says, at least one or two croissants DEMAND to be eaten as soon as they cool down enough to bite into. Anyone that says otherwise is delusional.

  3. Great post. I really enjoyed it. And you croissants look really good.

  4. Great job! They look beautiful. I agree with you about the two level counter thing. This recipe was a workout!


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