We Knead To Bake # 2 - Classic Croissants


Doing a victory dance (in my head) as I write this post. Yummmmmy.
I gladly joined this group of Bakers in order to overcome my fear of Yeast. Knowing Aparna and her eye for detail gave me enough confidence. 
I got quite hesitant when I saw what was in store for the month of February. I was tempted to try; but at the same time a little apprehensive by the perfect Croissant pictures doing their rounds in Facebook. And to top it all this wonderful Lady had baked it twice! Two times in a row!!!
Of late my success with "yeast" has been nought. Finally, gearing up to the challenge, one fine evening I pushed myself to make the dough. My first attempt at making Croissants, were ok. Not so great; but crisp and flaky.
Day 1 was easy.
Day 2 - daunting.
And, Day 3 - I was on tenterhooks waiting for the result.
Now, all I have to show for my first attempt - Snapshots taken on my mobile!
When I saw Aparna's post I realised that I did not have a proper picture to post. So I gingerly gathered the ingredients together. This time though I only had active dry yeast. "To do or not to do" was going on and on in my head. A frantic call to Aparna settled my nerves. Thank you Aparna for the timely help; otherwise I would have found an excuse. I enjoyed making the Croissants and am now confident enough to make them at the drop of a hat. She has given us extensive (researched) material to help us through the stages. The original recipe from Fine Cooking, with lots and lots of detailed notes and pictures. (Will update the post with recipe soon! Please bear with me.)
I made half the recipe. (I have repeated some parts from Aparna's post.) Here goes...

Ingredients:
Flour - 2 cups
Sugar - 2 Tablespoon
Salt - 1 teaspoon
Butter (Soft) - 20 grams
Milk - 1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoon
Water - 1/4 cup
Active Dry Yeast - 2 teaspoon + 1/4 teaspoon

Butter - 120 grams
Milk to brush over the Croissants

Instructions:
DAY 1: Make the dough (and refrigerate overnight)
Heat water until it is lukewarm. Test by dipping your little finger in. You should be comfortable.
Add in a pinch of sugar and mix it for a few seconds. Sprinkle a pinch of flour and then spoon in the yeast.
Keep covered for 5 minutes.
Gather all the other ingredients.
Take a large mixing bowl and first measure out the flour, salt and sugar. Mix in the (very soft) butter. Make a well in the centre and pour in the COLD milk and yeast mixture.
Mix to get a smooth dough. Do not knead.
Lightly flour a plate and place the ball of dough on it. Dust the top also lightly with flour.
Cover using a cling wrap.
Refrigerate overnight (or; for a minimum of 12 hours).

DAY 2: (i) Prepare the Butter 
Take two 10 inch squares from plastic sheets.
Cut the butter into 1" thick slabs and lay them side by side on one plastic sheet.
Place the other sheet on top and gently press down using the rolling pin to flatten the butter into a 6" square.
It should be a smooth square of butter with no cracks in between.
Refrigerate this while you roll out the dough.

(ii) Laminate the dough (and refrigerate overnight)
Take the dough from the fridge and unwrap.
Lightly flour the surface and roll out the dough into a 7" square.
Get the butter from the fridge. It should be cold, but pliable.
Peel off the plastic sheet and place it on the centre of the rolled out dough in such a way that it forms a "diamond" shape.
Cover the butter with the dough from all four sides like an envelope. Pinch lightly to seal the edges.
I put this in the freezer for 5 minutes before the next step.

Lightly dust the working surface and roll out the dough, elongating it. Focus on lengthening the dough, and try to keep the edges straight. If you feel it going out of shape, gently straighten the edges and continue till you get a rectangle of about 8" by 12".
Brush off the excess flour and mark into one-thirds along the (12") longer side.
Fold the right hand-side portion of the one third on to the centre portion.
Now pick the opposite edge (left hand-side) and fold over the first fold. 
Gently place the folded dough on a floured baking sheet; cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 15 to 20 minutes to relax and chill the dough.

Repeat the rolling, folding and chilling process twice more. Lengthen from the shorter (open) side.
Refrigerate covered with a cling film, overnight.

DAY 3: Shaping
"Wake up" the dough - press the dough along the length by pressing with the rolling pin.
Gently lengthen the dough and roll into a 8'' by 22" long strip.
If it sticks, sprinkle four and continue.
Once the dough is about half to two-thirds of its final length, it may start to resist rolling and even shrink back. If this happens, fold the dough in thirds, cover, and refrigerate for about 10 minutes; then unfold the dough and finish rolling.
Lift the dough an inch or so off the table at its midpoint and allow it to shrink from both sides and prevent the dough from shrinking when it’s cut. Check that there’s enough excess dough on either end so that when you trim the edges to straighten them, you have a strip of dough that is 20’ inches long. Now trim the edges so they’re straight. The rolled out dough before shaping should be somewhere between 1/4” and 1/8” thick.
Lay a measuring rule or tape measure lengthwise along the top length of the dough. With a knife, mark the top of the dough at 5-inch intervals along the length (there will be 3 marks in all). Now place the rule or tape measure along the bottom length of the dough. Make a mark 2-1/2 inches in from the end of the dough. Make marks at 5-inch intervals from this point all along the bottom of the dough. You’ll have 4 marks that fall halfway between the marks at the top.
Make diagonal cuts by positioning the ruler at the top corner and the first bottom mark. Use a pizza wheel or a sharp knife, cut the dough along this line which connects each top mark to the next bottom mark and then back to the next top mark and so on. This way you will have 7 triangles and a scrap of dough at each end.

Now work with one piece of triangular dough at a time.
Using your rolling pin, very lightly roll (do not make it thin but only stretch it slightly) the triangle to stretch it a little, until it is about 10” long. This will give your croissants height and layers. You can stretch it by hand too, but if you don’t have the practise, your stretching could be uneven.
Using a sharp small knife, make a 1/2- to 3/4-inch-long notch in the centre of the short side of each triangle. The notch helps the rolled croissant curl into a crescent.
Place the triangle on the work surface with the notched side closest to you. With one hand on each side of the notch, begin to roll the dough away from you, towards the pointed end.
Flare your hands outward as you roll so that the notched “legs” become longer. Roll the triangle tight enough but not too tight to compress it, until you reach the “pointy” end which should be under the croissant.
Now bend the two legs towards you to form a tight crescent shape and gently press the tips of the legs together (they’ll come apart while proofing but keep their crescent shape).

Shape all the triangles like this into croissants and place them on a greased or parchment lined baking sheet leaving as much space between them as they will rise quite a bit.

Proofing 
Brush the croissants with milk (or a mix of milk and cream). If you use eggs, make an egg wash by whisking one egg with 1 tsp water in a small bowl until very smooth. Lightly brush this on each croissant.
Refrigerate the remaining milk/ milk+cream (or egg wash) for brushing the croissants again later. Place the croissants in a cool and draft-free place (the butter should not melt) for proofing/ rising for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  They might need longer than 2 hours to proof, maybe as much as 3 hours, so make sure to let croissants take the time to proof. The croissants will be distinctly larger but not doubled in size. They’re ready if you can see the layers of dough from the side, and if you lightly shake the sheets, the croissants will wiggle.

& Baking 
Just before the croissants are fully proofed, pre-heat your oven to 200C (400F) in a convection oven. Brush the croissants with milk a second time, and place it on your baking sheet. (I had to bake in two batches.)
Bake them for about 20 to 30 minutes till they’re done and golden brown on top and just beginning to brown at the sides. Cool the croissants on the baking sheets on racks.
Serve warm. This recipe makes 7 to 8 croissants.
It was quite easy this time around. The dough was soft - I added a little extra water. The butter did not leak. I ended up with a flaky, buttery and melt in the mouth Croissant.
Here is a video link on how to make Croissants; and some great filling ideas @ Williams-Sonoma

Comments

Nice and Flaky. I also joined the group to come out of the fear of yeast. After joining the group in this last two months gathered a good of knowledge on yeast.
looks really good...
http://sweettoothraf.blogspot.com
Lynne Daley said…
Superb work on this croissant challenge! I almost didn't make them, but so happy I did!
Priya said…
They were extremely flaky and fabulous.

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