Tuesday, March 5, 2013

TWD: Croissants

I realized the other day that I have been a member of TWD for over a year now.  I've been baking with the group since it started it's second run last February!  And while I haven't missed a week of baking, I've yet to host.  I've been feeling a bit guilty about it, really.  It's all part of being in the group, right?  When they ask for volunteers to host, eligible bakers should volunteer.  I hadn't done that yet and I told myself that the next recipe I saw that I was excited about, I would stop being a pansy and say I would do it.  So here I am.  I realized when I went to make these that I maybe should have read through the recipe (or recipes) before blindly saying I would host.  I mean, could I have picked a longer recipe to type up?  It's really doubtful.  I wasn't super worried about making croissants since I had done it before but now that my arms have gotten a workout with all the rolling, my fingers will now get their workout with some serious typing.

These aren't as hard as you'd think.  Really.  Having said that, I feel like you can expect the best results if you go into this thing prepared.  Watching the video is a must in my humble opinion, and in THIS video you get to see Julia herself and Esther McManus making exactly this recipe.  The first time I made croissants, I thought I could just read the recipe and get it, but my brain didn't work that way.  It helped immensely to have a video and step-by-step photos.  (I took some photos to hopefully help with the step-by-step part.) Now you should be ready to go. :)

I've included the recipe and my two cents in italics.  Just a side note, I started this recipe at about 10 in the morning, let it rest 8 hours, then did all the rolling and folding that evening.  Once it was all folded and ready to rest again, I refrigerated overnight and then rolled it out and cut into croissants the next morning and it worked just fine.

Croissant Recipe
For Croissant dough:
1 ounce compressed fresh yeast (I didn't have fresh yeast or bother to look too hard for it.  I used 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast-I let it dissolve in the milk for about 5-10 minutes and added it with the milk.)
3 3/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour (I measured with the scale. 1 lb 2 oz)
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp salt
1 cup milk  (The video was helpful for me here.  It looks like she has more like 1.5 cups of milk ready to add.  While the book says to only add 3 T more than the 1 cup, I found it necessary to add more like 6 T more than the 1 cup.)

For the butter square (or in this case oval):
4 1/2 sticks (1 pound 2 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 tbsp unbleached all purpose flour

For the egg wash:
1 large egg beaten with 1 tbsp cold water (I used 1-2 egg yolks and 1 T milk)

For the dough:
Put the yeast, flour sugar, salt and 1 cup of milk into the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook. With the machine on its lowest speed, mix for 1 to 2 minutes, until a soft, moist dough forms on the hook. If the dough is to dry, add more milk, 1 tablespoon at a time. In most cases if the dough does need more liquid, it won’t need more than about 3 tablespoons (I added almost 6 T), but check carefully as you want all the flour to be moistened. Stop the mixer and look into the bowl. If the hook has not picked up all the flour from the bottom of the bowl, add a few more drops of milk.  

Set the mixer to its highest speed and work the dough until it is smooth and elastic, no longer sticky and close to the consistency of soft butter, about 4 minutes. To make certain that all the ingredients are perfectly blended you can remove the dough from the mixer after 3 minutes, and then with the mixer on high speed, return plum size pieces to the bowl. The pieces will remain separate for a short while, then come together, at which time the dough is ready.  (I didn't bother with taking the dough out and putting it back in but my dough was slightly tacky when done.  I think it's better to be a little bit on the wet side.)

Remove the dough from the mixer, wrap it in plastic and put it in a plastic bag, leaving a little room for expansion. Keep the dough at room temperature for 30 minutes to give the gluten time to relax; then refrigerate the dough for 8 hours or overnight.

For the butter:
Attach the paddle to your mixer and beat the butter and flour on the highest speed until smooth and the same consistency as the croissant dough, about 2 minutes. Reach into the bowl and poke around in the butter to make sure that its evenly blended – if you find any lumps, just squeeze them between your fingers. Scrape the butter onto a large piece of plastic wrap and give it a few slaps to knock the air out of it. Mold it into an oval 5 to 6 inches long and 1 inch thick. Wrap it tightly and refrigerate until needed. At this point the dough and the butter can be frozen; defrost overnight in the refrigerator before proceeding with the recipe.

Incorporating the butter:
Place the croissant dough on a generously floured large work surface (marble is ideal) and sprinkle the top of the dough lightly with flour. Using a long rolling pin, roll the dough into an oval approximately 10 inches wide and 17 inches long. Brush the excess flour from the dough. Center the oval of chilled butter across the oval of dough (forgive the horrible picture, it was night time!  And I kind of flattened my butter into a rectangle.  Less beating on the counter after the kids were in bed.)
and fold the top and bottom of the dough over the butter to make a tidy package. Gently and evenly stretch the folded layers of dough out to the sides and press the edges down firmly with your fingertips to create a neatly sealed rectangle.

If you own a French rolling pin (one without handles) now is the time to use it. Hold one side of the dough steady with your hand and strike the other side gently but firmly with the rolling pin to distribute the butter evenly. As you hit the dough you will see the butter moving out into the crevices. Strike the other side of the dough the same way. After pounding you should have a 1 inch thick rectangle about about 14 inches long and 6 inches wide.
Keeping the work surface and the top of the dough well floured, roll out the dough. If this your first time working with croissant dough, you may want to roll out the dough just a little to distribute the butter, put it on a baking sheet lined with flour-dusted parchment paper, cover it with plastic and chill it for 1 to 2 hours first; this way you wont risk having the dough go soft or the butter seep out. (Each time you wrap the dough, make sure its well covered – even a little air will cause the dough to form an unwanted skin.) If you are experienced, feeling courageous or have dough that is still well chilled, go on to make your first turn.

Rolling and folding:
Roll the dough into a rectangle 24 to 26 inches long and about 14 inches wide, with the long side facing you. (You may feel as though your rolling the dough sideways-and you are.) Brush off the excess flour and, working from the left and right sides, fold the dough inward into thirds, as you would a brochure, 

so that you have a package that's about 8 inches wide by 14 inches long.

Carefully transfer the dough to a parchment- lined baking sheet, mark the parchment “1 turn” so you’ll know what you've done, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. You can freeze the dough after this or any other turn. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before proceeding.

Second turn:
Place the dough so that the 14 inch side runs left to right. (The dough needs 2 more turns; you've given it one quarter-turn already.) Making sure the work surface is well floured at all times, roll the dough as you did before into a rectangle 24 to 26 inches long by about 14 inches wide . (When doing the second and third turns, you may find that the dough has cracked a little. That’s natural; its a result of the yeast. Don’t worry, just flour the dough and work surface and keep going.)

As you did before, fold the dough in thirds. Place it on the parchment, mark the paper “2 turns”, cover and refrigerate continued in part 2 for at least 2 hours.

Third turn:
Start again with a 14 inch side running from your left side to your right. Roll the dough into a rectangle 24 to 26 inches long by 14 inches wide. Fold the left and right sides of the dough into the center, leaving a little space in the center, 
and then fold one side over the other as though you were closing a book. 
This is the famous double turn, also known as “the wallet”.

Chilling the dough:
Brush off the flour, wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours (I refrigerated overnight)

{At this point the dough is ready to be rolled, cut and shaped into croissants. Storing: The dough can be frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw overnight, still wrapped, in the refrigerator.}

Rolling the dough:
Generously flour a work surface. Position the dough so that it resembles a book, with the spine to your left and the opening to your right. For easy handling, cut the dough in half horizontally 
so that you have two pieces about 7 inches long and about 6 1/2 inches wide: wrap and chill one half while you work with the other half.

Flour the dough and roll it into a rectangle that's 24 to 26 inches long and 15 to 18 inches wide. This takes a lot of rolling. Keep the work surface and the dough well floured and have patience. If necessary turn the dough so that the long side runs from left to right along the counter. Carefully fold the top half of the dough down to the bottom. The dough is now ready for cutting.

Cutting the dough:
Working with a pizza cutter or a large, very sharp knife, cut triangles from the dough. This is done most easily by making a diagonal cut on the left hand side to get the pattern started; save the uneven piece of dough. Measure off a 3 to 4 inch base and begin cutting the triangles, always cutting from bottom to top. You’ll have another scrap when you reach the other end-you’ll use these scraps when you shape the croissants. 

Unfold each pair of triangles and cut them in half to separate. 
You should have 10 to 12 maybe 14 triangles; set them aside while you clear the work surface of all flour. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Shaping the croissants: {THE VIDEO IS SUPER HELPFUL FOR THIS!}
Moisten your hands with a wet towel. Working with one triangle at a time, gently stretch the base to widen it slightly, then, holding the base of the triangle in one hand, run the fingers of the other hand down to the point of the triangle. Use your thumb to pull and stretch the dough until its almost twice the original length-have courage and tug; the extra length is what allows you to make a large croissant with sufficient rolls to show off its layers of dough.
Place the triangle, point toward you, at arm distance on the work table this will give enough space to roll the croissant into shape with-out having to lift it in mid-roll) Pull off a little piece of the reserved scrap dough, mold it into a small football shape and center it on the wide top part of the triangle-this will help make the “belly” of the croissant plump. Fold about 1/2 inch of this wide end over itself and press the ends down once to secure. With you palms and fingers positioned over the flattened ends of the croissant and the heels of your hands on the flat work surface, roll the croissant toward you-try to keep your hands moving down and out to the sides as you roll- ending with the point of the triangle tucked under the croissant. A well shaped croissant-and it takes practice to achieve one-will sport at least six clearly accountable sections, or ridges, from rolling. Place the croissants on one of the baking sheets, leaving room for them to triple in size without touching one another. {Mine are too close together! Oops! I also didn't worry too much about having a certain amount of ridges, just rolled them up and called it good.}
Repeat with the other half of the dough.

If you are making chocolate croissants or petits pains au chocolat:
When the dough is ready to be cut, measure off 3 to 4-inch-wide pieces. or pieces as wide as the chocolate baton is long (I just used what I had, semi-sweet baking chips), and simply cut  the dough from bottom to top in straight lines; unfold each strip and cute crosswise in half.  Position 2 batons or 1 ounce chocolate on top of each strip of dough-
it's not necessary to press or seal it-and roll the dough into a coil around the chocolate, finishing seam side down; then give it a pat to flatten it ever so slightly.  Proceed to shape the rest of the croissants and allow to rise.

Glazing and rising:
Give the croissants a last gentle plumping, carefully turning the ends down and toward the center to produce the classic croissant shape. Brush the croissants with egg wash and allow them to rise, uncovered, at room temperature for 3 to 4 hours, until tripled in size and spongy. (Reserve egg wash, covered in the refrigerator.) The ideal place for rising is a turned off oven (one with a pilot light is fine) containing a pan of hot steamy water. (You do NOT want to let these get too hot.  If you are used to baking bread and letting them rise in a warm place, you need to be really careful with that.  If it's hot enough for the butter to melt then it's too hot.  I didn't bother even with the hot water, just covered them with greased plastic wrap and kept them in the oven for about 3 1/2 hours) To test that they are properly risen, wet your fingers and squeeze the end of a croissant:It should offer no resistance and feel almost hollow.

Baking the croissants:
Arrange the oven racks to divide the oven into thirds, and preheat the oven to 350 f. Brush the croissants once again with egg wash and bake for 12 minutes. 
I think I placed my croissants too closely because I was trying to fit them on 2 baking sheets.  I think they would have baked a little nicer if they had a bit more room.  Also, I sprinkled some turbinado sugar on a few of the chocolate croissants.  Because it just felt right.
Rotate front to back and bake another 4 to 6 minutes, until the croissants are deeply bronzed.  (I think I should have baked mine a bit longer, it seemed like the darker ones were better.  Next time, even though I was over the recipes bake time, I would go longer until they are dark, dark brown.)

Cool on racks. As tempting as they are croissants should not be eaten as soon as they come from the oven. The dough-and the layers within need time to set.

The croissants are best eaten the day they are made. If you must keep them, freeze them, wrapped airtight. Thaw the croissants overnight in the refrigerator or at room temperature and reheat in a 350 degree oven for about 8 minutes.

Makes 20 to 24 croissants

These were buttery and delicious.  I mean, what's not to love, it's a croissant?  They are so good fresh that it makes you wonder why we ever buy them.  If I were the kind of person who always thought ahead, I might never buy them again, but let's face it, sometimes you need a croissant in less than 24 hours.  When I make croissants again I will probably stick to this recipe I previously posted about, (only because I think it's a bit easier) but it's always fun to try new recipes.  If you have the time and don't mind seeing all the butter folded into the dough then you should make these the next chance you get!  Also, have I mentioned that it's a good idea to watch the video? ;)

To see what the other TWD bakers did this week, you can go HERE.


  1. Great step-by-step pictures Amanda! They are perfectly formed. I only made regular croissants, not pain au chocolat... Thanks for hosting today!

  2. THANK YOU for hosting and for your beautiful step-by-step photos! You rocked this recipe!!!

  3. Beautiful croissants! I agree with you completely that for croissants, the video is extremely helpful, as are photos. Thank you for hosting this week -- typing in that recipe must have taken nearly as long as making the croissants!

  4. Oh my word Amanda! You did an outstanding job with this recipe and your croissants look so lovely! Thank you for hosting. Blessings, Catherine www.praycookblog.com

  5. Wow! What beautiful croissants! Bakery perfect. And what a write-up this is! Awesome job hosting.

  6. Your dough looks wonderful. Great job. And the baked croissants look awesome. I regret putting the pan of steaming water in the oven when mine were proofing, as it caused them to puddle.
    Thanks for hosting! I too have to stop being a pansy! :)

  7. What lovely pictures and descriptions, Amanda! Thanks for doing such a great job hosting!

  8. Gorgeous. Where did you get the sugar?

    1. Thank you. The turbinado sugar? I had it on hand because of other baking projects but I found it on the baking isle of my grocery store. It's in a brown bag that says, "Sugar in the Raw" in big letters. The 'turbinado' name is in smaller letters so it took me a minute to find it.

  9. Gorgeous, Amanda!!! Just perfect. :) You're the perfect hostess for this week's recipe.

  10. Beautiful croissants and photographs! Thanks for hosting!

  11. Thanks everyone! So glad I didn't let anyone down. :)

  12. OMG ... sooo delicious and they look soooo amazing!!! Thanks for hosting and definitely great job... I have been re-inspired to try this again!

  13. Great job & your photography is wonderful!

    Love your blog. Thanks for hosting - that was a long recipe.

  14. lovely photos and great looking croissants.

  15. You did a great job with the croissants and with the hosting. It's good to know exactly how things were supposed to turn out. :)

  16. wow! you did a great job. Congrats on making some beautiful croissants.
    I was not so lucky

  17. Great job documenting the process. Wasn't this fun?!
    Thanks for hosting us!

  18. These are really beautiful and they are labor of love. I can't wait to try my hands on making them. Thanks for the inspiration.

  19. These are GORGEOUS! And you post is wonderful and helpful. I didn't even attempt this one, and I am very impressed with yours.

  20. So pretty- all your layers are just amazing. I think adding a bit more milk was smart. Thanks for hosting.

  21. Thanks for hosting this one. Your dough is so perfect looking and your croissants look so yummy. I agree that fresh out of the oven these are amazing!

  22. Your croissants came out perfectly - and thank you for taking one for the team and fearlessly hosting this week's recipe. Bravo!

  23. lovely spiraled layers of flakiness! thanks for being a great host this week and sharing all your step-by-step photos.

  24. Thanks for hosting this week, Amanda. Your croissants look absolutely perfect; flaky and delicious. Lovely photo presentation.

  25. Thanks for hosting! I agree that nothing beats a homemade croissant. Although the Moxie bakery in my neighborhood hand-makes a pain au chocolat that is to die for.

    I think this recipe was especially easy to roll. I remember having more problems with the dough ripping with other recipes I've tried. The only crazy-difficult recipe left now is that wedding cake!

  26. Thanks for hosting! I love the photo of the laminated dough cross section, it shows the perfect laminated dough! And your croissants were beautiful too!

  27. Are you kidding me Amanda? Those look devine! You are a simply amazing!

  28. Your croissants are absolutely gorgeous!!

  29. I found the video helpful too. Your croissants look beautiful.


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