Nancy was one of the winners of my giveaway and I said I would make what ever the winners suggested. Nancy suggested croissant. So I made them and of course we ate them on her behalf. They were delicious!
I’m sure you would have enjoyed these Nancy! I know you asked for chocolate and I have some chocolate ones in the making but I wanted to get this post up for you before the weekend. I could not decide on the photos I liked, so there are too many of them in the post. I’m sorry I could not help myself, I liked them all!
I felt a bit nervous making these since I really wanted to get it right and the last time I made croissant was in high school in my french class. I seem to recall I failed french, I’m pretty sure it was not because of my croissant making efforts.
I researched and read and watched a billion videos and even attempted to phone a local french trained pastry chef for a few tips and tricks - but he did not return my call, perhaps I sounded somewhat desperate on the phone and scared him off.
I finally settled on a recipe and a method. When you look around online you find there are so many different recipes about and as many methods for making laminated dough as there are recipes. My choice was eventually dictated by the fact that my local supermarket where I normally buy my fresh yeast had the audacity to run out of fresh yeast so I decided to make a recipe that called for active dry yeast instead.
I decided to start even though I was still not one hundred percent sure of what I was doing and hope that it started to make sense as I moved through the recipe.
I think this is definitely one of those things that you have to just take the plunge with and hope for the best your first time, a little like bungy jumping.
dough from Nancy Silverton
1 1/2 cups whole milk, heated to warm (110F/43 C)
- 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon plus 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 3 3/4 to 4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 12oz/340 grams cold unsalted butter
- A rolling pin
- a measuring tape or ruler
- a thermometer for your milk (not essential - just test to lukewarm)
- plastic wrap
- a pastry brush
- kitchen towels - I just used paper towels they worked fine.
First you are going to make your dough. It seems more complex reading through the recipe than it actually is I think. It’s really just time consuming and a few things that seem minor are important to do. I’ve put those things in bold type for you. It just needs a bit of patience really.
My apologies to the seasoned bakers if you feel that this is too simplified.- I wanted to make sure that this was in plain language for those learning the technique for the first time.
I made mine over the course of a day, a lot of the time required is just time chillin’. I’m going to try to make this simple, but if there are any questions please don’t hesitate to ask and I will clarify. These are not perfect, but I was really happy with them for a first effort.
For the Dough
Mix your warm milk, brown sugar, and yeast in bowl or in your stand mixer bowl if you are lucky enough to have one and wait for it to foam - that usually takes about 5 minutes.
Add in your flour and salt and mix for about 7 minutes on low speed with the dough hook followed by two minutes hand kneading if you are using a mixer, or knead gently for about 10 minutes if you are working by hand.
You should have a soft and slightly sticky dough. If you need to you can dust a little flour on the work surface to stop it from sticking. Shape it into a rectangle roughly 1 1/2 inches ( 4 cm) thick.
Wrap your dough tightly in plastic film and place in the fridge until cold - roughly an hour.
Prepare your butter
It is important that your butter is cold from the fridge - not hard enough to break, but not soft and greasy. Butter that has been stored in the fridge should be about right. If at any point things seem to be getting warm or greasy - put it back in the fridge to chill for a bit. Work quickly with your butter.
Once your dough is nice and cold you can shape the butter package that gets tucked inside the dough.
Have your butter in three even portions (if you are in the US it’s 3 sticks of butter). Line up your butter with the sides touching and pound the butter with the flat of a rolling pin to flatten it out into a rectangle that is 5 x 8 inches (13 cm x 20cm). If it’s still nice and cold you should be able to run a knife under it and scrape it up in one piece on to a paper towel, cover with the other paper towel and put in the fridge. It’s very quick.
Leave your butter in the fridge while you roll out your dough for the first time.
Rolling the dough and putting in the butter
Roll the dough on a floured work surface into a 16 x10-inch (40cm x 25cm) rectangle. Lift the dough and sprinkle some flour underneath if you need to, make sure it is not sticking. Place the dough with a short side nearest you.
Put the butter in center of the dough so that the long sides of butter are parallel to the short sides of the dough. Fold the bottom third of dough over the butter, then top third down over dough.
Brush off any excess flour with a pastry brush. Do this regularly throughout all the folding.
Turn the dough so a short side is nearest you, then flatten dough slightly by pressing down with a rolling pin across dough at regular intervals, making uniform impressions. Roll the dough into a 15-x 10-inch (38cm x 25) rectangle, rolling just to but not over ends. Don’t squish the ends of the dough. This will help to keep your butter where it should be.
Make your first fold
Brush off any excess flour. Fold in thirds, like you did before
stretching the corners gently to square off the dough, forming a 10x 5-inch (25cm x 12 cm) rectangle. You just did the first fold!
Chill, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap for 1 hour.
Make 3 more folds in same manner, chilling dough 1 hour after each fold, for a total of 4 folds. If any butter oozes out while rolling, sprinkle with flour to prevent sticking.
Wrap dough tightly in plastic wrap and chill at least 8 hours but no more than 18.
You need to mark in some way that you have completed a fold of your pastry. I chose to put a small indent in the corner of my pastry with the blunt end of a skewer, each time I did a fold, adding one more each time. Some people prefer to write the number they are up to on a piece of parchment under the dough. What ever method you choose, do keep track otherwise you are going to find yourself taking the dough out of the fridge and thinking .. “hmm was this fold three or four?”
Rolling and Shaping your Croissant
This is the fun part- at least I thought it was. Turning your pastry dough into croissant. Croissant means crescent, but it’s perfectly acceptable to also have a croissant that is straight. I’ll give a few instructions here, but there are some excellent video resources on this that I strongly suggest you watch if you have not rolled a croissant before. I’ll give you those at the end of the post.
Divide your dough in half - unless you have a very large work surface. Place the remaining half in the fridge while you roll and shape the first half. Roll your dough out to roughly 13 inches (33 cm) height and as wide as needed to obtain 1/8th of an inch (3mm) thickness.
You are going to cut your dough into triangles - like the photo below You’ll notice mine are not that even and some are slightly larger than others. This does matter, different sizes like mine - are not good.
Next time I will take a ruler and mark an even base for the triangles along the length of the dough. I would say roughly between 4 and 5 inches (10.5cm to 13 cm) at the base of the triangle is a good size. The smaller ones cooked a little quicker - but Isaac was pretty happy to eat a pile of them with plum jelly.
Make a small cut - as shown in the base of each triangle, this helps you get a nice roll.
There is no specific size to cut your dough to - but this recipe makes roughly 24 croissant. So aim for roughly 12 triangles for half of the dough. I’ll make these a little larger next time, because we like slightly larger croissant. So I might make 20 out of this batch of dough.
Next you are going to fold the sides of the cut you made, back - like this.
This is the end you will start rolling from. When you roll this - have the pointed end away from your body and the wide end closest to your body.
When you reach about 2/3 of the way, then turn it around so the pointy bit is pointing at you and pull gently on the pointy bit slightly to hold it slightly taught .. as you continue to roll the croissant with your other hand. This makes more sense when you see it done. Do watch the video here for a great demonstration of cutting and rolling croissant.
You should end up with something that looks like this.
Set them on parchment paper on a baking tray and leave to rise, covered with a cloth in a warm place until triple the size.
Brush with an egg wash made by lightly beating a whole egg and bake at 180C/350F for roughly 15 minutes. They should be dark golden.
Leave to cool before eating. If you eat them hot from the oven they will collapse. If you can resist temptation long enough to let them cool you will have them just as they should be. Crispy and flaky on the outside with little crumbs that shatter when you bite them, soft and buttery on the inside.
If you want you can leave the egg wash off. You’ll still get a lovely croissant, it will just not have the shine. One without the egg wash looks like this one below.
If you have some free time - do give these a try, they are not as difficult as you might think, but they do take a long time.
Thank you Nancy for suggesting these, I really enjoyed making and eating them! I’ll post soon about the chocolate variation.