Feb 25, 2013

Classic Butter Croissants | We Knead To Bake #2


Croissants are a set of delicious, rich, buttery and flaky French bread which are flaky on the outside with soft fluffy buttery layers of bread inside. It's definitely a favorite at our home! The thought of making them at home has crossed my mind a few times but I would have never taken the bold step had it not been for this months We Knead to Bake #2. 

So last Saturday morning I woke up at 6am (yeah...even I can't believe it), thinking I'll read the instructions provided by Aparna (who is the mastermind of the group project We Knead to Bake , baking one bread every month for the whole of 2013) and start with baking and was quite surprised to see it was a 3 day process. But it just required a small amount of time each of the 3 days, so its not as laborious as it sounds.
Day 1 starts by making a soft elastic & pliable dough and refrigerating the dough for atleast 8-12 hrs or overnight.
Day 2 involves rolling out the dough, layering with butter and rolling and folding the dough 3 times and refrigerating the folded dough again for 8-12 hrs or overnight.
Day 3 is when the dough is rolled, cut into triangles, shaped to form croissants , proofed for 2 hrs and baked to golden brown and then eaten! LOL!

I must definitely say thanks to my handy dandy little tools that helped me with Croissant making. What would I do without thee ;-)

And apparently my roller couldn't stand the pressure of rolling too much and snapped ...but I just put it back on and went on with the rolling. Hmmm...time to get me a new roller :-)

The most excitement comes on the 3rd day when you finally shape the croissants and apply egg wash, wait for it to proof and bake away.  The sense of achievement is just too high, wouldn't you agree? 
I used only one half of the whole dough and made 7 croissants and used even the scraps to make 4 mini ones. Here are some visuals for you to enjoy.

 

The Croissants tasted much better than the ones I buy from my local grocery here…the taste of  hard labor is definitely good . Here’s how they looked from inside.


Some tips that I felt might help you in planning and making these Croissants:
If you are planning to make Croissants over the weekend and wanna enjoy them for Sunday breakfast, plan to get the dough ready on Friday night and follow the instruction for Day 2 (i.e. on Saturday) and on Day3 (i.e. Sunday) enjoy some butter flaky homemade croissants

OR Make it in two days, by combining Day1 and Day2 activities on same day:
Day 1 : Start making the dough really early in the morning (by around 7am), refrigerate for 12 hrs and by 7pm start doing the Day2 activities and refrigerate overnight (give it 12 hrs)
Day 2 : Continue with all the Day3 activities and enjoy some scrumptious homemade Croissants & you can thank me later :-P

Disclaimer:
I've literally copied the same recipe and instructions as the one that Aparna had provided as I know I cant do justice to this recipe and technique by writing it myself.
For the original link and more tips please check out Aparna's space.  I have given my experience at the end of each step.

Watch this video once you read the instructions as it gives a really good understanding of rolling the dough and shaping the croissants :


Classic Butter Croissants
Recipe source : Adapted from Jeffrey Hamelman’s recipe at Fine Cooking
                                                                                                                                          
You'll need
For the dough:
All-purpose flour - 4 cups  (plus more for dusting and rolling the dough)
Cold water - 1/2 cup + 2 tblsp
Cold Milk - 1/2 cup + 2 tblsp  (I used skim milk)
Granulated Sugar - 1/4 cup
Soft unsalted Butter  - 40gm (almost 3 tblsp)
Instant Yeast - 1 tblsp + scant 1/2 tsp
Salt - 2 tsp
For the butter layer:
Cold unsalted Butter - 250 gm  (almost 2 sticks + 2 tblsp butter =  approx 18 tblsp butter)
For brushing over the shaped Croissants
1 egg for egg wash (Or else use 1/4 cup of cold milk or Milk + Cream to brush the dough)

Directions
Day 1
Make the dough (and refrigerate overnight)
1. Combine all the ingredients for the dough in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook or do this by hand.
2. Mix everything on low speed for 2-3 minutes, scraping the sides of the mixing bowl once if necessary. Then mix further on medium speed for 2-3 minutes. Lightly flour a 10-inch pie pan or a dinner plate.  And place the ball of dough on this.
3. Gently shape the dough into a flat ball by pressing it down before storing it in the fridge, this makes rolling out next morning easier. Making a tight ball will strengthen the gluten which you do not need. Lightly dust the top of the dough with flour and wrap well with plastic so it doesn’t dry out. Refrigerate overnight.
(My experience : I made the dough at 10:30pm. The dough was a bit dry and hard for me, I guess I over kneaded, so knead only till the dough seems soft and pliable - if hard add 1 or 2 tsp of cold milk and knead again)

Day 2
Make the butter layer
1. Cut out 2 pieces of parchment or waxed paper into 10 inch squares each.  
2. Cut the cold butter into 1/2-inch-thick slabs. Place these pieces on one piece of parchment/ waxed paper so they form a 5- to 6-inch square. Cut the butter further into pieces as required to fit the square. Top with the other piece of parchment/ waxed paper.
3. Using a rolling pin, pound the butter with light, even strokes. As the pieces begin to stick together, use more force. Pound the butter until it flattens out evenly into a square that’s approximately 7-1/2”. Trim the edges of the butter to make a neat square. 
4. Put the trimmings on top of the square and pound them in lightly with the rolling pin. Refrigerate this while you roll out the dough. 
(My experience: I started next day at 11am. Making the butter layer was rather simple , I was only hoping the people living downstairs wouldn't mind me banging on the butter for so long :-) )

Laminate the dough
1. Unwrap and lay the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Roll it out to a 10.5 inch square. 
2. Take the butter out from the refrigerator (it should be cold but pliable - if not cold then refrigerate till it is). Unwrap the butter and place it on the square of dough in the centre, so that it forms a “diamond” shape on the dough.
3. Fold one flap of dough over the butter toward you, stretching it slightly so that the point just reaches the middle of the butter square. Bring the opposite flap to the middle, slightly overlapping the previous one. Similarly repeat with the other two so that the dough forms an envelope around the butter. Lightly press the edges together to completely seal the butter inside the dough to ensure the butter doesn’t escape when you roll out the dough later. 
4. Lightly flour the top and bottom of the dough. With the rolling pin, firmly press along the dough uniformly to elongate it slightly. Now begin rolling , focusing on lengthening rather than widening the dough and keeping the edges straight.
5. Roll the dough into an 8” x 24” rectangle. If the ends lose their square shape, gently reshape the corners with your hands. Brush off the excess flour. 
6. Mark the dough lightly equally into three along the long side. Using this as a guideline, pick up one short end of the dough and fold 1/3rd of it back over the dough, so that 1/3rd of the other end of dough is exposed. Now fold the 1/3rd exposed dough over the folded side. Basically, the dough is folded like 3-fold letter before it goes into an envelope (letter fold). 
7. Put 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.
8. Repeat the rolling and folding, this time rolling in the direction of the two open ends (from the shorter sides to lengthen the longer sides) until the dough is about 8” by 24”. Once again fold the dough in thirds, brushing off excess flour and turning under any rounded edges or short ends with exposed or smeared layers. Cover once again with plastic wrap and freeze for another 15 to 20 minutes.
9. Roll and fold the dough exactly in the same way for the third time and put it baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap, tucking the plastic under all four sides and refrigerate overnight. 
(My experience: This seriously required some elbow grease and a lot of hand muscle action...Patience to refrigerate often and watching the video every 2 minutes helped me with the lamination steps, I guess it took me about 2 hrs :-) Stick to the exact measurements. )   

Day 3:
Divide the dough
1. The next day, unwrap and lightly flour the top and bottom of the dough. Cut the dough along the longer side into halves. Cover one half with plastic wrap and refrigerate it while working on the other half.
2. “Wake up the dough up” by pressing firmly along its length with the rolling pin. Don’t widen the dough but simply begin to lengthen it with these first strokes. Slowly roll the dough into a long and narrow strip, approximately 8” by 22”. If the dough sticks as you roll, sprinkle with flour.
3. 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.  
4. 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.
5. With a measuring ruler 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 yardstick at the top corner and the first bottom mark. 
6. Use a pizza wheel/ pie wheel or a bench scraper and 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.  
(My experience : I started 3rd day at 7 amThis step was fairly easy, I used only half the dough and have frozen the other half after shaping. Try to get the exact measurements as mentioned in the recipe)

Shape the croissants
1. 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. 
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. Roll the triangle tight enough but not too tight to compress it, until you reach the “pointy” end which should be under the croissant.
5. 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).
6. 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.  
(My experience : Very easy. This step gets you damn excited and you almost feel like you're croissants are ready...well almost ;-) )

Proof the croissants
1. Make an egg wash by whisking one egg with 1 tsp water in a small bowl until very smooth . Brush the croissants with eggwash or else use milk or a mix of milk and cream. Lightly brush this on each croissant.
(Refrigerate the remaining egg wash or milk/ milk+cream for brushing the croissants again later)
2. 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.  
(My experience: My shaped croissants weren't visibly larger even after proofing for 2.5 hrs, I guess its b'coz of my over-kneading the dough effect. But the end result was fine...)

Bake the croissants
1. Just before the croissants are fully proofed, pre-heat your oven to 200C (400F) in a convection oven or 220C (425F) in a regular oven. 
2. Brush the croissants with egg wash or milk/ milk+cream a second time, and place your baking sheets on the top and lower thirds of your oven (if regular) or bake one tray at a time in the convection oven.
3. Bake them for about 15 to 20 minutes till they’re done and golden brown on top and just beginning to brown at the sides. In a regular oven, remember to turn your baking sheets halfway through. If they  seem to be darkening too quickly during baking, lower the oven temperature by 10C (25F). Cool the croissants on the baking sheets on racks. Serve warm. 
(My experience : My croissants were done by 11am. You have seen my results....they were great!! )

This recipe makes 15 croissants in total.


-Manju



26 comments:

  1. these looks really lovely, manju... in fact better than the store bought ones...

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  2. So flaky and yum... Would love it for breakfast

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  3. Wow, this is true professional preparation, looks amazing. check my blog for the gorgeous cup cake with cream cheese frosting.

    chitchat

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  4. delightful platter! Very nicely done croissants and pictoral too.

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  5. Well made..looks so good... Nice and flaky!!

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  6. Manju, I think you done a perfect job at this. And you have explained it so so well... like I said I am not a big fan of croissants for the voulmne of butter in them but still in a life of a baker this has to be in the list to try ;)... kudos to you on making them so perfect...

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  7. My patience level is low so 3 days seems too long time..I would come to your place whenever I feel like enjoying these freshly baked croissants

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  8. Ellam theerno Manju ? When i bake this i will ask u for tips...when I think of seriously cutting down my baking, posts like this is tempting me not too...ur croissants came out so well,they look like the store bought ones..u deserve a pat on ur back for 3 days effort :)

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  9. Perfectly baked . looks too good Manju

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  10. beautiful croissants,made perfect and neatly explained dear:)

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  11. omg, they looks simply awesome manju, they came out extremely fabulous and much more flaky then mine,loving it.

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  12. Wow! Manju u r really rocking. Its not an easy task to pull this one. You have done a fab job!

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  13. shows your hard work dear :)

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  14. Wow this looks fantastic, so beautiful !!

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  15. My hats off to you Manju!! I would never be able to do such delicate work like making croissants. Well done. :)

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  16. Wow it looks amazing!!! I would like to have a couple for breakfast :)

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  17. Hey Manju !! What an awesome attempt at making these Croissants! they look lovely!

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  18. looks gorgeous and perfect...
    first time here..
    follower to your blog..
    visit my blog..
    http://foody-buddy.blogspot.com/

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  19. Croissants looks super gal...Nicely explained..

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