Saturday, January 7, 2012

Croissants

Makes 16-22 (16 with special cutting tool; 22 by hand-measuring method , below)

Here's a helpful checklist for each of the steps (for people who are already familiar with this recipe but have a hard time keeping track of your steps).

NOTES: 

1. European-style butter (Kerrygold, Plugra, Lurpak) has a higher butterfat content, which makes it easier to fold into the dough.

2.  We recommend using King Arthur All-Purpose Flour, which has a slightly higher protein content than other all-purpose flours. Other brands of all-purpose flour will produce acceptable croissants, but they will lack the stature and layering achieved with a higher-protein all-purpose flour.

3.  Do not attempt to make these croissants in a room that is warmer than 80 degrees.

4.  Cool the working surface with ice packs to get and keep the surface cooled.

5.  If at any time during rolling the dough retracts, dust it lightly with flour, fold it loosely, cover it, and return it to the freezer to rest for 10 to 15 minutes.

6.  To wrap the baking sheet with plastic wrap, plan on removing the plastic wrap from its carton and guide the entire roll of plastic over the sheet several times, as if wrapping a bandage around a wound. Or, as shown in the video, lay out a long piece of plastic wrap on the counter, lay the pan lengthwise down on it, and fold the ends over, pinching the sides together.

7.  If using a special croissant-cutting tool--part rolling-pin, part knife--in Steps 24-27, roll the prepared dough to the same length as directed, but only twice as wide as the cutting tool itself.

8.  This recipe makes 22 croissants. You may bake up to 12 croissants at a time; the remaining croissants may be frozen after shaping (see “Make-Ahead” directions at very end of recipe). 
9. You can see an excellent video demonstrating this recipe here.


INGREDIENTS and SUPPLIES
Standing mixer with dough hook
Lots of plastic wrap
Lots of parchment paper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 ¾ cup whole milk
4 teaspoons instant or rapid rise yeast
4 ¼ cups (21 ¼ ounces; 1 lb 5-1/4 oz) all-purpose flour (King Arthur, recommended)
¼ cup sugar
2 tsp salt
24 tablespoons (12 ounces) unsalted European-style butter, very cold

For egg wash at end
1 large egg
1 tablespoon cold water


MAKE THEM; FORM THEM; FREEZE THEM.  
....EVENTUALLY ENJOY THEM!

PREPARATION

1. Melt butter in 2-quart saucepan over low heat.  (NOTE: At the same time, gently warm the milk a bit in a separate pan or bowl.  In 2-cup measurer, power 6 for 50-60 secs)

2. Remove butter from heat and immediately whisk in milk.

3. Transfer lukewarm milk mixture to bowl of standing mixer (temperature should be lower than 90 degrees. If it's too warm, continue to gently whisk mixture to cool it).

4.  Whisk in yeast.

5.  Add flour, sugar and 2 teaspoons salt.

6.  Using dough hook, knead on low speed until cohesive dough forms, 2 to 3 minutes.

7.  Increase speed to medium-low and knead for 1 minute.

8.  Remove bowl from mixer, remove dough hook, and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

9.  Prepare rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  The small half-sheet baking sheet is perfect for Step 10--and easier to wrap!

10.  Transfer dough to work surface or directly onto half-sheet baking sheet and loosely shape into 10- by 7- inch rectangle about 1 inch thick. Place dough on parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate 2 hours.  It seemed to be okay to have a towel over the baking sheet in this step.

11.  Prepare the parchment paper “envelope.” Fold 24- by 15-inch piece of parchment in half to create a 12- by 15-inch rectangle. Fold over three open sides of rectangle to form to form 8-inch square enclosed rectangle (photo #1). Crease folds firmly.

12.  Place cold butter directly on work surface and beat with rolling pin until butter is just pliable, but not warm, folding butter in on itself using bench scraper. Beat into rough 6- by 6-inch rectangle.

13.  Unfold parchment envelope, and using bench scraper transfer butter to parchment rectangle, re-folding at creases to enclose.

14.  Gently roll butter inside of envelope with rolling pin to fill parchment rectangle, taking care to achieve an even thickness (photo #2). Refrigerate envelope.

15.  Transfer dough to freezer for 30 minutes.  It seemed okay to still have the dough covered by a towel.

16.  After 30 minutes, transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and roll into 16- by 8-inch rectangle.

17. Unwrap refrigerated butter and place in center of dough aligning shorter sides of dough and butter rectangles.

18.  Following the video, fold two sides of dough over butter so they meet in center of butter rectangle. Press seam together.

19.  With rolling pin, press firmly on each open end of packet to “seal” the edges. Roll dough out lengthwise until it is 24 inches long and 8 inches wide.

The subsequent sections are color-highlighted in the hopes to keep better track of where we are in this part of the process.

20.  Following the video, bring bottom third of dough up, then fold upper third over it, folding like business letter into 8-inch square. Turn dough 90 degrees, roll lengthwise again to 24-inches and fold into thirds again.

21.  Place dough on rimmed baking sheet, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and return to freezer for 30 minutes.  Used plastic wrap here-on-out: it seems to help keep the moisture in.

22.  Roll dough out again to 24” long by 8” wide, and fold into thirds one final time for total of three times. DO NOT rotate for this final step.  Then place dough on baking sheet, wrap again in plastic wrap, and place in *refrigerator* for 2 hours.

23.  Transfer dough to freezer for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, transfer to lightly floured work surface and roll into 18- by 16-inch rectangle. (If dough begins to retract, fold in thirds, wrap, and return to freezer for 10 minutes.)

24.  Following the video, fold upper half of dough over lower half.

25.  Following the video, use ruler to mark dough at 3-inch intervals along bottom edge with bench scraper

26.  Following the video, move ruler top of dough, measure in 1 ½ inches from left, then use this mark to measure out 3-inch intervals.

27.  Following the video, use sharp pizza wheel or knife to cut dough into triangles from mark to mark. You will have 12 triangles and 5 diamonds.

28.  Cut diamonds in half crosswise to form 10 triangles (making 22 in all). If dough begins to soften, return to freezer for 10 minutes.  

28.  To shape croissant, position triangle on work surface with point facing toward you.

29.  Cut 1-inch slit in center of short end of triangle. Following photo #9, grasp triangle by two corners at top, and stretch gently, then grasp bottom point and stretch.

30.  Following the video positioning palms on two outer points of base, roll base toward point. To finish, gently grasp point with one hand and stretch; continue to roll, tucking point underneath. Curve ends gently.

31.  Evenly space formed croissants on two parchment-lined rimmed baking sheets, leaving at least 2 ½ inches between croissants, 6 croissants per tray. Wrap baking sheets with plastic wrap. (If desired, shaped croissants may be wrapped and refrigerated for up to 18 hours before the final rise. Allow an extra 30 to 60 minutes for rising.)

32.  Let stand at room temperature until doubled in size but still firm, 2 ½ to 3 hours.
Once the dough is made and shaped, pay attention to the proofing process. During this last rise, the many layers of butter in the dough should remain cool. If the room is too warm, the butter will melt. Instead of forming flaky layers in the oven, the butter will leak out of the dough, covering the baking sheet in a pool of liquid butter and "frying" the bottoms of the croissants in the process. To prevent this, pick a cool room temperature spot for proofing the croissants, preferably 65° to 70°F. Once they have risen, chill the croissants in the freezer for 10 minutes or in the refrigerator for 15 minutes just prior to baking. This will firm the butter, ensuring beautifully flaky croissants.

33. When croissants have been rising for about 2 hours, adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and preheat oven to 425 degrees.

34.  In small bowl, whisk together egg, water, and pinch of salt.

35.  Brush croissants with egg wash using soft pastry brush.

36.  Place in oven and lower temperature to 400 degrees. After 12 minutes, rotate pans from front to back and top to bottom. Continue to bake until deep golden brown, 8 to 12 minutes longer.

37.  Cool croissants or wire rack until warm, about 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Make-Ahead: Once shaped, croissants can be placed on parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving 1 inch space between.

For next day baking, REFRIGERATE: Shaped croissants can be refrigerated for up to 18 hours. Remove from refrigerator to rise and add at least 30 minutes to rising time of 2 ½ to 3 hours.

For future baking, FREEZE: Wrap with plastic wrap and freeze until solid, about 2 hours. Transfer croissants from baking sheet to zipper lock bag. Freeze for up to 2 months. To bake: Thaw and let rise for a total of 6-8 hours “proofing” time.  Bake as described above. See especially point 32 about preventing butter leakage.



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