Thursday, April 18, 2013

Your Best Croissant Recipe and Technique

If anyone is ever wondering which Croissant recipe and technique has been the best, I highly recommend two books -  the forming technique illustrated in the Baking with Julia Child and recipe/technique in Tartine Bread bring the best result.  Of course, this is my personal opinion, and practice always make it better.  One of the Youtube favorite of mine that I reference is:  by Pino Ficara.  You can test and try and mix all techniques that will fit your kitchen.  Eventually, you will produce the best croissants for your family, ... and like me -- love to take the pictures of Croissants at any angle.  "They are beautiful!"

How many layers have you achieved during pulling and rolling?  6? 9?
I personally do adjust the recipe to have less 'butter" in the butter block, but if it's your first time, follow the recipe to achieve your buttery layers you desire and think layer look you want vs bread like center.

Your croissant crumb color is all up to you.  However, traditionally, it should be 'dark' chocolate brown as the 'complete'.  Because I can't eat all 24 croissants in one setting, I want to be able to reheat them in the toaster oven a few days later without drying them out or have the burnt taste, so I prefer to bake them till they are just 'beautiful'.

Try and bake and enjoy!

All right.  Quite a few have asked for the recipe.   For your convenience, here it is.
Tools:  Pastry brush, French rolling pin, or long rolling pin, Pizza cutter, a ruler, Saran Wrap and a  Plastic container with tight lid, Digital scale, and other normal baking tools.

CROISSANT Ingredients:
Nonfat Milk 6 oz       ( Plus Warm water - 1/2 C)
Active Dry Yeast 15 ml
AP Flour 6-1/4 oz or 175 g

Active Dry Yeast   25 ml   - 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp
Whole Milk   425 ml or 1 Cup warm whole milk plus 1/4 C warm water
AP Flour   800 g - of the 6 Cups, save 1/2 Cup for the work surface
Sugar   70 g
Salt    2 tsp
Unsalted Butter, melted   15 ml - 1 TB

Roll-In Butter:
Unsalted Butter - Cold but pliable - 1 pound  But I only used 625 g
AP Flour - 1/3 C

Egg Wash:
Large Egg Yolks   4
Heavy Cream   60 ml
Salt    pinch

1.   Make Preferment - In a Mixer bowl  with paddle attachment - Add 6oz of non-fat milk (or regular milk) to flour and yeast.  Mix and check consistency of the dough.  Add  warm water 2 TBsp at a time to build puggy soft dough but not wet or tough.   Mix just enough to incorporate - 1 to 2 min.  Transfer to lightly oiled bowl/container with cover.   Set it aside to rise till bubbly and light.

2.   Make Butter Block - Cut butter into large chunks and with fingers mash some of them 'a bit' and coat butter chunks with flour.  Place the floured butter between two sheets of wax paper.  With floured Rolling pin and pastry scraper -  beat the butter to flatten and scrape the side form into  to approx. 1/2 inch thick block. Wrap it and Refrige for 30 min.  (Butter block should be of the same consistency as the dough when ready to fold the butter block in.). 

3.   Make Dough - Half way waiting for the preferment, in a mixer bowl with Paddle attachment or by hand in a large mixing bowl - add all ingredients and half of 425 ml of whole milk.  Mix. The dough should be shaggy.  Stop - cover the bowl and wait for preferment. 
Add preferment to the dough.  Add the rest of the liquid and knead.  
Important tip:  The dough should feel soft - Add tablespoon more of warm water at a time to make sure the dough is quite moist.    Mix for 8 minutes.  The dough is tacky.

4.   Cover with plastic wrap.  Place in a large rectangular plastic ware, if you have oneRefrigerate for 30 minutes.

5.   Take out the dough and butter block.   The dough should be soft without much resistance.   Roll out  the dough into round mound.  Use a scissor and make a criss-cross cut on the top and pull each cut side open and flatten the center a bit.  It looks like a flattened and squared star-fish.  
or roll out into a large rectangle shape - large enough to enclose the butter block.

6.   Place the butter block in the center of the flattened and squared star-like dough.   Then fold each arms in toward the center to enclose the butter block.   If your dough is a rectangle shape, place the butter block in center and fold the butter with the right and left side of the dough.  Then using your hand's end of the palm to press down the top and bottom open ends to seal the butter.    
Or use other methods described at the URL mentioned at the top of this blog.  But my testing show that the butter block made by premixing the butter with some flour turned out the best with the home oven, unless you have one of those beautiful commercial hot convection oven for home.    Butter would not wooze out before the croissants are baked.

7.   With butter block enclosed int he dough, roll the dough from center to 1/2 to 1 inch away from the edge in each direaction to shape into large rectangle.

Fold the dough in to thirds.  Brush off the extra flour off the dough with pastry brush as you fold the right and left dough over to the center.  
Wrap tight and refrigerate for 30 minutes.   Preferably in a large rectangle plastic container - to hold shape.

8.  Repeat the folding process 3 times.   Refrigerate for 30 minutes each time. 
** After the 3rd foldings - you could - wrap it up tightly and let the dough rest in refrigerator overnight. wake up at 4 am, form the croissants, let rise and bake at by 8 am for fresh croissants for the family.   Or can be kept frozen till needed.  

9.    Prepare baking sheets with parchment paper or with Silpat.

10.    If Frozen - Take out the dough out of the refrigerator 1 hour before the next step.   If you want to fill the croissants with raisins, almond paste, chocolate, etc. gather them now.     Set them aside. 

10a.    On a work surface 'barely lightly' floured or 'barely oiled' surface, unwrap the dough and beat the dough with rolling pin - a good wack several times, but carefully not to tear the dough..  

10.   Roll into large rectangle.   Using a ruler, measure the dough out and slice the dough with a Pizza slicer into triangle shape.  Each triangle should have cleanly sliced edge.  The extra dough can be cut into equal pieces and tucked in center of each croissant as a 'tummy'.

11.   Foming  Croissants -  Moisten fingers.    Hold two pointy ends of the wider end and Pull out to elongate. Roll the dough over the extra dough pieces or fillings to cover.   Move the free hand right above the first roll at the bottom by  stretching the dough toward the narrow tip at the same time you roll the 'tummy' side of the dough upward - hopefully  the stretch is double its original length.   
Tip: **This will tell you if you added enough water or not at the beginning.  So be sure to make a note of the amount of liquid to the particular bag of flour you used that day.  And if you are going to use the same bag of flour, you will know to add or subtract liquid the next time.....

Suggestions:  Curve the ends of the unfilled croissant  and place on baking sheet.    Keep the filled croissants with goodies straight or vice versa.

13.  Brush with egg wash without sealing the cut edges.   (Cover and refrigerate the extras.)

14.  Let rise in warm kitchen till double to tripple in size.
Preheat oven to 425'F - about 15 minutes before the croissants reach its double+ size.

15.  Brush again with egg wash - very gently - before baking.
Bake for 12 minutes or until beautiful dark brown.

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