Finally that day has come, for my first Daring Bakers post on my blog. I made the croissants for this post on the 17th, but no one was allowed to post until the 27th. So, I waited. This was incredibly difficult, mind you.
Now I can actually talk about them. Well, if you have never made croisants before, they take about 12 hours from start to finish; 13 if you are me, and are inherently slow. But I, even knowing this already still wanted to try out making gluten-free croissants. I used the recipe for gluten-free croissants that had been used on someone else’s blog, and, well the results were quite poor. Was it because of the flours you used, was it too hot? You may ask these, but it was in fact something that you wouldn’t think would be the main problem in gluten-free baking, it was the butter. Normally, croissants are a basic bread dough folded around a stick or so of butter. This means that for 12 croissants there would be less than a tablespoon butter for each croissant. Now the gluten-free recipe was suspicious from the beginning. It called for a stick of butter in the dough along with cream cheese and cottage cheese, in addition to the stick of butter rolled in. I made them anyways, and that didn’t work too well because, yes, actually, it was way too hot for croissants. But the second batch kind of worked. Now, I had to try them, even if they looked quite strange, and upon the first bite knew why you should never put so much butter in a croissant. It was like eating plain butter, and even though I like butter, this was actually too much.
Because I am on the topic of croissants, I feel the need to provide you with the story of the last time I made them. I feel a little bad mentioning it, not wanting to deter you, but to remind you that something that seems the smallest can have the biggest impact. So, this Spring I made croissants for my English class because I read “My Life in France.” I had to make them on a Sunday that way they would be fresh, and I also had to make 24 instead of 12; a double batch. This took a very long time, 16 hours, actually, and I ended up burning a few of them at the very end. It was merely because we had left something on the vent which built up smoke inside the oven. All that time I had been afraid they wouldn’t rise and that turned out not to be the problem at all. Yet all wasn’t lost because I was able to rescue most of them. So, my warning is not to become lax towards the end because you are so tired of croissants and end up wasting all of your days work.
Anyways, so I gave up on gluten-free croissants. That will be a challenge for another day. I turned my energies back to gluten croissants which I had made before. They actually turned out wonderfully. Though I had thought of all these wonderful things to bake into them, such as honey and lobster (not together, mind you) I never got around to them. The croissants do not end up very big, as the recipe makes 12, yet they will still be nice and flakey on the outside and moist and spidery within. I believe you can make the croissants bigger, because I think some of the pictures people posted for Daring Bakers were done making larger croissants from the same dough amount. Anyways, I encourage you to make croissants. There is very little manual labor, just a lot of waiting around until you have to make the next turn of the dough. The recipe, as printed on the Daring Kitchen site is below:
Preparation time: In total, 12 hours.
Making dough, 10 mins
First rise, 3 hours
Kneading and folding, 5 mins
Second rise, 1.5 hours (or overnight in the fridge)
Rolling in the butter (turns one and two), 15 mins
First rest, 2 hours
Turns three and four, 10 mins
Second rest, 2 hours (or overnight in the fridge)
Forming croissants, 30 mins
Final rise, 1 hour (or longer in the fridge)
Baking, 15 mins
• Measuring cups
• Measuring spoons
• Mixing bowls of numerous sizes
• Rubber spatula
• Plastic bag
• Pastry scraper
• Counter space or board for rolling and kneading
• Rolling pin
• Plastic wrap
• Baking tray
From Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume 2
Servings: 12 croissants
¼ oz (7 gm) of fresh yeast, or 1¼ teaspoon (6¼ ml/4 gm) of dry-active yeast (about ½ sachet)
3 tablespoons (45 ml) warm water (less than 100°F/38°C)
1 teaspoon (5 ml/4½ gm) sugar
1 3/4 cups (225 gm/½ lb) of strong plain flour (I used Polish all-purpose flour, which is 13% protein)
2 teaspoons (10 ml/9 gm) sugar
1½ teaspoon (7½ ml/9 gm) salt
½ cup (120 ml/¼ pint) milk (I am not sure if the fat content matters. I used 2%)
2 tablespoons (30 ml) tasteless oil (I used generic vegetable oil)
½ cup (120 ml/1 stick/115 gm/¼ lb) chilled, unsalted butter (In Mastering, Julia actually says you can use up to 1 3/4 stick, but it is more difficult to work with)
1 egg, for egg wash
1. Mix the yeast, warm water, and first teaspoon of sugar in a small bowl. Leave aside for the yeast and sugar to dissolve and the yeast to foam up a little.
2. Measure out the other ingredients
3. Heat the milk until tepid (either in the microwave or a saucepan), and dissolve in the salt and remaining sugar
4. Place the flour in a large bowl.
5. Add the oil, yeast mixture, and milk mixture to the flour
6. Mix all the ingredients together using the rubber spatula, just until all the flour is incorporated
7. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and let it rest a minute while you wash out the bowl
8. Knead the dough eight to ten times only. The best way is as Julia Child does it in the video (see below). It’s a little difficult to explain, but essentially involves smacking the dough on the counter (lots of fun if you are mad at someone) and removing it from the counter using the pastry scraper.
9. Place the dough back in the bowl, and place the bowl in the plastic bag
10. Leave the bowl at approximately 75°F/24°C for three hours, or until the dough has tripled in size. 11. After the dough has tripled in size, remove it gently from the bowl, pulling it away from the sides of the bowl with your fingertips.
12. Place the dough on a lightly floured board or countertop, and use your hands to press it out into a rectangle about 8 by 12 inches (20cm by 30cm).
13. Fold the dough rectangle in three, like a letter (fold the top third down, and then the bottom third up) 14. Place the dough letter back in the bowl, and the bowl back in the plastic bag.
15. Leave the dough to rise for another 1.5 hours, or until it has doubled in size. This second rise can be done overnight in the fridge
16. Place the double-risen dough onto a plate and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place the plate in the fridge while you prepare the butter.
17. Once the dough has doubled, it’s time to incorporate the butter
18. Place the block of chilled butter on a chopping board.
19. Using the rolling pin, beat the butter down a little, till it is quite flat.
20. Use the heel of your hand to continue to spread the butter until it is smooth. You want the butter to stay cool, but spread easily.
21. Remove the dough from the fridge and place it on a lightly floured board or counter. Let it rest for a minute or two.
22. Spread the dough using your hands into a rectangle about 14 by 8 inches (35 cm by 20 cm).
23. Remove the butter from the board, and place it on the top half of the dough rectangle
24. Spread the butter all across the top two-thirds of the dough rectangle, but keep it ¼ inch (6 mm) across from all the edges.
25. Fold the top third of the dough down, and the bottom third of the dough up.
26. Turn the dough package 90 degrees, so that the top flap is to your right (like a book).
27. Roll out the dough package (gently, so you don’t push the butter out of the dough) until it is again about 14 by 8 inches (35 cm by 20 cm).
28. Again, fold the top third down and the bottom third up.
29. Wrap the dough package in plastic wrap, and place it in the fridge for 2 hours.
30. After two hours have passed, take the dough out of the fridge and place it again on the lightly floured board or counter.
31. Tap the dough with the rolling pin, to deflate it a little
32. Let the dough rest for 8 to 10 minutes
33. Roll the dough package out till it is 14 by 8 inches (35 cm by 20 cm).
34. Fold in three, as before
35. Turn 90 degrees, and roll out again to 14 by 8 inches (35 cm by 20 cm).
36. Fold in three for the last time, wrap in plastic, and return the dough package to the fridge for two more hours (or overnight, with something heavy on top to stop it from rising)
37. It’s now time to cut the dough and shape the croissants
38. First, lightly butter your baking sheet so that it is ready
39. Take the dough out of the fridge and let it rest for ten minutes on the lightly floured board or counter
40. Roll the dough out into a 20 by 5 inch rectangle (51 cm by 12½ cm).
41. Cut the dough into two rectangles (each 10 by 5 inches (25½ cm by 12½ cm))
42. Place one of the rectangles in the fridge, to keep the butter cold
43. Roll the second rectangle out until it is 15 by 5 inches (38 cm by 12½ cm).
44. Cut the rectangle into three squares (each 5 by 5 inches (12½ cm by 12½ cm))
45. Place two of the squares in the fridge
46. The remaining square may have shrunk up a little bit in the meantime. Roll it out again till it is nearly square
47. Cut the square diagonally into two triangles.
48. Stretch the triangle out a little, so it is not a right-angle triangle, but more of an isosceles.
49. Starting at the wide end, roll the triangle up towards the point, and curve into a crescent shape.
50. Place the unbaked croissant on the baking sheet
51. Repeat the process with the remaining squares of dough, creating 12 croissants in total.
52. Leave the tray of croissants, covered lightly with plastic wrap, to rise for 1 hour
53. Preheat the oven to very hot 475°F/240°C/gas mark 9.
54. Mix the egg with a teaspoon of water
55. Spread the egg wash across the tops of the croissants.
56. Put the croissants in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until the tops are browned nicely
57. Take the croissants out of the oven, and place them on a rack to cool for 10 minutes before serving.