First off, I’d like to say that it has been an incredibly busy and exciting month, hence the lack of updates. It all ended a few days ago, when I finally graduated from high school (that was pretty exciting…)! Now that it’s summer break, I’m free to bake as much as I want and I am most definitely taking advantage of all the time. I will, however, be heading off to Europe for the next few weeks, and you all will hear everything about it of course.
Now, I’ll always remember having a cappuccino and croissant for breakfast every single day in Italy, and I still crave that at times. The croissants you find in grocery stores, or often even in cafes, here just don’t compare, and I’d always thought making croissants would be an incredibly difficult and laborious process.
I was totally wrong (thankfully). While you do have to set aside half a day to make this (especially if you’re doing it for the first time), the steps are simple. The results, however, are incredible.
The most important, and main) ingredient is unsurprisingly butter. You basically wrap a piece of dough around a slab of butter, folding and rolling it out until there are too many layers to count, creating a laminated dough. That’s what makes it amazing. And since butter is the star here, the type/quality of butter is also important. Look for a high butterfat/low moisture content butter, like Plugra. Plugra can be found at Whole Foods, Bristol Farms, and Smart & Final (which I have found to be the cheapest).
Having butter as the main ingredient is also a little concerning, since I have no trouble eating three of these flaky and buttery croissants at a time. Every day.
Poolish Croissants, adapted from The Fresh Loaf
160 g all-purpose flour (I used King Arthur Flour)
160 g water
1/8 teaspoon instant yeast
362 g all-purpose flour
135 g milk
67 g sugar
10 g salt
3.5 g (1+1/8 teaspoon) instant yeast
3.5 g malt (I omitted this, since I didn’t have any)
22 g butter, softened
287 g roll-in butter
1. Combine the poolish ingredients in a bowl, cover and let it ferment at room temperature for 8-12 hours until the surface is pebbled with bubbles.
2. In a stand mixer, combine the flour, milk, sugar, salt, yeast, malt and softened butter. Using the dough hook, and if using a KitchenAid mixer, mix on low (speed) 1 for 3 minutes. Then, increase to speed 2 and mix for 3-4 minutes to form a dough. Do not over-mix.
3. Flatten the dough into a disk, cover, and let it refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or over night.
4. Cut the roll-in butter into thinner chunks, and in between two sheets of plastic wrap, tap the butter to soften it, and roll into a 19×19 cm (7.5 x 7.5 inch) square. Return the butter to the fridge for 1-2 hours.
5. Remove the dough from the fridge, and on a lightly floured surface, roll it out to a 28×28 cm (11×11 inch) square. Place the roll-in butter slab onto the rolled out dough, so that the butter is diagonal from the dough. Fold the triangular edges of the dough over and seal the dough tightly so that no butter is visible and there make sure there aren’t parts of dough that don’t have butter. Try not to trap any air bubbles.
6. Roll the dough (make sure you’re rolling out the butter as well when rolling the outer dough) out into a 20×60 cm (8×24 inch) rectangle. If you do end up with extra dough on the edges, cut those pieces off. Fold the rolled-out dough into thirds. Wrap up the dough in plastic, and stick it in the fridge for an hour. Repeat this process two more times (rolling it out into the rectangle and folding it up), making sure to refrigerate between each time, as you do NOT want the butter to melt at all.
7. After your final rolling and folding, refrigerate for 90 minutes and roll into a 23×90 cm (9×36 inch) rectangle. If you don’t have the space to roll out such a long rectangle, you may want to split the dough into two pieces, for easier handling. If you do cut it in half, roll each half into 23×45 cm (9×18 inch) pieces. Make sure to properly flour the surface and if you feel like your butter is getting warm, feel free to stick the dough back into the fridge before continuing. The dough should be 1/8 inches thick.
8. Cut the dough into equilateral triangles with a height of 23 cm and a base of 12 cm (4.5 inches). Refrigerate these pieces again.
9. After about 20 minutes, take them out and stretch each triangle so that it’s height is now 26 cm (10 inches). Start rolling the triangles up from the base TIGHTLY. Gently pull the top as you’re rolling from the base. You should be able to create 3 rolls.
10. Now, you are at a checkpoint. You can either proof your croissants now (get ready to bake them), freeze them to bake them at a later time, or you can stick them back into the fridge to proof and bake them the next day.
11. To proof, brush all the croissants with an egg wash and stick them into an oven barely heated at 80 F. Don’t forget to leave a good amount of space between each croissant, as it will grow a lot in the oven while baking. The croissants should somewhat grow and become really soft and jiggly. This process takes around 3-4 hours.
12. Remove the croissants from the oven and brush them with an egg wash again. Bring the oven up to 425 F, and bake the croissants for 10 minutes, and then bring the temperature down to 375 F, and bake for another 15 minutes.
Woohoo! You’re finally done! Let them cool down before digging in, and if you made too much to eat in a few days, freeze them and when you want to eat them, reheat them up at 375 F for 10-15 minutes and they’ll be just like new. Croissants fresh from the oven in the morning – sounds pretty good, eh?