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How To Bake a Croissant Recipe | French Pastries
Making Croissants at Home
This page gives you detailed instructions in the fine, and somewhat complicated art of making French croissants from scratch. This yeast bread is neither fast nor easy but it is a delicious treat you can serve with pride.
A continental breakfast doesn't get any better than a fresh croissant, a dish of fresh fruit salad and, of course, a cup of steaming cappuccino.
This article honors the croissant in all its glory. Admittedly, these wonderful pastries are not the easiest thing to make. Nor are they necessarily low calorie nor good for us. They're not that economical to make either, given the high butter content.
But they're so good.... especially when you make them yourself.
Do you make croissants at home?
- Another Croissant Recipe
You'll find an "easy" croissant recipe here
An Authentic Croissant Recipe
I never promised this would be easy
Let's not waste any more time. Let's move right along to our preparation for this most yummy French pastry.
- 1 ounce fresh yeast
- 3 1/2 cups flour, unbleached all purpose (approximately)
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 cup milk, approximately
- 4 1/2 sticks unsalted butter-1 lb 2 oz -- cold-cut into 1/2 inch chunks
- 2 tablespoons flour, unbleached all purpose
- 1 recipe-croissant dough -- well chilled
- Flour -- for rolling dough
- 1 large egg
Fit a dough hook onto your mixer bowl, and add the yeast, flour, sugar salt and one cup milk. Using the lowest speed possible, mix for somewhere between one and two minutes. A soft, moist dough will form on the hook. Add more milk, a wee bit at a time if the dough seems too dry. Be sure all the flour is moistened, so check carefully and stop adding as soon as you reach this point. With the mixer stopped, inspect the bottom of the bowl. If there is a bit of flour there, add a drop or two of milk.
Now turn the mixer on high and mix until the dough is smooth and elastic. It should take about four minutes for the dough to become the consistency of soft butter. Stop and remove the dough after three minutes. Inspect this and return any plum sized pieces to the bowl and mix until fully blended. The dough is ready when these pieces come together.
Remove the dough. Wrap it in plastic then put it in a plastic bag. Leave a little room for it to expand. Let the dough sit out at room temperature for thirty minutes, then refrigerate for eight hours or more. Overnight is fine.
Using your mixer's paddle blade, and with the machine set to the highest speed, beat the butter and flour together. Beat for about two minutes, or until it resembles the croissant dough in consistency. Poke around to be sure the butter and flour are evenly blended. Squash any lumps between your fingers.
Push the butter onto a piece of plastic wrap, slapping it down to remove air bubbles. Shape it into an oval that is about one inch in thickness and perhaps five or six inches long. Wrap it up and put it in the refrigerator until you need it.
Bake bread the way the professional French chefs do.
Assembling and Baking the Croissants
You need a large work surface. Marble is perfect because it keeps the mixture cold better than other surfaces. You will need to work quickly and keep this as cold as possible.
Flour your work surface and sprinkle the top of the croissant dough with flour as well. Use a long rolling pin.
Roll the dough into an oval shape that is about ten inches wide by seventeen inches long. Brush away the extra flour. Place the cold butter across this dough oval. Fold the top and bottom of the dough over the butter. Gently stretch the folded layers out to the sides. Press the edges down firmly to form a sealed rectangle.
For this next step, a French rolling pin is ideal. Hold the dough steady with one hand and slap the other side gently with the rolling pin so the butter distributes evenly.
As you slap the croissant dough with the rolling pin, you can observe the butter moving out into the cracks and ridges. Strike the other side of the dough in the same fashion. You should end up with a rectangle that is about 14 inches by six inches in size.
Being sure to keep the work area and the dough top well floured, roll the dough. Place it on a prepared baking sheet. The sheet should be covered with parchment paper and sprinkled with flour. Cover the dough with plastic at this point and refrigerate it for one or two hours. Ensure that the plastic is well sealed each and every time you do this procedure.
Once the dough is chilled, face the long side of the dough and roll it sideways, forming a rectangle that is 24 by 14 inches. Shake off extra flour, fold it inwards into thirds so it resembles a brochure. You end up with a package about eight by fourteen inches in size.
Move the dough to a parchment lined baking sheet. Put a note on the parchment that says First Turn. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for two hours or more.
When thoroughly chilled, you are ready to do the second turn. Place the croissant dough so the long side is running left to right. The dough may have cracked slightly, which is okay. Flour the work surface well and roll the dough into a shape that is 24 inches by 14 inches.
Again, fold into thirds. Place the dough on the parchment. Leave a note saying "Second Turn", cover well with plastic and refrigerate for two hours or more.
To make the third turn, position the croissant dough so the 14 inch side runs from left to right. Roll the dough into a rectangle that is 24 inches by 14 inches. Fold the left and right sides into the center but leave a little space in the center. Fold one side over the other, as in shutting a book.
Brush off the flour, wrap the dough and refrigerate for at least two hours.
You are now ready to shape the dough.
Flour your work area well. Place the dough so it reminds you of a book, with the spine to your left and the opening to your right. Cut the dough in half horizontally. Wrap and chill one half and work with the other.
Flour the dough. Roll it into a rectangle that is 24 inches by 15 inches, approximately. This requires patience and a lot of flouring.
Fold the top half down to the bottom.
To cut the dough, use a sharp knife and cut triangles. Start out by making a diagonal on the left side. Measure a three or four inch base and start cutting the triangles, working from top to bottom.
Save the scraps that you have from the cuts at each end.
Unfold each pair of triangles and cut them in half to separate. You will end up with about ten to fourteen triangles.
Set them aside and remove all flour from the work surface.
Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper.
To shape, dampen your hands and work with one triangle at a time. Stretch the base to widen a little. Holding the base in one hand,run the fingers of the other hand down to the point. Using your thumb, pull and stretch the dough until it is almost twice the size. Do not be afraid to tug.
Place this triangle with the point toward you. Break off a small piece of the scraps of dough that you saved. Mold this little piece into a football shape and place it on the top part of the triangle, centered.
Fold about a half inch of the wide end over itself and push the ends down to secure. Position your hands over the flattened ends of the croissant with the heel of your hands on the flat work surface. Roll the croissant towards you, with your hands always moving out to the sides during the roll. You end with the point tucked under the croissant.
A perfect croissant - not easy to accomplish - will have six clearly identifiable sections from the rolling.
Place the croissants on the baking sheets, far enough apart so they can triple in size.
Repeat these steps with the other part of the dough.
Plump the croissants gently by turning the ends down and towards the center. Brush the croissants with egg wash and refrigerate the remaining egg wash. Permit them to rise at room temperature until they are three times the size. This takes about three or four hours. Test by wetting your fingers and squeezing the end of a croissant. If it is risen enough, there should be no resistance and it should feel hollow.
Place the oven racks so the oven is divided into thirds. Preheat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Brush the croissants with the remaining egg wash. Bake for about twelve minutes, then rotate from front to bake. Bake for additional four to six minutes. The croissants should have a deep bronze color.
Remove from the oven and cool them on racks. Avoid the temptation to eat them immediately. The layers need time to set.
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The History of the Croissant Recipe
a myth debunked
Perhaps you've heard the wonderful story about the origins of the croissant recipe. As the story goes, a Budapest baker, back in 1686, was working late one night. This was during the time when the Turks and the Hungarians were having at one another. Anyway, the baker heard noises that night and notified the city's miliary officials. They discovered that the Turks were trying to dig a tunnel under the city's wall. The baker had saved everyone's skin.
In return, he asked for the sole right to bake a crescent shaped pastry that commemorated his peoples' victory. The cresent is the symbol of Islam, so apparently this signified that the Hungarians had devoured the Turks.
Heartwarming as this story is, there's not a word of truth to it.
According to OChef (www.ochef.com) the croissant showed up in France in the very early nineteen hundreds.
The Hungarian story is so much better.