Yield: 12 Croissants
Active Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 3 days
500g all-purpose flour
140g whole milk
55g granulated sugar
40g softened unsalted butter
11g active dry yeast
280g cold unsalted butter
1 large egg
- To my standing mixer, equipped with the dough hook, I added the flour, water, milk, sugar, softened butter, yeast and salt. Then I let my mixer run on low speed for 5 minutes. The only thing to keep in mind in this step is that over-mixing your dough will make it less elastic which will make stretching and folding later on more difficult. This is why I kept the kneading to 5 minutes or less on low speed.
- Once the dough was ready, I turned it out onto some plastic wrap, wrapped it tightly, and refrigerated it. Because I did this, you guys now get to know that this is a bad idea. Yeasted dough expands, do not wrap this dough in plastic, instead put it into a large bowl with a lid. This will give it space to expand while keeping it from drying out.
- This is definitely the most work intensive day for this project and you need about 3 hours of time. I started by taking out my butter from the fridge or even freezer and weighing. The butter I use is very soft (Kerrygold) due to its high fat content. If you’re using a store brand butter, it will be hard to work with straight out of the freezer.
- Once I had the correct amount of butter ready, I start slicing it into half inch thick slices. I tried hard to keep them the same width to make it easier later. I arranged these slices into a square roughly 6-7 inches wide on some parchment paper to make the butter easier to handle. Don’t over think this part because you’re going to be rolling this out and cutting it anyway.
- I then rolled my butter out to about 9-10 inches between two sheets of parchment. At this stage my butter chunks fused into a large slab. I cut the edges to make the slap more square and Placed the cut bits back on top and reroofed. I used the parchment paper and my fingers to shape it as well. Do whatever you can to get this thing mostly square and roughly 9 inches on each side.
- Once my butter was a shape I was happy with, it went into the fridge while I worked on rolling out my dough. I fished out the dough from the previous day which should have puffed a bit overnight.
- I rolled this dough out into a 13 to 14 inch square on a very lightly floured surface. Try to use only as much flour as is necessary to avoid toughening your dough as you repeatedly Rolls it out. If you want advice on how to Roll a square successfully, I’m sure there are good YouTube videos out there. I am still mastering this skill myself but essentially I found that a combination of things gives decent results. When you put your dough on your surface it will be rounded. Use your rolling pin to indent a cross in the dough and then rolling from the middle out towards each corner. This will get your shape started. Shape it with your hands or bench scraper as you go and try to roll mostly from the middle. Binge watch some of Great British Baking Show, they have examples of this every so often and it’s a great show!
- Once I was happy with my dough square, I got that butter out and put it so that the corners of my butter were against the sides of my dough square. Like a buttery diamond on my square dough. Then I folded the corners of my dough to the middle so the butter was fully enveloped
- My butter encased in dough was then rolled, still from middle out, along just one axis until I had a long sheet that was about 30 inches in length. I then folded it into thirds like a letter and placed it on a small cutting board. It was then covered in plastic to keep it from drying out and placed int he fridge for 1 hour.
- After an hour, the dough was brought out again and rolled out again To roughly 30 inches. I like to keep my open ends facing up and down and rolling it out towards the open ends. This way each time I fold, fridge and roll, it is rolled in a different direction. This dough is rolled out so much that resting the dough, relaxing the gluten, and the rolling direction are very important.
- Again, the dough was folded in thirds and refrigerated for an hour.
- Repeat steps 7 and 8 one more time and leave the dough to rest in the fridge overnight. If you’re following along with the math, this will results in 27 layers.
- Finally, this is the day when I got to shape and bake my croissants. Get ready to tap into those geometry classes. The dough was removed from the fridge and rolled out to a 1/8 inch thickness. As I rolled the dough and handled it, it continued to proof and thicken. This is expected and nothing to worry about but I aimed for a thinner dough this time to avoid the oversized croissant issue I had in Test 1.
- I trimmed the sides of the dough so that I had straight edges. For my second attempt I decided to get more creative with my shapes. I made the same rolls as I did in the first test but I cut them to 3 by 6 inches this time. I also tried these fancy square pastries that I topped with fruit which were 4 x 4 inches before cutting and folding the corners over.
- These for made for an event for which I knew time would be tight. Previous testing has shown that once formed, this dough freezes very well and so I tightly wrapped the formed croissants in the baking sheet with plastic wrap. On baking day I defrosted them for 2 hours before proofing. This whole step is completely optional though.
- Once the croissants were formed and arranged on the baking sheet, I whisked together the egg and about half a cup of water to create my egg wash which I strained and added to a spray bottle. The croissants were sprayed with the egg wash to prevent the dough from drying during their long rise. I recoated them as I felt necessary to keep the croissant from drying out and once more just before baking.
- The croissants were left to rise for 1 hour. You can tell when they’re fully proofed when the croissants are a bit jiggly when you poke them. Unfortunately I ran out of time and they were slightly under proofed but they seemed to still be good. A full 2 hours proof would have been better.
- To reduce the browning on top which was severe in Test 1, I moved my croissants to the lower third of the oven and to ensure they are fully baked they were baked at 390 for 22 minutes.
These were very successful. The flavor was good, they did not expand as much in the oven though that may be in part to them being under-proofed. Despite the time constraint, they came out quite good and very close to what I would expect from a real bakery.