Shouldn’t checked Instagram first thing in the morning. I was haunted by the sight of perfect golden crusty croissants. The universe was conspiring against me! One of my favorite bloggers posted some cinnamon croissants and my interest was piqued. As per usual, I read a few recipes and grew more downtrodden with each click. 14 hours, 19 hours, three days!!! Who had time for such things! Who wants a croissant bad enough to wait an entire day before enjoying the fruits of one’s labor. I did apparently.
Now, croissants aren’t that hard to make. If you can make puff pastry (my recipe here), you can make croissant dough, which is basically the same thing plus yeast. They just have a bloody long rise time, and somehow aren’t as pride inducing as mille-feuille, which is French for pretentious puff pastry. The recipes fell broadly into two camps: those that aged the dough overnight before adding the butter packet, and those that didn’t.
Ultimately, I chose a recipe that advertised only six croissants, but, of course, I had to make baby croissants. I made six palm-sized croissants and eight chocolate croissants. Many recipes made quadruple that amount and called upwards of a pound of butter. David Lebovitz’s Whole Wheat Croissants, used about 1 1/2 sticks.
The result didn’t knock my socks off, but they weren’t bad either. My family seemed to like them well enough by scarfing down the dozen pastries (I froze some chocolate croissants for future consumption) without complaint.
David Lebovitz’s recipe starts with a slurry of yeast, milk, sugar, and flour. Please note that I made the dough with lactase free 2% milk, instead of the full fat variety. I imagine they would have tasted richer with whole milk. The mixture didn’t foam much, but it did smell a bit like beer.
I let the dough rest in the fridge for six hours.
There was a noticeable but not a huge rise. Although Lebovitz advises that you let the butter packet firm out for 30 minutes, I only let it chill for 10 minutes and experienced no leakage. Sometimes the butter squirts out of the corners, but I had no problems in my 60F kitchen. Although, the dough had a rather sad and shaggy appearance, it rolled out beautifully. It was smooth and plump.
Did you know there’s a lot that you can make with croissant dough? Well, not a lot, but you can also make morning buns which are like the love child between croissants and churros with a bit of cinnamon roll love thrown in too! I saw this delicious looking recipe where a rectangle of croissant dough is brushed with butter and then sprinkled with a mixture of orange zest, sugar, and cinnamon. Mmmm. That is definitely on my hit list!
And less you feel like a croissant is doing major damage to your waistline. David Lebovitz claims that there are only a few tablespoons of butter in a croissant (even less if they’re mini-sized), which is about the amount of butter I put on my cinnamon toast. Oh yum! Feeling lazy, hop on over to my cinnamon toast recipe.
Something to note: the first turn is always the hardest to roll out. It really helps to first press the rolling pin into the dough until it stretches out, before really going at it with the rolling pin.
So when you make croissants, you have to roll the dough into a rectangle and then cut it into three smaller rectangles and the divide each rectangle into a triangle. I saw some people cut a little slit on the shortest side or leg of the triangle, but you don’t have to do it. Other people also make sure that their rectangles are perfect, but I say pah to such perfection.
To form the croissant, you roll the shortest side towards the smallest angle. If it were a slice of pizza, you would be rolling from the crust side towards the tip. Mmmm. Pizza. I once had a dream that Trader Joe’s developed a giant pizza cinnamon bun that you could cook in the microwave.
Toaster Oven Croissants
NOTES: My mom has an ingenious method for proofing her baozi. She boils some water in a double boiler, turns off the stove, and let it cool slightly. Then she buts her dough in the steamer and lets it rise. I’ll give it a try next time.
YIELDS: Makes 6 big pastries or 2 dozen small ones
INGREDIENTS FOR DOUGH
- 2 cupS white flour, bread flour (preferably) or all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2/3 cup (160ml) whole or lowfat milk, very slightly warmed
- 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
INGREDIENTS FOR BUTTER PACKET
- 5 1/2 ounces (160g) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
- 1 egg
- pinch of salt
Prepare the dough by mixing the yeast with the milk and sugar in a large bowl. Stir in about two thirds cup of flour and let the mixture stand until it starts to bubble, 10 to 15 minutes.
Mix in the rest of the flour and the salt, and stir until all the ingredients are combined. Knead the dough on a lightly floured countertop a few times, just enough to bring it together into a cohesive ball, but do not overknead. 10-15 seconds should do it.
Put the dough in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let the dough rest in the refrigerator overnight. (Or for at least 6 hours.)
Smash butter with a pastry cutter, rolling pin, or in a stand mixer until it is a cold paste. Lay a piece of plastic wrap on the counter and place the butter in the middle. Enclose the butter and shape it into a 4- by 3-inch (10 by 8cm) rectangle. Chill the butter for 10 minutes.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Make a X on the dough with the rolling pin and roll it into a diamond shape, with the dough raised slightly in the center. There’s a better picture here.
Unwrap the chilled rectangle of butter and place it in the center. Fold the flaps over the butter, sealing the butter completely, and smack the dough with a rolling pin to flatten it out. Roll the dough into a 9 by 12 (30 by 22cm) rectangle.
Fold the dough in thirds like you would fold a letter. Mark the dough with one dimple with your finger to remind you that you’ve made one “turn”, wrap it in plastic wrap, and chill the dough for at least 45 minutes.
Do the next turn of the dough the same way, rolling and folding the dough again, making 2 dimples with your finger in the dough, then chill it for another 45 or several hours.
Do the last turn and folding of the dough and let it chill for an hour. (The dough can be chilled overnight at this point, or frozen.)
To shape the croissants, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Unwrap the dough and roll it out on a lightly floured countertop until it’s a 12- by 9-inch (30 by 22cm) rectangle. Cut the dough into 3 rectangles with a sharp chef knife or pastry cutter, then cut each rectangle diagonally, making 6 triangles.
Take one triangle and roll to lengthen it to 11 inches (28cm) long. Starting at the “crust” end (think pizza), roll the croissant up toward the point, not too-tightly.
Cover the baking sheet with a large plastic bag (such as a clean trash bag), close it, and let the croissants proof in a warm place until the croissants are nearly doubled and puffed up, which will take 1 1/2 to 2 hours. (If you wish, you can chill the rolled croissants overnight. Take them out of the refrigerator and let them proof in a warm place, as indicated.)
Preheat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC.) Mix the egg with a pinch of salt and brush each croissant with the glaze. Bake the croissants for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat of the oven to 350ºF, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until browned. Some butter may seep out during baking, which is normal.