Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Daring Bakers': Croissants


The Daring Bakers go retro this month! Thanks to one of our very talented non-blogging members, Sarah, the Daring Bakers were challenged to make Croissants using a recipe from the Queen of French Cooking, none other than Julia Child!


Last fall I somehow found myself in a conversation with one of my professors about how he lived in a building (I think it was in Cambridge, Massachusetts) with Julia Child.  He said the building usually smelled wonderful when he came home from work and that Julia occasionally brought up breads or other baked goods for him and his wife to try.  I wonder if he ever tasted her croissants!


This was my very first attempt at homemade croissants.  The recipe really was not that difficult, it just took a ton of time!  I made these with my mom and we had a lot of fun together.  Fresh out of the oven, these croissants were soft, sweet, and delicious.  They tasted more doughy than flaky, but were still irresistible.


Chocolate Almond Croissants
adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume Two. Julia Child and Simone Beck

Ingredients

1¼ tsp dry-active yeast
3 Tbsp warm water
1 tsp sugar
1 3/4 cups strong plain flour
2 tsp sugar
1½ tsp salt
½ cup milk
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
½ cup chilled, unsalted butter
1 egg, for egg wash
1 bar of chocolate, chopped into chunks
1 can almond paste
1 cup sliced almonds

Directions

1. Mix the yeast, warm water, and first tsp 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 a pastry scraper.

9. Place the dough back in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap.

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.

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 cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

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 is time to incorporate the butter.

18. Place the block of chilled butter on a chopping board.

19. Using a rolling pin, beat the butter down a little, until 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.

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 across from all  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.

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.

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 until it is 14 by 8 inches.

34. Fold in three, as before.

35. Turn 90 degrees, and roll out again to 14 by 8 inches.

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 is 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.

41. Cut the dough into two rectangles.
 
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.

44. Cut the rectangle into three squares (each 5 by 5 inches).

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 until 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.  Rip of a chunk of the almond paste and place at the wide end of the dough.  Now take some of the chocolate pieces and place on top of the paste.

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, almond paste, and chocolate 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.

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 total, until the tops are browned nicely. (About half way through you should sprinkle on sliced almonds, if desired)

57. Take the croissants out of the oven, and place them on a rack to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Here is the video of Julia Child.

9 comments:

  1. chocolate almond! OMG! great combo!

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  2. You did a wonderful job on these croissants! The buttery croissants are so delicious by themselves, but the addition of the almond and chocolate sure does make them more enticing. Simply delicious.

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  3. mmmm chocolate almond. I was also surprise on how easy the recipe is. Happy to be baking with you this month.

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  4. Almond and chocolate you are a woman after my own heart they look very good and the colour is outstanding well done on your first batch of croissant. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

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  5. Croissants...that too chocolate and almonds !! Life can't get better than this !! Love these....
    Great work !!

    All the best for more challenges....

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  6. Your croissants look delicious!! And how cool that you made them with your mom :) Great job!

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  7. You did a great job on your croissants! I really like how you combined the chocolate and almond croissant into one! :)

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  8. Almond paste and chocolate...delicious!!!

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  9. Love your sweet version with almonds and chocolate. I wish I had made a sweet version, maybe next time. How cool that your professor was Julia's neighbor!

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