Picking up where we left off with Croissants: Part One.
Getting ill this month threw my croissant plans for a loop. I had intended to mess around with the pastry a bit (I think the hydration levels in the recipe I use could be tweaked just a bit) but that will just have to wait.
Getting ill did have another, somewhat unexpected result...
When I was bedridden with my wonderful virus, I gave Mr. Humble the chore of baby-sitting 'our' wild sourdough starter. Suddenly he became obsessed with it and with bread making. In the last two weeks he has been learning to bake with his little pot of wild yeast and gobbling his own sourdough breads fresh from the oven.
Nicknamed: 'Mr. Stinky'
He is prodigiously proud of the vigorous Mr. Stinky and his breads. In fact, he has started calling himself an 'artisan' bread maker. Keep in mind though, when I met my husband his cooking skills were limited to some of the worst bachelor fare on the planet. Though he has taken it upon himself to learn how to cook in the last year or so, as a way to help lighten my work load since having our daughter.
So yea my husband, the 'artisan bread maker', a title I think he adopts to tease me. In fact, he told me last week he will be starting his own food blog since he is so great. I'm not certain if he is being serious, I think he just wants to tease me about eclipsing my blog with his own.
Mr. Humble... oh sorry, Mr. Artisan Bread Maker, feel free to dazzle me with your uber-bread skills. In fact, perhaps you could inaugurate your blog with some croissants?
They're certainly a pain for me to turn out, what with my spindly arms and all. However, a man with your skills would certainly have no trouble with them.
So, the croissants.
I'm sorry it took so long to get part two posted. I've had these photos ready to go for almost two weeks. However, I really wanted to bake the third batch of dough before doing the post. When I got sick, that third batch of laminated dough sat in the fridge for a week only to be tossed. All 5lbs of dough, a full day's worth of work (sigh).
However, I do have a set of good croissants and a recipe that works to share. This is from the Culinary Institute of America's baking book, however I've changed the recipe to give correct metric weights.
CIA's Croissant Dough
adapted from Baking and Pastry: Mastering the Art and Craft
Yields 5 lb 8 oz /2.26 kg (roughly 11 Croissants)
716 grams (1.58lb) whole milk, room temperature
120 mL (4 fl oz) malt syrup
907 grams (2lb) bread flour
28 grams (1oz) yeast
113 grams (4oz) granulated sugar
142g (5oz) butter, cold but pliable
680 grams (1lb) butter, cold but pliable
A few notes:
If making pain au chocolate you're also going to need about 2oz of chocolate for each croissant. You can find chocolate batons made for pastry making online, I like Valrhona's Batons de Chocolat. They do make rolling the croissants easier, however you can use any semi-sweet chocolate you have lying around. I've even molded my own batons from 53% cacao chocolate.
Also, this recipe is vague regarding the malt syrup and butter. For this recipe I'm using unsalted butter and a diastatic malt syrup. For folks who are wondering what I am talking about, diastatic refers to enzymes in the malt syrup which convert starch to sugar. There are non-diastatic malts out there, which simply acts as a sweetener. Unfortunately, this recipe doesn't specify which...
Start by turning your 142g of butter into a pliable mass. I do this by loosely wrapping cold butter in parchment and then beating it with my rolling pin. Mind your overhead cabinets, this is a violent process. Once the butter is pliable but still cold you're ready to start.
Mix the yeast with the room temperature milk and allow to stand for 5 minutes.
Add the flour, sugar, malt syrup, the pliable butter broken into pieces to the bowl of your stand mixer. Pour in the yeast/milk mixture and mix with the paddle attachment until it comes together. Once it is too stiff to mix with the paddle, swap out for your dough hook (The book's recipe calls for doing the entire process with a paddle but this has to be an error as it would be murderous to any household mixer. I did it with one of my batches and I will never, ever do it again.) Mix with the dough hook for 3 minutes on medium-low and then crank it up to high speed for 2 minutes.
Line a half sheet pan (13" x 18" x 1") with a piece of parchment paper. Turn the dough out (it will be a bit sticky) into the pan and roll it out so that it evenly fills the pan.
Cover the pan with plastic wrap and then retard the dough for 5 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
Now prepare the butter for the roll in. Take the pound of cold butter, wrap in parchment and beat senseless with a rolling pin. You want to create a pliable slab of butter half the size of your sheet pan so roughly 13" x 9". You also want a uniform thickness and no hard lumps or bumps in the butter. Hard butter can punch through the dough when rolling, messing up the lamination process. When the slab is ready, wrap the butter and refrigerate for 5 hours or overnight.
Turn your sheet of dough out of the pan, it should be puffier and less sticky from the night in the fridge. Place the butter (if it is too hard, beat it up again before doing this step) on one half of the dough and fold the dough over. Pinch the dough around the butter to lock it in, make sure the edges of your slab are straight and the corners square.
Roll the slab back out to roughly 13" x 18". (Note: It is very important to keep the dough cold during lamination. On a hot day, I deal with this by tossing a large bag of ice onto my marble pastry slab and letting it chill. I do this between each step and it keeps the dough nice and cool. Using a chilled marble rolling pin is also useful.)
Preform a four fold on the dough, folding the two narrow sides to the center and then folding in half like a book.
Poke the dough to mark what step you're on (one dimple: first set of folds, two dimples: second set of folds...etc)
Wrap the slab in plastic to prevent it from drying out and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. This process not only helps maintain the dough's temperature but allows the gluten to develop in such a way that it can withstand the punishment of lamination.
After 30 minutes, roll the dough back out to 13" x 18" and preform a 3 fold (like a men's wallet). Mark with two dimples and return to the the refrigerator and allow to chill for 30 more minutes.
Then preform the final three fold on the dough, wrap and return to the refrigerator for two hours.
When the two hours are up you can roll out the dough and prepare your croissants.
Roll the dough into a long rectangle (roughly 9 x 25"). For the next step I find using the wheel of a sharp pizza cutter is the best. Zig-zag the cutter over the dough creating triangles roughly 9" tall and 4" wide at the base.
Cut a 1" slit at the base of each triangle, gently stretch the points of the triangle and then roll them up on an un-floured surface. Using the heal of your hand to exert pressure and keep them tight. Place them seam side down on a parchment lined baking sheet and curve the sides inward to give them that crescent shape. Brush the croissants with egg wash (1 part egg, 1 part whole milk) and proof at 85°F/29°C until doubled in size.
After proofing, gently brush the croissants with egg wash again and bake at 375°F/191°C until well browned (Brown! Not pale gold or not golden brown. Brown), about 15-20 minutes.
Once cool, fanatically cut open all your croissants and examine the insides.
Considering the fact that I do not own an industrial dough sheeter, I think these turned out lovely. Moist, feathery interior, crisp buttery exterior. Dangerous little pastries.
Of course, not as dangerous as...
Pain au Chocolat (chocolate filled croissants)!
To do this, cut your dough into long rectangles. Place a chocolate baton at one end (or if just use chopped chocolate/chocolate chips because at this point, I was all out of batons after making 2 dozen croissants the day before) and roll the dough over it once it is completely inclosed, place a second baton down and roll the dough up completely.
Place the croissants seam side down on the baking sheet and brush with egg wash. Proof at 85°F/29°C until doubled in size.
After proofing, gently brush the croissants again with egg wash and bake at 375°F/191°C until well browned, about 15-20 minutes.