Post 5: Croissants

I have made mostly sweet desserts for this blog, so this week I decided to make something a little more on the savory side. This croissant recipe is described by the 1961 New York Times Cookbook as being “the traditional French breakfast bread.” Though I wasn’t sure how authentic this recipe actually is, recipes from the vintage New York Times Cookbook usually turn out quite well, so I gave it a try.

There are two main ways to make croissants, one is a puff pastry dough, and the other is a yeast dough. Though this recipe book had both, I decided to go with the yeast dough because it seemed the most straight-forward. Also the idea of butter being the only leavening in the dough scared be just a bit.

I started by heating 3/4 cups of milk in the microwave. Once that was done, I added 1 package of yeast and the milk to the bowl of an electric mixer. I then let that mixture sit while I sifted 2 cups flour. The yeast I used was instant, so I was not too concerned letting it activate.

Once the flour was sifted I added it to the milk and yeast, along with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. I then used a dough hook to knead the mixture for about 2-3 minutes on medium speed. I stopped it when the dough made a smooth ball around the hook. Next, I transferred the dough to a greased bowl and placed it outside to rise for about 1 hour.

Then things started to get a bit tricky. The next few steps were not very clear in the book. After rolling the dough into a long strip, I got a bit lost. The next step was to put bits of butter on the dough, before folding it. However, the recipe said to use “sweet butter,” which I did not have. So, I used generic Costco butter, which I think might be a bit too stiff. To fix this problem, I decided to soften the butter just a bit so that it did not rip holes in my dough when I tried to roll it out.

Once the bits of butter were on the dough, I folded the dough into thirds, rolled it out again, then folded it back into thirds. I then wrapped it in waxed paper and put it in the fridge for about 2 hours. The yeast in the dough allowed for it to grow just a bit in the fridge, which made a sticky, doughy, mess. I should have dusted the waxed paper with flour to help counteract this.

Once the dough had chilled I got it out of the fridge and promptly messed it up. I should have rolled it out, then folded it. Instead, I folded it, then rolled it out. I don’t think that I did too much damage, however, and was able to fix my mistake by folding it once again. After it was folded I stuck it back in the fridge for another hour.

This time, I did it correctly. I took the dough out of the fridge, rolled it into a long strip, folded the ends into the center, then folded it into thirds. I chilled it for another hour, then repeated the process.

After I rolled out the dough for the fourth time, I cut the dough into triangles using a pizza cutter. After the triangles were cut, I rolled them into croissant shapes, and used egg to make the ends stick. I then put the croissants back outside to let them rise for another 45 minutes.

Once the croissants had doubled in size, I brushed the tops with egg yolk and baked them at 425℉ for 20 minutes. I then took them out of the oven, and served them warm with homemade marmalade. They were delicious!

Overall, I think the croissants turned out well. I have not ever had truly authentic French croissants. However, based on the ones I have had, I think that my attempt was pretty close. The only difference was that there were not quite as many air pockets. I may have not let them rise again on the last rise, or did not roll out the butter correctly. As I said, the recipe was a bit fuzzy on how to do the rolling-out. This did not affect the texture too badly though. The fresh croissants had a crunchy outside and a warm, fluffy inside. The combination of this texture, the buttery taste of the croissant, and some homemade marmalade was amazing.

If you want to try these out for yourself, you can find the recipe here. I recommend them with all types of fruit jam, as well as Nutella.

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