Homemade Croissants

This post is dedicated to the two most influential people in my life, my parents. I mean first of all, without them I wouldn’t even exist, so that’s always something to take into consideration. But more importantly, they have molded me into the individual I am today. They provided me with the experiences that allowed me to develop a love for food. They were the first people to support my decision to move out to Charlottetown to attend culinary school, and the first to support my decision to move back when I realized it wasn’t what I wanted anymore. They have been there for me always, supporting and providing for me through thick and thin. They have taught me to follow my dreams, listen to my gut and do what makes me happy. I may not have always listened, but I know their lessons have hit home when I hear their voices in the back of my head (constantly). It’s especially bad when I beat my dad to his own jokes. Yikes… They eat my food and aren’t afraid to tell me when it’s awful. Rule #1 when cooking for mom – DO NOT use red wine. Rule #2 – ALWAYS buy red wine for mom to drink. And that’s just the beginning of the wisdom they have shared over the years. Their relationship speaks for itself. It’s impressive, 24 years and counting that they have been together and I wish them many, many more. Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!
CROISSANT DOUGH
(thanks to the Bouchon Bakery Cookbook)
Poolish
100g AP or bread flour
0.1 g instant yeast
100g water
Dough
100g softened butter
15g salt
75g white sugar
200g water
500g AP or bread flour
10g instant yeast
Butter block
330g butter
The poolish is a pre-ferment to add flavour to the dough. Make it 12-15 hours before you want to start the dough. Just mix it (there can be some lumps, no worries), cover it and leave it at room temperature.
Homemade croissants

The dough itself is just like making bread dough. Mix the ingredients (including the poolish) and knead until smooth. TK describes this really interesting technique of folding the dough on top of itself (almost like you are laminating it before you actually start laminating it) so I tried to do that to add in some extra layers/structure. Let it rise for an hour or so or until double in bulk (in a greased, covered bowl that is, not smack dab on the counter as the picture below might suggest).

Homemade croissants
Meanwhile you can roll out your butter. Yep, just straight butter. This is what makes croissant dough and puff pastry so incredibly flaky. Place it between 2 pieces of parchment and roll it into a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Chill until ready to use. As you will notice, every step in this process involves chilling the dough. It is critical that the butter remain cold because as it gets warm, you risk it melting right out of the dough. You want the butter in the dough so when it bakes it creates steam and the croissants puff up.
Homemade croissants
Once the dough has risen, roll it out into a large rectangle. Get your butter block out of the fridge and place it into the middle of the dough. Fold in the corners so that the butter is all wrapped up in the middle. Now time to laminate. Basically you want to roll the dough out into a rectangle again, then fold it in thirds as if you were folding a letter. Use flour as needed to prevent it from sticking.
Homemade croissants

Voila, you have completed the first fold. Pop it in the freezer for 20 minutes to firm up and then you can repeat.

Homemade croissants
2nd fold, roll it out into another rectangle, fold it into thirds and freeze again for 20 minutes.
Homemade croissants
Do this one more time (for a total of 3 folds) and then it’s another 20 minutes in the freezer.
Homemade croissants
Then you can roll the dough out. Get it as close as you can to a 20×9 inch rectangle. I then portioned it into 3 equal pieces as I made 3 types of croissants, but it’s up to you how you want to divide it up. What’s next? You guessed it, back in the freezer for 10-20 minutes to firm up. Finally, it’s time to form your croissants!
Homemade croissants

I used a third of the dough to make traditional croissants. Roll it out to about 1/4 inch and cut it into long isosceles triangles. Then just roll ’em up.

Homemade croissants

The other third I made pinwheels filled with almond cream (see recipe below) and raisins (which I soaked in marsala wine). This was exactly like making cinnamon buns, just roll it into a log and slice.

Homemade croissants

For the final portion of dough I opted for my personal favorite, Pain au Chocolat. I rolled the dough out to about 1/4 inch and cut it into rectangles. Then I rolled up each one with dark chocolate pieces, brushing with egg to seal the deal.

Homemade croissants

Now because croissants have yeast in them, you have to let them rise a second time (proof), just like bread. It is best to do this low and slow because if you proof them at too high a temperature, the butter will melt out of the dough. My house was really cold so it took a couple of hours. I got impatient and put them in a 125 F oven for only 5 minutes and as you can see below, I got dangerously close to melting all of the butter out of my poor croissants.

Once they have risen, brush with egg wash. I left the plain croissants plain but I sprinkled the pinwheels with almonds and the pain au chocolat with turbinado sugar.

Homemade croissants
Homemade croissants
Homemade croissants

The croissants and pain au chocolat took about 30-35 minutes in a 350 F oven. Make sure to rotate to create even browning. I baked the pinwheels at the same temperature but they only took 20-25 minutes (they’re smaller). Nothing smells better than this buttery dough wafting through your house.

A couple hours later and look at the pay off. TK says that a good croissant should shatter when you bite into it and that is exactly what these did. They might not be the easiest or the fastest things to make, but man are they delicious!

Homemade croissants
Homemade croissants
Homemade croissants
Almond Cream
73g softened butter
73g almond flour
7g AP flour
73g icing sugar
45g egg (I used 1 egg, it was 50g)
Use a mixer to beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the remaining ingredients and beat until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Homemade croissants

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