I Get Lazy and Make Croissants

I try to do an entire ye olde-fashioned meal once a week to blog about. But this week, I got lazy. The week before was a vegetarian cooking blow out, so I just felt a bit cooked out. (Hard to fathom, but it’s true.) Anyway, I bring you the height of my laziness: chocolate croissants.

I went to brunch at a friend’s house. I asked what I could bring and she responded, “Something pastry-like.” What could be more pastry than croissants? Not much. This was my first attempt at baking outside of the professional baking kitchen from school. I used my scale to measure out all of the ingredients because when baking you should go by weight not volume.

The recipe comes from my baking textbook, Professional Baking Fifth Edition by Wayne Gisslen.

Croissant Dough

  • 8 oz milk
  • 0.25 oz dry yeast (the recipe calls for double this amount of fresh yeast, but I challenge you to find small quantities of fresh yeast)
  • 0.5 oz sugar
  • 0.25 oz salt
  • 1.5 oz butter, softened
  • 14 oz bread flour (this is very important… you do NOT want all-purpose flour as the gluten development is different)
  • 8 oz butter

Use the straight dough method to mix. Basically, you scald the milk and cool to lukewarm. Then, dissolve the yeast in the milk. Add the remaining ingredients except for the last amount of butter (so, keep that 8 oz off to the side). Then, mix into a smooth dough. DO NOT over mix or else you will end up with tough dough.

The good thing about this recipe is that you don’t necessarily need a stand mixer. I did it by hand with a whisk and a wooden spoon.

Now, for the fun part. The fermentation and rolling in. Take your dough and put it in a lightly oiled stainless steel bowl. You need to let it sit for an hour to an hour and a half at 75° F. I don’t know about you, but I don’t keep my house that warm. So, you need it a bit warmer than room temperature. I had been cooking stuff in the oven earlier. I turned off the oven, cracked the door a bit, and waited for it to be warm but not roasting. I put the dough in and closed the door. You’ll know it’s done fermenting when it’s about doubled in size.

Take it out, punch it down in the bowl, and spread it out on a baking sheet. Cover with plastic and let it rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Take out the dough and incorporate the rest of the butter using the three-fold method. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Roll out the dough into a rectangle.
  2. Smear the softened butter over bottom two-thirds of the dough–leaving room around the edges.
  3. Fold the unbuttered third of the dough over the center.
  4. Fold the remaining third on top.
  5. Rotate the dough 90° and roll with a rolling pin. (You want to make sure you turn the dough so that it gets stretched out in all directions.) Make sure that the ugly side (you’ll know which side is the ugly side) is top side up before rolling. This way you’re folding the ugly in each time, giving you smoother dough.
  6. Roll the dough into a long rectangle just like you did before. You will probably have butter oozing out. This is the price you pay for buttery dough.
  7. Now, fold the dough in thirds again, starting with the top to center and then the remaining third. This is called the first turn. Enclosing the butter doesn’t count as a turn.

Once you have completed the first turn, cover the dough in plastic and let it sit in the fridge for 30 minutes. You will need to repeat the rolling, folding, and resting process two more times. This is what gives croissants their light and flaky texture. The folding adds layers of dough.

Now that you have completed three turns (plus the butter incorporation), let the dough sit in the fridge overnight.

Pull it out and make it into croissants. You might need to let the dough warm up a bit closer to room temperature to roll it out. But don’t wait too long or it will start sticking to your rolling pin. I filled my croissants with chocolate, but you can use anything (or just do plain croissants). If you’ve never made them before, I’ve created a little how to make croissants guide (with helpful pictures!)

After you have your crescent shapes on your baking sheet, you’ll need to let them proof at 75° F and 65% humidity for 30-45 minutes (or until they puff up). I accomplished this by turning on the oven to 250° F with a pan of water in the bottom. Then, I turned it off and let it cool back down to warm before sticking the baking sheet inside (I left the water pan at the bottom). After the proofing, egg wash the tops (one egg beaten with a little bit of water).

Bake at 400° F until they are golden brown. To achieve the appropriate humidity, I removed the pan of water after I preheated the oven. I then sprayed the oven door with a bit of water before putting the croissants in.

Results

They came out pretty well. The chocolate chips melted and made a nice gooey center. But, honestly, how can you go wrong with that much butter in the dough?

Two croissants on a plate

Golden on the outside, chocolate on the inside

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