Monday, January 4, 2010

Jan 4 2010: Happy New Year!

Okay... so it's after the new year and I'm back dating this post. The sentiment remains the same, "HAPPY NEW YEAR!"

A common New Year's resolution is to lose weight.
I should lose weight too, but I resolve NOT to resolve to lose weight.
Keeping in the spirit of doing the anti-resolution, I'm going to make butter-laden croissants!

The idea of making croissants came when I was watching the movie, It's Complicated. There was a scene where chocolate croissants were made which kicked off a craving.

I've never made croissant, but know that they are classified as a laminated dough. I've made puff pastry in Daring Baker's Challenge: September 2009 Challenge so croissants seem like the logical next step.

The recipe is based upon Esther McManus's recipe in Baking with Julia.
Video: Esther McManus makes croissants with Julia Child.
Recipe: Croissant Recipe

In hindsight, I highly recommend watching the video and reading the recipe instruction thoroughly. My approach was to just go for it. However, the video and recipe instructions contain some tips that I could have used when I was making the dough.

As usual with a new recipe, I halved the quantities. Also, I made substitutions and modifications since this was a spur of the moment thing. For the full recipe with the "real" instructions see the link above.

The croissant recipe is about a two day process.
1/2 t Instant Yeast
1 3/4 C (235 g) All Purpose
2 1/2 T Sugar
1 t Salt
1/2 C Milk (plus a little extra if needed)
2 Sticks Unsalted Butter

Chocolate Chips

Egg Wash Coating
1 large egg + 1 T water

We had just returned from holiday and our cupboards were bare.

- The original recipe called for fresh yeast. I scrounged around my pantry and found an old package of instant yeast.

- Milk was reconstituted from whole milk powder leftover from a Daring Cooks' Challenge.

What I did...
1/ Since I didn't know the viability of the yeast, I made a pre-ferment to see if the yeast was alive. Reconstitute the milk with warm water and mix in 1/2 the flour to form a wet dough. Cover and let double.

Success! The batter doubled in size so I know the yeast is doing its job.

2/ Mix the batter into the flour to make a dough. Slowly add more liquid as needed to ball the dough. Knead the dough to form a smooth ball.

3/ I'm using the technique I learned from the puff pastry challenge to form the butter pack for incorporation into the dough.

Pound the butter into, roughly, a 6" x 6" square about 3/4" thick.

Refrigerate the butter and dough, separately... overnight.

4/ The next day - roll out the dough into a rectangle. The center should be thicker than the edges.

Note: I think I over-kneaded the dough from step 3. The dough kept shrinking when I rolled it out.

5/ Wrap the butter square in the dough and slowly roll out.
I made about 6 turns (see the Puff Pastry Challenge for the definition and images of a turn).
Refrigerating 30 minutes to an hour every 2 turns.
After the final turn, refrigerate 2 hours.
Note: From the video, McManus only made 3 turns.

6/ I cut the croissant dough in half (just in case I mess up) and rolled into a rectangle. The other half went back into the fridge for later...

Note: I wasn't sure how to form the croissants. I should have watched the McManus video.

Plain Croissants

Chocolate Croissants - a couple fingers of chocolate chips (about 1 or 2 T)

7/ After rolling let the croissant proof for about 2 to 3 hours.

8/ Bake 350 F for about 15 to 20 minutes.

Hmmm... Butter is oozing out of the croissants. I only proofed this batch for 30 minutes.

The Finished Results
Batch 1:
Flavor is very nice - buttery, slightly salty and sweet.
Texture - The interior is a little dense (bummer!) The exterior is crunchy as if it was deep fried. I think the butter oozing out created a crunchy exterior. I actually like the crunchiness. It wasn't very croissant-like, more like a dense, flaky biscuit, but I like the crunchy texture.

Batch 2: {No images taken}
The next day I baked off the second half of the dough.
This time I proofed the dough about 3 hours before baking.

The results turned out much better... No butter leakage and the end result were more croissant like - softer interior and flaky exterior.

Lessons Learned:
1) Read the instructions. I know I keep telling myself to do that, but sometimes I just fly by the seat of my pants.

2) Minimize kneading and liquid added. Rereading the recipe, the liquid to flour ratio is about 53% and I was around 60%.

3) Proof 2 to 3 hours before baking. Based on my second batch, the longer proof seemed to prevent the butter leakage I seen in the first batch. Also, it seemed to improve the interior texture of the croissant, which makes sense since the yeast will have a long time to leaven the dough.


Shawn said...

Absolutely delicious!! Great job John. I saw the movie too - and also was craving their famous chocolate croissant. I have to say, though, that the food images that were made in the movie "Julie and Julia" were much more interesting and "craving" inspired. I still cannot get their Bruschetta image out of my mind!

Eat4Fun said...

The bruschetta was one of my favorite scenes in the "Jule and Julia" film! It looked absolutely delicious and easy to do. I haven't tried making it yet. It sounds like a delicious project to try. Interested? :-)