There are those of you who read this blog who know my mother, you may even know her cooking and baking and if you do I might venture to say that you have definitely taken a bite of one of her creations and rolled your eyes at the divine glory. Now, my mother and I are different sorts of cooks..she is a true French chef, and when I say that I mean it with the utmost respect. There are very few dishes that she makes that don’t involve butter. The first time Jaime came over to her house for dinner she whispered to me; “I think your Mom just put a whole stick of butter in those potatoes!”. To which I replied; “I am sure another stick will closely follow”. She also uses lots of fresh herbs and chocolate and salt and eggs and I am fairly certain she and Julia Child might have shared a bit of the same brain (in fact, she once made Julia an omelet I am told).
That was a bit of a lengthy segway, but here’s my point. My mother and I are different..I am always a healthy chef, I can’t help it, it’s just the way I am. But that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate that there are times when nothing but a hot buttery croissant will do. Today was such a day, Jaime had been sick with a tummy bug and croissants are just about her favorite thing in the world. As she is blessed with the metabolism of a cheetah I knew making a whole batch wouldn’t be wasteful, she would probably eat the whole batch the same day.
Here is what I learned about croissants.
- there is A LOT of butter in them.
- you get to beat the butter!
- they take a long time to make.
- there is not much else in them except butter…and flour.
- they are very, very, very worth the time and effort.
Needless to say, I spent much of my day making them, using a recipe adapted slightly from the Joy of Cooking. Okay, okay, I used whole wheat flour…I couldn’t help it!
First things first..you need some cold butter, I used 8 oz Vermont Cream and Butter people butter. Put the butter on a non slip surface (unless you want butter on your walls, some people are into that). Sprinkle it with a tablespoon of flour and beat the heck out of it (or have your 4.5 year old do it until she bangs her finger and collapses as if she has lost a limb). Scrape and fold the butter onto itself, sprinkle with another tablespoon of flour and beat again. Repeat this until you have used 3 tablespoons of flour and the butter is soft and malleable. Knead briefly, form into a rectangle and refrigerate until firm.
While the butter refrigerates, warm 1 cup of milk until tepid, whisk in 1 packet of yeast and 1 Tbsp sugar. Let that sit for a few minutes while the yeast softens. In a large mixing bowl combine 2 3/4 cup flour (I used whole wheat) , 1 tsp salt and 2 Tbsp butter (softened), cut into small pieces. Mix the butter and flour and salt together until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center and pour in the milk mixture, mix together until dough forms a ball, then turn out onto a floured work surface. Knead for a few minutes until smooth, then let it rest for five minutes.
Good lord, aren’t you tired already? It’s really not that bad, I promise…
Roll the dough into a rectangle and get butter rectangle from the fridge. Place butter across the top two thirds of the dough, see?
Then fold the bottom third up and the top third down (the top third will have butter on it). Seal the edges and turn the dough so that the folded top edge is to the left, roll out the rectangle again and repeat the folding and turning twice more. I know this seems complicated, but I promise it isn’t. The book made it seem VERY complicated and I just sort of kept folding and turning and rolling and they came out great. Things to remember:
- keep the folded edge on your left.
- refrigerate if the butter softens.
- keep the short edge of the rectangle facing you.
After the three initial turns and fold, refrigerate for 30 minutes until firm (I cheated and put it in the freezer for 15 minutes 🙂 ). Roll out the rectangle again and do the turn and fold thing two more times. Refrigerate again until firm (about one hour). Remove from freezer and divide dough in half. Roll half into a rectangle and refrigerate or freeze the other half for later use). Using a sharp knife score the dough at 4-5 inch intervals and use these to cut long triangles out. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
To form: Stretch the short edge of the triangle slightly and roll up towards the point, form into crescents shapes by bending the ends slightly. Repeat with all the triangles and leave to rise until doubled in size (1.5-2 hours). To bake preheat oven to 375 degrees and brush croissants with milk or egg. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
These truly came out perfect, despite my concerns about the heavier wheat flour. Jaime LOVED them and declared them true croissants…they were flaky and buttery and light. The other nice thing was that they were a nice petite size so it was built in portion control, and with these you need portion control! And it didn’t really take all day, we went apple picking and hung out at Burdicks and had a picnic lunch..turkey and nori and gluten-free crackers..and coffee! What a perfect Sunday!
How do you like to spend your Sundays?