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Daring Bakers’ Challenge: Croissants

 

There is a website known as “The Daring Kitchen” that hosts two sets of challenges each month: one for cooking and one for baking. The basic idea is that someone comes up with a challenging recipe for members to try out each month, and this is my first month as a member. I am kicking off my new membership with some delicious croissants!
“The Daring Bakers go retro this month! Thanks to one of our very talented non-blogging members, Sarah, the Daring Bakers were challenged to make Croissants using a recipe from the Queen of French Cooking, none other than Julia Child!”
I cannot tell you how much I love Julia Child. My mom leant me her cookbooks to peruse for the purposes of this challenge, and I have been watching a lot of her videos online lately. I cannot think of another cooking host aside from Alton Brown and Julia Child who can make me cry with laughter while simultaneously teaching me to cook/bake. She is just so good-natured and fun to watch, and it’s completely different from watching the shows that are on TV now. Julia’s show is just a straight-forward cooking show without any added bells and whistles, and she manages to be more entertaining than anyone.
I was pretty nervous about making croissants because they are time-consuming, and I did not want to butcher one of my favourite foods. Really, any type of bread is my favourite food. It turns out that these were not so hard as they were time-consuming, and even then it’s mostly just wait-time so it’s not as bad as it seems at first glance. I was really nervous about burning them though, so I took them out of the oven a little sooner than I should have. They were not quite as crispy on the outside as I would have liked, but next time! I’ll probably get adventurous and add chocolate or some sort of glaze next time too.
Julia Child’s Croissants
1/4 oz fresh yeast or 1 1/4 tsp dry-active yeast (I used the dry-active)
3 Tbsp warm water
1 tsp sugar
1 3/4 cup strong plain flour (I used King Arthur unbleached)
2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
2 Tbsp tasteless oil (vegetable oil)
1/2 cup chilled, unsalted butter (salted is fine)
1 egg, for egg wash
Mix the yeast, warm water, and first teaspoon of sugar in a small bowl. Leave aside for the yeast and sugar to dissolve and the yeast to foam up a little.

Measure out the other ingredients. Heat the milk until tepid (either in a microwave or saucepan), and dissolve in the salt and remaining sugar. Place the flour in a large bowl. Add the oil and the milk mixture to the flour.

The yeast mixture should have bubbled up by now (it should take about 5 minutes). Add it to the flour mixture.

Mix all the ingredients together using the rubber spatula, just until all the flour is incorporated. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface.

Knead the dough eight to ten times only. It would be helpful to watch the Julia Child video on youtube to see how she does it, but you sort of have to punch the dough down the first few times until it stops sticking to your hands. Then you can just knead it normally.

Place the dough in another bowl, snip the top with some kitchen shears to allow for faster rising, and either place the bowl in a plastic bag or cover it with plastic wrap. I chose to do the latter.

Leave the bowl at approximately 75 degrees for an hour and a half, or until the dough has doubled in size.

After the dough has doubled in size, punch it down into a flat circle, wrap it in wax paper, and chill it for another 30 minutes.

Beat the stick of butter with a rolling pin until it is malleable, then finish flattening it with the heel of your hand until it is completely lump-free.

Press your dough into an approximate 9″ diameter circle, then form the butter into a 5″ square and place it on the top of your dough in the center (I used a pastry scraper to transfer the butter, but you can use a knife and spread it). Now gently flip the dough edges over the butter and seal in the butter by pinching the dough.

Flour your rolling pin and both sides of your dough, place it on your board or counter with the seal side up and start gently rolling back and forth from the center towards the edges to form a rectangle of about 15″ long and 5″ wide. It doesn’t have to be exact, but try to keep it as straight as possible. If there are butter bits that poke through, just pinch the dough over that spot to re-seal it.

Fold the bottom of your rectangle to the center of the dough.

Fold the top flap over it the same way like you are folding a letter. This is one of four “turns” that you will do.

Now, roll the dough out into another 15″ by 5″ rectangle to prepare for the second turn. Repeat the process of folding the dough like a letter. Wrap the dough in wax paper and refrigerate it for about 1-2 hours. After it has chilled, the dough is ready for turns three and four. Repeat the same process as before: roll into a 15″ by 5″ rectangle and fold like a letter. So in total you will have done this four times. The dough will once again be wrapped up and placed in the fridge for another 2 hours now.

After the 2 hour chill, remove the dough from the fridge and place onto a lightly floured surface. This time roll it into a 20″ by 5″ rectangle. Try to keep the edges as straight as possible.

Cut the dough in half across the middle and chill one half.

Roll the remaining half of the dough into a 12″ by 5″ rectangle and cut it in thirds. Chill two of the thirds.

Take one of the thirds and roll it into a 5 1/2″ square and cut it on the bias.

Roll the triangle out to extend to about 7″ long and shape it as much as you can into an isosceles triangle (two sides equal in length). Now starting at the base, roll up the dough towards the tip of the triangle, then bend it into a crescent moon form, and place it on a buttered 12″ by 14″ baking sheet (not too close to each other) with the tip of the triangle on the bottom so that it will not unwrap during baking. Form the rest of the dough the same way into a total of 12 croissants, and let it rest for an hour covered with plastic wrap.

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F. Paint the risen croissants with egg wash (one egg mixed with 1/2 tsp water). Then bake for 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown!

Comments (2)

  • >That is so cool that you made homemade croissants! I'm going to have to get up the guts and try it one day.

    Reply
  • >Those look sooo yummy! I'll give it a try and let you know if I had the patience to let it chill over and over again… I am always so ready to bake/eat things that its hard for me to wait.

    Reply

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