Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Daring Bakers: 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!

This is not only my first Julia Child recipe, but also my first time making croissants. Yes, before this week I was a croissant-making virgin.

.... Err, I don't think that one came out right :)

Any who, I need to apologize to all of you for the quality of my post this week. I had no idea croissants would be such a devil to make! Not because it was overly difficult (though technique is required for sure), but rather they took forever to complete. I am talking a good day and a half when all was said and done. Granted, I could have knocked a lot of the time off the clock had I not had a million things going on, but it never happens that way. Instead, I had to squeeze steps in here and there throughout the weekend. As a result, I was not able to get many of the photos I had hoped to for all of the required steps. Sorry all!

Now, I am not a croissant expert, nor am I really even a connoisseur. It's not that I don't enjoy them. I mean, a rich, buttery, light croissant that melts in your mouth is a wonderful, wonderful treat. I guess it's more that I associate them with breakfast, and if I am going to indulge in the morning, I will choose a big 'ole doughnut or stack of french toast every time. It's just how I'm wired.

What I am getting at, I guess, is that I don't have much experience with croissants. I am not even entirely sure if my attempt at croissants was a success. They look decent enough to me, and they tasted pretty darn good, but I just don't know. I feel pretty out of my element on this one. So, please feel free to weigh in on my results. I'd love to know what you think, especially if you have tips for success!

The one thing I do know for sure is that this recipe is about a delicate hand and precision. You need to treat the dough with respect, or she is gonna hate you! Make sure you follow the instructions closely, and for heavens sake, do not take any short cuts! When it says let the dough rest, let the dough rest!

Total success or not, how cool is it that I made croissants? I love participating in The Daring Bakers'. I can tell you for certain that I never would have made croissants had it not been for this club. Heck, I wouldn't have made half the delicious goodies I have so far if it had not been for these challenges. I love it! I love pushing my limits and learning new skills. Thanks for an awesome challenge!

Please note everyone, I have modified a few of the step in the instructions based on suggestions of fellow baker. As written below, this is NOT the exact recipe from the book. The ingredient list is the same, but the steps are slightly modified.

Have a Sweet Day!
Jaime @ The Great Cake Company


Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume II by Julia Child and Simone Beck
Makes 8 croissants

For The Dough
1/4 ounce (7 gm) of fresh yeast, or 1¼ teaspoon (4 gm) of dry-active yeast
3 tablespoons (45 ml) warm water (less than 100°F/38°C)
1 teaspoon (5 ml/4½ gm) granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups (225 gm/½ lb) of strong plain flour or bread flour (11-13% protein)
2 teaspoons (10 ml/9 gm) sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon (7½ ml/9 gm) salt (I reduced this to 1 teaspoon)
1/2 cup (120 ml/¼ pint) whole milk
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 egg plus 1 teaspoon of water (for egg wash)

Method (Phase 1) 
Mix the yeast, warm water, and first teaspoon of sugar in a small bowl. Set 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, and the salt and remaining sugar and stir until dissolved.

Place the flour in a large bowl. Add the oil, yeast mixture, and milk mixture to the flour. Using a rubber spatula, mix all the ingredients together just until all the flour is incorporated. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and let it rest while you wash out the bowl. Knead the dough eight to ten times only. Do not overwork the dough. Knead only until the flour is incorporated. Place the dough back in the bowl, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest at approximately 75°F/24°C for a minimum of three hours, or until the dough has tripled in size.

Method (Phase 2) 
After the dough has tripled in size, remove it gently from the bowl, pulling it away from the sides of the bowl with your fingertips. Place the dough on a lightly floured board or counter top, and use your fingers to press it into a rectangle about 6 by 15 inches. Fold the dough rectangle in three, like a letter (fold the top third down, and then the bottom third up and over the top of the fold you just made). Place the dough back in the bowl. Cover the bowl tightly in plastic wrap. Let the dough rise for a minimum of 1.5 hours, or until it has doubled in size. This second rise can be done overnight in the fridge.

Cut the stick of butter in half lengthwise. Place the halves between two pieces of wax paper about three inches apart. Use your rolling to beat the butter down a little, and then roll it into a sheet of butter about 5 x 5 inches, making sure it is even thickness. Cover the butter sheet with plastic wrap, and place it on a flat surface in the fridge until needed.

Method (Phase 3)
Remove the dough and butter sheet from the fridge. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface. Let it rest for about 10 minutes. Using your fingers, gently spread the dough into a rectangle about 6 by15 inches. Remove the butter sheet from the plastic wrap and place it on the left two-thirds of the dough rectangle, keeping it 1/4-inch away from all the edges.
When the butter and dough are the same consistency, fold the top third of the dough down onto the butter, and the bottom third of the dough up onto the folded portion. Turn the dough package 90-degrees, so that the top flap is to your right (like a book). Using a rolling pin, gently roll out the dough package until it is about 6 by 15 inches. Again, fold the top third down and the bottom third up. Wrap the dough package in plastic wrap, and place it in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours.

Method (Phase 4)
After two hours have passed, take the dough out of the fridge and place it again on the lightly floured board or counter. Tap the dough with the rolling pin to deflate it a little. Let the dough rest for 8 to 10 minutes.

Roll the dough package out till it is 6 by 15 inches. Fold the top third down and the bottom third up. Turn 90 degrees, and roll out again to 6 by 15 inches. Again, fold in three for the last time. Wrap dough in plastic, and return it to the fridge for a minimum of two hours (or overnight).

Method (Phase 5)
Lightly butter a baking sheet. Remove the dough from the fridge, and let it rest for ten minutes on the lightly floured board or counter. Using a rolling in, roll the dough out into a 16 by 8 inch rectangle. Use a straight edge and a knife or pizza cutter to cut clean edges on the rectangle. Cut the dough into four rectangles 4 by 8 inches wide. Cut each rectangle into two triangles for a total of eight triangles.

Starting at the wide end, stretch the points of the triangle out a little, and roll the triangle up towards the narrow point. Curve it into a crescent shape. Place the unbaked croissant on the baking sheet. Repeat the process with the remaining triangles. Brush the top of the dough with the egg wash, and cover lightly with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 475°F. Remove the plastic wrap, and brush the tops again with the egg wash. Place the croissants in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until the tops are browned nicely. Remove croissants from the oven, and place on a rack to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Croissants are best the day they are made, but can be stored in an airtight container for a day or two.


  1. Absolute perfection! I will have to try these for a special occasion!

  2. Fabulous!!! I didn't post any steps so your post is so much more informative :) Weren't these delicious?

  3. wow! they look gorgeous! this one was way beyond my skill level, so i didn't bake along, but you did an amazing job! congrats


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