Sure, jetting off on a trip is great but sometimes I just look forward to having a lazy Sunday morning at home. This time of year when the days get shorter, combined with cooler weather (and maybe even snow!) I occasionally like to cocoon.
I can while away a morning drinking coffee, surfing the web and enjoying some “guilty pleasure” baked goods. This past weekend I decided to bake up a batch of croissants for my Sunday morning.
Croissants take a bit of advance preparation but you can start with the no knead bread dough and go from there. In addition to baking, croissants involve a bit of upper body strength and math wizardry. What you create by making a croissant dough is a laminated dough. A laminated dough, like a puff pastry, is composed of multiple butter and dough layers. The butter in the dough gives you that great flaky crust of a croissant.
“Croissants involve a bit of upper body strength and math wizardry”
Here’s how I do it.
I start with about enough bread dough as you’d use for 2 loaves of bread (about 2 pounds) then you need about a pound of unsalted butter. The key is that you need to keep the butter cold, so only take the butter from the refrigerator when you need to work with it. Slice the pound of butter into half inch thick slices lengthwise, now place those slices beside each other on a piece of cling wrap or parchment paper. Sprinkle the butter with a bit of flour and place another piece of cling wrap on top. Now take your rolling pin and pound it until you have one large flat piece of butter, put the butter back in the fridge while you prepare the dough.
Take your bread dough and roll it into a rectangle about one half inch thick. Now that you have your dough rolled out, take your butter out of the fridge and place it on one end of the rectangle. Fold your rectangle of dough like you’d fold a letter before putting it in an envelope. You should have made 2 folds so that now your dough would be in 3 layers. Roll again until you’ve got a rectangle about the same size as you started with. Fold again and place in the fridge for about an hour. After an hour, once your dough has chilled again, remove from the fridge and roll and fold a couple of times then return to the fridge. Repeat this a couple more time before you cut out your croissants. What you’ve done is create a dough with about a hundred layers of butter and dough, this is the power of exponential layering each time you fold the dough. Let your dough chill again before you cut and shape the croissants.
While the dough is cooling you can create a template for your croissants. Use a piece of cardboard cut into a triangle to help you create consistent croissants. Make a triangle that’s 5 inches wide extending 10 inches to a point.
Now, roll out your dough one last time into a long rectangle 10 inches wide. Use your template to cut out your croissants, you should get about a dozen or more. Once you’ve cut your croissants, start from the wide end and roll them up, you can curve them slightly and place them on a cookie sheet.
I usually like to do this the day before and put them in the fridge to slow proof overnight. The next morning, remove your croissants from the fridge and preheat your oven to 450F. Once the oven has heated, brush the croissants with an egg wash and pop in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown. Your house will fill with the smell of baking croissants that are guaranteed to make you salivate, brew up some good coffee and relax until they’ve finished baking.
Once baked, remove the croissants from your oven and let them cool on a rack for about 15 minutes (I know, this will take a lot of self restraint).
Settle into your favourite chair with a warm croissant, topped with homemade strawberry jam, a good cup of coffee and your computer, newspaper or a good book and enjoy. Often it’s these simple times I enjoy the most.
Here’s a good source of additional information on making croissants.