Baked croissants

Croissants

Croissants have been on my list of things to make for quite some time. My goal is to come as close to the French style as possible — crispy on the outside, with tender, buttery layers on the inside.

But for a variety of reasons this project kept getting pushed to the back of the line. For one thing, I wanted to make my first batch of them following the traditional instructions that call for all purpose flour, in order to get the feel of what the experience would be like under normal conditions before using home-milled whole wheat flour. And since they’re such an involved process, it seems the odds of success are slimmer than normal and it would be so crushing to have my first batch flop.

Shaped croissant dough

Shaped croissants, ready for their final rise before baking

These croissants are my first experience making viennoiserie. To prepare, I watched the Baking with Julia episode “Croissants with Esther McManus” and Esther gave a helpful and encouraging tutorial on the process.

I started the dough yesterday afternoon so it could rest in the refrigerator along with the prepared butter overnight. At around 9 a.m. today, I started the process of rolling, folding, chilling, shaping, rising, and baking the croissants, and they came out of the oven at 6:30 this evening. This is by far my most time- and energy-intensive baking project!

Baked filled croissants

Baked filled croissants

I mostly made regular croissant shapes, but I also wanted to try my hand at filled versions. So in a couple of rectangular-shaped pieces, I placed some dark chocolate chips (I didn’t have any of the chocolate bars I’ve been seeing bakers use for this), and in a few others there’s a combination of sugar, cinnamon, plumped raisins, and walnut pieces. I’m freezing most of the shaped dough to bake later.

After working with this dough, my hands will smell like butter for days…

Process notes

  • followed the instructions, ingredients, and measurements as closely to the video as possible, except for adding the flour to the butter because…
  • I used Organic Valley Cultured European Style butter instead of American style butter
  • used 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • filled a few rectangular shapes with chocolate chips, and a few with a mixture of sugar, cinnamon, plumped raisins, and chopped walnuts
  • shaped 4 regular croissants and 4 filled to be baked immediately
  • froze 22 for later baking

Results

These puppies are definitely a labor of love. But oh man, did they turn out fantastic. I’m glad I did some filled versions. The chocolate chips got a little clumpy but tasted good, and the walnut-raising flavor was perfectly subtle.

Getting the ball of butter to spread evenly and to the edges inside the folded dough didn’t work for me, and in the future I’d like to try making the flat, rectangular slab of butter that I’ve seen with other recipes. I think a 10×7 slab would work pretty well folded inside the dough. Also, my dinky rolling pin was no match for this dough. A French pin or straight dowel style pin would be much better.

Despite these rolling challenges, I’m thrilled with how the croissants came out. I look forward to making this dough again, except with some combination of hard and soft white wheats, freshly milled and whole grain.

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