Take your time, take it easy
I love making croissants; the process, the results... It's an art and a delicacy. When I teach croissant making it's often heard "here's what the recipe says, here's what I do." Dear students, I'm about to clear this up in writing.
18 ounces milk (2 1/4 cups)
27 ounces (by weight) of all purpose flour (1 pound 11 ounces)
2 teaspoon salt
4 ounces (1/2 cup) sugar
1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
1 pound unsalted butter, COLD, always COLD (plugras is always nice, "more fat")
First we make the detrempe:
- Heat the milk JUST to body temperature, maybe a little above. It shouldn't feel hot, it can be cooler (cool or cold prolongs the experience, but you may want to do that.)
- While the milk is heating measure out your flour and add the salt.
- Once the milk is just perfect, add the yeast and sugar to the milk. Stir to combine. You're starting to feed your yeast, hungry little buggers, they're eager for both the lactose and the sugar. They'll eat and eat and then pass a lot of gas. We want that.
- Check with your fingers, go ahead, to see that the yeast is dissolved and let it start making bubbles just to make sure it has come alive.
- Add the milk to the flour mixture and stir just to combine, make sure there are no dry spots of flour in the bowl.
- Cover this and put it in your refrigerator for at least a couple of hours, but until the next day is even better. You're allowing fermentation, the gluten fibers to relax, and hydration. You're creating FLAVOR!
- You've now made Detrempe.
|A happy detrempe creator|
- Dust your work surface with an ample amount of dusting flour.
- Pat out your dough into a tall rectangle, say 18-20 inches tall be say 10-12 inches wide.
- Using a bench scraper or a knife cut shingles of butter about 1/8-1/4 inch thick.
- Place the butter over the bottom 2/3 of the dough.
- Fold the butterless top part of the dough over the middle third, then turn that over the bottom third. You've now complete a letter fold. Get it? Remember when we used to write letters?
- Turn the dough so it's a tall rectangle with the folded "binding" on the, say, left side and roll that out so it's a taller rectangle. It'll be at first a bit tricky because of the massive amount of butter. But go forth, carry on, roll in peace. You're about to develop ABS of STEAL!
- Do another letter fold. Turn the dough so it's tall and proud, you've now completed beurrage. But you're not done.
- Roll out the dough again into a tall rectangle, do another letter fold.
- Turn the dough, roll it out again, do another letter fold. By this time your gluten is beginning to feel pissed of. Let it relax. Place the dough, now call a PATON into a gallon size zip-lock bag, put it in the refrigerator and go have a cup of coffee.
- I let the dough sit and relax for AT LEAST two hours but prefer over night until the next day; flavor people, flavor.
|paton, abs of steal|
- Remove your paton from the refrigerator, remove it from the bag, it will be filled with air (gas), gently encourage the paton to relieve itself of this gas.
- With the spine of the letter on one side, roll the dough out into a (you got it) a tall rectangle. Do a letter fold.
- Turn it and roll it out again. Do a letter fold.
- Return it to the zip-lock. Return it to the refrigerator. Go for a walk.
Later that day
- Repeat what you did above. Including the putting back in the refrigerator part.
|Rolling, and rolling|
The Final Day, ready to make croissants?
- Put on some nice classical music, Bach is nice. Or French cafe music, but don't put on a beret. That's going too far.
- Remove your paton from the refrigerator and the zip-lock bag.
- On a well floured surface, roll your paton out into a 30x20" (total guesstimating here, do I really measure?)
- Feel the surface of the dough, nice huh?
- Using a pizza wheel, cut the sheet of pastry into either triangles (for croissant) or rectangles (for "pain au...")
- To do this NATHAN, (a student who had his on rouge ideas) turn the sheet of dough to "landscape view" (not portrait)
- Cut the dough in half horizontally across the middle.
- Mark "A, B, C, D..." by cutting little marks in the dough.
- To make croissants, cut from A to B, B to C, C to D, check out the diagram:
- To make "pain au..." for chocolate, or ham and cheese, or... simply cut straight across from say F to F, and G to G...
- Fill with your favorite fillings, roll and place on a sheet pan with parchment paper or silicone mats leaving plenty of room for your creations to PROOF.
- To proof your croissants, place them in a warm (NOT HOT, not above 100 degrees) spot covered. You can place a pan of hot TAP water into your cold oven, and keep the croissants in there. Or, place the sheet pan of croissants in a large garbage bag and put them in a warm spot. Proof until the little guys feel like marshmallows, soft but not flabby.
- Preheat your oven to 380 degrees or so. Egg wash and bake around 20 minutes or until they're nice a brown.
|A student egg washing under my discerning eye|
- Eat and enjoy with coffee