Sunday, August 5, 2012

Home Made Classic Croissants

It's Julia Child's 100th birthday this week, and PBS is celebrating for her. You'll be seeing all sorts Julia Child recipes popping up all over the Internet from August 5-15 and plenty of tweets with the #CookForJulia hashtag.

I'm starting my celebration with a very French item (to celebrate her tenure as The French Chef) that is sort of a bread, and is what most people think is a really difficult recipe - croissants.

Truthfully, croissants aren't that difficult. The first time you make them, they seem difficult. They take a long time.

But really, most of the time is resting time. You're resting, the dough is resting, and nothing is going on that needs attention. And you can pretty much stop the recipe at about any time you want and chuck the dough in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. Or even for an extra day. It's all good.

There are also a lot of measurements where you're instructed to roll the dough to a specific size. After making croissants a number of times, I've got to tell you that exact measurements aren't something you have to stress about. You should get close, but you don't need to be exact. It's not like you're trying to fit it into a pan.

This recipe is from the book From Julia's Kitchen by Julia Child. The instructions are much more detailed in the book, but this will get the job done for you.

When you get to the butter measurement, here's the deal. The more butter you use, the better the croissants will be. However, the less butter you use, the easier it will be to work with. Julia suggests starting with a smaller amount of butter - just the one stick - and working your way up to using more, until you get to the maximum.

Adapted from From Julia's Kitchen by Julia Child

1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 tablespoons tepid water
2 teaspoons sugar
1 3/4 cups (8 ounces) all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2/3 cup tepid milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 to 7 ounces (1 to 1 3/4 sticks) chilled unsalted butter

Mix the yeast, water and sugar while you measure the flour and salt into a medium bowl.

Blend the milk and oil with the yeast mixture, then add that to the flour.

Mix until well combined, then turn it out onto your work surface. Let it rest for a few minutes, then knead until the dough feels smooth and begins to draw back into shape when pushed out during kneading. (You'll probably need a dusting of flour during kneading, but try not to add too much.)

Put the dough back into the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside until the dough has at least tripled in size. This should take at least 3 hours. If it seems to be rising too fast, put it in the refrigerator for a while to slow it down, then take it out to resume rising.

After the first rise, turn the dough out, fold it over a few times, put in back in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rise until doubled in size. This should take 1 1/2 to 2 hours. If it rises too fast, give it a short nap in the refrigerator to slow it down. It's perfectly fine if it takes longer to rise.

Turn the dough out onto a floured plate (I used a cake pan) cover it with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Turning it out will deflate it. That's supposed to happen. At this point, I left it in the refrigerator overnight.

Take the butter out of the refrigerator and beat it with a rolling pin to soften it so you can spread it. You want to do this quickly so it doesn't get warm. Scrape the butter up with a dough scraper, fold it over, and whack it again if need be to get it soft. The book suggests spreading in with the palm of your hand, but my paws are too warm for that.

Flour your work surface and turn out the dough. Roll it to about 14x8 inches and spread the butter over 2/3 of the length of the dough. Fold the uncovered third over the buttered center, then fold the other side over that, like folding a letter (does anyone fold letters any more?)

Lightly flour the dough, roll it to about 10x16 inches. Fold it into thirds like you did before (but obviously no butter). Flour the dough, wrap it in plastic, and refrigerate it for at least 45 minutes.

Take it out of the refrigerator. If the butter has become solid, whack the dough with your rolling pin to soften it. Then roll it to a rectangle (size isn't listed in the book - figure about the same as before.) Fold in thirds again as before. Then roll and fold one last time.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap again and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. I used two sheets because I wanted to give the crescents plenty of space. The book suggests buttering the baking sheet, but I prefer parchment.

Roll the dough to a rectangle about 20x5 inches. Cut it in half crosswise and return half to the refrigerator. Roll the half you're working with to about 15x5 inches. Cut it into thirds so you have three 5x5 pieces. If you can work quickly, leave them out of the refrigerator. If you work slowly, keep one piece out to work with and refrigerate the other two.

Cut your 5x5 piece diagonally into 2 triangles. Lengthen the triangle to about 7 inches and stretch the base, pulling it with your fingers, until it's another inch wider. Starting at the base, roll the triangle toward the tip. Bend the two ends to form the curve of the crescent.

Place the roll on the prepared backing sheet. Continue with the rest.

Cover the baking sheets and let the croissants rise until they are about tripled in size and they feel puffy and light. This should take 1 1/2 hours and possible more, depending on how cold the dough was before you started this last procedure.

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees before the buns are fully risen so it's ready to go. When the buns have risen fully, brush them with the egg wash and then bake at 475 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes. Let them cool on a rack for 10 minutes or so before serving.
This post is part of #SundaySupper. Here's the full lineup of blogs participating this week:

Râpée Morvandelle by Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
Croissants by Cookistry
Cheese and Bacon Quiche by Tora’s Real Food

Tuna Salad Nicoise by Magnolia Days
Blood Orange, Walnut, and Rocket Salad by Granny’s Down Home Southern Cooking
Croque Monsieur by Webicurean
Spinach and Cream Cheese Pancakes by Happy Baking Days
Julia’s Chicken Salad by My Trials in the Kitchen
Pissaladière Niçoise (Onion Tart with Anchovies and Black Olives) by The Wimpy Vegetarian
Provencal Tomato Quiche by Are you hungry?
Quiche Lorraine Spoon and Saucer

Bouillabaisse by The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen
Boeuf Bourguignon by Chelsea’s Culinary Indulgence
Orecchiette Con Broccoli Di Rape and Sausages by Doggie at the Dinner Table
Boeuf Bourguignon by Hezzi D’s Books and Cooks
Veal Stew with Onions and Mushrooms with Baked Cucumbers and Boiled Potatoes (Blanquette de veau a l’ancienne with concombres au buerre) by Kimchi Mom
Salmon en Papillote by Girlichef
Poached salmon with cucumber sauce by Katherine Martinelli
Lobster Souffle and Deviled Chicken- Crispy Bits & Burnt Ends
Roasted Chicken with Julia’s Mustard Marinade by The Meltaways
Wild Mushroom and Herb Stuffed Chicken- Mama Mommy Mom
Puree of White Beans with Garlic and Herbs (Brandade á la Soissonaise) Avocado Pesto
Poulet au Porto by Family Foodie

Hollondaise over Blanched Asparagus by The Little Ferraro Kitchen
Scalloped Potatoes with Milk, Cheese, and Garlic (Gratin Dauphinois) by Home Cooking Memories
Ratatouille by Basic N Delicious
French-style country pate by There and Back Again
White Bean Dip with Homemade Tortilla Chips Momma’s Meals
Oeufs à la Diable by What Smells So Good?
Soubise by The Weekend Gourmet
Ratatouille by Cupcakes and Kale Chips

Cream Cheese and Lemon Flan by Juanita’s Cocina
Strawberry Sherbert in Cooky Cups by Cravings of a Lunatic
Creme Brulee by Wine Everyday
Mousseline Au Chocolat by Small Wallet Big Appetite
Peach Tarte Tatin by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
Cinnamon Toast Flan by Vintage Kitchen Notes
Dark Chocolate Crepes by Family Spice
Crepes Fines Sucrees by Mangoes and Chutney
Pommes Rosemarie:Apples Rosie The Daily Dish Recipes
Espresso Soufflé by Chocolate Moosey
Best Ever Brownies by In the Kitchen with Audrey
Orange-Almond Jelly Roll Cake by Mrs. Mama Hen
Orange Spongecake Cupcakes by Mama’s Blissful Bites
Orange Mousse with Greek Yogurt by Sue’s Nutrition Buzz

Wine Pairings by ENOFYLZ

This has been submitted to Tastespotting.