My favorite baking genius Livejournal friend, Annalise, posted this recipe for chocolate-filled croissants on her blog, Knead to be Loaved. When I first saw this post (months ago), I desperately wanted to try my hand at making them. However, since I have problems making layer cakes, I figured I was too inept to make croissants. Last weekend, curiosity got the best of me, and I resolved to make them this weekend. I figured, even if they look bad, they'll probably still taste good. So, follow me, friends! This is the tale of Heather's first attempt at making croissants.
For the dough:
-2 large eggs, and enough warm water to make 2c. liquid
-1/4 c. sugar
-5 1/2-6c. all-purpose flour (Annalise recommends using King Arthur, which I second)
-2 1/4 tsp (1 packet) yeast
-1/2 c. dry milk (not necessary, but Annalise never goes without it)
-1 scant tablespoon salt
-1 teaspoon vanilla
-2 tablespoons butter, melted
For the butter:
-1 3/4 c. chilled butter
-1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2. Pour mixture into a large bowl; add 1 tablespoon sugar, 3 cups flour, and yeast. Mix until well-blended, and set aside.
3. In a separate bowl, combine the rest of the flour (2 1/2 cups), dry milk, and salt. **Note: I did not see in the recipe where to add the rest of the sugar, so I added it here. I don't think it adversely affected the recipe.** Set aside.
4. Cut 1 3/4 cups butter into 8 pieces per stick. Put into a food processor, and add 1/2 cup flour. Pulse until the butter is crumbly and thoroughly chopped. **Note: I ended up going one pulse beyond crumbly, and my butter was extremely melty and almost whipped. While I don't think this mattered *hugely* in the end, you should know that this happens very quickly.**
5. Lay plastic wrap out on the counter and sprinkle flour on it. Dump the butter mix onto the plastic wrap. Using your hands, create an 8x8 square of butter. Wrap it up and refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour.
6. By now, the sponge you made earlier should have expanded with bubbles in the dough. It will have a thick, glue-like consistency. Stir in the vanilla. Add the flour-milk-salt mixture, 1/4 at a time. Annalise recommends stirring by hand, so as not to over-stir and make the dough tough. **Note: This was *extremely* difficult, at least for me. The dough was so thick that 'stirring' it was more like sticking the wooden spoon in the middle of the dough and moving the dough around in circles. It got me nowhere. So, I ended up mushing the flour mixture into the dough with my hands. It may not be the right procedure, but it worked.**
7. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead for 8 minutes, or until the dough feels elastic and springy. Wrap loosely and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
8. Take the dough out of the fridge and put onto a lightly floured counter. Roll into a 12x12 square. Take the butter square and place it on top of the dough, so it creates a diamond shape. Take up the sides of the dough carefully--trying not to include a lot of air--and wrap the butter in the dough.
9. Pinch the seams together--really seal them, using a little water if necessary. **Note: My butter square was much larger than 8x8, it turns out (since I did not measure it, but I did measure the dough). D'oh! So, I had to break off the edges of the butter square and smooth them onto the rest of it, so that the dough would fit over the butter. I think this only slightly affected the finished product, but it *definitely* made rolling the dough more difficult. Butter patches kept cropping up, making the dough weak and rippy and making it stick to the counter.**
10. Once it's been properly sealed, dust a rolling pin with flour, and roll out the dough. Start from the center of the dough, and roll out a 20x10 rectangle. Annalise has a great tip--a rolling pin (the roll part, not the handles) is usually 10 inches long, so you can use this to measure the dough, as opposed to breaking out the measuring tape.
11. Once the dough is turned out, make your first "turn." To do this, you fold the dough sort of like you would fold a business letter. Bring 1/3 over to the center, then the other 1/3 over the top. If the dough is still fairly cold and not falling apart, do your second turn. You do this by rolling out the dough (from the 'letter' shape) and folding as you just did. Wrap loosely and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Do one more turn, and then refrigerate overnight for best results (the minimum is 2 hours, if you need them sooner).
12. Roll the dough into a 12x18 rectangle. Using a pizza cutter, trim the edges. This both creates more of a crisp rectangle shape, and gets rid of edges that would roll during baking.
13. Divide the dough into 6 squares. Take each square and roll into a rectangle shape, then cut in half. **Note: I cut horizontally through the rectangle, since I wasn't sure the best way to do this. It seemed to work okay. However, the end products were HUGE...so perhaps it would be best to roll them even thinner than I did, and/or cut them into 3 horizontal strips.**
15. Once everything is shaped, place on baking sheet and allow to rise until doubled in size. Preheat oven to 400. While the oven is preheating, brush the tops of the croissants with an egg wash (I beat an egg yolk and 2 teaspoons of water together, but do whatever you like best). Bake 18-25 minutes, or until golden-brown (I would say mine were done at 16-18 minutes, but my oven runs hot).
Sorry for the blurry picture...darn it!
14. Put chocolate chunks (I chopped up bittersweet Ghirardelli baking chocolate) in lower 1/3rd of each dough strip. Roll upwards, tightly. Give each finished croissant a good press to seal the seam. **Note: Though I did this, and even smushed the seam together with my fingers, they still unrolled a bit. Not sure why...possibly because they were so huge.** If you're making normal croissants without the chocolate, simply cut the rectangles from corner to corner to form two triangles, and roll into croissant shape. Pinch the ends together to seal. Make sure the tip rolls under.
Sorry for the blurry picture...darn it!
16. Enjoy the fruits of your hard labor, and eat two while they're hot! :)