Saturday, October 25, 2014

Continuous Croissants

My croissant recipe - derived from the Julia Childs's video - is no big deal. What is fun is that although at least 8 hours long and involving multiple repeated steps, there are many opportunities to pause the sequence by putting dough in the fridge or the freezer. As a result you can start a batch almost anytime of day and, with a bit of planning, have them be fresh baked at any time of day as well. Since I love to eat croissant and am enjoying baking them, I could easily go off my diet and have non-stop heartburn.

Note: croissant are the same as bread, with two risings. The dough includes milk, sugar, and oil [which is a bit different from bread] and there is a whole bunch of messing around with butter and rolling pins between the two risings, but it is still the same basic idea - just a variation.

Take out a big bowl and a small one. 
Put 1tsp yeast [use 1/2 and double the rise times below] in small bowl and add 1/2 cup of warm milk, 1/4 cup warm water, 1 tsp sugar.

While you have the sugar and tablespoon in hand, start adding to the big bowl:
Put 1 tsp sugar in big bowl , add 1 tsp salt, 3-4 tbs of cooking oil, 2 cups of flour.
[I used King Arthur, tried mixing in some pastry flour - which is a disaster, and got good results with Gold flour. Am now trying mixing King Arthur and Gold].

Add small bowl contents to big  bowl. Mix thoroughly until it is all one lump of dough stuck to the fork (or mixer). Add liquid/oil if it is too crumbly to form a single lump. Now kneed the heck out of it: maybe three minutes by hand until it becomes silky.Let this dough rise at room temperature until the ball is about 2 times as wide. Takes a bit less than 2 hours at 70F room temperature. 

After this rising, punch it down and put aside in the fridge, briefly, while you soften the butter.

[Following Julia C]
Take one stick of unsalted butter out from fridge and hammer it out with a rolling pin, then use the heel of your hand to squash down the bumps and warm it slightly. Scape it together a few times. Use the heel of your hand a second kind of want the butter and dough to be equally soft, maybe the butter a little harder than the dough. Scrape it together into a 5"x4" rectangle.

Key points: kneading enough, and softening enough - with no lumps in the butter.

Take dough from fridge, flatten into a 14" diameter circle. Put the butter rectangle in the middle and fold up the edges (without pulling on them) to make an envelope around the butter. Pinch the seams. Roll carefully into 14"x7" rectangle, turning it over a few times, and fold the long dimension in 3.  Then turn the dough 90 degrees clockwise and, in the direction that was previously the 7" width, roll it out again into 14"x7" rectangle, fold in 3 again. That is two "turns".

Let dough rest in fridge for 2 hours. Then repeat the rolling and folding two more times. That is two more "turns". Now let dough rest another 2 hours in fridge. 

Dough in now ready to be rolled out 1/8" thick. Following Julia, I cut the dough in half, put one in fridge while rolling out other half. Cut that half again and put a quarter in fridge while rolling out the other quarter to 1/8" thickness. While working with a small amount of dough, the rest remains cool.

At 1/8" thickness, cut into triangles, roll them up and bend into crescents. When rolling dough into a tube towards the point of the triangle, stretch the dough a little in the direction you are rolling. 

Put on baking sheet and allowed to rise again for 2-3 hours. When ready, they become jiggly.

Heat oven  (note: you can use a hotter over without moisture, or a cooler one with more moisture. I have settled on  450 with a small splash of water on the coil, to make steam]
Bake for 9 minutes. Just before they are ready, they smell good. If you are burning the bottoms you can start to smell it - so keep a nose out for these things.

Let cool. They are best about 1/2 hour later.

 - any time dough is frozen it stops the sequence. It resumes when it dough is back at fridge temperature. 
 - any time it is rising you can slow it down longer than 2 hours by putting in fridge. For example, form the croissant before bed, put in fridge, use warm oven to accelerate rising in the morning. You can have em for breakfast.


  1. As for lard: good lard has too much flavor
    As for baking pan, ones with side impede the cooking, so flat is better

  2. Recently I decided that dried yeast releases too much of a flavor I do not like - it is too "yeasty". So if you use 1/2 the yeast and wait a lot longer for risings, then you get a better croissant.

  3. Specifically: 1/2 tsp of yeast per 2 cups flour and final rising of formed croissants for 4-8 hours.

  4. OK, so now I use 1/2 tsp of yeast and let rising take up to 2x longer. I use 1 cup KingArthur bread flower, and 1 cup unbleached Gold all purpose.

  5. I left out another important thing: use baking parchment to avoid pan flavoring and bitterness.