January 10, 2012

French Croissant . (best ever made)

over the last several years i have been perfecting a french-style croissant, that is quite literal the best i have ever had. like my cinnamon rolls a good deal of what makes them delicious is the process, not necessarily the recipe.

first and for most, these things take time... lots of it. roughly 8hours plus at least 6 hours refrigeration.
but as John Wooden Said "If you don't have time to do it right, When will you have time to do it over?"


Ingredients:
3 Tbsp flour
3 sticks unsalted butter (3/4 pound) of butter, room temperature cubed
4 cups all-purpose flour, approximately
2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
2 packages dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1-1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 egg
1 Tbsp water

Yield approx 24 rolls.

start by making the butter mixture. it is very important that we have the right temperature butter, and that it is butter... not margarine. it is easier, for me, to take the butter out of the fridge and cube it while it is still cold, then let it sit on the counter for an hour or so to come up to room temperature. 

in a medium bowl place your cubed( no larger than 1/2inch pieces) butter and sprinkle 3Tbsp of sifted flour on top, then using a pastry blend, or fork work the flour in and mix until light in color and uniform.

place the butter on a sheet of wax-paper, parchment or foil(i prefer foil) and shape into a a square that is 5-6inches. place in the fridge and chill.

we start the dough by making a Poolish, (a french preferment) ours is going to be a 50% hydration.
in a small bowl place 1/4C warm water and 2Tbsp sugar, stir slightly then sprinkle 2 packages of yeast on top to bloom, set aside.(1 package is approximately 1/4 ounce or 2-1/2 teaspoons)

in a medium saucepan measure out 1-1/2C milk and 1/2C half-and-half place on low heat and warm until about 80 degrees F, not more that 95F.

in a large bowl measure out 2-1/4C flour, sifted, add in the the bloomed yeast mixture, light mix, then carefully add in the warmed milk. (if the milk is too hot, it will kill the yeast) mix well, cover with a tea-towel moistened with hot water, and let sit for several hours. it needs to double twice and it needs time for the yeast to develop flavor, not so long as to allow the tea-towel to dry out.  after it doubles once stir it down, and let it double again. (if you are planing on raising it overnight, the fridge is a better option, in a plastic bag, just make sure you let the dough warm back up, before continuing.)

you know it is done when it starts to take on a gelatinous and slightly spongy texture.

next add in the remaining flour, slowly, no more than a 1/4C at a time. give the dough a minute or so to absorb the flour between each addition. it may not take all of the flour, the dough should be soft, and but not sticky.

let rest 20minutes.

now we autolyze the the dough, to do this sprinkle the salt over the dough, and knead it in, only enough to mix the salt in.

let sit for 10minutes.

the salt has extracted some of the moisture from the dough, so knead the dough to redistribute it. do this in the bowl, and only knead until the dough is uniformly mixed.

cover again with warm moistened tea-towel and let double again, this will likely take 30minutes to an hour.

move to a zip-top bag and place in the fridge. chill for no less than 2 hours. you may wish to check it after 30minutes or so to vent extra gas. 

now comes the tricky part. we need to get the dough and butter mixture to the be about 65F. usually this means taking the butter out of the fridge 30-40(maybe an hour) before the dough. 

if at any point the butter is breaking up. stop, let it sit for 10-20minutes to warm up, and then continue; if it becomes greasy, or starts oozing out of the dough, stop, chill it for 10-20minutes and try again. you are working against temperature and time here, so combination of observation, caution and speed is required.

the butter will be slightly flexible, but not oily when it is at the right temperature.

when they are ready, gently flatten the dough, working into a square with your hands, you want to break up and redistribute the larger air bubbles while kneading the dough as little as possible.

working on a floured surface, take a rolling pin, and roll the dough into 12inch square. unwrap the butter block and place it in the center, on the diagonal. take each corner and fold it over the butter. there should be overlap of at least 2inches. 

take the dough and flip it over, roll out using constant but gentle pressure. roll out into a rectangle the rectangle should be about 10 X 24inches. fold the dough in thirds, and rotate 90degrees,  and roll out again. fold like a letter, in thirds again.

place uncovered in the fridge to rest and chill for an hour or so, no more than 2.

remover from fridge, let warm slightly and roll out again, and again. 

you should fold and roll the dough a total of four times, rotating a quarter turn each time. 

now place back in the fridge and chill for 3-4hours, in a zip-top bag, 

now we form the final shape, remember we are aiming for 5inch triangles, so when rolling the dough, try and get the final size some factor of 5. i roll mine to about 10 X 40 inches. don't worry to much about the overall size the thickness is much more crucial. it needs to be 1/4inch. less and it wont be chewy enough more and it wont be flaky enough.  

after they are cut chill and rest for 20minutes.

roll into the traditional shape, starting at the bottom roll toward the point, place on a baking sheet, preferably with a silpat. cover sheet with a warm moistened tea-towel and let raise for 30minute to an hour.

boil water and heat the over to the lowest setting you have. (mine is 170F) turn of the oven and let cool until it is between 100 and 125degrees F, no hotter. place a 9X13 or other pan in to the bottom of the oven, fill with boiling water, place rolls in the oven and let proof for 30minutes or so, then remove the towles, and let raise another 10minutes. the rolls should have more than doubled in size.

remove rolls and water pan from over, preheat over to 425F  while it is heating, beat 1 egg and 1Tbsp of water together, to form an egg wash, brush over rolls.(for a slightly soft wash, as 1teaspoon of olive oil to the wash)

bake for 25minutes.  

i use a convectional oven, so i bake mine @ 410F and they are done after 20minutes, however i set my timer to 15minutes and check them every minute or so after that.