Thursday, February 7, 2013

Croissants: Three Ways



I've been wanting to try my hand at making croissants for a long time now, but once I read about the length of the process of making them I decided to put it off for a time when I would have more....time.

And now that I'm funemployed, that time has come!

So, last week I rolled up my sleeves and gave this well-rated croissant recipe over at Fine Cooking's website a shot. Their recipe takes three days to make but I made mine in two, taking suggestions from some of the commenters that the dough can rest for an couple hours in the refrigerator after being made rather than overnight. I also only made two plain croissants and filled the rest with my own concoctions. The first was a Greek-style filling, complete with feta, spinach, garlic, dill, and oregano. The second was the classic French ham & cheese. But the third was something very special, candied blood oranges. I love love love love love blood oranges. Every year I look forward to January and February when the markets here in Los Angeles are awash with them. If you've never had a blood orange, it's worth tracking them down. They taste like oranges but with a hint of raspberry and more sweetness, I think most Whole Foods carry them at this time of year.


Anywho, after a little elbow grease and much waiting, I was incredibly happy when the croissants actually came out. I was nervous that I had rolled the dough too hard or that the fillings would interfere somehow with the baking process, but it all turned out wonderfully. Nice and flaky and buttery, just the way a croissant should be. I will say, though, that the baking sheet you use will affect the baking time. I used a metal baking sheet for some of the croissants and my le creuset rectangle casserole dish for the rest, and the ones in the le creuset pan took about 6 minutes longer to bake than the others, so while your croissants are baking make sure to keep a close eye on them and go by what they actually look like rather than the time, everyone's ovens are different and have their own special "hot spots".

I also just wanted to give you all a head's up that I am working on something new for the blog, a little side series that I think will be fun and that I've been wanting to do for a while but actually have the time for now. I'll be posting my first "side project" in a few days, I hope you all like it!



Ingredients:

Croissants

1 Egg
4 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1 and 1/4 Cups Butter, cold and hard
1/2 Cup Plus 2 Tablespoons Cold Water
1/2 Cup Plus 2 Tablespoons Cold Whole Milk
1/4 Cup Plus 2 Tablespoons Sugar
3 Tablespoons Butter, softened
1 Tablespoon Plus 1/2 Teaspoon Instant Yeast
2 and 1/4 Teaspoons Salt
1 Teaspoon Water

Candied Blood Oranges

1 Blood Orange, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
1 Cup Sugar
3/4 Cup Water
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract


Spinach & Feta Filling

1 Cup Fresh Spinach, chopped
1/2 Cup Feta Cheese, crumbled
1/3 Cup Ricotta Cheese
1 Teaspoon Fresh Oregano, diced
1/4 Teaspoon Dried Dill
1/4 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
Pinch of Salt and Pepper

Ham & Cheese

1/4 Cup Grated Gruyere or Cheddar Cheese
6 Slices Quality Canadian Bacon

Tools

Parchment Paper
Rolling Pin

First, make the dough. Mix together the flour, 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water, milk, sugar, yeast, salt, and three tablespoons of softened butter in a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment on low speed for three minutes, then raise the speed to medium and mix for another three minutes. Wipe the sides of the bowl down with a spatula if neccessary. Place the dough on a lightly floured plate, wrap it well with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator to rest for 2 hours.


While the dough is resting, begin cutting the 1 and 1/4 cups of cold butter into 1/2 inch thick slices and then arrange them in a 5 to 6 inch square on top of a piece of parchment paper. Place another sheet of parchment paper on top and begin pounding the butter with a rolling pin with light strokes, then begin pounding harder as the butter pieces start to stick together into one large piece. Pound the butter until the square is about 7 and 1/2 inches wide & long, then peel back the top layer of parchment paper and  trim the edges of the butter square so that they are straight, placing the trimmings in the center of the square, placing the parchment paper back over it, and pounding the trimming gently into the center of the square until flat. Place the encased butter sheet on a flat surface inside the refrigerator.


Once the dough has had a rest, take it out of the fridge and place it on a lightly floured flat surface. Roll it into a 10 and 1/2 inch square, brush off any extra flour, and take the butter square out of the refrigerator. Remove it from the sheets of parchment paper and place the butter square in the center of the dough square so that the butter's corners are centered along the straight sides of the dough square. Now gently pull up each corner of the dough and wrap it over the butter and into the center of the square and repeat with all the of corner flaps. Now press the edges together to create a seal that keeps the butter inside of the dough.


Lightly flour the top and bottom of the dough and begin pressing on it with the rolling pin to elongate it,  and then begin rolling it out even longer. We're trying to lengthen the dough now into a long 8 x 24 inch rectangle. Try to keep the edges of the dough straight while you're rolling. Once the dough reaches 8 x 24 inches in size, brush off any excess flour and pick up one end of the dough and fold it over the dough, leaving 1/3 of the dough still exposed. Pick up the exposed dough and fold it over the previously folded flap. Place the dough on a flat surface, cover with plastic wrap, and place it in the  freezer for 20 minutes to relax the dough.

Repeat the rolling, folding, and relaxing process again, now rolling in the direction of the two open ends. Repeat this process a third time, then place the folded dough on a lightly floured flat surface, cover well with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.


Sometime early the next day, prepare the fillings. For the spinach and feta filling, simply mix together all the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl until combined, then cover and refrigerate. To make the candied blood oranges, bring the sugar, water, and vanilla extract to a boil in a medium-sized pot over medium-high heat. Then lower the heat to a steady simmer and place the orange slices in the syrup in a single layer. Allow to simmer for 40-50 minutes, flipping halfway through, or until the whites of the slices become slightly translucent. Allow to cool to room temperature, and then place the orange slices on a wire rack to allow any excess syrup to drip off. Reserve the syrup for your own use and place it in the refrigerator.


Now finish making the croissants. Take the dough out of the refrigerator, lightly flour it on both sides, place it on a lightly floured work surface and press down firmly along it's length with the rolling pin to help invigorate and lengthen it. Begin rolling out the dough to make a very long rectangle, about 8 x 44 inches (I know it seems crazy, but it is possible, trust me!) If the dough starts to shrink back as you roll it, fold it into thirds, put it in the freezer for 10 minutes, and then remove it, unfold it, and start working the dough again. Once the dough is about 8 x 44 inches, trim off the edges so that they are completely straight. After trimming the edges the dough should still be at least 40 inches long, if not roll it out a little bit more until it reaches 40 inches in length.


Lay a tape measure along the top edge of the dough and make a small knick on the top edge of the dough every 5 inches, there should be 7 marks when you're done. Now move the tape measure to the bottom edge of the dough and make a small knick on the bottom edge of the dough at 2 and 1/2 inches from the end of the dough. Make knicks at 5-inch intervals from this point along the bottom edge of the dough.

Now you can begin cutting the dough. Lay the tape measure or a ruler at the top corner of the dough so that it crosses down to the first cut on the bottom edge of the dough, use a pizza cutter to cut along this line. Repeat this process with the next set of marks until you reach the other end of the dough. Now flip the angle of the tape measure/ruler to connect the other top corner with the nearest bottom knick and start cutting along this line to create a triangle. Repeat with the rest of the knicks until the dough has been cut into 15 triangles and you have a small extra piece of dough at each end.


Before rolling, cut a 1/2 inch long knick in the center of the short side of each triangle, this will help the croissant bend when you're making it into a crescent shape. Now, take a triangle and, with one hand holding each end, gently pull on it until it is 10 inches long. Then lay it flat with the knicked side closest to you. Place a bit of your filling of choice on the dough along the kicked side, and then begin to roll the dough over the filling towards the pointy end, flaring your fingers out as you roll the dough to help widen the croissant and pressing firmly enough that the layers stick together, but not so hard that they start to smear into each other.


Stop rolling when the pointy end is directly underneath the croissant and bring the ends in towards the center and press the ends together. (Don't worry, the ends will eventually come apart and form a nice crescent shape). Place the croissant on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and repeat until all of the croissants have been assembled.


Now it is time to proof them. Whisk the egg with the teaspoon of water until just combined, then brush the croissants lightly with the mixture. Set the egg white mixture aside for later use. Place the pans in a non-windy location where the temperature is between 70-80 degrees fahrenheit and allow them to sit for 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours. About 15 minutes before they're done proofing, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit for convection ovens or 425 degrees Fahrenheit for conventional ovens and place the oven racks in the top and lower third slots of the oven.

Once they're proofed, lightly brush the croissants with the egg white mixture again. Place them in the oven and bake for 8-12 minutes, then switch the pans places places and rotate the pans and bake for another 8-12 minutes. The type of pan you use and your oven will also affect the baking time, so it is best to keep a very close eye on them when baking. When they are done they will be a nice and rich golden brown. If the outsides are browning too quickly, lower the oven temperature by 25 degrees and cover the baking sheet with tin foil. When done, remove the pans from the oven and allow the croissants to cool on the pans.






62 comments:

  1. I have had croissants and pain au chocolat on my list of things to make for some time as well. What really intrigues me are the candied blood oranges. That makes my imagination run wild.

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    1. They really tasted wonderful inside the buttery croissants, I'd highly recommend them!

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  2. Your croissants look wonderful and I LOVE the idea of the blood orange version. Absolutely gorgeous.

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  3. Wow, these pictures are stunning!!!

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  4. I love your idea of filling the croissants with candied blood oranges. They look delicious.

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    1. Thanks so much Alexandra! They were very tasty :)

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  5. Lovely! These croissants are so pretty, and the fillings sound fantastic...especially the orange one! :)

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    1. Thanks Sara! I think the blood orange filling was my favorite too :)

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  6. Work it, girl. These are so gorgeous! I especially love that photo of the butter square wrapped in dough. You know how I love blood oranges...I'm still eating them every day! I feel like they've been at the grocery store much longer this year than they were last year, and you won't hear any complaints on that front from me!

    Making croissants sounds like an excellent way to fill up a couple of days. They'd be the perfect project during Winter Storm Nemo, which has begun to bear down on us. (I really wish they hadn't started naming winter storms. It's kind of silly.)

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    1. Haha, I agree, naming smaller storms does seem a bit silly! And I've noticed they've been around a while too, YESSSS! I hope there here until March, they're so tasty and I feel like I'm getting 100x more vitamin C than usual because I'm eating them all the time haha. But yes, you should definitely try your hand at croissants if you find yourself bored and craving baked gods during the storm. Tedious, but very worth the effort!

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  7. There are few things I try not to make at home and thats only because looking at all the ingredients that goes in the making, might scare me. In this case butter! Having said that, I still have in mind to someday bake croissants at home. Love the grape fruit filling idea.

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  8. I am in LOVE with this post, the recipe and your photos! I hope to follow all your posts now that I've discovered your lovely blog!

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    1. Aw, thank you Jodi! That makes me very happy to hear :-)

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  9. Your croissants looks fabulous! I love making laminated dough so I'm happy you had a chance to try it. I am very impressed by your filling - they look so good and interesting. I want to try both of them.

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    1. Thank you Jenn! I have never made laminated dough before this and now that I've done it I feel more inclined to try other laminated dough recipes. It was more time-consuming than tricky, which was a relief :)

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    2. You should try danish dough on your next opportunity. It is really good too. It usually has egg in it so it's tastier than croissant dough.

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  10. these look absolutely beautiful. I'm not going to lie, I will not be making these. It would just end badly. Wish I could come over and drink coffee and eat these with you though!

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    1. Hahaha, me too!!! They weren't as tricky as you'd think, just very time-consuming. But it is DEFINITELY easier t buy them at the bakery. I was telling Jeremy that I have a newfound respect for bakeries that make fresh croissants. What a process! And to do that every day? Yeesh!

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  11. Oh yes, I want to eat all of these. Croissants are one of those things that have intimidated me for a while, but I think I'm finally working up the courage to give them a try. It helps to imagine that I can put whatever fillings I like in there. Love the idea of the candied blood orange! (I stocked up on blood oranges at the store yesterday, what with this blizzard moving up the coast. Citrus season comes and goes so quickly here, and I never feel like I get my fill of things before they're gone — especially the blood oranges.)

    (Also — I'm looking forward to seeing what this side series will be!)

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    1. Yes, they were very time consuming to make but not as temperamental as I'd thought they'd be which was quite a relief! You never know when something with this many steps might go wrong or the dough might be sensitive or weird, but everything reacted the way it was supposed to thank goodness.

      It's funny, we have most citrus varieties year-round here in Southern California, but we still only get blood oranges in the late winter because they need a cold front for the chemical reaction to take place where they turn red. The rest of the year it is just too warm for them. But I feel like it makes me appreciate them all the greater since I only get to have them for a few months. I was thinking about getting a blood orange tree to grow, but they're kind of expensive and it would take a few years to produce any fruit, so I don't think it's worth the effort quite yet. Plus I don't know how my landlord would feel about me planting a new tree on their property haha :)

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  12. Mmmmh they look so yummy! gorgeous pics and gorgeous food!!!

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  13. Ah, I have been wanting to try croissants too, but have the similar problem of not really having the time to commit to them! I will hopefully have time in the future, and when I do, I will definitely venture out to try your amazing filling ideas! I love love love the idea of candied orange filling. Your croissants look like they turned out beautifully!

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    1. Thank you very much! They do take a certain dedication time-wise, but they are so delicious when they're fresh from the oven that it makes it entirely worth it.

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  14. wow I am so impressed. Croissants are hands down one of my top 5 favorite things to eat, and also one of my most poignant childhood food memories. I've ALWAYS wanted to make them from scratch but have been too intimidated. You've inspired me!!! Thanks for these beautiful photographs and step by step instructions.

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    1. Thank you Jessica! Let me know how they turn out for you if you give them a try :)

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  15. your photographs are flawless. I love the rustic vibe to them!

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  16. I am a fun of croissants!!!! and like you, I"ve been trying for long time to make my own, but I am always scare to do something wrong. Yours look really good and beautiful, I am envious( in a good way). Congratulations!!!!! By yhe way nice pictures......

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    1. Thank you so much! You should definitely give them a try :)

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  17. this is your croissant debut? are you kidding me? SO impressive, eva! your ideas for fillings are really inventive and delicious too--i've never seen an actual citrus slice rolled up into a croissant. bravo!

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    1. Thank you Grace! I was so relieved when they came out looking normally haha!

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  18. This is such a cool recipe! I love croissants! I wonder though if there is a way to make it without a stand mixer? Check out my blog if you'd like.

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    1. Thanks Kara! I did some poking around on the internet and it looks like you can definitely mix the croissant dough by hand, but it will take about 10 minutes of kneading to get to the right texture.

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  19. I'm just be bopping around the net and landed on your site. I love your style and photos are simply beautiful. I plan to follow your adventures!

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    1. Thank you so much Rachelle! I'm do happy you're enjoying it here! :)

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  20. Not only do these look delicious...but I just loved the photography. Such lovely composition. Great job.

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  21. I made them! They are wonderful. I've never eaten anything more delicious. Thank you!

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    1. Hurray! I am so happy to hear that :D Three cheers for croissants!!

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  22. These look wonderful, amazing for a first try! I love the candied blood oranges too!What a gorgeous blog you have, glad to have discovered it!

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    1. Thank you so much Jayne! I'm very glad you found it too :)

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  23. While I'm very impressed with your croissants, I'm even more drawn to your photographs. I'm a newbie folk artist who loves painting foods in still life. With your permission I would love to paint the sliced blood oranges on the cutting board.

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    1. Thank you so much! And yes please feel free to do a painting of the photograph, I'd love to see a picture of it when you're finished :)

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    2. Eva, Thank you so much for allowing me to paint from your photograph. I've tried to copy the photo into my iPhoto so I can print it, but it's not allowing me to copy for some reason. Would you be willing to email the photo to my email account above? I promise to send you a photo of my painting when I'm done.

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    3. No problem! I will send it right over :)

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    4. I can't find the email address in your profile, can you email me at evamariekosmas at gmail dot com? I'll reply with the photo :)

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  24. These look amazing! I've just made croissants myself and even though they did take me 3 days, they are delicious! I followed the recipe in the book Tartine.

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    1. Thank you Isabel! You are right, there is nothing quite like a fresh croissant. I have heard a lot of good things about the Tartine book, I need to get my hands on a copy and read through it.

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  25. I'm new to your blog and I'm automatically smitten with your creations! These croissants are PERFECT!!! I'm a fan from this day on...!

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    1. Thank you so much Jen! I am so glad you're enjoying it :)

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  26. Hi there, these look perfect! I don't have a stand mixer though, do you think it'd be possible to make them without one?

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    1. Hi Olivia! You could definitely make them by hand, just knead the dough for about 3 times longer than the time indicated for the stand mixer.

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  27. this is beautiful, your photos are gorgeous, and the recipe sounds incredible. I was drawn to one component of this blogpost that I must find out the particular detail. WHAT KIND OF KNIFE IS THAT?! it's gorgeous. looks strong and easy to use.

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  28. Really, your photos are so beautiful, so realistic that insteed of making the recipe, I have painted it ! !! thanks a lot for your good job, amazing cooking and so inventive !!!!!!!

    I see in the comments that I'm not alone painting your photos, you have a job in this !!!!!some riends choose your photos to work on paintings techniques.....because of Such lovely composition you make .... !!!

    stunning !!!


    (If you pleased, you can see my painting on my blog )

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