Classic Croissants

By <i>The Art & Soul of Baking:</i> Reprinted with permission of Andrews McMeel Publishing, recipes by Cindy Mushet, photography by Maren Caruso
Images
Classic Croissants
Serves
Makes 24 croissants
Ingredients
  • Dough Block (Détrempe):
  • ½ cup (4 ounces) warm whole milk (110° to 115°F)
  • 1 teaspoon plus 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) sugar
  • 4 teaspoons active dry yeast, or 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 4 cups (20 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ stick (2 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) cold milk

  • Butter Block (Beurrage):
  • 3½ sticks (14 ounces) cold unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk or cream


Procedure
Layer upon layer of butter and dough produce the ultimate French breakfast treats, but you needn't limit yourself to croissants and their flavored variations. For example, try Morning Buns, a San Francisco twist on the classic cinnamon roll. Be sure to give yourself the time and counter space you'll need to enjoy the process of making the dough. There are tips at the end of the recipe for fitting the dough into your schedule. Be sure to read “A Primer on Laminated Doughs”, for tips that will help you turn out beautiful croissants.

Make the dough block: Pour the warm milk into a small bowl and whisk in 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Whisk in the yeast and set aside for 10 minutes, or until the yeast is activated and the mixture is bubbling.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar, the salt, and cold butter pieces. Blend on medium speed until the butter is cut into tiny pieces and the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Add the yeast mixture and the cold milk. Switch to the dough hook and mix on lowest speed for 1½ to 2 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed and has formed a very rough mass. Dust a work surface lightly with flour and turn the dough out onto it. Knead the dough 3 to 5 times, just to finish bringing it together. The dough will not be smooth or elastic; it will become fully kneaded and smooth during the rolling and turning process ahead. Don't overwork the dough now or you'll have trouble rolling it later. Wrap the dough loosely in plastic wrap (to allow a little room for expansion) and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes.

Make the butter block: Cut the butter into ½-inch pieces, toss with the flour, and refrigerate for 20 minutes. In the cleaned stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the floured butter on medium speed, scraping down the bowl once or twice with a bowl scraper, for 1 to 2 minutes, until the butter and flour form a smooth mass. You are not trying to beat air into the mixture, just make it pliable and smooth while keeping it cold. Scrape the butter onto a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap, wrap it up, and refrigerate while you roll out the dough.

Incorporate the butter into the dough: Dust the work surface with flour. Set the dough in the center and dust the top with flour. Roll the dough into a 15 by 12-inch rectangle with a short side parallel to the edge of your work surface. Gently pull or stretch the dough to form straight edges and sharp corners. Brush any flour from the surface. Visually divide the dough crosswise into 3 equal, 5-inch-wide sections (you can lightly mark the dough with a ruler or the back of a knife if you wish). Spread the cold but pliable butter evenly over the top two sections of dough, leaving the bottom third empty and leaving a ½-inch border around the edges of the buttered sections. This is best done with your fingers, since the butter isn't quite warm enough to spread easily with a spatula. Alternatively, you can place the butter between two sheets of plastic and roll it into a 9½ by 11-inch rectangle. Peel off one sheet of plastic, invert the buttered rectangle over the dough rectangle, center it, and peel off the other sheet of plastic.

Use a letter fold to encase the butter: Fold the empty bottom third up over the center third of the dough. Then fold the top third down over the center. Pinch together the seams along the bottom and sides of the dough. Roll your rolling pin across the top briefly and gently 3 or 4 times to help seal the seams. This completes both the incorporation of the butter and your first turn of the dough. If the butter has become warm and squishy, wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour before continuing with the second turn. If you have worked quickly and the butter is still cold yet pliable, continue with the next turn.

Position the doug

Classic Croissants

By <i>The Art & Soul of Baking:</i> Reprinted with permission of Andrews McMeel Publishing, recipes by Cindy Mushet, photography by Maren Caruso
Serves
Makes 24 croissants
Ingredients
  • Dough Block (Détrempe):
  • ½ cup (4 ounces) warm whole milk (110° to 115°F)
  • 1 teaspoon plus 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) sugar
  • 4 teaspoons active dry yeast, or 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 4 cups (20 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ stick (2 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) cold milk

  • Butter Block (Beurrage):
  • 3½ sticks (14 ounces) cold unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk or cream


Procedure
Layer upon layer of butter and dough produce the ultimate French breakfast treats, but you needn't limit yourself to croissants and their flavored variations. For example, try Morning Buns, a San Francisco twist on the classic cinnamon roll. Be sure to give yourself the time and counter space you'll need to enjoy the process of making the dough. There are tips at the end of the recipe for fitting the dough into your schedule. Be sure to read “A Primer on Laminated Doughs”, for tips that will help you turn out beautiful croissants.

Make the dough block: Pour the warm milk into a small bowl and whisk in 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Whisk in the yeast and set aside for 10 minutes, or until the yeast is activated and the mixture is bubbling.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar, the salt, and cold butter pieces. Blend on medium speed until the butter is cut into tiny pieces and the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Add the yeast mixture and the cold milk. Switch to the dough hook and mix on lowest speed for 1½ to 2 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed and has formed a very rough mass. Dust a work surface lightly with flour and turn the dough out onto it. Knead the dough 3 to 5 times, just to finish bringing it together. The dough will not be smooth or elastic; it will become fully kneaded and smooth during the rolling and turning process ahead. Don't overwork the dough now or you'll have trouble rolling it later. Wrap the dough loosely in plastic wrap (to allow a little room for expansion) and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes.

Make the butter block: Cut the butter into ½-inch pieces, toss with the flour, and refrigerate for 20 minutes. In the cleaned stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the floured butter on medium speed, scraping down the bowl once or twice with a bowl scraper, for 1 to 2 minutes, until the butter and flour form a smooth mass. You are not trying to beat air into the mixture, just make it pliable and smooth while keeping it cold. Scrape the butter onto a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap, wrap it up, and refrigerate while you roll out the dough.

Incorporate the butter into the dough: Dust the work surface with flour. Set the dough in the center and dust the top with flour. Roll the dough into a 15 by 12-inch rectangle with a short side parallel to the edge of your work surface. Gently pull or stretch the dough to form straight edges and sharp corners. Brush any flour from the surface. Visually divide the dough crosswise into 3 equal, 5-inch-wide sections (you can lightly mark the dough with a ruler or the back of a knife if you wish). Spread the cold but pliable butter evenly over the top two sections of dough, leaving the bottom third empty and leaving a ½-inch border around the edges of the buttered sections. This is best done with your fingers, since the butter isn't quite warm enough to spread easily with a spatula. Alternatively, you can place the butter between two sheets of plastic and roll it into a 9½ by 11-inch rectangle. Peel off one sheet of plastic, invert the buttered rectangle over the dough rectangle, center it, and peel off the other sheet of plastic.

Use a letter fold to encase the butter: Fold the empty bottom third up over the center third of the dough. Then fold the top third down over the center. Pinch together the seams along the bottom and sides of the dough. Roll your rolling pin across the top briefly and gently 3 or 4 times to help seal the seams. This completes both the incorporation of the butter and your first turn of the dough. If the butter has become warm and squishy, wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour before continuing with the second turn. If you have worked quickly and the butter is still cold yet pliable, continue with the next turn.

Position the doug