Danielle brings you some amazing looking croissants this week.
I think like a lot of people, the only croissants I'd ever had was the kind that came in a tube and took 10 minutes to make. This takes a LOT longer than that to make but you will find out quickly that those croissants out of a tube can't hold a candle to the real thing! The process of adding the butter and folding and rolling out the dough several times creates 24 layers that when baked make buttery, golden brown, flaky perfection. They're amazing on their own, served with homemade jam or butter, or even cut in half and used to make chicken salad sandwiches.
For the dough:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Scant 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh yeast
generous 1/2 cup cold water
3 1/3 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
generous 1/2 cup whole milk
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature)
For the Egg Wash:
2 large egg yolks
1 large egg
Scant 1/4 cup whole milk
Melt the 3 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Allow the butter to cool to room temperature. In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in the cold water. Place the flour, salt, sugar, milk, and melted butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Set the mixer on medium speed and mix just until the ingredients are dispersed, about 5 seconds. Add the dissolved yeast and beat on medium-high speed until the dough is well combined and no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl, about 1 minute. If the dough is too soft (it can’t hold it’s shape), add more flour 1 tablespoon at a time until it is firmer. If the dough is too hard (it’s difficult to mix in the mixer), add cold water 1 tablespoon at a time until it has softened. Remove the dough from the mixing bowl. Knead the dough with your hands for about a minute, until it is smooth. Pat it into a ball. Place the dough on a lightly floured baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and let it proof at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and roll it out to an 8 by 15-inch rectangle about 1/4-inch thick. Wrap the rectangle in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator, unwrap the rectangle, and place it with a long side facing you on a lightly floured work surface. Spread the softened butter evenly over the right two thirds of the dough. Incorporate the butter by folding the (butterless) left third of the dough over the center, Then fold the right third of the dough to the left, to resemble a folded letter.
Roll this out into another 10 by 30-inch rectangle about 1/8-inch thick. Fold each short end of the dough to the middle so they meet but do not overlap. Then fold one half over the other half. Wrap the folded dough in plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator, unwrap it, and place on a lightly floured work surface. Roll it into a 10 by 30-inch rectangle and turn it so a long side faces you. Give the dough a single fold by folding the left third of the dough over the center, then fold the right third of the dough to the left. Now the dough should resemble a folded letter. Wrap in plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Lay each triangle on a lightly floured work surface with the tip facing you. Gently pull the tip toward you; this light stretch adds layers to the finished croissant without adding density. Use the palms of your hands to roll each triangle up from the base to the tip. (At this stage, they can be frozen for up to 1 week if well wrapped in plastic wrap. Thaw on a parchment paper-covered baking sheet overnight in the refrigerator before proceeding.)
Place the rolled croissants on a parchment covered baking sheet; spaced about 2 inches apart. Loosely cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap. Allow the croissants to proof at room temperature until they have doubled in size and appear light and full of air; about 1 1/2 to 3 hours depending on the temperature of the room and of the dough.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Make an egg wash by whisking together the egg yolks, whole egg, and milk in a small bowl until well combined. With a pastry brush, very gently coat the pastries completely with egg wash. Bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes.