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Look What I Made: Homemade Croissants

Homemade croissants (photos by Travis Awalt)

Just like that, summer, the State Fair, Halloween… all gone for another year. Not to mention poor Big Tex, who’s gone forever to talking statue Heaven.

Anyway, Thanksgiving isn’t for three more weeks, and it’s a huge undertaking, so I’m taking the week off (cue Ferris Bueller music). Yep, even dudes who write recipes for leisure have to take a break from the kitchen every now and then.*

This week you get an entry I’ve been holding onto for awhile. Fortunately, it’s for croissants, which I think we can all agree are buttery, delicious, and awesome. And while this recipe is pretty involved, the intoxicating smell of a fresh baked batch of croissants coming out of your oven is worth it on its own. Enjoy.

Croissants
(makes 8)

Ingredients:
2.5 cups plus 2 tbsp flour
1/2 packet active dry yeast
2 tbsp sugar
3/4 cup warmed milk
2 sticks plus 2 tbsp butter
egg wash (1 egg white beaten with 1 tsp cold water)

Concept:

Croissants are a yeast pastry comprised of layers and layers of buttery, flaky… you know what a croissant is like. You get the layers by enveloping a flat square of butter in a yeast dough, then folding it over itself multiple times. The steam created from the water in the butter gives them their airiness. Butter is very difficult to manipulate unless it’s at the proper temperature, and it changes temperature quickly, which is why this recipe takes so long. You have to keep chilling the butter, or else it acts like a shifty toddler who has decided to just go limp rather than continue walking any further.

Dough:

Mix the two cups of flour, yeast, sugar, milk, and 2 tbsp butter into a shaggy dough ball. Knead the dough for a few minutes, until it’s smooth and elastic. Let it rise until it’s more than doubled in size. Several hours or overnight in the fridge.

Gather the dough into a shaggy ball, knead and let rise.

Butter Square:

I’ve experimented with doing the butter square a few different ways. The most effective, I think, is cutting the butter in half, lengthwise, dusting top and bottom with the 2 extra tbsp of flour. Then, with a rolling pin, you whack/roll the sticks until you’ve got about a 10″ x 10″ square and the pieces are fused together. Then stick it in the freezer.

Butter square

Vegan Version:
This works, I’ve tried it. Use a vegan margarine or spread in place of the butter, almond milk in place of the milk, and ditch the egg wash. And maybe don’t wear your apron made of baby penguin skin.

Instructions:

1. Make a dough ball, let it rise, then make a butter square. Roll the dough ball into a broad enough circle that you can plop the butter square in it, then fold the dough over butter square to form a square envelope. Roll the envelope to about 15″ x 15″. Fold it like a letter, into thirds, so that it’s 5″ x 15″. Now fold it in thirds again, so that it’s 5″  x5″. Cover in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Wait.

2. Flatten the folded dough to 15″ x 15″ again and fold it up to 5″ x 5″ again, Refrigerate 2 hours again. Wait again. Repeat again.

The all important folds.

3. Roll folded square thing (pictured above) out to 10″ x 20″. Cut into 8 triangles 5″ wide (okay, mine maybe weren’t quite that wide) and 10″ long. Cut a 2″ slit in the middle of the broad end and roll the triangles into croissants, pinching the ends together. Repeat with the other half of the dough. Let the formed croissants stand and puff up, covered with a towel, at room temperature, for about an hour.

Rolling out and forming croissants.

4. Brush croissants with egg wash and bake at 375 about 15 minutes. Oven temperatures vary wildly, so keep and eye out; they may take longer, they may not. If you don’t eat all of these at once, they do keep in the freezer for awhile.

I need 20 cc’s of apricot preserves, STAT!

*I’d like to thank the Lakewood Landing, the snack table at the pumpkin carving party I went to, and the last bits of edible ingredients in my fridge for keeping me alive last weekend.

3 comments on “Look What I Made: Homemade Croissants

  1. So WHO exactly makes the best ones here in DFW area if we aren’t that great of a baker?

  2. Travis, really nice work! great tutorial, wonderful tips, excellent that you offer a vegan alternative, too. bravo!

  3. I like the way you talk, bluebird. Thank you.

    @jo good question. I’d like to know where to get the best croissant too. Also, liquor may help with your baking issue. Or make it worse.