The other day I stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts. Don’t judge me. It was a breakfast emergency. I didn’t have time to make breakfast before work, and cupcake bootcamp is not the place to pass out. Those people are serious. Their confectionary preoccupations inch out every ounce of compassion and humanity. It’s come to fisticuffs. (I wish I was exaggerating, but someone has gotten publicly slapped over a baked good. For real. A baked good.) Cupcake bootcampers would just step blithely over my unconscious body and say to their partners, “Hey! I had four red velvets. Who took my other red velvet? I’m not kidding. No one leaves this room until I have four. No one.”
So I ordered a croissant. Just plain. Nothing fancy. Though croissants do happen to be one of my favorite breakfasts. After two bites, I had to throw it out. You know how you sometimes delude yourself into thinking it was maybe just that first bite, and your foodstuff of choice is somehow miraculously going to get better as you eat on? Yeah, it didn’t this time either. Croissants are a decadence. If they are mediocre, it’s best to just jump ship. Don’t look back.
So, never to be faced with such a breakfast emergency again, I made mini croissants. Here’s the best part – I froze them after they had done their final rise so I can just pop one in the oven while I’m in the shower. As God is my witness, I will never go Dunkin’ again.
The recipe I used was from CookWise by Shirley O. Corriher, just to give a new technique a shot. The idea is to cut the butter with some of the flour to begin with, to evenly coat the fat and create more flakes. She warned that folding these too tight to make croissants would make it hard to cook the middles. I rolled them loosely as I dared, but they were still difficult to cook through. So roll them very, very loosely.
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (or 1 package)
3 Tbsp sugar
1 cup warm whole milk (@ 100-110 degrees)
1 3/4 cup bread flour
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp heavy cream
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 sticks butter, cold, cut into 1/2″ cubes
1 1/2 cups bread flour
Add yeast, sugar, and milk together. Set aside for five minutes. If it is not foaming, your yeast is dead. Get some new yeast and start over. If foaming, add yeast mixture to 1 3/4 cup bread flour, all purpose flour, salt, brown sugar, and cream in a stand mixer and beat on medium for two minutes. It will be gloppy.
It’s ok. You need underdeveloped gluten because you will develop the gluten rolling it out. Put gloppy mess in a bowl coated with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Turn it over so the oil coats. Set it to the side to rise for 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, toss together the cubed butter and 1 1/2 cups bread flour.
Roll over it with a rolling pin. A fair amount of pressure will be needed as the butter is cold. Scrape together. Roll over it. If your butter is sticking to your pin, it’s ok, just push it off as best you can. Scrape together mixture. Roll over it a third time.
Put the whole weird mess in a bowl and put that in the freezer for 10 minutes. Do this 3 more times, giving the mixture 10 minutes rest in the freezer each time. If the butter melts, then you won’t get layers. If the butter starts to get soft at any time, just pop it back in the freezer, and wait 10 minutes to finish that session of rolling. Once finished, it should look like paint chips. I think I was a little overzealous and went past that point.
It still turned out alright, but you should probably stop at “paint peeling from a wall stage”. Cover the mixture and put it back in the freezer. An easier way to get this accomplished just occurred to me, but let me try it out first. I’ll keep you posted.
Your dough should be ready to punch down. Press into the center. Fold it like a pamphlet, right and left towards middle. Fold the bottom half towards the top. Stick it in the fridge for an hour. After an hour roll it out as large as you can without tearing it. Mine was slightly larger than a half sheet pan at this point. Cover it with plastic wrap and let it rest for 10 minutes. Try rolling it a little larger. Be careful not to tear it. Like I did. It’s ok. It’s patchable.
Put 3/4 of the butter mixture on to the middle half of the dough. Fold the right side over the butter. Fold the left side over the butter. Put the remaining mixture on top of the dough. Fold the bottom half over. That’s a double turn.
Roll out to about 1/2″.
Do another double turn. Right to center, left to center. Bottom to top. Roll out. I did another double turn for extra flakiness, but I think I shot myself in the foot. It didn’t have the right mouthfeel. It had little flaky layers instead of long flaky layers.
Place the dough onto a baking sheet. Put in the fridge for 10 minutes, and the freezer for 10 minutes.
When the dough is cold, roll out to 1/8″ thick on a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough in half lengthwise. About every two inches, cut into triangles.
I thought mine were a bit thick, so I rolled them out once more as triangles. If desired, place chocolate, or nuts, or preserves at the long end and roll very loosely towards to pointed end.
Place seam side down on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Place somewhere cool until risen. Should take 2-3 hours. Room temp is fine, but nothing higher. If you’re baking something in your kitchen at the time, (as I was), move them to another room.
Add 1 Tbsp water to the egg and beat. Brush evenly onto the croissants. Place in freezer for 10 minutes. Brush once more with egg wash.
Option 1 – bake right away. Start at 425 degrees for 5 minutes, drop to 325 for 20.
Option 2 – freeze until solid. Pop into a bag. Bake as you would normally, right out of the freezer.
In semi-related news, I solved the mystery of the 18 hour bread with mediocre crumb. There could have been a number of factors, like the underfermenting I speculated, but the biggest one is flour. The gold-medal and pilsburies of the world just don’t have enough gluten in their flour.
Tip of the day
Buy high-gluten flour like King Arthur flour, and you can get your bread to look like this –