I have decided to bake my way through Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day at my own pace. There are a little over 30 recipes and I have baked maybe a third when I signed up to be a recipe tester 2 years ago. I will bake all the breads including the ones I already baked and will post the adapted versions as I go along. I highly recommend this baking book for beginner or with a little experience bakers and busy folks as the dough recipes are not very complicated [except for croissants] and are mixed the night before, kept in the refrigerator for 1 up to 4 days and the breads baked at your convenience. This is also not a no-knead bread book; there is minimal kneading with machine or hand, 2 to 3 minutes at the most, which I prefer to the no-knead method because a little kneading makes a huge difference in taste and texture.
To start off this series is one of my top favorites from the book, Croissants. Making croissants is not an easy project. It takes 2 days and there are a number of steps to do but the end result is very rewarding: flaky buttery golden brown crust with delicious pillowy soft elastic layered crumb. After enjoying a few pieces of the croissants specially the ones with chocolate batons, you won't settle for anything less.
adapted from ARTISAN BREADS EVERY DAY by Peter Reinhart
the recipe makes croissants that have flaky buttery crust and soft pillowy somewhat elastic visibly layered crumb
21 oz/595 gm/4 2/3 cups unbleached bread or all-purpose flour or a combination
0.4 oz/11 gm/2½ teaspoons kosher salt
2 oz/56.5 gm/¼ cup sugar
0.33 oz/9 gm/1 tablespoon instant yeast
7 oz/198 gm/¾ cup + 2 tablespoons cold whole milk
8 oz/227 gm/1 cup cool water
1 oz/28.5 gm/2 tablespoons soft unsalted butter
extra flour for dusting
12 oz/340 gm/1½ cups cold unsalted butter
0.57 oz/16 gm/2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
plastic dough scraper
metal pastry scraper
1 egg for egg wash
3-inch chocolate batons for chocolate croissants
- Make the dough: With the paddle attachment, whisk together the flour, salt, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of a standing mixer. Add in the milk, water, and butter and mix on the lowest speed for 1 minute. The dough will look coarse, wet, and shaggy. Adjust with more flour or water if necessary. Continue mixing on the lowest speed for another 30 seconds, then increase the speed to medium-high for 15 seconds until the dough begins to smooth out. It will be very soft, supple, and sticky, but not batterlike. Add more flour or water as needed and mix until the dough has formed. It should be soft and pliable and somewhat sticky. Transfer the dough to the kitchen counter dusted with flour and with floured hands, form it into a ball. Place the dough seams side down in a lightly oiled container, cover with plastic film and lid, and immediately refrigerate overnight or for up to 2 days.
- Prepare the butter block: Cut the cold butter into ½ inch slices and place in the bowl of a standing mixer. Sprinkle the flour and beat on low with the paddle attachment until combined, scraping down the sides as needed. The butter should still be cold. Using a plastic scraper, transfer the butter mixture onto a large piece of plastic wrap and shape into a 6-inch square.
- Incorporate the butter block into the dough: Have a container of flour nearby. Lightly dust the kitchen counter with flour. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll into a 12½ inch by 6½ inch rectangle, about ½-inch thick. Place the butter block on one side of the dough, fold the other half of the dough to completely cover the butter and pinch on all sides to seal in the butter block. You now have three layers: dough, butter, dough.
- Laminate the dough: With the metal scraper, lift the dough, one side at a time, and toss more flour underneath it. Lightly tap the dough with a rolling pin and working from the center out and then on all four sides, gently roll the dough into a 9 x 16-inch rectangle, dusting under and on top of the dough as needed, always using a metal scraper to prevent tearing and to keep the corners squared. Fold the dough as if folding a letter: fold the right one-third of the dough over to the left, making sure the top and bottom are squared-off and are perfectly aligned with the bottom dough. Fold the left one-third dough to the right the same way. Use the rolling pin to press out any air pockets, then lay it down on a sheet pan lined with the plastic wrap you used for the butter block. Cover loosely with another piece of plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Dust the kitchen counter with flour. Transfer the dough back on the counter with the open seam facing away from and the closed side facing you, and gently roll and fold it as before. Return to the plastic-lined pan, cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Repeat this procedure one more time. You have now completed three turns and created 81 layers of dough and butter.
- Roll and shape: Transfer the dough back to the flour-dusted counter and gently roll out, from the center to the corners, then out to the sides, until the dough is under ¼ inch thick, about 28 inches wide and 9 inches long, lifting the dough with the metal scraper and dusting the counter underneath with flour to prevent it from sticking and tearing. Remember to always keep the corners neatly squared-off.
- To make croissants: Using a ruler, make a small notch with the metal scraper at 4-inch intervals along the bottom edge of the dough. Repeat this along the edge of the top of the dough but mark the first at 2 inches from the left and continue measuring at 4-inch intervals from that point. Using a pizza cutter or the metal scraper, cut a line from the left corner of the bottom dough to the first notch of the top dough, then simply connect the marks to cut off the dough triangles. When all the pieces are cut and separated, cut a 1-inch notch into the bottom center of the triangle base. Spread the bottom as wide as the notch will allow to create wing-like flaps. Begin rolling up the dough, gently pulling the top point (nose) as you roll, trying not to squeeze it. It should form in either 5 or 7 "steps". Place the shaped pieces on parchment-lined sheet pans 2 inches apart, with the nose positioned underneath so that it is anchored. Give the end flaps a slight curve and facing in the same direction as the nose is pointing. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 2½ to 3 hours or until the croissants look airy and feel hollow. About 20 minutes before baking, preheat oven to 450°F/232°C. Apply egg wash if desired. Place the pans in the oven and immediately lower the temperature to 375°F/191°C and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, rotating pans halfway through, or until a rich golden brown all over. Allow to cool for 40 minutes before serving.
- Chocolate Croissants: Use half or the full recipe. Cut the rolled dough into 3½ inch x 6 inch rectangles. Place 2 batons on one short side, roll up, and place on the parchment-lined pans, seam side down, 2 inches apart. Bake as above.