- 18 hours
- 30 minutes
Croissants are considered the hallmark of baking proficiency. Technically, an Austrian pastry, the crescent-shaped treat has grown to epitomize French baking, and -- along with the baguette -- is regularly used to test the baking skills of a chef. However, it is unlikely that most of the croissant-eating populace has ever ate a croissant prepared locally; as a frozen croissant and a fresh croissant bakes similarly, most bakeries prefer to save man-hours and the need for skilled labor by buying and baking frozen, premade croissants. While making croissants can be a taxing project, it can also be rewarding in the customization options it affords. This recipe, a version of the La Parisienne almond croissant, features frangipane and an apricot filling. Any filling can be used; from ham and Swiss cheese to pieces of chocolate to any type of jam you wish. Furthermore, adding one teaspoon of cinnamon and ground cloves to the dough and rolling out the dough with melted butter and cinnamon sugar would make this dough Danish dough. This recipe allows for the bakers imagination to go wild and to create new variations to delight their fans, which makes up for the long prep time.
- In a liquid measuring cup, combine two eggs and enough milk to yield two cups of liquid. Mix in 1/4 cup sugar and the yeast. Allow mixture to proof for fifteen minutes or until mixture appears to be creamy.
- In a stand mixer's bowl, mix the milk mixture with three cups flour. Allow the yeast mixture to rest for thirty minutes.
- Add the almond extract, melted butter, 2 1/2 cups flour and salt to the mixing bowl. Using a bread hook, mix the dough on low speed until combined. Increase speed to medium and knead for seven minutes or until a small piece of the dough can be stretched out until translucent without breaking or tearing. Remove dough from mixing bowl and place in a lightly-oiled bowl. Cover with a towel and let sit for thirty minutes.
- Meanwhile, mix two cups butter, 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 cup flour until smooth. On a parchment-lined pan, smooth the butter into an eight inch by eight inch square. Refrigerate for thirty minutes.
- On a lightly-floured surface, roll the dough out into a square 12 inches by 12 inches. Place the butter block diagonally at 45 degrees in the center of the square, so that it resembles a diamond in a square. Fold the corners of the dough square over the butter block, so that the corners meet at the center. Pinch close the edges, using a little water if needed.
- Flip over the square and re-dust the surface with flour. Roll out the square to a rectangle 10 inches by 20 inches, moving the dough occasionally to ensure that it is not sticking. Lightly brush off the excess flour and fold over one-third of the dough onto the middle third. Fold over the remaining third onto the center so that the block resembles a folded letter. This is the first turn. Tack the folds close with a little water.
- If the dough feels too warm, place it into the refrigerator on a sheetpan for an hour to chill it. Otherwise, rotate the dough 90 degrees to the left and roll out the dough again to a rectangle 10 inch by 20 inch. Brush off the excess flour and orient the dough so that the short edge is facing you. Fold the top quarter of the dough and the bottom quarter of the dough toward the center so that the two edges meet. Fold the dough in half along the matched edges, so that the dough now resembles a wallet. This is the second fold. Tack down the fold with a little water and press a mark into the upper-left corner of the dough with your finger to mark the dough's current orientation. Refrigerate the dough on a sheetpan for one hour.
- Align the dough so that the marked corner is facing away and to the left from you on a lightly-floured surface. Rotate the dough 90 degrees to the left and repeat the first and second turns (steps 6 and 7). Return the dough to its sheetpan and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least four hours or preferably overnight.
- Divide the dough block in two width-wise. Working with only one half at a time, roll out the dough on a lightly-floured surface to a rectangle 13 inch by 19 inch. Using a ruler and a pastry cutter, trim all four sides of the dough so that the final rectangle is 12 inches by 18 inches. Reserve the scrap dough.
- Cut the rectangle in half lengthwise so that you have two rectangles that are 6 inch by 18 inch. Divide each of these rectangles into thirds, so that you now have six 6 inch by 6 inch squares. Finally, cut each square diagonally so that you have 12 equal-sized triangles.
- Using a mixer, cream together the almond meal, 1/2 cup sugar, two eggs, the remaining salt and 1/2 cup butter until smooth. Place the almond creme into a pastry bag.
- Take a triangle and dust off any excess flour. Lightly stretch out the triangle until the triangle is nine inches long. Cut a 1/2 inch slit on to the top edge of the triangle and pipe one teaspoon of the creme onto the triangle. Using a spoon, smear the creme along the length of the triangle. Place a 1/2 teaspoon mound of the apricot jam at the top of the triangle and, while holding the point of the triangle, roll up the dough around the jam and into a tight roll, starting with the notched edge and with the point in the center of the completed roll. Place the roll onto a parchment-lined pan and repeat.
- For an unfilled croissant, stretch a triangle as before and notch with a 1/4 inch slit. Below the slit, place a 1/2 inch ball of dough scrap and roll the triangle into a tight roll, starting with the notched edge. Place on the parchment-lined pan and repeat.
- Cover the rolled croissant with a clean towel and allow to rise for three hours in a cool but not cold place until the croissant is spongy and springy. At this point, it is safe to freeze the unbaked croissants. Bake frozen croissants the same way as fresh croissants.
- Place the fresh croissants in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425 degree Fahrenheit. Place the croissants into the oven directly from the refrigerator and bake for 15 minutes. Rotate the pan, lower the heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and continue baking for 15 to 20 additional minutes.
- Cool completely on a rack. Serve warm.