Wednesday, 5 October 2011
Bread Baking Babes (BBB): Croissants and Pain au Chocolat
When the cat’s away…
A while back, I made a rash promise to bake all the previous BBBabe breads. It appears that I’m a little slow to keep that promise. (cough) Whenever I managed to remember to think about my promise, I pretended that the reason I couldn’t delve into the BBB archives was because it was too hot to turn on the oven. But now that it’s chilly in the kitchen again, croissants and/or pain au chocolat seemed like the perfect choice.
I know. Only several months late…. But. Better late than never, right?
For weeks and weeks (okay, since last Christmas) I have been hoarding a beautiful bar of dark chocolate – an 85% bar – just right for Pain au Chocolat.
But we had a horrible incident in that cupboard a few weeks ago. Mice moved in. And invited all their friends to have a giant house warming party. And didn’t have the decency to hire cleaners to tidy up after their shindig.
Those hooligans are really unbelievable. They had the nerve to open up and taste everything, leaving their little teethmarks, germs and worse behind everywhere. But whatever they didn’t care for, they simply left on the shelf to moulder. We had to throw out ALL that beautiful chocolate!
I’m happy to report that we have now evicted the mice. Others have been applying to move in but we are adamant that there is no vacancy.
The “party shelf” has now been thoroughly cleaned and replenished. What better way for us to celebrate than with croissants and pain au chocolat:
Croissants and Pain au Chocolat Diary:
Monday 3 October, 17:15: Hmmm… the instructions are for mixing in an electric mixer. I could probably bother my neighbour to borrow her KA, but I’d really rather not. There’s something so satisfying about hand mixing. But what to do? what to do? Should I knead it a little or simply leave it roughly mixed?
It says I should use anywhere between 4 and 16¼ gms. Susan’s (Wild Yeast) formula 1 g fresh = 0.5 g active dry = 0.4 g instant comes up with a result of 12 gms active dry. Mary (The Sour Dough) used 18gms active dry yeast.
I decided not to use the lowest or the highest of all the results but somewhere in between. Let’s hope I’m not dead wrong.
Tuesday 4 October, 07:32: I mixed the dough last night, finishing around 19:30. I hand-kneaded it in the bowl only enough to encorporate all the flour. Wow. Stiff dough!! Because the kitchen is hovering around 15C, I put it in the oven with only the light on to proof until it doubled, imagining that I’d put it in the fridge at around 23:00. By 22:00, it hadn’t even budged. (Hmmmm, was 10 gm yeast too little??) So I took bowl out of the oven, gave the dough a turn anyway – a turn??? not exactly; I kneaded it in the air for a few moments, smoothing out some of the lumps that I found – and then put it back in the covered bowl and left it on the counter overnight. I know. Katie said to refrigerate it – for not longer than 8 hours.
This morning the dough looks quite lovely although it’s still not quite doubled so I put it back into the oven with only the light turned on. OF COURSE, I forgot to take butter out of the fridge until just now. That too is now in the oven.
I just love doing things wrong….
I’m thinking I can start into the next step of rolling in the butter in about an hour.
As I was happily pounding away at the butter to mash it into a nice rectangle, when in walked T. He was horrified at the amount of butter.
he: Really?? You’re supposed to use that much butter??
me: Yes (sighing) I measured really carefully.
he: Is it salted?
me: (slightly horrified) No!!
But then I got all worried that I hadn’t measured correctly. (After all, T has made puff pastry before, and really well made puff pastry too. Not to mention that he’s an expert in the kitchen – not just a self-professed expert – he really is brilliant.) So I peeled the butter off the dough and weighed it again. It was exactly 275 gm on my digital scale.
me: It’s exactly the amount that Katie said.
he: (hesitantly) okaaaaay… (brightening) Do you want help rolling?
he: (laughing quietly) okay, okay!!
(Why do I suddenly feel like a child?? )
11:03: With each turn of the dough, I kept wondering why people were so afraid of making croissants. What’s the problem?? It was EASY to roll out the dough! Each time, I wrapped the neat package of increasingly silky dough in a piece of waxed paper, put it into a rice cake plastic bag and stuck it in the fridge. Each time I remembered to set the timer for 30 minutes. Each time, I paid attention to the bell.
See?? Easy, easy, easy. WHAT is everyone’s problem?!
12:52: I just finished shaping 8 croissants and 4 pains au chocolat.
When I got to the final rolling out, I started to wonder why was it suddenly seeming to be so difficult?
I had dutifully cut out my triangular template (having fits at first because the instructions only gave the base width and one side with, not telling me that I was making an Isosceles triangle – so OF COURSE two sides are going to have the same length!! Duh. Do I need everything spelled out?)
I decided to make a couple of pains au chocolat and the rest as croissants. I lopped off a bit of the cold dough and put it under a piece of waxed paper to keep moist.
And my confidence continued to shake and dwindle. How thick should I roll the dough? The instructions say how big the rectangle should be but not how deep!
I rifled through my bread books. Nope. They all talked about rolling the dough out into a large rectangle. Not one of them mentioned how thin the rectangle should be (I think). I raced upstairs to the internet. Aha!! There are beautiful photos of croissants on the Tarte Pink website and the following words:
For “standard” size croissants, the triangle need to be 4 to 5 inches at the bottom, 9 to 10 inches tall, 1/8 to 1/4 inches thick. [...] Rest the dough often. Rest when there’s any indication of butter getting too warm, or the dough getting too elastic. There’s no harm in resting too much. The key is to keep the butter between layers, try not to break the dough.
-Tarte Pink: French Croissants
A quarter of an inch it would be! No doubt, at least one of the BBBabes mentioned how thick the dough should be rolled but am I clever enough to check that BEFORE starting to roll?? (Where is the eye-rolling donkey icon when I need it?)
And I raced back downstairs to continue to roll, bearing in mind that I shouldn’t allow the dough to break, even though there had been almost no sign of that happening before.
Ignorance is bliss and a little knowledge truly is a dangerous thing. Naturally, as soon as I knew the dough might break, it started to want to do just that. But I persevered and at last managed to make eight
Then onto the pains au chocolat. I WAS going to make only two. But once the dough was rolled out (auggghhhhhhhhhh it was champing at the bit to break up!!!), it was clear that I should make four. I checked Katie’s instructions again on how to shape the pains au chocolat:
On 1 rectangle, place 1 stick of chocolate on the short end, about 4cm (1 1/2″) from the edge. Roll the dough over the chocolate once. Place another stick at the edge of the roll and roll the dough over again. Roll over again.
- Katie, BBB Croissants recipe
Well, that seemed simple enough. So I stuck a stick of chocolate on the edge of the rectangle and rolled it up. Whaaat?? There was NO room to roll in the other direction!! So I unrolled it by half and stuck the other stick on the other side and made a scroll. That might unscroll as it is rising. I made 2 more like that and then with confidence completely dribbled away and lying in a little puddle on the floor, I rolled the final pain au chocolate into a single roll and placed it seam side down on the parchment paper.
Fingers crossed that they all won’t turn out tough as nails. T is under strict instructions to stay silent until he has tasted the finished product.
Hmmm, now I’m thinking he should remain silent afterward as well. (What a nightmare it is living with someone who rarely makes a mistake in the kitchen. Mind this isn’t someone who thinks he hardly ever makes a mistake; this is someone who really doesn’t err, or if he does, he fixes it so it seems like the error was something done on purpose.)
But wait!! That’s what I should do too! Yes! I will call MY croissants “tonneaux”! Ha. See?? I can learn from others.
Ooops!!! Now I see why my tonneaux aren’t quite crescent shaped!! (Sigh. Reading. It’s always good to read the instructions thoroughly.)
Lay 1 triangle on the work surface. Make a 1cm (1/3″) cut in the middle of the base and pull the 2 base points slightly to separate; then pull the top point slightly.
-Katie, BBB croissant recipe
14:43: Aha!! They have risen beautifully and they’re ready to bake.(I’m going to pretend that the chocolate scrolls were SUPPOSED to unroll and that it’s correct to have gently rolled them back up and pinched the edges to try to make them stay rolled.) I just turned the oven on. I see that I was supposed to brush them all with the milk wash before leaving them to rise. Ooops!! (One of these days, I will learn how to read. I WILL.)
15:21: They’ve been in the oven for 17 minutes and they’re not done yet…. I started them at 375F (top shelf) and the bottoms are getting quite dark so I’ve turned the oven down to 300F. Soon. Soon.
They smell fabulous!!
We just had a croissant each and half a pain au chocolat with coffee.
How do you spell “too much butter but do you want another???”?
Here is the BBB recipe and here is what I did to it:
Croissants and Pain au Chocolat
based on a recipe in a France Magazine article “Pastry from Heaven” by Michelin-star chef, Michel Roux
- 10 gm active dry yeast ¹
- 250 gm lukewarm water ²
- 1/3 c milk powder
- 50 gm whole wheat flour
- 450 gm unbleached all-purpose flour
- 12 gm Kosher salt
- 50 gm sugar
- 275 gm butter, cold but not too hard
- Milk wash ³
- dark chocolate (good quality), optional
- mixing In the evening of the day before you will be baking the croissants, put the yeast and water into a medium sized bowl and whisk well. Set aside for a few moments.
- Add the milk powder, flours, salt and sugar, Using a wooden spoon, mix together until it pulls away from the sides of the bowl and forms a rough dough. Katie’s instructions say “It should not become too elastic“.
- Cover the bowl and leave it in a non-drafty area of the kitchen (or in the cold oven with the light turned on if your kitchen is cold) to allow it ferment until it has doubled. Katie says this should take about an hour. Ha. It takes longer in our kitchen. Maybe it’s because we’re not in France.
- Deflate the dough by turning it over with your hands but nothing more than that. Katie’s instructions say “do not overwork it“. (I hand-kneaded it lightly in the bowl for about a minute to get rid of the lumps that were still there.) Cover the bowl again and “refrigerate for at least 4 hours but not more than 8“. (I left the dough on the counter overnight; the kitchen is around 15C.)
- Adding the Butter: Early the next morning, turn the dough again with your hands and place it on a very lightly floured board. Shape it into a ball and cut a rather deep cross in the center. Be careful not to cut right through the dough. Pull the corners created outwards to make a four-petalled flower shape. If the butter is still hard, cut it into smaller pieces and hit it with the rolling pin to flatten and soften each piece. Stack the pieces together and, as Katie wrote so beautifully, “Bash the butter with a rolling pin to make a rectangle and place in the center of the dough“. Fold the petals of the flower over the butter to completely enclose it.
- 1st turn: Scatter a small amount of flour over the board and put the dough lump on top. Using a rolling pin, roll it out into a large rectangle. (Katie suggests 60 X 30cm (24 X 12″)). Fold the rectangle into thirds like a letter, poke a finger into one corner of the rectangle to mark it, wrap the dough in plastic and stick it in the fridge for half an hour.
- 2nd turn: Place the poke mark on the part of the board furthest away from you so that the fold marks are facing you. Roll the dough out again in exactly the same way as before but put TWO poke marks in the corner. Refrigerate another 30 minutes.
- 3rd turn: Place the poke marks furthest away from you. Roll the dough out again in exactly the same way as before but with THREE poke marks. Refrigerate for at least another 30 minutes but not more than an hour.
- croissants: Cut out an isosceles triangle template on stiff paper. The base should be 9cm (3.5in) and 18cm (7in) on each side. Lightly dust the board with flour and roll the dough out into a large rectangle that is about .5cm (.25in) thick. Lift the rectangle off the board to make sure it’s not sticking. Using the template, cut the dough into triangles.
- Put a triangle onto the board. Cut a small slit into the center of the base and pull the base points apart to separate them. Pull the top point of the triangle upward a bit. (I know. I didn’t manage that part. But please do as I say, not as I did…). Roll up the triangle starting from the base and going to the point. Curve the rolled dough into a crescent shape. Repeat with all the triangles and place them well apart on a parchment covered cookie sheet.
- pains au chocolat: Lightly dust the board with flour and roll the dough out into a large rectangle that is about .5cm (.25in) thick. Cut the dough into rectangles that are 11cm (~4.5 in) wide and 7cm (2.75in) long.
- Put a square or two of chocolate (I used a 75% chocolate bar) at the short end of a rectangle. Roll it half way. Put another square or two of chocolate on the other end and roll it to meet at the center to form a scroll. Pinch the sides together to stop it from unrolling. Repeat with all the rectangles and place them well apart on a parchment covered cookie sheet. (Katie wrote “You can freeze unbaked croissants and Pains au Chocolat, after shaping but before brushing with [milk wash], for up to 2 weeks. Separate with waxed or parchment paper so you can remove as many as you like.“)
- proofing: Brush each croissant and scroll lightly with milk wash. (Yup. Again. Do as I say, not as I did.) Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rise in a warmish non-drafty area (oven with only the light turned on) until almost doubled.
- baking: Turn the oven to 350F and ensure that it is preheated. Brush each shaped piece with milk wash again. Put the tray on the highest rack of the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Turn the oven down to 325 and continue baking for another 5 minutes or so until the bread is dark golden and crispy. 4
- When they are done, remove to cool on a wire rack (use a spatula or tongs to move them – especially the pains au chocolat; the chocolate is molten hot hot hot).
Serve warm with coffee and butter if you’re feeling decadent. Apricot jam is also a wonderful addition.
1. Yeast: The BBB recipe calls for 25 gm cake yeast. I used active dry yeast (7 gm) because that’s what I happen to have on hand. I could have gone out and bought cake yeast, but I’m too lazy.
2. Water: Tap water is fine to use – just make sure that it has stood for at least 12 hours so that the chlorine has dissipated. Under no circumstances should you use water from the hot water tap. Of course, saying that it is unsafe to use water from the hot water tap might be an urban myth, but why tempt fate? Heat the water in a kettle or microwave and add cold water until it is the correct temperature, (use the baby bottle test on the back of your wrist – your fingers have no idea of temperature!) Or you can use a thermometer. The temperature should be BELOW 120F because yeast begins to die when the temperature is higher than 120F.
3. Milk Wash: The BBB recipe calls for an egg wash (1 egg yolk mixed with 1 Tbsp milk) I just can’t bring myself to break an egg for that, knowing that some of the egg will be thrown out. And I suspect that one can’t make very many meringues with just one egg white. So, grasping my “BBB: No Rules” handbook, I opted to simply use a milk wash and too bad if the croissants aren’t as shiny as they’re supposed to be.
4. Oven Temperature: Because there is sugar in the dough, the oven temperature is a little lower than for most bread: 350F. If the bottoms are getting done before tops, turn the oven down.
- BBB croissant recipe
» BBB croissants, pain au chocolat, pesto baguette
» how to make croissant dough
» Julia Child, Croissants
» Puff Pastry (excellent video showing how to roll the butter in – see 1:40-3:30)
- Fresh Loaf
» Julia Child’s Croissant – with major overhaul
- recipes from OUR kitchen
» bread recipes
» more bread recipes
The official decree? The croissants are easily as good, if not better than any croissants we’ve ever had. And the pains au chocolat are infinitely better, with chocolate oozing everywhere. (It’s a shame that the photos don’t show the oozing chocolate.) T says they’re the best pains au chocolat he’s ever had. And that’s high praise!!
Silly me. I have been putting off making this recipe, expecting that it would be really hard. And then I added an extra reason to put off making them – it was too warm in the kitchen this summer.
Usually, I’m very sad when the weather starts turning cold and the kitchen temperature drops from 25C to 15C. Ha. Now there’s a good reason to have a cold kitchen!
Thank you, Katie, for insisting that we make croissants and pains au chocolat! (I’m still pretending that I’m not insanely late with this.) Now excuse me, I have to go and have a heart attack from eating so much butter….
Bread Baking Babes
Katie (Thyme For Cooking) was the host of the January 2009′s Bread Baking Babes’ task. She wrote:
January 19, 2009
It was my bright idea to do croissants. I’ve always wanted to, you see….
One day I saw this incredibly easy recipe in a magazine. I was a little embarrassed to propose something to the Bread Baking Babes that was so simple (according to the article)…
But it was after the busy holidays and I thought everyone deserved a break.
Rumor has it that the actual making of the croissants wasn’t quite as easy as the recipe author indicated.
True, but it wasn’t as hard as expected either. And it’s well worth the effort! Please note that Katie also includes instructions for how to make a Pesto Baguette with this dough.
And if you didn’t already see them, or if it has been a while since you looked, please take a look at the other BBBabes’ Croissants, etc.:
- Astrid, Paulchen’s FoodBlog?!: Croissants ala BBB
- Görel, Grain Doe: The croissants that the dog ate or at least licked on
- Gretchen, Canela Y Comino: BBB Croissants (http://www.canelaycomino.com/2009/01/bbb-croissants/)
- Ilva, Lucullian Delights: Croissants – Bread Baking Babes goes French
- Karen, Bake My Day: Bread Baking Babes bake Croissants
- Katie, Thyme For Cooking (Kitchen of the Month): Oh La La!!! The Bread Baking Babes do France!; Croissants, Part Deux: The Bread Baking Buddies
- Lien, Notitie van Lien: BBB & Croissants
- Lynn, Cookie Baker Lynn: Crazy for Croissants
- Mary (aka Breadchick), The Sour Dough: Viva Le Croissant! Babe Style…
- Monique, Living on Bread and Water: It’s smelling French here… …… FRESH CROISSANTS
- Natashya, Living In The Kitchen With Puppies: Oui, Oui, Oui, All The Way Home
- Pat (aka Elle), Feeding My Enthusiasms: La-la-la-la-laminate
- Sara, I Like to Cook: Bread Baking Babes – Croissants
- Tanna, My Kitchen in Half Cups: Looks can be deceiving . . . BBB Croissants
For complete details about the BBB, please read:
Lynn’s High Five
You select the challenge – you know best what intimidates you, what you’ve been putting off trying. When you put up your post, just slap up this logo to let the world know you’ve taken on something new and given it a good kicking! – Lynn (Cookie baker Lynn), I Did It (and you can, too)
Each week, Susan (Wild Yeast) compiles a list of many bread-specific recipes from across the web. For complete details on how to be included in the YeastSpotting round up, please read the following: