|Classic French Croissants / Pain Au Chocolat||
Adapted from Fine Cooking
Bake time: 20-25 mins | Makes: 16
For the dough:
For the butter layer:
- All purpose flour - 4 cups + more for dusting
- Water - 1/2 cup
- Milk - 1/2 cup (I used skimmed milk)
- White sugar - 1/4 cup
- Unsalted butter - 50 gms
- Active Dry yeast - 1 tbsp + 1/2 tsp
- Ice cubes - 5
- Salt - 2 tsp
- Unsalted butter - 250 gms
- Cold milk / cream - 4 tbsp - to brush the top
- (OR) 1 egg - for egg wash
Day 1:Making the dough & Refrigerating overnight
1. Combine both milk and water in a bowl and drop the ice cubes and keep aside.
2. Combine all the dry ingredients in another mixing bowl. Discard any thin ice cubes floating on top and add it to the dry ingredients. I mixed and made the dough using my hand, but you can use your hand mixer with the dough hooks or your food processor.
3. Lightly dust a 10-inch pan or a dinner plate with flour. Place the ball into the pan and press the dough down gently. Lightly dust the top also with flour to prevent the dough from drying out. I placed the pan into a plastic cover and covered it with the lid. Fold the extra protruding sheet below the pan and refrigerate it overnight.
Day 2:Making the butter layer
4. On the next day, cut out 2 pieces of parchment or waxed paper into 10” squares each. Cut the cold butter into 1/2-inch-thick slabs or into cubes. Arrange these pieces on one piece of parchment/ waxed paper so that they form a 5- to 6-inch square (roughly). Place the other piece of paper on top. (Shown above).
5. With the help of a rolling pin, pound the butter very gently. They first start to become sticky and now use more force to pound it till it becomes flat forming a square of 7-1/2 to 8 inches approx. Trim the edges of the butter to make a neat square. Put the trimmings on top of the square and pound them in lightly with the rolling pin (Shown above). Place the whole set up in the refrigerator till we get the dough ready.
Laminating the dough
6. Take the dough out of the pan and meanwhile, prepare your work area by dusting with flour. Roll it out to a 10-1/2-inch square approx., and brush off any excess flour.
7. Take the butter out from the refrigerator and check if it cold. But it should be pliable also. If its not then refrigerate it again. This is to ensure that the the butter does not melt when we roll out the dough. If the butter is soft, it will melt, if it hard, it will break.
8. Peel the cover off the butter and place it in the middle of the rolled out dough so that it forms a diamond shape. (Shown above).
9. We are going to make an envelope of the dough by folding the edges around over the butter. (Shown above). Gently press the edges together so that the butter is completely sealed inside the dough. This is to make sure that the butter does not leak out on rolling later.
10. Dust the work area lightly with flour. Using a rolling pin roll the dough and while elongating it slightly roll out further forming a rectangle of 8"x 24". While rolling keep patting the sides with your palm to maintain the rectangle shape.
11. Make a mark, dividing the length of the dough by 3 along its length. Bring one corner of the dough end to the middle part and the other end to the middle overlapping the first fold. (Shown above).
12. Place the folded into a plastic cover and freeze for 15 to 20 minutes. Take out the dough and repeat the steps 10 and 11. Cover once again with plastic cover and freeze for another 15 to 20 minutes. Once again repeat steps 10 and 11.
13. By now we would have rolled, folded and refrigerated 3 times leaving a time gap of 15-20 minutes in between every repeat. Now place the folded dough into a plastic cover and closing its mouth firmly to prevent drying out and refrigerate overnight.
Day 3:Working with the Croissant dough
14. The next day, take the dough out of the cover. Dust the work area with flour. Cut the dough along the longer side into 2 halves. Place one half into the plastic cover and refrigerate it while we work with the other half.
15. Using a rolling pin, gently but firmly press along the dough's length once again making a rectangle of 8 x 22 inches. Use more flour for dusting if the dough is sticky. Trim the edges to make a perfect rectangle with straight sides.
16. With the help of a sharp knife or a pizza cutter, make marks at 5-inch intervals along the length of the dough.
17. Make diagonal cuts as you would do for making crescents thereby forming a triangle (Shown above).
How to shape Croissants:
18. Roll the rolling pin over one piece thereby elongating it. Using a sharp knife, make a 1/2" - 3/4" length notch at the base of each triangle.
19. Spread your fingers and just roll from the notched (base) end to the tip of the triangle firmly but take care not to roll them tightly. (Shown above). Bring the ends together like shown in the above picture. Prepare all the triangles into croissants. Line them on a greased baking tray leaving enough space between them as they do rise a bit.
20. For making Pain au Chocolat, cut the dough into 5 inch length rectangle strips and place chocolate at one end and roll the dough strip firmly to the other end as you would do with a mattress. Gently press the end into the dough and place them on the sheet with the sealed side facing down.
Proofing the Croissants:
21. Brush the top of the croissants with either milk or cream or a mixture of both. You can give an egg wash by mixing 1 egg with 1 tsp of water and use it to brush the top.
22. Refrigerate the remaining wash prepared as we have brush the croissants again before baking.
23. Place the croissants in a cool place and let it proof for 2-3 hours. They may not double up in size upon proofing, but you can see that they had become somewhat bigger in size.
Baking the Croissants:
24. Preheat the oven at 200 C (400 F). Meanwhile brush the top with wash mixture. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes or till they’re done and they appear golden brown on top. Cool the croissants on the baking tray over a wire rack. Serve warm.