For the past seven years, my husband has chosen the same birthday dinner and dessert; beef stroganoff followed by banana cream pie. This year, I was even somewhat ready for the answer to the question, "What would you like for your birthday dinner and dessert?" So, imagine my surprise when my husband responded, "Croissants, but not for dinner, for breakfast." Wait, what? In what alternate universe does birthday dinner happened at breakfast. What, no pie? I am just not ready to live on the edge.
After I regained my composure, I remembered that I'd been thinking about making croissants anyways. The reason I hadn't is because there are like 300 steps and takes F.O.R.E.V.E.R. or approximately 24 hours. For a brief minute, I considered running to a bakery (but, where?) or just buying some refrigerated dough and calling it a day. I realize now, that I was just in shock. He asked for croissants, not a trip to Maui. Although, in the moment, planning a trip to Maui would have sounded like a lot less work.
Still decked out in sweaty workout clothes, I began the mad search for all seven ingredients I'd need for this task. That's right; 7.
* 4 Cups Flour, check
* 3 TB Sugar, check
* 3/4 pound chilled Butter, (who are you kidding?) CHECK
* 1 1/2 cups warm Milk....milk...where is the blessed milk? Damn. Totally forgot that it was all used up at a very high class tea party hosted by my six year old daughter the day before. Did she really go through the whole half gallon? I really need to keep better track of that stuff.
* Ok we are using water.....check
* 1 Egg, (again, whose fridge are we looking in? To be fair, I should have had milk and didn't) check
*Yeast, by the grace of god, check (when did I even buy this stuff? Sure hope it works)
*Parchment paper, check
*Plastic Wrap, check
*Rolling Pin, check
*Stand Mixer, check
Now, let's delve into the steps. Since I learn best by seeing and doing, I'm just going to make the very broad generalization that you all learn best this way (it is my blog after all), and so I am going to try, as best I can, to show you the step-by-step (oh baby...ahem sorry. New Kids on the Block flashback. No, I wasn't a fan) process.
Here we go!
1. Gather the above ingredients. Do you need a picture of them? No, you don't.
2. Proof the yeast. In bowl of stand mixer, combine 1 1/2 cups warm water (or milk if you don't have royalty living with you), 3 TB sugar, and 1 pkg of yeast (a little more than 1 TB). After about 5 minutes, you'll see bubbles and smell the deliciousness that is the combo of yeast and sugar.
3. In large bowl, sift 4 cups flour and sprinkle in 1/4 tsp salt. I have honest to goodness never sifted flour before. It was neat.
4. After attaching dough hook to stand mixer, turn on low and slowly add flour. I ended up using about 3 1/2 cups. Dough should be soft and a little sticky, but should release from bowl easily. I am so sorry, but I don't have a photo for this. Stop being so needy. You know what dough looks like.
5. On floured surface, roll out dough until it is a little over 16" long and about 8" wide. Most directions I read involve using rulers for this. We own rulers. They are currently being used for snowman arms. Eyeball it.
6. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and place in fridge for about 40 minutes. I used a cookie sheet to hold the dough because it was a huge, floppy mess. Here, I have a photo.
7. While dough is chilling out in the fridge, divide the chilled butter into equal sections, and lay on a piece of parchment paper (no, not you, the butter!). The cut butter should form a rectangle, but not as big of a rectangle as the rolled out dough. I'm now seeing the value of having a ruler here. Too late for me.
8. Place another piece of parchment paper over the butter rectangle, and begin rolling (with the rolling pin. Do not use your body. Ew. Not that kind of blog.) over the butter until the pieces come together for a unified butter rectangle (trust me, they want this).
9. Remove chilled dough from fridge. Place again on floured surface. Place slightly smaller butter rectangle on top of the dough and fold the edges over, completely covering the butter. The butter is now all cozy in it's sweet dough blanket.
10. Now, with the short side toward you, fold the dough blanket into thirds. Begin by folding the bottom third up. Now fold the top third down. See? Even my daughter can do this. Only 276 steps left to go!
11. Do you still have that plastic wrap handy? Great. Wrap up the folded dough and chill for one hour (no, not you! I don't care what you do with your time. Chill the dough for one hour.) This photo is really terrible, but you said that you needed a step-by-step tutorial, so here you go; wrapped dough.
12. Still here? Ok. Remove the dough from fridge and remove plastic wrap. With the short end of the dough facing you, roll it out until it is just over 12" long and about 8" wide. Really, just make a rectangle. Now fold it into thirds again, and wrap it in plastic. Set it into the fridge for another hour. This is fold number 2 if you are keeping track. You will repeat this step 3 more times. Roll, fold, wrap, chill. Roll, fold, wrap, chill. Roll, fold, wrap, chill. You have now spent about 5 1/2 hours on this recipe or approximately half of your life. Only 250 steps left to go.
13. After rolling and folding your dough from the fridge for the fifth time, pour yourself a glass of wine. The hard part is over. The next step requires that you let the dough chill and rise in the fridge for 8 hours or overnight.
When you remove the dough the next day, or later the same day depending on when you began this insanity, the dough will be fluffy. If you cut it down the middle, you'll see all the layers of butter and dough that you worked so hard on.
14. So I did cut my dough in half. Each half will make 12 croissants. The first half are plain, the second half have chocolate and do not exist if my children should ask. Roll each half into a rectangle. I really don't care how big it is, but the dough should be thin. Cut rectangle into 6 strips.
15. Cut each strip into two triangles (we've now mastered rectangles, and it's time to move on).
16. Beginning at the wide end, roll each rectangle, stretching the dough out as you go. Wow, this photo does not look the way I intended it to. Ahem. Moving on. No caption needed. However, you are welcome for the appetizer idea for that bachelorette party you are attending.
By the way, if you want chocolate croissants (of course you do), add a square into the base of each piece before you begin rolling. Make sure it's sealed in there by pinching the dough a bit as you roll. If you have a spreadable chocolate like nutella, spread that over the top of the triangle before you begin to roll it.
17. Place rolled dough on cookie sheet and allow to rise for 45 minutes- 1 1/2 hours.
18. Remember that egg we gathered at the beginning? Find it. Crack it, beat it, and brush it over the croissants. Yes, I think we can now call these croissants.
19. Bake these gems for 12 minutes at 400°F for 12 minutes, then 350°F for another 8 minutes. Cue the angels singing, the croissants are now done.
Using up just 2 short days of your life is completely worth it. These babies are amazing.