Saturday, March 2, 2013

Treat Yourself! French Croissants

I read in an article recently that if we are what we eat, then we Americans are cheap and easy. (I can't find this exact article, so I've no link to supply sadly)  Now, whether or not that is completely true is a matter of opinion, but it is most definitely food for thought (oh yes, pun intended ;) ).  
So, my point?  Yes, fast food and microwavable meals are the most convenient for our ever busy modern lives, but please, don't forget to treat yourself with some homemade meals every once in a while!  Your taste buds will thank you for it - besides, preparing your own food is such a fun and engaging activity, I recommend it to everyone. :)

For today I wish to share a favorite treat of mine: le croissant français!!
I got the recipe out of Mireille Guilano's French Women Don't Get Fat, and my family and friends absolutely love it.

Note:  The preparation process for the croissants must start 3 days prior to when you wish to serve them.  So assuming you wish to serve them as a Sunday treat, start preparing Friday evening.

Les Ingrédients 

  • 1 cup of lukewarm milk (Mireille uses 1%, I use fat free, but I don't think it matters much)
  • 2 t. active dry yeast
  • 2 1/4 unbleached flour (and then some more to spare)
  • 2 T. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt (I have a chronic fear of oversalting my baked goods - it has happened before so I always put in less salt than the original recipe)
  • 12 T. unsalted butter at room temperature
Vendredi Soir (aka Friday Evening):

  1. Dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup of the milk and stir in 2 tablespoons of the flour.  Whisk well until there are little to no lumps.  Let stand in room temperature for 20 minutes or until mixture has doubled in size.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix the remainder of the milk, flour, sugar, and salt.  Then gradually incorporate the yeast mixture in.  An electric mixer is handy but not necessary by any means.  Mix well until dough is soft and sticky.
  3. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate. (Note, wrapping in a plastic grocery bag works just as well!)
Samedi Matin (Saturday Morning):

  1. In a bowl, work the butter and an additional 3 tablespoons of butter together.  You should behold a gooey substance, but not a melted one!
  2. Roll out your dough on a floured surface into a 6 x 15 inch rectangle.
  3. Spread the buttery substance onto the dough rectangle so that it covers 2/3 of it, leaving about an inch from the edges of the rectangle.
  4. Fold the rectangle dough letter style.
  5. Roll the dough out once more into a 6 x 15 inch rectangle and then fold it letter style again.
  6. Wrap in plastic and allow to refrigerate for at least 6 hours

Letter Style Folding

Samedi Soir (Saturday Evening):

  1. Roll out the dough and fold letter style as done before two more times.
  2. Wrap in plastic and allow to refrigerate overnight.
Dimanche Matin (Sunday Morning):

**Note:  The key is to work quickly as the dough will be rising quickly
  1. Roll the dough out into a 16 inch circle.
  2. Using a knife or a pizza cutter, cut the circle pie style into 12 slices (in quarters then each quarter into three more slices).
  3. Now you should have 12 triangles.  Roll each of the triangles from their bases to their tips.  Don't curl them.
  4. Place all of your croissants onto a cookie sheet and and brush them with milk.  Let them sit out for 45 min. or until they double in size.
  5. Preheat the oven to 400 F during this time.  When ready, let them bake for 16-20 min.  Make sure to watch them to make sure that they aren't glazing too quickly.  If they are, just over the tray with some aluminum foil!
Almost done!

Et voila! Vos croissants!! Bon Appétit, mes amis!!

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