Monday, October 14, 2013

Brilliant Brunch: Croissants

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So if you recall, my recap from Paris was a bit light on our cooking class (one of the highlights of the trip, if I do say so myself).  Cook'n with Class has a variety of classes to choose from so while I was all about croissants you can learn to make eclairs or macaroons.  You can also opt to go with a native French speaker to a French market.  Buy ingredients, then come back and make yourselves lunch!  That class was going on in the room next to us and looked incredibly fun.

There are a few French cooking schools in Paris that cater to foodie tourists like us.  We chose Cook'n with Class because their croissant class was closed after 6 students and it was by far the best value. Anyway, we're here to talk about croissants so let me focus on them / our experience.  We had a wonderful teacher, Emmanuelle, who John calls "the nicest French person in the world".  She was a great teacher but she also was able to draw everyone into the class and get them to participate.  Of course, you know it took me no time to decide I wanted to participate.  At one point, she gave me the rolling pin right from her hand so I could roll out the croissant dough.  It's a good thing John loves me.  He just shakes his head!

As many of you know, croissants have been my nemesis for quite some time.  I love them, and they love me but in my kitchen, well, they come out looking like a science experiment gone wrong.  Emmanuelle took us through each step in the process and with the small class, we were all able to be a part of it.  By the time 11.30 rolled around (2 1/2 hours later) and we had placed all our delicious goodies in the oven, we were all great friends.  In fact, one of the women there with her daughter came with us to Sacre-Coeur after the class.  Yes, John and I can make friends anywhere and everywhere.  Anyway, by the end of the class, I felt like a croissant expert.  And I've already promised people I would make them the week of Thanksgiving.

Croissants (adapted from Epicurious)
Serves:  20 croissants
1 1/2 cups whole milk, warmed to 105 degrees F)
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
3 3/4 - 4 1/2 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
3 sticks unsalted butter

Make the dough:  Stir together warm milk, brown sugar, and yeast in bowl of standing mixer and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add 3 3/4 cups flour and salt and mix with dough hook at low speed until dough is smooth and very soft, about 7 minutes.  Alternatively, you can do this with a wooden spoon and then knead by hand once the dough combines.  Transfer dough to a work surface and knead by hand 2 minutes, adding more flour as necessary, a little at a time, to make a soft, slightly sticky dough. Form dough into a roughly 1 1/2-inch-thick rectangle and chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until cold, about 90 minutes.
Butter:  After the 90 minutes, arrange sticks of butter horizontally, their sides touching, on a work surface. Pound butter with a rolling pin to soften. Scrape butter into a block and place on wax paper.  Cover with additional wax paper.  Pound and roll out on both sides until butter forms a uniform 8- by 5-inch rectangle. Chill.

Rolling Dough:  Unwrap dough and roll out on a lightly floured surface, dusting with flour as necessary, into a 16- by 10-inch rectangle. Arrange dough with a short side nearest you and brush off excess flour.  Put butter in center of dough so that long sides of butter are parallel to short sides of dough. Fold as you would a letter: bottom third of dough over butter, then top third down over dough. Brush off excess flour from the top as well.

Turn dough so a short side is nearest you, then flatten dough slightly by pressing down horizontally with rolling pin across dough at regular intervals, making uniform impressions. Roll out dough into a 15- by 10-inch rectangle. Keep an eye out for butter-butter should not be coming through the dough. 
Fold in thirds like a letter, as above, stretching corners to square off dough, forming a 10- by 5-inch rectangle. (This is the first fold).  Chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, 1 hour.

Folding:  Make 3 more folds the same way, chilling dough 1 hour after each fold, for a total of 4 folds. If any butter oozes out while rolling, sprinkle with flour to prevent sticking. Wrap dough tightly in plastic wrap and chill at least 8 hours but no more than 18, for best results.

Shaping: Cut the dough log in half.  Roll each half of dough into a 24x12 inch rectangle.  With a knife, divide in half and then cut 4-6 triangles out of each.  One triangle at a time, roll up loosely in a crescent shape.  Brush with egg wash over the top.  Continue until all the triangles have been rolled.  Cover with a wet towel and leave to rise 30 - 60 minutes. 

Baking:  Bake at 400 degrees for 12-18 minutes until golden brown and puffy.  Eat immediately (or let cool to room temperature, if you can wait!). 

*Disclaimer:  Cook'n with Class was kind enough to offer me a spot in the class, however, we did pay for John.  As usual, everything above is my own opinion.  However, I did use the cost of John's class to compare the value that we received. 

Until the next time my oven is on...


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Welcome! I'm Dani (aka the Growing Foodie), just a girl balancing her career and passion for all things edible in NYC. I hope you'll join me in my adventures in life, through food. (Click for More)
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