Tuesday, September 27, 2011

September Daring Bakers' Challenge - Croissants

I just love it when a Daring Kitchen challenge is announced and it is something I have been hoping to make. And that is exactly what happened this month!

The Daring Bakers go retro this month! Thanks to one of our very talented non-blogging members, Sarah, the Daring Bakers were challenged to make Croissants using a recipe from the Queen of French Cooking, none other than Julia Child!

I was so excited when I saw this month's challenge. I have made croissants before, and have been hoping for an excuse to make them again. Between the time and the butter, it always seemed like I needed an excuse. Well, this month I had my excuse!

The recipe that Sarah provided us was long and detailed - many, many steps, detailed pictures, and about twelve hours start to finish. Well, once I had my excuse, I wasn't going to put it off any longer, so I just jumped right in.

The recipe starts like most normal bread doughs - blooming some yeast.

Mixing in some flour.

Then setting the dough to rise. So what starts as a little ball of sticky dough like this:

In three short hours, turns into a lovely soft, beautifully risen ball of dough like this:

The dough is then pressed out by hand into a rectangle:

Then folded like a letter.

At this point, the dough is set to rise for a second time. While the recipe calls for it to rise for an hour and a half, I actually put the dough into the fridge overnight. Then in the morning, I just set the bowl on the counter to come back up to room temperature and it worked like a charm! So my second rise looked a little like this:

While the dough was coming back up to temperature, I worked on making my butter block. While this recipe actually called for spreading the butter onto the rolled out dough, I decided to go the more traditional croissant-making route of enclosing a rolled out block of butter into the dough.

One little stick of butter (much less than in most recipes!) all rolled into a flat little square, all ready to be enclosed in the rolled out dough.

The next steps are what turn a block of dough and butter into, well, it's still dough and butter, but what it turns into is called laminated dough.

The process involves a series of rolling and folding. The dough is rolled into a rectangle, then folded in three like a letter. Each iteration of this is called a turn. It has to be done gently, so that the layers stay distinct, the dough doesn't rip, and the butter is fully incorporated throughout the dough. It also has to be done slowly, with the dough resting in the refrigerator in between sets of turns so that the butter doesn't get to warm or melt into the dough.

Once the butter block was folded into the dough, I completed the first two turns, then set the dough into the refrigerator for a couple of hours.

I then took out the dough, let it rest for a bit, and completed two more sets of turns.

I then covered the dough and set it in the fridge overnight again.

The next morning was Saturday, and I was excited to make fresh croissants for brunch. The recipe says to cut the dough into sections and work section by section, to make sure that the butter doesn't get too warm during the rolling process, but, seeing as I had little miss and little man with me, I figured I could probably move fast enough to shape the croissants all at once.

I rolled the dough into a long rectangle and cut it into eight triangles.

Each triangle was then stretched a bit and rolled up, wide end to tip, to create the croissant shapes.

After proofing, I coated the croissants with egg wash, preheated the oven, and re-egg washed them.

Fifteen minutes later, brunch (or, well, the bread portion of brunch...) was ready.

These were delicious. Light, surprisingly buttery, considering that there was only stick of butter in there, and deliciously flaky.

After the success of my first batch, I had two more versions that I wanted to make. The first was based on croissants that we sometimes treat ourselves with when we go out - whole grain croissants. To do this, I swapped out the all-purpose flour called for in the recipe with whole wheat flour. I was concerned, though, that the whole wheat flour wouldn't stretch well. So I used part whole wheat flour and part high gluten flour, and hoped for the best.

As I went through the same steps as with the first batch, I was increasingly encouraged by how beautifully the dough rose throughout the process.

And once the croissants were rolled out, I was very excited.

The whole grain croissants that we have bought are topped with a delicious seed mix, kind of like an everything bagel. To duplicate this, I sprinkled a seed and spice mix onto half of the croissants after the first egg wash (little miss doesn't like the seed mix, which is why we only did half).

And once these came out of the oven, we were just as excited. Little miss had her croissants:

And daddy and I had ours:

And in case you are curious as to how the whole wheat/high gluten flour combination worked out, as far as the lamination of the dough, it worked out beautifully!

I had every intention of making a third batch of these, and turning them into filled croissants (think chocolate!), but the month proceeded to get away from me. But now that I have played with this dough a couple of times, I am feeling much more confident in my ability to make laminated dough, and can guarantee that I will give these another go in the not too distant future.

Sarah, thank you so much for this challenge. It was just the push I needed to make croissants again, and I am so excited that I now have the confidence to keep going with it. I can promise that I will be making these again!

To see the beautiful croissants baked in the Daring Kitchen this month, check them out here.


  1. My goodness, Shelley! Your croissants are perfect! They rose so beautifully!

  2. Wasn't it fun? And yes I wanted to make another batch but ran out of time. Another month perhaps!

  3. The croissants look mouth watering! And you are right, this recipe uses much less butter than most recipes.


  4. What beautiful croissants - glad you had so much fun and wonderful results :)

  5. I am totally in awe, Shelley!! Your croissants look absolutely gorgeous, and I loved that you made a whole wheat version, and the addition of the mixed seeds is just amazing, I'm sure it was fantastic! I agree with you about the butter, this recipe doesn't call for as much as the majority of other recipes, and I love that even so, it turned out perfectly layered. You did a wonderful job, as always!

  6. You achieved a wonderful crumb to your croissant even the whole wheat version which is hard to do a great job on this challenge. I love the picture of the first batch such a great colour lovely work. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  7. Those croissant look delicious. What I was really happy to see was the wheat version. It had been on my mind & now that I know how well it turned out, I am gonna give them a try.

  8. Thanks for the comment! I might have to break my 30-year rule to make those whole wheat ones. They look amazing!!

  9. Gorgeous croissants, Shelley. I absolutely love those whole wheat, seeded beauties. Sort of healthy croissants - who'd have thought it! They look delicious. :)

  10. Delicious and gorgeous, love this croissant.

  11. Yum! I'll take one of each please :)

  12. These are amazing! The seed topped whole-wheat ones look so delicious and perfect.

  13. Wow, two varieties! Your croissants look great and it's nice to know that whole wheat flour works as a substitute. Nice job on the challenge!

  14. your croissants look so good I want to try the wholemeal ones now

  15. I made whole wheat croissants after seeing yours on the forum (so thanks for the inspiration!), and you're right - they were so good! I love how tall and well-defined the different "steps" on your croissants are. Nice job on this challenge!

  16. I love the whole wheat version of this recipe! Definitely something I'd like to try in the future. Great idea!

  17. These are amazing. I have never made croissants, but I have been wanting to try. I really appreciate the step-by-step pictures. It helps with the more complicated recipes.

  18. Shelley, I've been trying to comment here since yesterday, but it isn't going through for some reason. Trying again..

    My BF saw your croissants and said 'Wow, they look amazing! I'd love ro try those whole grain ones!' I totally agree! Beautifully done! You are a croissant master!

  19. Wow, your croissants look so golden and flaky! Mine didn't puff up as much as yours. I*'m really glad I joined DB and I'm excited to see what the new challenge is going to be.

  20. Wow, the croissaints are shaped so nice. And the colour. Wow.

  21. Oh, fantastic job!! I love that you made whole wheat ones, that sounds so good (and I love everything bagels!)

  22. Your croissants look perfect! I love the idea of whole wheat croissants. Awesome job!


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