Croissants and Pain au Chocolat

[Photograph: Lauren Weisenthal]

Croissants, with their golden brown, crisp exterior and creamy, buttery interior, are always a welcome treat. To make them, you create a yeasted dough, into which you secure a sheet of butter. The flaky layers in the end product are the result of folding the dough many times, a process called lamination. From mixing and proofing, to laminating and resting and shaping, croissants are certainly not a quickie project, but with practice, the results can be amazing.


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Croissants and Pain au Chocolat

About This Recipe

Yield:12
Active time:2 hours
Total time:2 days
Special equipment:wooden rolling pin
This recipe appears in: Sweet Technique: How to Make Croissants
Rated:

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup water, 110 degrees Fahrenheit
  • 1 1/3 cups milk, 110 degrees Fahrenheit
  • 1 tablespoon, 2 teaspoons active-dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 16 ounces all-purpose flour
  • 13 ounces cold butter
  • Egg wash: 1 egg, beaten with 1 pinch of salt
  • For pain au chocolat: chocolate chips

Procedures

  1. 1

    Make the dough: Combine the milk and water. Activate the yeast by stirring it into the liquid and allowing it to sit 5 minutes. The mixture will get foamy. Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the yeast mixture and mix on medium speed with the dough hook attachment until the dough is elastic and smooth. Transfer the dough to a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and proof for 1.5 hours. The dough will double in size. Halfway through the proofing, fold the dough and deflate, recover, and continue to allow it to proof.

  2. 2

    Prepare the butter: Cut the cold butter into 1 inch chunks and place them between two pieces of plastic wrap with a lot of overhang. Pound the butter flat, gather it back up into a mound, and pound it out again, until it is cold and pliable. Roll the butter into a rectangular sheet 10x7 inches between two pieces of plastic wrap. Place the sheet in the fridge.

  3. 3

    Create the layers: On a floured surface, press the dough into a large rectangle, fold into thirds, and allow it to proof on the bench for 20 minutes. Roll the dough out into a 21x10 inch rectangle. Place the butter sheet in the center of the dough. Fold the long dough flaps over the top to seal in the butter. Turn the dough 90 degrees so the line where the two flaps meet forms a vertical line. Carefully roll the dough out into a large rectangle. Fold the dough into thirds like a letter, wrap in plastic, and chill for 30 minutes. Repeat this two more times, and the final time, wrap the dough in plastic and chill weighted under a heavy pan overnight.

  4. 4

    Shape the croissants/pan au chocolat: Carefully roll out the chilled dough so it's shy of 1/4" inch thick, taking care not to press the brittle, chilled butter through the dough. Cut a rectangle that measures 21x8 inches, then make small marks every three inches along the top edge of the dough. Do the same on the bottom, but begin measuring 1.5 inches from the edge, so the top and bottom marks are not lined up evenly. Cut diagonal lines between the marks, forming triangles. For each triangle, cut a .5 inch slit in wide base of the triangle and spread the dough gently apart. Begin rolling the croissant from the two flaps of dough created by the cut, and roll up to the point of the triangle. The point should end up tucked under the croissant. Bring the two ends together to form a crescent shape.

    For pain au chocolat, cut rectangles of 3x5 inches. Make two lines of chocolate chips on each rectangle. Fold one edge of the dough over the first line of chips, then roll the resulting pocket of dough and chips over the second line gently with the palm of your hand. Continue rolling until the other edge of the dough is tucked underneath the pockets of chocolate. Place shaped dough on a parchment lined sheet tray leaving 3 inches on each side. Allow the dough to finish proofing at 85 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes or until the shaped dough has become light and airy.

  5. 5

    Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Carefully brush the croissants with egg wash, taking care to avoid brushing it along the sides where the dough was cut. Bake for 20 minutes, rotating halfway through, then reduce the heat to 400 and continue baking for 15-20 minutes or until the croissants are golden brown. Allow to cool 30 minutes before serving.

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