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October 06, 2007

Croissants and Pains Au Chocolate

This month Duff ABC's and I are working on Croissants AND Pains Au Chocolate (basically chocolate in a rectangular Croissant). While there were a lot of steps, including a lot of refrigerator wait time they were remarkably easy, tasty and painless. In fact we ate the whole batch and I'm going to try again tomorrow. I made a few easily correctable mistakes, really more from simply not thinking... Anyway, here are pictures the recipe and my commentary

Eighteen 3 1/2 inch long croissants, or Twenty four 3 1/2 inch long Pains Au Chocolate

3/4 lbs unsalted cold butter (3 cubes)
3 Tbs flour
1 C warm whole milk
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 Tbs sugar
2 3/4 C flour
1 tsp salt
2 Tbs unsalted butter, softened and cut into small chunks
1 Lg egg slightly beaten

1. Place the cold butter on the counter and sprinkle it with a little of the 3 Tbs of flour and begin beating it with a rolling pin. Scrape the butter from the counter and rolling pin as needed and fold it over itself into a heap. Continue to work the butter until it is smooth and without lumps. Knead the rest of the flour into the butter with your hands, working quickly to keep the butter cold. Place the butter on plastic wrap and shape it into a 9x6 in rectangle. Wrap and refrigerate the butter while you make the dough.
2. Whisk the milk, yeast and sugar together and let stand about 5 mins until the yeast is dissolved.
3. Mix the flour salt and softened butter and then add the warm milk mixture. Mix with a fork or fingers to make the dough. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead for a few seconds until smooth. Let the dough sit for 5 mins.
4. Roll out the dough to a 15 x 8 inch rectangle. Sprinkle flour as needed to prevent sticking. take the rectangle of butter and place over 2/3 of the dough leaving a 1 inch border on 3 of the side and about 5 inches on the other. Fold over the excess 5 inches of dough then fold over the buttered side like you were folding a business letter. Seal the edges and rotate 1/4 turn.
5. Roll out the dough/butter into a 18x8 rectangle, fold into thirds again and roll out and then fold again. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 mins.
6. Roll out the dough/butter, fold, roll, fold again. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour or over night (at this point the dough can also be frozen, let thaw completely before proceeding.). From here you can make traditional Croissants or Pains Au Chocolate.

For Croissants
1. Divide dough in half, roll out into a 24x6 inch rectangle and let stand for 5 mins. Mark one side every 4 1/2 inches and the other side first at 2 1/4 inches and then every 4 1/2 from there. Starting on the every 4 1/2 inch side cut to the 2 1/4 measurement, from then on cut from one side to the other starting where you just finished to the nick on the other side. You should have 9 triangles.
2. Starting at the short end roll the dough to the tip, leaving the tip underneath. Place on a baking sheet at least 2 inches apart curving the ends to create the croissant shape. (you can refrigerate or freeze the shapes at this point.). Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let rise until increased by almost half, 1-1 1/2 hours.
3. Brush each croissant lightly with the egg. Bake at 375 for 20-25 mins.

For Pains Au Chocolate
12 oz chopped chocolate
1. Divide the dough in half, roll out into a 16x12 inch rectangle. Cut into 4x4 inch squares. Arrange 1/2 oz of chocolate on one edge of dough, and brush the opposite side with egg.
2. Roll into logs starting with the chocolate side and leaving the seam side down. Place on a baking sheet at least 2 inches apart. (you can refrigerate or freeze the shapes at this point.). Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let rise until increased by almost half, 1-1 1/2 hours.
3. Brush each log lightly with the egg. Bake at 375 for 20-25 mins.

So a few notes... When first rolling out the folded dough the recipe calls for a refrigeration after the 2nd set and 4th set. I think in the future I'll also do a short 10-15 min refrigeration break after the 1st and 3rd, just to help the butter. By the 2nd and 4th roll out the butter was squeezing through the layers quite a bit. Also don't be afraid to really use your muscles, this isn't a dainty pastry, but full of gluten and tough. So really roll it out well.
The stupid mistake I did was brush on the egg before I let the dough rise on the croissants. The result was they were too moist and stuck to the towel, so when I pulled it away the top layers of dough came off with the towel and the gas escaped and the dough deflated. So tomorrow I'm hoping to have nice fluffy beautiful croissants to show off.
And lastly I checked them at 20 mins and they were a tad on the dark side, so I'll check after 15 mins next time, and maybe even lower the temp a bit. (just to 350)
I'm going to make this a few more times this month to experiment, the point of these challenges isn't just to try something new, but to really learn and perfect it. So I'm not only going to make them again to get it right, but try out different fillings, like jams, and meat's and cheeses. Or maybe flavoring the butter a bit. Also experiment with freezing the dough at the different stages, stuff like that, any other idea's for experiments? I'll try anything you suggest...
Also, do you prefer the slide show, or the pictures within the description better?