Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Croissants and Pain au Chocolat for the Daring Bakers

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!

It was at the end of one of the last days of the first summer that kissed the world, and it was late afternoon. Divine Cherry and Celestial Dragon were floating in a boat at the foot of a mellow hill. The birds were chirping, the insects flying, and - for back in those days you could still see them - pink and yellow horses were galloping on the clouds above. The water was blue, so blue it could have been the sky. And the sky was blue also, so blue that it could have been water. It was hard to tell realities apart in those last hours of sunshine. Because, inevitably, the sun was sinking behind the horizon. And as it sank, slowly, on the other side of the world, the moon began to rise. And there it was. Suddenly, magnificently, beautifully high high up: a perfect scythe; complete in its lack of whole. That's exactly the moment that most rare of things happened: when all the stars are right, when the universe is bent on the momentous task that it's been set out to perform since the dawn of time, when there could be no other instant in both space and time, and when all the dwarves have become giants and all the giants men and all the men apes again, Divine Cherry was (literally) hit by a thought. Yes, a thought. Inspiration, some have called it. Genius, others have claimed. Nonsense, some may label it, but, as Celestial Dragon put it: a bloody brilliant idea.
It really was quite simple. Moved by the sharp shape of the moon, Divine Cherry decided to replicate it. However, she deemed that the moon would look much better indeed if it were wrapped in pastry. And so it was that aeons before the Turks (as is reported and commonly accepted) invented it and loved it so much they decided to decorate their flags with it; and aeons still before those selfsame Turks, in order kill time, decided that it would be most efficient to kill the Austro-Hungarian empire as well, leaving the Viennese shouting incomprehensible sentences in heavily accented German (something similar to die Türken sind an den Pforten Wiens), and leaving furthermost in the wake of their failed invasion imprints in the collective mind of the West of something decidedly moon-like, the croissant (nowadays a French word, of all the languages!) was invented. Let me rephrase it. Divine Cherry, in a fit of tenderness, wrapped the moon in pastry and gave it to the Celestial Dragon, that dumbly content guinea pig, to taste. Here is how she did it, step by step. Naturally, this recipe does not contain the magic spells Divine Cherry used, nor does it account for the help of the myriad of little elves (who later went to work for Santa) that helped her achieve this most sublime of all viennoiseries (irony is an ever-present companion of history).
(For the another myth of the birth of the croissant, see here)

Original recipe from the Daring Kitchen - Sarah
-     14 g of fresh yeast
-          90 ml warm water
-          2 teaspoon  sugar
-          200 g of cake plain flour
-          250 g of strong white flour
-          4 teaspoons  sugar
-          3 teaspoon  salt
-          240  ml milk
-          60 ml (4 tbs)  sunfower oil
-          230 g chilled, unsalted butter
-          1 egg, for egg wash

1.       Make the dough
Mix the yeast, warm water, and one teaspoon of sugar in a small bowl. Leave aside for the yeast and sugar to dissolve and the yeast to foam up a little.
Heat the milk until tepid in the microwave and dissolve in the salt and remaining sugar.
Place the flour in a large bowl. Add the oil, yeast mixture, and milk mixture to the flour.
Mix all the ingredients together using the rubber spatula, just until all the flour is incorporated.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and let it rest a minute.  Knead eight to ten times only. Smack the dough on the counter and remove it from the counter using the pastry scraper.  Place the dough back in the bowl, and cover it with cling film. Leave it to rest until it has tripled in size (at least 2 hours). 
2.       First fold
Then, place the dough on a lightly floured board, and use your hands to press it out into a rectangle of about 20cm by 30cm.
Fold the dough rectangle in three, like a letter (fold the top third down, and then the bottom third up).
Leave the dough, covered with cling film, to rise until it has doubled in size (at least 1.5 hour).
3.       Second fold and third fold
Once the dough has doubled, it’s time to incorporate the butter. Place the block of chilled butter on a chopping board and using the rolling pin, beat it down a little till it is quite flat. The butter needs to stay cool, but spread easily. Butter and dough must have the same temperature so you should put the dough in the fridge for 15 min or so to let it cool down.
Spread the dough using your hands into a rectangle of about 35cm by 20cm. Remove the butter from the board and place it on the top half of the dough rectangle. Spread the butter all across the top two-thirds of the dough rectangle, but keep it 6mm away from all the edges. Fold the bottom third of the dough up and the top third of the dough down (letter fold).
Turn the dough package 90 degrees so that the top flap is to your right (like a book). Roll out the dough package (gently, so you don’t push the butter out of the dough) until it is again about 35cm by 20cm.
Again, fold the top third down and the bottom third up. Wrap the dough package in plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for 2 hours. 
4.        Fourth fold and fifth fold
After two hours have passed, take the dough out of the fridge and place it again on the lightly floured board or counter. Tap the dough with the rolling pin to deflate it a little. Let the dough rest for 8 to 10 minutes. Roll the dough package out till it is 35cm by 20cm. Fold in three as before.
Turn 90 degrees, and roll out again to 35cm by 20cm. Fold in three for the last time, wrap in plastic, and return the dough package to the fridge for two more hours (or overnight).
5.       Shaping the croissant
First, cover your oven tray with some baking paper.
Take the dough out of the fridge and let it rest for ten minutes on the lightly floured board or counter.
Roll the dough out into a 50cm by 12cm rectangle. Cut the dough into two rectangles of 25cm by 12cm.
Place one of the rectangles in the fridge in order to keep the butter cold.
Roll the second rectangle out until it is 38cm by 12cm. Cut the rectangle into three squares. Place two of the squares in the fridge.
The remaining square may have shrunk up a little bit in the meantime. Roll it out again till it is nearly square. Cut the square diagonally into two triangles.
Stretch the triangle out a little so that it is not a right-angle triangle, but more of an isosceles.
Starting at the wide end, roll the triangle up towards the point and curve into a crescent shape.
Place the unbaked croissant on the baking sheet.
Repeat the process with the remaining squares of dough, creating 24 croissants in total.
Spread on top a bit of egg wash (mixture of egg and a spoon of water) so they do not become dry and let them rise on the tray for 1 hour at least.
6.       Bake!
Preheat the oven to very hot 240°C (mine reaches only 230°C).
Mix the egg with a teaspoon of water and spread the egg wash across the tops of the croissants again. Put the croissants in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes (mine stayed almost 20 min but it depends on your oven really), until the tops have browned nicely.
Take the croissants out of the oven and place them on a rack to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Shaping  the pain au chocolat
At point 5, take one of the three squares and cut it in two rectangles. Take one of the two and pull it a bit to make it longer. Put a small piece of chocolate on one edge and roll it up towards the other end.

 Ricetta in italiano:
La ricetta è tratta da Julia Child " Mastering the art of French Cooking" Vol II, il pdf originale della sfida da cui e' tratta la ricetta (che ho cambiato pochissimo) e' qui
- 14 g di lievito fresco
- 90 ml di acqua tiepida
- 2 cucchiaini di zucchero
- 200 g di farina semplice
- 250 g di farina forte
- 4 cucchiaini di zucchero
- 3 cucchiaini di sale
- 240 ml di latte
- 60 ml (4 cucchiai) di olio di semi
- 230 g di burro
- 1 uovo, per spennellare i croissant

    1. Preparare l'impasto
Mescolare il lievito, l’acqua tiepida e un cucchiaino di zucchero in una ciotolina. Lasciamola da parte finche’ non schiuma un po’, circa 15 minuti.
Scaldare il latte fino a quando diventa tiepido nel forno a microonde e scioglierci il sale e lo zucchero rimanente.
Mettere la farina in una grande ciotola. Aggiungere l'olio, la miscela di lievito, e il latte alla farina.
Mescolare tutti gli ingredienti utilizzando una spatola di gomma, fino a quando tutta la farina è incorporata.
Porre la pasta su una superficie infarinata e lasciare riposare un minuto. Impastare con forza la pasta sul ripiano di lavoro otto-dieci volte soltanto. Posizionare l'impasto nella ciotola e coprirla con pellicola trasparente. Lasciare riposare fino a quando non ha triplicato le sue dimensioni (almeno 2 ore).
2. Prima piega
Mettere la pasta su una tavola leggermente infarinata, e usare le mani per stenderla in un rettangolo di circa 20cm per 30cm.
Piegare il rettangolo di pasta in tre, come una lettera (piegare il terzo inferiore verso l’alto, e poi su questo piegare il terzo superiore).
Far riposare l'impasto, coperto con pellicola trasparente, fino a quando non ha raddoppiato le sue dimensioni (almeno 1,5 ore).
   3. Seconda e terza piega
Una volta che l'impasto è raddoppiato, è il momento di incorporare il burro. Posizionare il blocco di burro fresco su un tagliere e con il matterello, schiacciarlo un po', finché non è abbastanza piatta. Il burro deve rimanere fresco di temperatura, ma facilmente malleabile. Burro e pasta devono avere circa la stessa temperatura, quindi mettere la pasta in frigorifero per 15 minuti o giù di lì per farla raffreddare.
Stendere l'impasto usando gentilmente il mattarello in un rettangolo di circa 35cm per 20cm.
Togliere il burro dal tavolo, e posizionarlo nella metà superiore del rettangolo di pasta. Stendere il burro in tutto i primi due terzi del rettangolo di pasta, ma tenerlo a 6 millimetri da tutti i bordi. Piegare il terzo inferiore della pasta sulla parte con il burro e del terzo superiore della pasta verso il basso a chiudere (piegatura a lettera).
Girare la pasta di 90 gradi, in modo che il lembo superiore sia a destra (lo guardate come un libro). Stendere il pacchetto di pasta (dolcemente, in modo da non spingere il burro fuori l'impasto) fino a quando misura ancora una volta circa 35cm per 20cm.
Anche in questo caso, piegare verso l’alto il terzo inferiore e poi verso il basso il terzo superiore a chiudere. Avvolgere il pacchetto di pasta nella pellicola trasparente, e metterla in frigorifero per 2 ore.
    4. Quarta e quinta piega
Dopo due ore sono passate, prendere la pasta dal frigorifero e metterla di nuovo sul tavolo leggermente infarinato. Far sgonfiare la pasta un poco e lasciarla riposare per 8-10 minuti. Stendere l’impasto in un rettangolo di 35cm per 20cm. Piegare in tre, come prima.
Girare di 90 gradi, e stendere di nuovo in un rettangolo di 35cm per 20cm. Piegare in tre per l'ultima volta, coprire con pellicola plastica, e far riposare il pacchetto di pasta in frigo per due ore in più (o per la notte intera).
    5. Formare i croissant
Preparare la teglia coprendola con carta forno. Estrarre la pasta dal frigorifero e lasciarla riposare per dieci minuti sul tavolo leggermente infarinato.
Stendere la pasta in un rettangolo di 50cm per 12cm e poi tagliare l'impasto in due rettangoli di 25cm per 12cm.
Porre uno dei rettangoli in frigo per mantenere il burro freddo.
Stendere il secondo rettangolo finché non è di 38cm per 12cm. Tagliare il rettangolo in tre pezzi e metterne 2 in frigo.
Aggiustare con le mani  il pezzo rimanente finche’ torna quasi quadrato, tagliarlo ora in 2 triangoli.
Allungare il triangolo un poco, in modo che da triangolo rettangolo diventi isoscele.
A partire dal lato piu’ largo del triangolo tirarlo verso la punta in modo da allungarlo un po’ e poi arrotolarlo su se stesso.
Posizionare i croissant sulla teglia da forno tenendoli distanti gli uni dagli altri.
Ripetere il processo con i pezzi di pasta rimanente, creando 24 croissant in totale.
Far lievitare per 1 ora il vassoio di cornetti, dopo averli spennellati con un po’ di uovo diluito con acqua.
   6. Cuocere in forno!
Preriscaldare il forno a 240° C o al massimo.
Spennellare i croissant nuovamente. Infornare per 12 - 15 minuti, fino a quando si sono scuriti bene. Prendere i croissant dal forno e metterli su una griglia a raffreddare per 10 minuti prima di servire.

Formazione Pain au chocolat:
Al punto 5, dopo aver tagliato la pasta in 3 quadrati, prenderne uno e tagliarlo a meta’ e formare 2 rettangoli. Appoggiare qualche pezzetto di cioccolata sul bordo e arrotolare il rettangolo su se stesso.

And Spread the Mess


  1. They look just perfect. I loved this challenge!

  2. Great job on the challenge :)

  3. Super invoglianti questi perfetti croissants!!!...e che poetica l' immagine della luna avvolta nel dolce che Divine Cherry offre a Celestial Dragon :)

  4. Thank you all!! Taking part to this challenge was good fun!

  5. WOW the colour of the croissant and rolls are stunning so shiny and brown bravo to you and the crumb of the interior is excellent. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  6. Thank you Audax!! We put all our love in making them :)

  7. Lovely blog, fabulous story, gorgeous croissants!

  8. Thanks Genkinaonna.. Your comment is greatly appreciated :)

  9. What a nice story about the birth of croissant LOL LOL. I have to say that the colour and shine on the crust is awesome a superior result and the crumb of the interior is outstanding you really can make a great croissant and pain au chocolat. Bravo to you. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  10. Funny story! I just love the delish shiny brown on your croissants.

  11. Thank You! I think the shiny crust is due to the double egg wash. I first egg-washed the croissant before the final rise and then again just before bake them. :)

  12. Hey dir zwee.
    Aer croissants gesin wieklech gudd aus! Et kritt een rcihteg loscht se nozeman. Leider leien ech mat engem Problem um Arm am Bett. Doweinst, scheckt ma een roof an ech waert mech direkt besser fillen. :)

    M.-V. M. S.

  13. Keen problem, subal wi mer se nach eng kéier maachen, schécken ech der se erof - wäers gesin wi et der direkt wäert besser goen.. Dir kennt awer och selwer probéieren se ze maachen: as amfong net sou schwéier, et hellt just enorm vill zait ewech..
    Mee eis séiss gedanken sin bei der, virun allem mat déngem arm.. Eng gud besserung :)!

  14. great job ! these look very tasty !

  15. Che meraviglia!!! Sono venuti benissimo!!!

  16. Oh I am so impressed with these, I'll give you a +1!!! And I will follow you! :-).

    Since you live in the UK please do let me know if you see Party Food for Girls in the bookstores, I saw it online in a few places, like WHSmith http://www.whsmith.co.uk/CatalogAndSearch/ProductDetails.aspx?productID=9781869662998 (already discounted!) but if you see it on the shelves of a bookshop could you please take a photo and send it to me? There is nothing like seeing a book on the shelves of a bookshop, totally different from seeing it online :-).

    Ciao and thank you


  17. Thank you Alessandra!! I check for sure if I spot it in the bookshops and I'll let you know :)

  18. dopo che siè fatta tutta questa fatica e dopo tutto questo tempo devono venire buoni per forza!!
    alla vista sono perfetti!
    un saluto

  19. wow, they look perfect! the double egg wash has definitely made a difference!