Butter overload: Croissants and Danish

I may have mentioned that since becoming a culinary student, butter and cream have become my new best friends.  For my 6-week baking rotation, butter and I are now attached at the hip (literally, ha!).  The love affair continued last week with our latest patisserie adventure: the croissant and the danish.

Butter block

If you enjoy your weekly daily croissant with a double shot of espresso, you might want to hit the back button on your browser because my forthcoming description of how these delectable flaky puffs of dough are made may just ruin it for you, especially if you share any concerns about having working arteries by the time you’re 50.  If you’re like my husband and share his motto “everything in moderation, even moderation itself,” then read on fellow caution-to-the-winder.

Rolling croissants

So, croissants.  Those paper thin flakes of crescent shaped dough (hence the name) are created by layering dough with butter, hundreds of times.  We baking people call this a laminated dough.  How the layers are accomplished requires patience and a good rolling pin.  First you mix together your yeast dough mixture and then let it rise.  While your yeast is working, you take a pound of butter, yes a pound!, and flatten it out to make what the French call a beurrage, a butter block, then chill.

Next, roll your chilled dough into a rectangle, and drop your 1 pound beurrage in the middle.  Fold the top and bottom thirds over the butter to create your first few layers.  Chill.

Turning your block of dough lengthwise, roll out into another rectangle and fold in thirds.  Chill.  Do this 4 times.  Each time you fold, you create more and more layers of dough with a thin layer of butter in the middle of each layer.

Rolled croissants

When all your turns are complete, you roll out the dough in a rectangle, and cut it in long isosceles triangles.  Roll up your triangles and fold into crescent shapes.  Wanna get really crazy? Fill with chocolate (pain chocolat) or ham and cheese.

Next, place your rolled crescents in a proofer (warm moist environment to let the dough rise).  Brush the tops with an egg wash and bake.   The heat and the steam permeats all those little layers in the oven, creating a light flaky buttery piece of heaven.

Tres magnifique!

Croissants!

For our danishes, we made Blitz Puff Pastry, which is a faster version of your traditional puff pastry.  No yeast this time, but lots of lots of butter and lots of rolling, turns, and chilling.  We filled our danish with bear claw almond mixture, cream cheese, and fruit fillings, then practiced rolling in various shapes (bear claw, pin wheel, frames, etc.).

Danish prep

My croissants came out flaky but not as buttery as I would have liked.  My mistake was letting my dough get too warm while I was doing all that rolling.  The butter started to melt by the time I put my rolled dough in the proofer, which meant it melted out in the oven a little early.  But they puffed up nicely and were pretty flaky.  My danishes weren’t too shabby, though some of my shapes didn’t stick together and unravelled a little while rising in the oven.  All in all, not a bad first attempt.  Big N took the loot to work and my creations were gobbled up in the lunchroom in minutes.  Who wouldn’t go for free pastry?!?

No recipe this time, but if you have about 2 days to kill and a pound of butter to spare on your thighs, you can try croissants using this tutorial, which comes pretty close to what we did in class.

Croissants and danish

 

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