One-Step Croissants {ModBak}

I have been looking forward to the next recipe in the Yeast-Risen Specialties section of The Modern Baker for some time. I love croissants and have made them the traditional way a number of times. All the folding, rolling, refrigerating, and turning. And time. Lots of time.

I have to say I was somewhat skeptical about a croissant recipe that didn’t include all those steps. But having successfully made Nick’s Instant Puff Pastry, which is also a simplified version of what is usually a complex process, I was encouraged to try the croissants.

The dough is quite simple to mix in the food processor. I put flour, yeast, salt, and sugar in the bowl of the food pro and pulsed it to mix everything together. I added four tablespoons of cold butter and pulsed the mixer until the butter was cut in. I then added the rest of the butter (two sticks!) and pulsed the food processor twice. Finally, I added cold milk and pulsed the mixer three times.

The dough didn’t come together in the food processor, but the recipe said it wouldn’t, so I knew it was OK.

I pressed the dough into a ball, rolled it out into a rectangle, then folded it in thirds. Then, as in the puffed pastry recipe, I rolled the dough into a cylinder.

I flattened the dough into a square, put it in a plastic bag, and allowed it to rise for 1 1/2 hours. Then I flattened the dough by smacking it with the flat of my hand, and put the bag in the refrigerator.

After the dough had chilled for about six hours, I got it out of the refrigerator to roll out the croissants. I had a bit of trouble rolling the dough, but the longer it was out of the fridge, the easier it became to roll. I rolled the dough into a 12 x 15-inch rectangle, which I cut in half lengthwise. I then cut each strip of dough into six triangles.

I rolled the triangles from the wide end, pulling the tip slightly as I rolled up the croissants. I made six regular croissants, and decided to make almond croissants with the other half of the dough. I had some leftover almond paste in the fridge, which I shaped into logs and then rolled into the croissants.

I put the croissants on a baking sheet and set them aside to rise for about an hour and a haf, until they had almost doubled.

I brushed the croissants with egg wash and sprinkled the almond ones with slivered almonds. I baked them in a 350°F oven for about 25 minutes. I was surprised by how dark the croissants got, but they looked a lot like the ones Andrea made, so I figured that’s how they were supposed to come out.

I let the croissants cool, then cut into them. The plain one had a nice crumb, like you would expect to see in a croissant.

I have to say, the flavor was a disappointment. The texture was not at all typical of a croissant. The outside was dry and too crisp. And despite its appearance, the crumb was not light and flaky, but rather dense and greasy. I tried it plain and with jam, but either way, one was enough.

The almond ones were better and reminded me just slightly of the almond croissants I used to get at a chain bakery.

In the end, I only ate two of them, and I’m pretty sure I won’t make them again. But they did make me think I would like to make almond croissants from one of my other recipes. So although these croissants weren’t a big success, they did give me an idea for a future baking project.

Kouing Amman: Breton Butter & Sugar Pastry {ModBak}

“This Breton specialty is like a cross between croissant dough and palmiers….”

So begins Nick Malgieri‘s description of Kouing Amman. Who wouldn’t want that? Flaky, buttery croissant dough crusted in caramelized sugar. So, even though I had never heard of this pastry, I was excited to try the next recipe in the Modern Baker Challenge.

The recipe consists of a simple dough, folded with butter and rolled with sugar. After mixing yeast, water, flour, salt, and butter into a dough, which I chilled for half an hour, I rolled out the dough, and smeared it with butter.

I folded the dough in thirds, scattered the work surface and dough with sugar, rolled the dough out into a rectangle, and gave it another fold. I refrigerated the dough for an hour, then continued the process of rolling and folding the dough, liberally sugaring the dough and work surface all the while.

After working in about one cup of sugar, I rolled the dough into a circle and pressed it into a 10-inch round stoneware baking pan. I sprinkled on the last of the sugar, then covered the dough and let it rise for about two hours. I baked the pastry at 350° F for one hour, until it was well-puffed and the sugar on top had caramelized.

When it came out of the oven, the pastry was swimming in sugary butter (you can see some of it in the lower right hand side of the pan in the picture above), which absorbed into the pastry as it cooled. I let it cool completely, then sliced and served it right from the pan.

The Kouing Amman was flaky, crusty with sugar, and looked really light. When I cut into it with a fork, I was surprised to find it a little tough. It tasted pretty good, and it had distinct layers like puff pastry, but it was a bit on the chewy side. I found the toughness of the pastry layers offputting and not something I’d like to eat too often.

In the end, the flavor was fine, but the texture was such that I don’t see myself making this recipe again.

Cornetti: Olive Oil Rolls from Bologna {ModBak}

The final recipe in the Breads section of the Modern Baker Challenge is Cornetti, a uniquely-shaped dinner roll. When shaped correctly, they look like two croissants criss-crossed over one another. Mine more closely resembled little voodoo dolls.

Other than the shaping, this is a fairly simple recipe, consisting of flour, yeast, water, salt, olive oil, and sugar. I mixed the ingredients in the Kitchen Aid, let them autolyse for a few minutes, and mixed some more. After turning the dough out into an oiled bowl, I covered it and let it ferment for about an hour.

When the dough had risen, I divided into six pieces (I made a half recipe), shaped each piece into a ball, and let the dough balls rest for a few minutes.

After the dough had relaxed a bit, I began rolling it out. I found it required another short rest to relax enough to get the dough balls rolled out to 12″ x 3 1/2″ rectangles.

Nick Malgieri says to roll out all the dough at once, then begin shaping it; but I don’t have that much counter space, so I shaped the rolls one at a time. After rolling the dough into a rectangle, I cut the dough corner to corner with a pizza wheel, then flipped one piece of dough so the points were touching.

I brushed the dough with olive oil, then rolled each side from the wide edge to the center, making two connected croissant-shaped rolls.

I lifted the rolls to the baking pan. As I was setting them on the pan, I crossed one roll over the other.

I rolled and shaped the remaining dough, then allowed the rolls to proof for about 45 minutes. I baked the rolls in a 400° oven for about 25 minutes, until they were puffed, golden, and slightly firm to the touch.

The rolls smelled really good coming out of the oven. My shaping left a bit to be desired, but I think with a little experience, these would be really impressive dinner rolls.

As for taste, they were really good. Because of the crescent shape, I was expecting them to be light and fluffy. They weren’t. The texture was what you would expect from a typical dinner roll. Again, not what I expected, but really tasty, especially with homemade plum jam.

I wonder how it would be to make this shape with croissant dough? I might have to try that when we get to croissants.

For now, I’m ready to move onto the next section of the Challenge, Yeast-Risen Specialties, Sweet and Savory. We will be baking in this section for the rest of the year. There are some great holiday recipes like brioche, babka, and ginger-scented panettone. So if you’ve thought about joining the Modern Baker Challenge, this would be a great time to dive in.