from scratch: apple croissant

by Chen

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It’s been almost two months since my last post.

Where have I been? I moved to a new apartment, I started to go to gym, and I finished a 10-week pro baking course at New School of Cooking. Here are two of the precious techniques I learned there: how to knead without KitchenAid and making laminated dough (i.e. puff pastry and croissant dough). The former is indeed not a biggie as baking is way more dated than the invention of electronic mixer; the essentials of mixers, handhold or stand, are due to laziness and pursuing for efficiency. But the latter does requires intense attention (and work).

Puff pastry and croissant dough are both under the category of laminated dough–an ultra rich base consist of layers of butter and dough. The difference between these two are the use of leavening product. Puff pastry contains no yeast and the leavening power comes from the gas released by butter during baking but croissant dough is yeasted, and that’s also why puff pastry tends to be flakier while interior of croissant is airier and tenderer.

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There are many people getting freaked out when talking about making croissant from scratch. It’s not because of the ingredients, which are fairly simple; it’s the procedure–rolling and folding and chilling and again and again. The preparation usually takes at least half a day, so it makes a great weekend project. Once the dough is ready, there are numerous variations: classic croissant, pain au chocolat, breakfast pastry with fruit filling, and even the top of chicken pot pie. What I have today is an advanced version of apple pie, sort of. Imagine the sweet and tart apple being cooked in butter and scented with a touch of cinnamon then wrapped in the heavenly croissant dough. How fascinating could it be?

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apple croissant
Makes 6

2 tart apples, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup sugar
a pinch of salt
ground cinnamon to taste
1 tbsp cornstarch whisked with 1 tbsp water

half recipe of croissant dough (recipe follows)
1 egg whisked with 1 tbsp water
sliced almonds
raw sugar

Melt butter over medium heat and cook the apples until softened. Stir in the sugar, salt, and cinnamon and continue to cook until the sauce becomes syrupy. Stir in the cornstarch mixture and let the mixture thicken. Remove from the heat and let it cool.

On a floured surface, roll the dough into a 8*12-inch rectangle. Cut into six 4*4-inch squares. Evenly distribute the apple filling among the squares and arrange on half of each square. Fold the other half over the filling. Set them on a lined baking sheet and brush the tops with egg wash. Uncover and let them raise at room temperature.

Once the croissants are double in size, preheat the oven to 350F. Brush the tops with egg wash again and sprinkle with almonds and raw sugar. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the tops are golden brown, rotating the baking sheet half way through. These can be served warm or at room temperature.

croissant dough
Adapted from a recipe I followed at cooking school

1 1/4 cups milk
1 tbsp yeast
3 1/2 cups AP flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp salt

12 oz (3 sticks) softened butter
2 tbsp AP flour

Combine tha milk and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer attached with the dough hook. Add 3 1/2 cups flour, sugar, and salt. Let the machine run on medium-high speed and knead the mixture into a smooth, soft, and elastic dough. Loosely cover the dough and let it rest for 30 minutes.

Switch to the paddle attachment. Beat the butter and 2 tbsp flour on high speed until combined. Gather the mixture and tightly wrap it and refrigerate until ready to roll.

When the dough has been resting for 30 minutes, transfer it to a floured surface and roll into a 10*10-inch square. Place the butter mixture in between two sheets of parchment paper and roll it into a 7*7-inch square. Place the butter layer on the dough, corner to side. Fold the four corners of the dough towards the center and pinch the edges to lock in the butter. Make sure the edges are securely sealed. Roll the square out into a 12*18-inch rectangle then do the letter fold (top and bottom 1/3 over the middle). Tightly wrap the dough and chill for one hour. This is the first turn.

After one hour, take the dough to a floured surface and roll it into a 12*18-inch rectangle. Then do the letter fold again. Wrap and chill. Repeat this for two more turns and then you have the prepared croissant dough.

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