MILK BREAD CROISSANTS
I seriously doubted that I would ever be able to master the art of making croissants at home. However, I have developed a fantastic recipe for croissants that even a rookie baker can successfully execute, much like our sourdough.
The best part? As a foundation, we use our tried-and-true milk bread, which has been successfully prepared by many of you.
Make flaky, buttery French croissants with our milk bread dough and the methods I’ll outline in this post, and enjoy them plain, with jam, or as the foundation for chocolate, almond, or ham and cheese croissants.
EXPLAIN THE FUNCTION OF CROISSANTS MADE FROM MILK BREAD.
Croissants baked from an Asian milk bread dough yield these delicious pastries. You’ve found an entirely novel application for our tried-and-true milk bread recipe!
After I studied and tried several different croissant recipes, a friend suggested I use her milk bread recipe for the dough. Many Chinese bakeries with a French aesthetic have successfully implemented this.
Considering her expertise in the kitchen, I knew that asking her to bake me some of her famous milk bread was a good plan. She then handed me the dough for regular milk bread and instructed me to shape it into croissants.
In fact, our Asian milk bread dough isn’t so unlike croissant dough.
Both are examples of enriched dough, which is yeasted bread dough that has been “enriched” with fat and dairy ingredients such as milk, eggs, butter, cream, and sugar. The enriched dough is used to make sweet treats like challah, brioche, and cinnamon buns.
Most croissant recipes ask for milk, butter, and sugar. There are milk, heavy cream, sugar, and half an egg in our milk bread recipe. Its composition is remarkably close to that of croissant dough.
Our milk bread, however, only requires one bowl and no additional mixing time.
In this recipe, active dry yeast is not activated ahead of time, and butter is not incorporated into the dough in a separate step. Put everything in the mixer in the order it appears in the recipe, set it to go, and walk away.
- 6 ounces unsalted European-style butter
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
STEP 1: CUT THE BUTTER INTO A SQUARE
- Prepare a parchment paper sheet that is 11 inches (28 cm) long and 15 inches (38 cm) wide (this was the width of our parchment paper roll). Make a 7 1/2-by-11-by-28-centimeter (19x30cm) rectangle by folding the parchment in half lengthwise.
- Butter should be melted before cutting into small squares (1cm x 1cm). Arrange the butter squares on one side of the paper to approximate a 7×7 inch (18x18cm) square. Butter should be softened slightly, then the second half of the parchment paper should be folded over it, and a rolling pin and something with a flat edge (such a bench scraper/dough scraper or offset spatula) should be used to flatten the butter into a square.
- After the butter has been rolled out to an even thickness, it should be frozen for at least 30 minutes before being used. This can be done in advance, and the butter square can be frozen until you’re ready to create the croissants.
STEP 2: Prepare the Milk Bread Dough
- It’s best to use a dough hook attachment on a stand mixer and toss in ingredients like heavy cream, milk, half of an egg, sugar, flour, yeast, and salt.
- If using a stand mixer, put it to the lowest speed and knead the dough for 15 minutes, stopping the mixer every so often to press the dough together with a stiff rubber spatula. The dough should be able to adhere to the bottom of the basin without sticking to the sides. A spoonful of flour at a time can be added if the dough is clinging to the sides of the bowl. In the absence of a mixer, the dough can be mixed with a stiff rubber spatula before being kneaded with floured hands for a further 5-10 minutes.
- When you’re done kneading the dough, cover it with a wet cloth and let it rise in a warm location for an hour or two.
- Punch the air out of the dough by kneading it for 5 minutes with the dough hook once it has doubled in size (or floured hands).
- Flatten the dough into a square about 8 inches (20 centimeters) on both sides. Spread the dough out into a thin layer by rolling it out. Sharpen the edges and corners with a straightedge. The dough needs to be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for at least 30 minutes.
- Remove the butter from the freezer to soften it. It should take around 30 minutes at a mild ambient temperature (68-70°F/20-21°C) for the butter to cool but still be flexible (about as pliable as your dough).
STEP 3: BUTTER THE DOUGH AND ROLL IT OUT.
- To use the dough, remove it from the plastic wrap after it has chilled for 30 minutes. Roll the dough out to a square 11 inches (28 centimeters) in size, trimming the edges with a dough scraper to make them as sharp as possible.
- The butter square should be inserted into the dough at a 45-degree angle, creating a diamond shape. You can make a butter diamond by folding the dough’s corners into the middle. For the butter not to leak out, there should be enough overlapping dough so that the seams can be pinched together.
- Use a rolling pin to gently flatten and further seal the seams. As a result, less butter will escape during lamination as the dough is rolled out.
- To work with the dough, sprinkle a lightly floured surface and invert the dough, so the seam side is down. Make sure the dough and the butter are all the same thickness by rolling it out to a rectangle that’s 18 inches by 9 inches (40 centimeters by 20 centimeters) and then turning it over numerous times.
- Roll out the dough into a rectangle by gently pressing the rolling pin into it at intervals of one inch. Using a dough scraper, even out the layers and smooth down the edges. Flour as needed for rolling out and shaping, but work fast, so the butter doesn’t melt.
- Wet the dough, dust off any excess flour, and fold it in thirds like a business letter, leaving a thin space between each layer. The dough has reached its “turn” stage. Flatten the dough by gently rolling it out, then trim the edges with a dough scraper if necessary. Re-seal the plastic wrap around the dough (just use the same piece of plastic for the entire process to minimize waste).
- Return the dough to the refrigerator and let it rest for at least another half hour. If you need to multitask, it’s fine to chill the dough for a little longer; just remember to bring it to room temperature for 5 minutes if it’s been in the fridge for a while (to make it easier to roll out).
- To make the dough into a log shape, follow the instructions above three more times, beginning with rolling the dough into a rectangle that is 18 inches by 9 inches (40 centimeters by 20 centimeters). You need to take 4 total turns.
- After the final spin, refrigerate the dough for an hour or overnight. How long it takes to bake croissants depends on a number of factors, most importantly, how much time you have and when you plan to bake them. You can wait an hour, but letting it chill overnight is best.
STEP 4: SHAPE THE CROISSANTS
- Take the dough out of the fridge when you’re ready to form the croissants and roll it out into an 18 by 9-inch (40 by 20 cm) rectangle. Remove the rounded corners off all four sides of the rectangle with a chef’s knife and straightedge (a ruler works excellent for this).
- Each half of the dough should be cut into two rectangles. Draw a diagonal line through the center of each rectangle and cut it in half to create two right triangles. A total of 8 pieces is required.
- One triangle should be placed in front of you with the pointed end facing away from you as if you were about to unfold a croissant. Make a notch in the base of the triangle that is 1 inch (2.5 cm) long. To widen the base of the croissant, stretch the resulting ends outward (such that they resemble the Eiffel Tower’s foot).
- Make a tight, gentle roll with your hand, away from you, with the dough. After the croissants are done baking, move them to a baking sheet with parchment paper and tuck the pointy end of each triangle under the pastry.
- Spread 8 croissants in a single layer on a half-sheet pan. Use a dry dish towel to cover the croissants. Store in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, proof the pan in a warm oven (shut off) or on the counter for another hour and a half; the optimal proofing temperature is around 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 degrees Celsius). When in doubt, let the croissants prove for an additional 30 minutes, at which point they should appear puffy and light.
STEP 5: FINISH BAKING THE CROISSANTS
- Preheat your oven to 220 degrees Celsius with a rack in the center position.
- Once the oven is hot, make an egg wash by beating an egg with 1 tablespoon of water. Apply the egg wash to the croissants with a pastry brush, being careful not to get it on the laminated edges.
- Turn the pan around halfway through baking time to provide even baking for the croissants. After 12 minutes, turn the oven down to 3175 degrees Celsius, and bake for another 15 to 18 minutes (for a total of 27 to 30 minutes of baking time) until the croissants are a rich golden color. If you take them out of the oven too soon, the center will be undercooked.
- Get the Milk Bread Croissants out of the oven and let it cool for at least 15 minutes before digging in.