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Croissants, made only the Julia Child way

Croissants, made only the Julia Child way

we must admit to learning about Julia Child from the movie “Julie and Julia“, and at the end of the movie, we couldn’t tell who we loved more, Julia Child or Meryl Streep, who portrayed her flawlessly and effortlessly. there was a time we thought French cuisine to be cumbersome much like most of America once did but that was before Julia Child demystified and democratized it for us making it accessible, courageous and pleasurable. for self-taught cooks like us, it’s hard not to identify with her philosophy of fearless cooking, making mistakes along the way and learning from them, and the quintessential, pursuit of excellence over perfection. it doesn’t have to be perfect, she said. of all of Julia Child’s famous food quotes, this has got to be our favorite; as you’ll see from our infatuation with all things butter, and the occasional cheese, and not to leave out, the chocolate, all in no particular order.

The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook. – Julia Child, The French Chef

so we decided to make Croissants, the Julia Child way, but except for the cheese and chocolate filling, which was more of an afterthought with no regrets.

ingredients

proving the yeast;
1/4 cup warm tepid water
11/2 tsp of yeast
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp sugar

for the dough;
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup warm tepid milk
4 tbsp vegetable oil or less depending upon the flour in use
1 stick or 115 gm butter

for the egg wash;
1 egg
1 tbsp water

instructions

  1. To start with, prove the yeast. In 1/4 cup of warm tepid water add 1 to 1&1/2 tsp of yeast, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/2 tbsp of sugar, give it a quick stir and let it prove for 5 to 10 minutes or until frothy.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl sift 2 cups of all-purpose bleached flour, 1 tbsp of sugar, 3/4 tsp of salt, a half a cup of warm tepid milk and 4 tbsp of vegetable oil (it’s 4 tbsp of oil for bleached flour and 2 tbsp of oil for unbleached flour). Add the yeast mixture and knead well for approximately 8 to 10 minutes or until the dough is found to be elastic and smooth to touch. Though you may find the dough to be slightly sticky, it shouldn’t stick to your palms in the final stage of kneading. Now place the dough in a clean well-oiled bowl and snip the top criss-cross with a pair of scissors, drizzle some oil on top, cover with a kitchen towel and let it rise in a warm place until double in size approximately an hour or less, depending on the temperature of your place. Once the dough has risen, punch it down with your hands, cover and chill in the refrigerator for about 20-30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, beat the living daylights out of 1 stick or 1/2 cup or approx. 115 grams of butter with your rolling pin so as to make it malleable without letting it melt, push down with the palm of your hands any lumps that are present, making sure the butter doesn’t start to melt.
  4. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll out an oblong-ish rectangle on a well-floured surface. Place the beaten and flattened butter slab in the middle and pull the sides of the dough over it both ways until covered. The butter must rest encased within the dough layers. Now on a well-floured surface roll out the dough carefully about 15″ long and 5″ wide approximately 1/2 inch thick or less. Now fold the dough in a business envelope shape three-fold, one end folded halfway and the other end overlapping it. This is the first turn, now again roll out to 15″ long and 5″ in the same rectangular shape and do the three-fold business envelope again, roll out the same shape again and fold. Flour it and wrap in parchment paper and place in the refrigerator to chill up for about an hour. Repeat the roll, fold and roll and chill procedure once more to make 4 folds that are 1296 layers (we can do two more turns that will go upto 2187 layers but we got to be very careful that the butter doesn’t ooze through the dough). After the last roll and fold and roll, chill the dough for at least 2 hours before using.
  5. Make the croissants, roll out the dough in a rectangle, 20″ long and divide in two parts. Put the other part back into the refrigerator, now with the first part, again roll out long and divide into three parts, chill two parts and with the first one, roll and try and make a square shape. Now divide the square into 2 triangles, one triangle try and roll out the points, roll from the base flat area to the top to create the croissant shape (you can fill it with a filling of your choice or just keep them plain, we filled ours separately with chocolate and cheese). Repeat this procedure with the other parts. Now butter a baking tray and line with parchment paper or foil that is well oiled. Place the croissants on the tray and keep in a warm area and cover and let it rise again for an hour. About 20 to 30 minutes before the resting is over turn on your oven to 400 degree F or higher and let it heat up. After an hour of resting brush the croissants with an egg wash made from 1 egg and a tbsp of water and place in the preheated oven and turn down the heat to 200 degree C and bake for 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown, keep an eye on them. Let it rest on a rack for 10 minutes and serve warm.
Note:
these croissants can be made ahead of time by deep freezing them before deciding to bake on-demand.
we highly recommend watching Julia demonstrate the croissant making process should this be your first time at it because it isn’t easy to comprehend their making from written instructions.

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