From Retro With Love: Croissants
This month's challenge was From Retro With Love featuring foreignish dishes. As per the norm, I did a bunch of paging through before settling on a dish of choice, and what a dish indeed: croissants!
I have always thought of croissants as French, but soon learned that they are in fact Hungarian in actual origin, and that they could be from Mars or Venus and I wouldn't really care because they're tasty. I was also surprised to find out that these little guys are not as excruciating as I'd always thought: yes, they take a bit of time, but they were surprisingly easy. I think this is because of the recipe I followed, and that was a close call. NYTimes' method was more similar to croissant recipes in other books I had, but (a) GH looked easier and (b) it had slightly more butter yet about half the flour NY called for. There was no butter packet, no folding and turning, and no shaping and rising. I was so worried I'd end up with flat hockey pucks of butter - especially since yeast is not my forte - but I was delighted with them. Flaky, uberbuttery, layer-y, crisp on the outside and soft inside, and all told pretty darn awesome. I was kind of hoping for big giant fluffy things, but these made gorgeous little sandwiches all the same. I'd recommend this as a good beginner's recipe: it's probably not the quintessential recipe, but it's fun and a lot easier than the finished product looks.
from the Illustrated Good Housekeeping Encylcopedic Cookbook, 1965, Vol.3
1 c milk
1 Tbsp shortening
1 T sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 pkg active dry yeast
1/4 c very warm water, about 105-110 degrees
about 2 1/2 c sifted flour
1 c cold butter
cream, milk, or half-and-half for brushing
DAY ONE: In small saucepan, just scald the milk. Remove from heat and pour into a large bowl. Stir in the shortening, sugar, and salt. Let cool until lukewarm.
Meanwhile, sprinkle the dry yeast onto the warm water. Stir until dissolved and let stand.
When milk is lukewarm, stir in yeast. Stir in enough of the flour to make a dough that cleans the sides of the bowl.
Turn dough into a large greased bowl and turn once to grease all sides. Cover with a clean towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours. Punch down and then refrigerate about 2 hours.
Next, cream the butter until easy to spread. On lightly floured surface, roll and pat dough into rectangle 1/4 inch thick. Spread with one fourth of creamed butter. Fold one third of rectangle over center third, fold other third of dough over this, like a letter for an envelope, making 3 layers.
Again roll out dough into rectangle 1/4 inch thick; spread with one fourth of creamed butter. Repeat folding, rolling and spreading twice. Fold; wrap dough in waxed paper and refrigerate.
DAY TWO: Divide dough in half. Roll each half into 15x10 inch rectangle. Cut in half lengthwise, then cut each half into thirds crosswise, and cut each third diagonally to make triangles. Roll up each triangle from longest side.
Curve each triangle to make a crescent shape. Place with point of triangle underneath onto ungreased baking sheet (I used a nonstick AirBake pan). Refrigerate 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, start heating oven to 400 F. Brush crescents with cream, milk, or half-and-half. Bake about 20 minutes at 400 F and reduce oven temperature to 350 F and bake 10-15 minutes longer.
To freeze: Cool, wrap in foil, and freeze. For serving, place still wrapped croissants on baking sheet and bake at 400 25 minutes.
Makes 2 dozen smallish croissants.