SAY “OUI” TO PERFECT CROISSANTS

Hot Croissants

Back in France, so it’s time for something French… with a twist. Actually, I made these croissants a couple months ago, while still visiting the USA.  The twist is that I made them with whole wheat flour and they turned out just as flaky and buttery as the best croissant I’ve ever tasted. Yes!

I’ve posted croissants before, but a year of pastry school has made my croissant efforts even nicer. I explain as best I can. You could use white flour as well.

Recipe for Whole Wheat Croissants

note that croissants are best made in two days and part of the dough can be frozen and cooked at a later time

1.5 cups whole milk (360 ml)
1.5 tbs dry yeast
3 tbs sugar
1.5 tsp sea salt
3 cups whole wheat flour (375 g)
3 sticks (12 oz.) unsalted butter, chilled (340 g)
<<<.>>>

Step One: la détrempe

  • Heat the milk to lukewarm. Pour into a bowl and add the dry yeast and sugar. Stir and leave for about 5 minutes to make sure that the yeast is active. It should bubble.
  • In a seperate bowl, sift together the flour and salt. Add the milk+yeast to the flour, mixing by hand until combined and smooth. (Do not knead as you would bread… just mix until combined.) Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or for about 8 hours.

Step Two:  add the butter

  • Take the dough out the the fridge and form it into a square. Using a rolling pin, roll out each corner so that you have a cross shape.
  • Cut the cold butter into slices and distribute evenly over the center of the cross. Then fold in the four corners as if closing a package or envelope. The butter should be completely sealed in the dough.
  • This sounds rather technical, but it’s not difficult to do. Using a rolling pin, mark an X across the square of dough. Then gently pound the dough a little thinner using the rolling pin. Gently roll the dough into a rectangle about 12×20 inches. If it rips a little and you see butter, be sure to pinch the dough back together and seal in the butter.
  • Fold the rectangle like a business letter, folding one side in two thirds of the way and pulling the other side over it.
  • Turn the dough a quarter turn and roll out the rectangle once more. Again, fold it like a business letter. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15-30 minutes.
  • Repeat the rolling and folding twice more, refrigerating about 15 minutes between each set of rolls and folds.

Step Three: shape the croissants

  • Roll the dough out into a rectangle. Slice the dough into long triangles and make a little slit in the center of the shortest end.
  • Roll each triangle into a croissant. Be sure to tuck the point of the rolled croissant under so that when the dough rises, the point does not end up unrolled.

  • At this point, you can either prepare to cook, or freeze for a later date.*
  • Using a pastry brush, brush the top surfaces of the croissants with a slightly beaten egg. Be careful not to brush the edges of the dough, which can prevent the croissant from rising properly.
  • Place the croissants on a baking sheet with room to grow and set the sheet in a warm spot (not less than 70°F, 20°C) to allow to rise for 2 hours.
  • Preheat the oven to 380°F or 190°C. Brush the croissants once more with beaten egg and cook the croissants for about 20 minutes, or until they have a nice golden color.
  • *If you froze your croissants before cooking, and it’s not too warm in your house, you can take them out of the freezer the night before. Place them on a baking sheet and in the cold oven.
  • In the morning, take them out of the oven and preheat it to 380°F or 190°C. Brush the croissants once more with beaten egg if you wish, and bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden. There is a slight risk that the croissants will rise a little too much if your house temperature is too warm, but it’s not a big problem. There’s nothing like fresh croissants in the morning!

Try them with some homemade plum jam.

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5 comments

  1. Whole Wheat Croissants! Just Brilliant! Thank you for sharing.

  2. lisa

    is it bad if i kneaded the dough in the la detrempe process?

    • No, kneading shouldn’t hurt the dough. The more you knead, the more springy (or gum-like) the dough will become which can make it more difficult to roll out because it retracts quite a bit. But this is nothing that you can’t work with. Your croissants could end up a little chewy, but that’s really if you over-knead. If you knead by hand, it’s hard to over-knead, unless you are a professional boxer and went at it for an hour. Best of luck, I hope they turn out great!

      • lisa

        Hi Monica, they didnt turn out as great as I wanted them to…

        They turned out being really heavy.

        And I’m wondering if its because they didnt proof? At what point in the recipe are the croissants supposed to proof?

        I’m just trying to figure out where I went wrong.

        Any advice?

  3. Hmm… normally the dough proofs the first time when you put the dough in the fridge overnight. It continues proofing while you are repeating the folding process, which takes about two hours all together. It proofs again for two hours in a warm spot after you have shaped the croissants, before cooking.

    I can think of three possibilities that might make your croissants heavy:

    1. The yeast might have been “dead” or expired. Also, salt limits the action of yeast, so when mixing it’s best not to allow the salt to directly touch the yeast before mixing everything together. On the other hand, the sugar is very important for yeast growth.

    2. The butter and dough might not have been cold enough when folded together. Maybe you could try the more traditional method of adding the butter, consisting of making a flat butter square instead of cutting the butter into slices. Here is a good explanation with photos: http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/classic-croissants.aspx

    3. Your wheat flour might have been less processed than the one I used, containing more wheat husk. This would change the percentage of gluten in the flour which would make for heavy pastries. A solution would be to use a proportion of white flour to wheat flour or try a different whole wheat flour. I think that I used King Arthur whole wheat flour in the states, and it worked very well… but there are a few different kinds and I don’t remember which one!

    I’m sorry they didn’t turn out. Don’t give up, Lisa! Homemade croissants are worth the trouble!

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