Occasionally, I have an idea so profound I call home and announce my genius to the family. If I call my father, the answer will be, "Are you ok? Should I pick you up somewhere?" If I call my mother, the answer will be, "Of course you're a genius. I always told you you were."
There are precious few things more dear to my little boulangere's heart than a hot Parisian croissant. Flaky, temporal, bad for the heart. Enter the challah croissant. The nice Jewish boy of the croissant world. Still flaky, but this one stays soft all day with its base of very eggy challah.
400g bread flour (France T55, Germany Weizenmehl 550)
50g white sugar
5g instant yeast
25g sunflower oil
4 egg yolks
130g dry butter, cut into a rectangle, stored in your fridge
1 egg, 1 egg yolk
In the bowl of your mixer, whisk oil, egg yolks, and water. I like to start with my wet ingredients on the bottom of the mixing bowl rather than the other way around. It helps incorporate your ingredients faster.
In a separate bowl, mix flour, sugar, salt, and yeast.
Add dry ingredients to wet and set to low speed with your dough hook for 8 minutes. After 8 minutes, increase to medium speed for two minutes. You should see the dough pulling away from the sides and developing a shine. That's how you'll know your gluten network is well formed and you'll achieve the wonderfully pull-apart texture of a good challah.
When your dough is finished, form into a smooth ball, giving a little tension to the dough. Lightly oil a bowl with a pastry brush and put your dough ball in, smooth side up. Cover bowl loosely with plastic and set aside.
Take your square of dry butter and fold it into an envelope of parchment paper or strong baker's plastic sheeting. Use a rolling pin to pound out and then press the butter to evenly fill the square. Do this step quickly and avoid using your hands. You do not want your butter to heat up. Return the envelope to the refrigerator.
After your detrempe has bulk proofed, about 45 minutes, depending on the temperature in your kitchen, punch it down, reform it into a ball, put it back in its bowl, and refrigerate for a half hour. What we're doing in this step is getting our dough to the same temperature as our butter. This will help keep the distinct layers of the croissant, rather than having the butter melt into the dough and form a brioche. Also delicious, but not the effect we're going for.
Once your dough is chilled, lightly flour a surface and roll it out to the diameter of the diagonal of your butter square. Brush off excess flour and place your unwrapped butter square in the middle. The points of the butter square should just about touch the edges of the circle of dough.
Now fold in the sides of the dough, meeting them in the middle without overlapping. I like to pinch the dough where it meets. You don't want to have any exposed butter. The dough should now be a perfect square.
Using a rolling pin, press gently along both seams of your dough. This is secure the butter inside so that it doesn't slip around.
Then begin rolling out your dough lengthwise, pausing the run your hands underneath it to relax it. When the dough is rolled` out to approximately 70cm in length, fold the top half down by a quarter. Fold the bottom half up to meet this. Now fold the entirely in half. This is your first double turn.
Turning the dough 90 degrees, repeat the same rolling and folding pattern to complete a second double turn.
Wrap dough in plastic and put in your freezer for about 15-30 minutes. Monitor this carefully as dough should stiffen but not freeze.
Once dough is chilled, flour your work surface and position it fold side up. Keep your dough in this position.
Now roll your dough out to a rectangle of length 32cm and height 28cm. In a bakery, we would use a laminator and set it to a specific thickness, but for hand lamination at home, the easiest is to measure dimensions.
Trim 1cm from the edge of each side. Using a rule, mark the top (the side that had been the fold) at 8cm intervals. Along the bottom, measure out 4cm, make a mark, and then measure intervals of 8cm after that. Connect your marks to form long triangles and cut using a large knife or pizza cutter. Do not use a sawing motion with your knife. Make one straight cut and press.
Roll your triangles, making sure to leave the end of the croissant on the underside, lest it unrolls itself during baking. Set croissants on a papered baking sheet, being sure to leave space for rising. Brush off all excess flour (excess flour will result in a wrinkly texture on the shiny skin of the croissant) and then brush with egg wash. Always brush egg wash in the direction of the rolls of the croissant and avoid the edges. You don't want to seal your layers. Set your tray aside for 2 1/2 hours. That's about the time it takes to get a gel mani and do the Jane Fonda workout so might as well. Thirty minutes before your croissants finish proofing, set your oven to 155c.
Now your croissants should be nicely risen and beautiful. Brush then with a second coat of egg wash. Don't go wild with the egg wash unless you enjoy having a weird omelette clutching parasitically to your croissant.
Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown and perfect.
Now call your mother and tell her you're a genius. See what she says.
*A note on dry butter. This is the ideal for all laminated pastries as it melts at a higher temperature than regular butter. It can be found at specialty bakery supply stores or, if you're in Paris, local bakeries that do their own viennoiseries will sell it to you by weight. However, if this is out of your realm of possibilities, you can still laminate at home! Just be extra careful with your temperatures. Work in a cold room and return your dough to the fridge between turns. The advantage to using regular butter is the ease to find organic and responsibly farmed options.