What’s your favourite meal of the day?
Mine is definitely breakfast! A perfect wake-up for me would begin with a jog in the morning sunshine, followed by a freshly brewed cup of joe, the paper and some berries with granola! There’s something so precious about savouring the early hours of the day, don’t you think?
When I have the time, I love to go the extra mile to make a homemade breakfast for my loved ones. Sometimes there’s no stopping me. Waffles? Lemon-riccotta pancakes? Fresh muffins? Fruit salad? Yes. I repeat: I love breakfast! Are you more of a night owl, or a believer in brunches, fresh starts and productive mornings like me? Carpé diem is what I say! Can you tell now that I am what some people would call a particularly annoying breed of “morning person” in all my keen perkiness? My sister would agree, and avoids me at all costs when she can tell I’m in one of those moods! (I don’t blame her..)
Some of my favourite morning memories stem from when I was on the road traveling with my family as a child. In 2000, my family was fortunate to make a road trip through France. We started in the northern town of Calais, meandered our way to Paris, then spent a week exploring the lavender-blanketed hills of “le Midi”, in a small mountainous town called Saignon, Provence.
During our stay in Saignon, my parents adopted the idyllic lifestyle of the French. Much to my siblings and my joy, my parents fell into a pattern of waking up in the wee hours to visit the little patisserie a few doors down from our rented apartment. I remember waking up in a bundle of scratchy blankets on my lumpy cot to the smell of fresh pastries steaming on the counter. It was a heavenly way to start the day, and ever since that August in the south of France, I have an imprinted sense of love and nostalgia associated with those curly, crusty, pastries called croissants.
You already know I’m a bit overzealous in the morning, so it shouldn’t surprise you that recently I was game to add a 3 day breakfast project to my list. I decided that it was high time I’d try to make my own! With careful planning, I found a way to schedule the croissant-a-thon into my calendar. The plan worked marvellously and the final products were better than I ever could have hoped. I promise this will work for you as well! It’s a great recipe. If you begin on a Friday evening, you could have these little pastries ready for a Sunday morning brunch with your favourite people. How lovely does that sound?
Now, the croissant process is definitely a time consuming one. I won’t hold anything back from you! Make sure that you read through the recipe and directions carefully before attempting on your own. If you don’t leave enough time for each step, you may end up with flour on your dress and a frown on your brow. No grumpy bakers are allowed when in the midst of creating something so divine. :) You owe it to yourself to appreciate creating these as much as your baking fans will enjoy eating them.
So! Ready? Get out your apron, book that solo time in your kitchen, and hop to it my darling! This one’s fun.
The Croissant Process
Chocolate Croissants/ Pain au Chocolat
Yield: Two dozen croissants. Time: Allow 3 days for full project. I would recommend spreading this project over a weekend, beginning Friday in time for a Sunday brunch. Bake: 375 F
For the Ferment:
3/4 cup bread flour 55 ml homogenized milk 1 tbsp brown sugar 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon dried instant yeast 1 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
For the Dough:
7 cups bread flour 600 ml homogenized milk 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar 3 tsp salt 2 tsp dried instant yeast 500g unsalted butter (1 block butter plus 1/2 cup) for laminating the dough. (Yes this is a TON of butter! Eek.. the secret's out..)
For the Egg Wash:
1 egg 50ml milk a pinch of salt
—Day 1. Plan: Prepare ferment and croissant dough.
*Allow 2.5 hours for kitchen time. Ferment needs to rest over night.
Make the Ferment: (2.5 hours)
The ‘ferment’ is a small mixture of yeast and flour that when combined with the croissant dough will aid in the dough rising process.
1. Gently combine all ferment ingredients together in a bowl until it becomes a ball. Sprinkle some flour on a clean counter and knead ferment for about 10 minutes until becomes elastic and smooth. If using electric mixer, use dough hook and mix on low speed for 3 minutes (this is what I did with my Kitchen Aid and it worked wonderfully!).
2. Once dough is in a smooth, elastic ball, put the ferment in a bowl sealed with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 2 hours to…ferment!
3. After 2 hours, store the ferment bowl in the fridge overnight. (this can be kept for few days in the fridge).
—Day 1 Continued:
Prepare the Dough: (5 mins)
1. While the ferment is rising for 2 hours, prepare the croissant dough. This is just to save you a step for your next day’s work. Mix all dry ingredients for the croissant dough in a large bowl (flour, brown sugar, salt, yeast). Saran top of bowl and leave at room temperature. Secondly, measure the butter then the milk and store individually in tupperwares in your fridge overnight.
Day 2. Plan: Make, laminate and shape the croissant dough. (4.5 hour kitchen time total. After final step, store croissants in fridge overnight in preparation for breakfast the next day)
Make the Dough:
*Allow 2.5 hours for kitchen time.
1. Break the ferment ball into 8-10 small pieces and drop pieces into your dry dough mixture. Add milk to mixture (don’t add the butter yet!) and blend until smooth. Place mixture into an electric mixer bowl or if kneeding by hand, place onto a floured surface.
2. Electric mixer: Set with a dough hook and mix dough on low speed for 3-4 mins until a soft ball is formed, followed by high speed for another 2 mins. OR By hand: knead for 10 – 15 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and elastic, and doesn’t tear when stretched gently.
3. Put the dough in a bowl covered with plastic bag or cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
—Day 2 Continued:
Laminate the Dough:
*Allow 1.5 hour for kitchen time
“Laminating” the dough means to incorporate the butter into your dough. Get your guns out, this one is gonna require some muscle power, my friend! :)
1. When the 2 hours of dough resting in your refrigerator are up, remove butter from fridge and pound it with a rolling pin between two pieces of parchment paper until butter is in a 20cm flat square about 1 cm thick. Butter should still be cool to the touch.
2. Find a long, clean working space about waist high and dust with flour. At this point, take the dough out of the fridge and using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough out into a rectangle about 20 x 40cm.
3. Peel the parchment paper off the butter and place the butter square in the centre of the dough rectangle. Fold the edges of the dough over the butter like you’re wrapping a gift and seal the edges by pinching them together. Butter square should be fully enclosed in the dough, like a little butter parcel!
4. Flour your surface and rolling pin again, then gently roll the dough out into a rectangle, about 20 x 90cm (approximately 3 times longer than the piece you started with). Mentally divide the rectangle into three equal sections, top, middle and bottom. Fold the top section over the middle, and fold the bottom to the middle, like folding a letter. Wrap the dough in a plastic bag or cling wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
5. Take the dough out of the fridge and rotate the dough 90 degree so that the dough will be rolled in opposite direction from previous fold. Repeat the rolling, folding, and resting process as above two more times. There will be three foldings and rollings (the term is “three turns”) altogether and you need to rotate the dough 90 degree with each rolling.
Note: At some points in this process, the dough may feel a little sticky. Your layers are forming and the butter may squeeze out a bit! Sprinkle some flour on top of pastry to aid in the rolling process. Your rolling pin will unstick.
6. After the final rolling and folding, store the laminated dough in the fridge for 20 minutes before shaping into croissants.
—Day 2 Continued:
Shape the Dough:
*Allow 30 mins for kitchen time. Store in fridge overnight.
1. Take the laminated dough out of the fridge and roll it out into a rectangle about 25 x 100cm with 5 -8 mm thickness. Trim the edges of the dough so that it becomes a neat rectangle.Cut the dough into triangles with about a 10-cm base and 20-cm height.
2. Stack triangle sheets on baking sheet lined with parchment paper and chill in a saran wrapped baking sheet for 10 minutes.
3. After 10 mins of chilling, take the baking sheet(s) out of the refrigerator and begin shaping into croissants! :) Break your chocolate bar into small chunks and have them on hand. This is the step you’ve been waiting for! (Oh.. actually maybe that was the eating part..)
4. Gently pull the tip of triangle to make the triangle longer. Working from the base, place a generous chunk of chocolate near the edge of the triangle base. Gently roll triangle over chocolate piece towards the tip. If you’d rather make some plain croissants (as I did), omit the chocolate chunk and lah de dah you have pain au croissant! Make sure that the tip is tucked underneath the croissant and if you like, pull edges in so that it looks like a little crab.. is it just me?
5. Place shaped croissants on trays lined with baking sheet or paper, nicely spaced out. Seal croissants with some saran gently placed ontop and store croissants overnight for morning bake off the next day! (Is your tummy starting to grumble yet?)
Day 3. Plan: Last day! Can you taste them yet? Today is the day to let dough rise then bake the little treats! Allow 3 hours until breakfast is scheduled.
Croissant Poofing Stage:
*Wake up 2.5 hours before croissant breakfast time in order to set croissants out to rise.
1. Rise and shine! Put on your dressing gown and slippers, stretch, then make your way to the kitchen. Remove croissants from fridge. Set trays on a counter to rise with a clean tea towel covering the babes. Make sure that the croissants are ready on the baking sheet to be popped in the oven. Parchment paper should line the baking sheet and croissants should be spaced apart.
2. Let tray stand at warm room temperature for 2 hours until they almost double in size. Croissants are proofed and ready for the bake when the layers become visible and the croissant are very soft and wobbly. Once trays are ready to rest, hurry back to bed and sleep for 2 more hours until you’re ready to serve brekky!
1. Make the egg wash by mixing all ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.
Bake the Dough:
1. Preheat the oven to 460 F. Brush the surface of croissant with egg wash before baking. Put the croissants into the oven, then immediately reduce oven temperature to 375 F and bake for 20 – 25 minutes until the pastries are a deep golden brown.
Serve HOT to your breakfast fans. :) After all this fuss and hard work, treat yourself to a little breakfast party! Serve some mimosas? Invite your best buds over for your treats? xo
Recipe Credit: Milk and Honey Blog. Thank you Jennifer for your guidance and inspiration!
Original Recipe from: Paul Allam and David McGuinness’s Bourke Street Bakery
This recipe takes a while, but most of the time is just in waiting for the little buns to do their business while they hang out in the fridge for a while. If you’re an expert multi-tasker, if you’re a homemade bread-connoisseur, then this is a perfect one for you to try! If you’ve never worked with yeast before, it’s not too difficult and I hope that my step-by-step directions will guide you along with a helping hand.
In the end, you will end up with a buttery, crispy, flaky, chocolatey treat to start your day right and I promise you that all the effort is well worth it!
I hope you have a wonderful week full of confidence to be your incredible self, courage to be liberatingly adventurous, and joy in the reflection of all things beautiful around you.
PS: This made me laugh out loud! A boys choir that sings like cats: http://www.papermag.com/2013/09/boys_choir_sings_like_cats.php