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A young and slightly ignorant woman who has always loved baking and cooking, I want to make people happy with food as often as I can. I'm here to whisk away and explore!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

On the precipice of a craggy cliff....

I'm suspended over the edge, a strategically placed bloody cut above my perfectly shaped eyebrow...I am about to be thrown to my death by an ugly (or handsome, if you so choose) villain intent on my demise. 
"Now," he says with a smooth evil voice "I will put your pitiful life into your own hands to make this interesting." (He is a villain obsessed with the interesting...he strives always to be an imaginative antagonist, if nothing else) "If you can answer this one question correctly I will let you live. But God knows you never could...some say it is an impossible riddle that cannot be solved..." This is my cue to despair and his cue to chuckle terribly. His grip on my poor neck tightens and I squirm! My life is surely over...my enemy gives a wry slimy smile. "If you had to host the biggest and fanciest brunch known to all mankind for the most esteemed people of the world," a dramatic pause.... "what would you serve?"

GASP! The impossible question. I will die a horrible death miserably at the bottom of this rocky cannon! Andthe blackgaurd knows it; he laughs, preparing to hurl me to my end. I throw out the only answer that could even remotely be correct:
"Filled croissants!" 

And huzzah! The brute casts me aside and leaves with a swirl of his cloak and an evil rattle in his throat. The impossible riddle has been solved, the world is saved, and all is well. The good citizens will brunch another day!

Okay, joking aside...these filled croissants really are the perfect brunch/tea party/appetizer item you could ever serve.  Better yet, it doesn't take 12 hours like the traditional ones do. Really, I only took up one sunny afternoon making these flaky, buttery, rolls of awesome. 

You could make croissants without filling and they would be just as good. But when something can be filled, I fill it. I guess you could say that is a weakness of mine...every good heroine must have a weakness that isn't truly a weakness. 

Thus: two kinds of croissants here...mushroom bacon ones and nutella ones. Now, I'm  not a die hard nutella fan. I like the stuff with fruit and so we had a jar of it in the pantry, but I wouldn't go all hipster on you dear people and swear myself into the convent of the great nutella-cult or anything.  BUT! On these croissants...I would swear something, because it's the tastiest thing this side of doughnuts. 

And so...the recipe for the answer to the world's impossible riddle:

Life Saving Filled Croissants

  • For Dough:
  • 1 large egg plus enough warm water to make 1 cups of liquid 
  • 2 Tablespoon sugar
  • 3 cups Flour
  • 1 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1/2 Tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoons butter, melted

  • For Butter:
  • 1 cups butter, cool to the touch
  • 1/4 cup Flour
For Fillings:
Nutella (5 Tablespoons)
5 large button mushrooms, chopped.
5 slices of bacon

1) For the dough: Make a sponge by cracking your egg into a 2-cup liquid measure and adding enough warm water to equal 1 cup. Beat with a whisk or fork until blended, and pour into a large mixing bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of the sugar, 1 1/2 cups of the flour, and the yeast. Mix until well blended. Cover and set aside.
2) For the butter: While the yeast begins its work, set up the butter that will be rolled into the dough. Mix the butter and 1/4 cup flour just until the mixture is smooth and well blended (no hard lumps). You can do this with a mixer, a food processor, or with a spoon, by hand. Be careful not to beat the mixture at high speed, you don't want to have any air. Lightly flour a piece of plastic wrap, place the butter mixture on it, and use a dough scraper or spatula to pat it into an 8-inch square. Wrap the butter and put it in the refrigerator on a flat surface for at least 30 minutes. You want to mix the butter with flour because this will prevent it from leaking out of you dough layers as you turn and roll later on in the process. 
3) Finish the dough: Stir the melted butter into the sponge. Whisk together the remaining 1 1/2 cups of the remaining flour, the rest of the sugar, and the salt. Add to the sponge and mix until you have a soft but kneadable dough, either by hand or in your mixer. Knead briefly ti lit sticks together nicely, adding more of the measured flour if the dough is still sticky. Don't knead too long (longer than 2-5 minutes) because it will over work the gluten and make it hard to roll out later. 
4) Once the dough is smooth and elastic, pat it into a square shape, wrap it loosely in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 30 minutes. I put mine in the freezer for ten minutes and then the fridge for ten minutes more to speed up the process. 
5) Make your savory filling: Cook bacon slices in a frying pan til crisp. Remove and drain them on paper towels. In the bacon grease saute the mushrooms til soft. Crumble the bacon slices into the cooked mushrooms. Set aside until you are ready to fill the croissants. 
5) Rolling in: Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and put it on a lightly floured surface. Gently roll it into a square about 12 inches across. Unwrap the butter slab and place it in the center of the dough at a 45° angle, so it looks like a diamond in the square. ( I borrowed these images from kingarthurflour.com since I didn't take any pictures of my own while baking.) 
6) Fold the flaps of the dough over the edges of the butter until they meet in the middle. Pinch and seal the edges of the dough together; moisten your fingers with a little water, if necessary.
7) Dust the top with flour, then turn the dough over and tap it gently with the rolling pin into a rectangular shape. Pick up the dough to make sure it isn't sticking underneath, dusting under with more flour if necessary, (always more flour!) then roll from the center out until you have a rectangle 20 inches long by 10 inches wide.
8) When you've reached this size, take a dry brush and lightly sweep off any excess flour, then fold the bottom third of the dough up to the center, and the top third over that (like you would fold a letter). Line the edges up on top of each other, and even up the corners so they're directly on top of each other. This is your first "turn."
9) Turn the dough package 90° to the right, so it looks like a book ready to be opened. If the dough is still cool to the touch and relaxed, do another rolling and turning the same way. Make a note of how many folds you've completed and the time, and wrap the dough. Return it to the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes. Repeat the folding and turning process at least one more time, for a total of four turns. (I did five. The more you do the flakier the pastry will be.) Once completed, wrap the dough well and refrigerate it for at least an hour before using.
10) Shaping the croissants: Roll it to a 12" x 18" rectangle. Trim the edges of the dough on every edge. This cuts off the folded edges that would stop the "puff." Cut the dough in thirds lengthwise and in half through the middle. This will give you six 4" x 9" pieces. Cut each piece in half diagonally, and arrange them so the points of the triangles are facing away from you. It's okay to stretch them out a little to shape them when you do this. 
11) If you want to, this is the time to place a teaspoon of filling at the base of the triangle, or spread nutella on the whole triangle. Roll up the dough, starting with the wider edge and working toward the point. Make sure the point is tucked under the bottom of the croissant. If you have to stretch the dough a little to make that happen, it's okay. You can also use a drop of water on the tip to help it stay in place. Place the croissants on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. You could freeze them  at this point if you need to make these ahead for your fancy tea party ;).
12) To bake the croissants: Take the croissants out of the refrigerator, and preheat the oven to 350°F. While the oven is heating, brush the tops of the croissants with an egg well-beaten with 1 tablespoon of water.
13) When the oven is hot, bake the croissants for 30 minutes. The croissants should be a deep golden brown, you don't want any raw dough in the center. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack. Eat as soon as they are cool enough to not burn your tongue. ;)