INGREDIENTS for 2 dozen:
1/4 cup warm water
1 package or 1 tablespoon dry active yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons unbleached flour
1-3/4 cups flour
3/4 teaspoons salt
2/3 cup warm milk (70 degrees)
1/2 pound cold, unsalted butter
1 large egg yolk, mixed with 1 teaspoon water for glaze
Starter: Allow the yeast to begin to foam in 1/4 cup water with the sugar for the starter. Stir in flour to make a workable dough. Knead for 2 minutes, or until the little ball is taut. Immerse this starter dough in a bowl of warm water (110 degrees). In a very few minutes it will rise to the surface.
Dough: Start assembling the remaining dough. First combine salt with flour, make a well and pour in the warm milk. Stir ingredients together gently so as to work the dough as little as possible. Spread it on a lightly floured work surface. Place the moist starter on the dough, and blend them together by throwing the dough on the table.
Do not knead the dough in the conventional way. Continue crashing it down on the table keeping it and your hands lightly floured until the dough becomes firm, taut, and has cleaned bits of clinging dough from the work area and your hands.
Place the cold butter between wax papers, and pound it into a 5" square. Flatten the dough into an 8" square on the counter. Unpeel the wax from the butter laying it on the dough so that the corners intersect the side of the dough square. Fold the corners of dough to the center as if folding an envelop, and seal the seams.
Lightly flour the dough. Begin by gently pressing your rolling pin the length of the dough to soften and distribute the butter inside. Then roll dough to a 12" square. Prick any air bubbles that form with tines of a fork. Lightly flour any spots where butter ooze through. Letter fold the enlarged square.
Turn the dough 90 degrees and roll out again to a rectangle 18" long and 6" wide. Fold sides to meet in the center, and fold these halves together to make double fold 4 layers high.
Now seal the dough in a 1 gal. plastic bag, and place it in a refrigerator crisper tray to chill for at least 30 minutes. Remove the dough for 2 double folds twice more, with chilling time inbetween double folds. In all the dough will have 6 double folds.
Delayed rising: The dough should rest 30 minutes before cutting and shaping. Although these croissants can be made in 1 day, they taste better if the dough is allowed to rest, refrigerated, 1-2 days before baking.
Shaping and rising: Roll out the dough to a 3/8" thickness. Divide in thirds. Refrigerate all but the piece being worked on. Roll it into a rectangle 1/4" thick. Cut into triangles. Starting from the small end, roll up the triangles tightly. Place them on a prepared bake sheet tucking under the triangle tip. Cover the croissants loosely with plastic. Let them rise to double, up to an hour at 70-75 degrees.
Baking: Preheat the oven after 30 minutes to 375 degrees. Brush the croissants generously with dilute egg yolk wash when they have puffed up noticeably. Bake for 15 minutes. Let them cool to warm on a wire rack before serving.
This recipe is adapted from one in Madeline Kamman's book, The
Making of a Cook.