Quite frankly, I’ve grown tired of those recipes that European butter is the way to go. In most recipes, they claim that since it has a higher butter percentage, it’s more flavorful (which is probably true…) and in particular for croissants, it’s easier to work with (probably also true). Being a high school student though means that I don’t exactly have the money to buy butter that’s oh so special because it’s imported from Europe (fyi, it’s approximately 100% more, aka you’re paying twice the price compared to American butter which I totally do not get because aren’t U.S. produced stuff supposed to cost more?), nor do I have the time to search as of where to buy it.
Solution? Brown butter. I have a feeling that brown butter makes everything in the world better. Don’t like regular buttercream? Use brown butter and a sprinkle of salt. Blondies too boring? Brown some butter. 😀
Plus, I can nearly guarantee that they’re 150.999999999% better than regular croissants -and you can trust me on this. I’ve made croissants so many times, a lot of which I actually documented with bad photos (or bad croissants… :/). They’re so so so flavorful because they use brown butter instead of normal butter and dead flaky. 😉
Croissants are one of those things that feel complex and finicky, but actually aren’t. They’re time consuming, but not nearly as frustrating as macarons. All you have to do is make sure they have enough time to rest in the fridge or else they melt (kinda like moi during school). As a result, they’re hands off not hands on, which is both a plus and a minus, especially during summer. Work with them for too long and you’ll end up with buttered counter tops instead of buttery bread. BUT you do get to do a lot while they’re resting 😀
Anyhow, this recipe uses both brown butter and regular butter because part of the reason croissants puff up in the oven is that the water in the butter pushes the dough up and evaporates away, leaving holes in croissants like the one above (scroll up like 1.5 paragraphs :D). The 1:1 ratio of brown butter to not, results in a certain je ne sais quoi quality, but you can certainly brown more butter to intensify the flavor if you wish. I wouldn’t suggest browning all the butter though since browned butter is 100% butter and 0% water and the croissant probably wouldn’t puff as high.
Oh and I made .gifs because a recipe that’s like 10 pgs is kinda hard on the eyes. I’m exaggerrratttiinngggggg… But it is long. But no need to worry. 😀
These brown butter croissants are so easy (never heard that before hum?) as long as you keep the dough cold. Plus, you can actually get like 1/2 the stuff done on your to do list while making croissants and end up with an enticing, nutty aroma floating and swirling around your house. They’re so flaky on the outside and splinter crumbs everywhere when bitten into (literately, my kitchen was covered with golden shards when I was photographing them -Mom was not happy). But the inside is incredibly soft and feathery light, filled with honeycomb like holes has a light hazelnutty scent in the best of ways. The flavor? Well, nothing short of astonishing -buttery and nutty at the same time.
p.s. Croissants are not actually as hard + time consuming as the notes + recipe make it seem. 😉
p.p.s. 1/3 of the dough makes 10 croissants. I have recipes of what to do with the rest of the dough coming up in the following weeks 😀
// Keep the dough cold -as in very very cold. Freeze your rolling pin if you have to.
// If you want perfect croissants, it’s necessary to trim off the edges that are going to be folded in to avoid trapping the butter. But of course, it’s up to you. It’ll work fine without it, but it’s better if you do 😉
// It’s good to follow the measurements given, but again, it’s optional. Don’t spend time trying to perfect the rectangle -chances are, you’ll just squish the precious layers. Oh but measurements aren’t exactly optional when you shape them 😀
// Brown at least 1/2 of the butter for flavor purposes, but you can brown more. But don’t brown all of it. Instructions to brown butter are in the recipe.
// Letting the dough rest for longer is harmless, but letting the dough rest for less time than specified is harmful. I made these over a few days just because of photography reasons (i.e. I could only actually catch the light that I wanted to for like 4 hours of the day to make .gifs… and the final croissants pictures were taken more or less in darkness), but it’s very possible to make them in one day.
// You can freeze the dough and let it come back to temp in the refrigerator for ~4 hrs if you’re planning on not doing anything with it for a whilllleee (i.e. >1 day).
// You can also freeze shaped croissants and let them rise at room temp. Or you can rise them for ~45 min at room temp and then stick them in the refrigerator overnight and bake them in the morning.
// Did I mention that you should keep the dough colllddd?
// Don’t overproof (you’ll end up with flat croissants) and don’t underproof (you’ll end up with a puddle of butter). A good way to check is lightly poking the croissant. It should come back about 1/2 way but not the whole way and not continue deflating.
// One more thing, don’t proof at a very high temperature (i.e. >85 F) or else you’ll end up with a tray full of butter and croissants without butter.
// Actually two… Since I included grams in this, it’s best if you use a scale and convert it to oz or stay in grams if you so prefer, but cups are actually really inaccurate (I know, I know…). So guess what? Use a scale. Or if you do use cups (against my advice…), just remember, in this dough it’s better for it to be stiffer -it’ll just be really hard to roll if you make it too stiff.
// Croissant tutorial inspired from here. Croissant recipe proportions adapted from here.
Place half of the butter (3/4 c) in a saucepan over medium heat and let it boil while swirling the pan. It will splutter. When the spluttering stops or when the mixture takes a brown color, take it off the heat and pour into a bowl. Add in the rest of the butter and combine. Chill in the refrigerator until solid.
Fold a large piece of parchment paper over so that the square in the middle measures around 7.5" by 7.5". Spoon in the cold butter and fold the sides of the paper over. Using a rolling pin, roll the square so that it has an even thickness. Make sure the corners aren't missing butter. Place in the refrigerator and chill for at least 1 hour.
Sprinkle the yeast over the milk and add the sugar. Wait for 5-10 minutes. It should become foamy and bubbly. If not, wait a little longer (~5 min) and check again. If it doesn't get bubbly, it means your yeast isn't alive, so use a different packet/jar of yeast and start over.
Work the butter and flour together into a very floury mixture. Add that mixture to the yeast one, along with the salt. Knead for about 5 minutes, or until tacky. Don't work for too long or else it'll be difficult to roll out.
Roll into a rough square. Cover in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
Very very very lightly flour the work surface and roll the cold dough into a square that measures 9.75 inches. Unwrap the chilled butter block and place it in the center with the corners of the butter block touching the midpoint of each side. Take the corners of the dough and fold it over the butter block and pinch it closed.
Cover in plastic wrap and let it rest for 15 minutes in the refrigerator.
Take the dough out and roll the block into a rectangle, measuring roughly 21 in by 10.5 in.
Cut off the edge that you're going to fold in Fold into thirds and cover in plastic wrap again. Place in the refrigerator for at least 45 minutes.
Repeat this so that you fold it three times (i.e. 2 more to go).
Take the dough out after the third fold and cut into 3 pieces. Each piece will make ~10 croissants.
Roll one piece out and trim the edges so that it measures 7 inch by 13.5 inches. Mark 3 inch pieces on the long edge -you should have 4 3 inch sections and one 1.5 inch section. Starting on the other side, on the other long edge, measure 3 in pieces again -you should have 4 3 inch sections and one 1.5 inch section.
Using a ruler and the markings, cut triangles.
Stretch the triangle and roll into a croissant shape. Place on a baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest until puffy and jiggles when shaken, about 2 hours. When you poke it, it should spring back a little but not all the way. It should not deflate :/
Preheat the oven to 425 F.
Beat the egg and brush it on the croissants. Make sure you don't brush egg wash onto the exposed layers. Wait 5 minutes and brush it on again.
Bake at 425 F for 12 minutes. Lower the temperature to 375 F and bake for 10-13 more minutes, or until golden.
They're best served freshly out of the oven with jam and honey :D.