The saying really is true, it's more fun to share with a friend. I was lucky to have a visit from my friend Sharon, from Ottawa, Ontario. We met last year when we were roommates in Ireland at the Ace Camp Photography workshop with Beatrice Peltre
Sharon had some time off from work, and was eager to see Wisconsin. As I prepared for her visit, I started looking at the local Wisconsin landscape through a visitors lens. What a beautiful place! Once she arrived I learned that the crops and animals aren't too different from those she grew up with in Canada. But, she was eager to see all the cheese and cheese curds! We drove the Sauk & Dane county countrysides and took in a wine tasting, the Memorial Union in Madison, a few visits to friends' gardens, and cheese! It was a wonderful few days.
One day we decided to bake and style/photograph some food together. After all, that's how we met. Sharon was curious about croissants. How fun! One evening (after a bit too much wine) we made the de trempe, and in the morning we rolled the dough, creating pain au chocolat, croissants, and Morning Buns. Once out of the oven, the pastries became models for our photography, and take home treats for friends who stopped by later that day.
Croissants and Pain au Chocolat Recipe
Adapted from Peter Reinhart's recipe
For the Dough:
4 2/3 cups (595gm) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt (10 grams)
1⁄3 cup sugar (56 grams)
1 tablespoon instant yeast
61⁄2 ounces milk ( 200 grams)
1 cup water
2 tablespoons soft butter
For the Folding Butter:
3 sticks cold (11⁄2 cups) unsalted butter, the best you can find
2 tablespoons flour
1 egg for brushing the croissants
Chocolate batons or bittersweet chocolate pieces for pain au chocolat
- With a stand mixer fitted with the paddle or by hand, mix the ingredients (except cold butter and 2 tablespoons flour) until shaggy.
- Gently knead for 1 to 2 minutes until smooth. Dough will be sticky. Place in lightly oiled bowl covered with plastic wrap and chill overnight.
- The next day, cut the folding butter into 1⁄2-inch pieces, sprinkle with the 2 tablespoons flour, and pound between two pieces of parchment with a rolling pin or beat in mixer with flour until smooth. Be sure to keep the butter cool. Shape into a 6x6 inch square about 1⁄2 inch thick. Return to the refrigerator if your butter feels too soft. \
- Place the dough on your lightly floured work surface. Roll the dough into a 7x14 inch rectangle. Start with the narrow edge nearest to you. Place the butter square on the bottom half of the dough, and fold the top half over the butter. Lightly seal the edges, and tap with the rolling pin to even out the thickness
- Turn the dough one-quarter turn so the fold is on the left and could open like a book Roll the dough, keeping about the same width, to 24 inches in length. Fold the dough into thirds, as you would a letter. Tap the dough to even the thickness, and turn again so the fold is on the left side. You’ve just completed one turn!
- Cover the dough lightly with plastic wrap and rest at room temperature for 20 minutes. If your room is warmer than 72°F, and you have concern about the dough becoming too soft, you can also rest the dough in the refrigerator.Make two more turns (waiting at least 20 minutes between turns). Remember, if your room isn’t too warm, you don’t need to return to the refrigerator after each turn. Each time you fold the dough, you’re making more and more layers of butter and dough. When the butter heats and melts in the oven, the water in the butter will become steam. The steam pushes the layers of dough apart creating the flaky light layers of the croissants.
- For croissants, divide the dough into two portions. Roll the first piece of dough into a 6x18 inch rectangle. Cut triangles with a bottom width of about 3 inches.
- Roll the triangle to lengthen, cut a 1⁄2-inch slit on the bottom edge. Starting at the bottom, roll the dough towards the point, gently stretching the dough. Use both hands, splaying them apart as you roll. The slit will help widen the dough and create a traditional shape. It will take about three to four rolls to reach the end.
- Place the croissants on a parchment-lined baking sheet, point side down. Repeat with the second portion of dough.
- For pain au chocolat, cut rectangles measuring 3x4 inches. Place a chocolat baton at each end. Roll/fold each end of the dough toward the center, then each end once again. This will create a scroll shape.
- Place the dough smooth side up, rolls down, on the baking sheet.When finished shaping, cover and allow the pastries to rise at room temperature for 1 hour.
- While the dough is rising, preheat your oven to 350°F. Just before baking, beat the egg in a small bowl with a fork. With a pastry brush, gently brush the tops of the croissants with egg wash. Try not to let the egg to drip down the sides of the croissant onto the pan.
- Bake at 350°F, for 30 minutes. Rotate pan half way through if necessary. Transfer pan to a cooking rack, and allow pastries to cool at least 30 minutes. If you serve the croissants too soon, the butter will not have cooled, and the pastry will have a greasy feel and taste.
Morning Buns are a Madison favorite, originating from the Bakers' Rooms and Ovens of Brittany Restaurants in the 1970's. For my version:
- Generously butter a muffin pan.
- Roll the completed croissant dough out to a 20x8 inch rectangle. Brush the dough lightly with egg/water mixture (1 egg in 1 pint water, mixed well).
- Mix 2 cups brown sugar and 3 tsp cinnamon and spread on to dough.
- Roll dough jelly-roll style starting on the long edge.
- Slice into twelve pieces, about 1 1/2 inches. Place cut side down into each muffin cup. The dough should stand about 1/2 inch above the cup.
- Place on the pan on a parchment lined baking sheet to catch any drips.
- Place in the oven right away (no need for 2nd rise), and bake about 35-40 minutes, or until deep golden brown.
- Remove from the oven, and flip pan oven for the buns to drop out and caramelized sugar to drip onto buns. Allow to cool for 10 minutes.
- Mix together 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar and 2 tsp cinnamon. Carefully roll warm buns in the sugar mixture and enjoy!