Homemade Bread - “In A Hurry” Croissants

      This is a quick variation of the traditional French croissant recipe. Rather than the countless steps of folding in layers of butter, this recipe relies on a batter that must be refrigerated at least 4 hours before use. But it can remain in the refrigerator  up to 4 days . . . allowing for  freshly baked rolls days after combining the ingredients.
     Before you begin any recipe it is important to ready through both the ingredients and preparation steps so there will not be any surprises along the way. For example, the steps in this recipe reveal that you’ll need a food processer and that you’ll need to allow about 1 ½ to 2 hours rising time after the crescents are shaped.
     And, if you want to know how the French pronounce croissant, go to this dictionary link and click on the horn that precedes the definition: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/croissant

Croissants      Yield:  32 large croissants / 40 or 48 smaller rolls
5 cups all-purpose flour, unsifted
1 cup chilled butter (unsalted), cut into cubes
1 or 2 (1/4 oz.) packages active dry yeast,  or scant 1 or 2 tablespoons bulk yeast (I generally use the scant 2 Tblsp.)
1 cup warm water (110°)
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup melted and cooled butter
1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water for brushing rolls prior to baking

1. Fit food processor with metal blade — add 4 cups flour and 1 cup butter (that has been cut into cubes) to the work bowl. Process in bursts (using the “pulse” option) until butter ranges from the size of peas to dried beans (make sure there are no big globs of butter). Transfer to a large bowl.
2. In the work bowl of the food processor — process yeast and water in 2 bursts. Add milk, salt, sugar, egg, remaining 1cup flour and melted butter; process until batter is smooth. Pour this yeast mixture into flour mixture. Mix with spatula until flour is moistened. Cover with plastic and refrigerate from 4 hours to 4 days.
3. When ready to bake, remove dough to floured board and press into compact ball. Knead about 6 turns to release air bubbles. Divide dough into 4 equal parts. Shape one part at a time, leaving remaining dough wrapped, in plastic wrap, in refrigerator. To shape, roll one quarter of the dough on floured board into a 12” to 14” circle.  With a sharp knife, cut circle into 8 pie-shaped wedges (or cut into 10 to 12 wedges for smaller rolls). 

      For each croissant, loosely roll wedges toward the point; place on an ungreased cookie sheet with the point down. Allow at least 1 1/2” space around each croissant. Cover lightly and let rise at room temperature in a draft free place--about 1 ½ to 2 hours. Do NOT speed the rising by placing in a warm spot.  When almost doubled in bulk, brush rolls with egg and water. 

4. Bake in preheated 325° to 350° oven for about 25 to 35 minutes or until golden brown and blistered. Note: Baked rolls freeze well.

Yeast is a living plant that serves as a leavening agent. It feeds primarily on sugar which produces gas that makes the bread rise. However, this action must not occur too quickly, hence the addition of salt to slow and control the yeast action.
Temperature is also an important factor in the leavening ability of yeast. Either too hot or too cold temperatures can kill or inhibit the yeast.

Temperature Variables: Temperature is an important factor in the leavening ability of yeat. Either too hot or too cold temperatures can kill or inhibit the yeats. The optimum temperature for yeast actually depends on the activation method:
·      Traditional or Conventional Method. When yeast is added directly to warm water, the water temperature should be about 105° to 115°.
·      Rapidmix Method. When using the Radipmix method, where dry yeast is mixed with part of the dry ingredients, warmer liquids (120° to 130°) are needed. Note – be sure that the yeast is mixed in with those dry ingredients before adding the warmer liquids
·      When using Rapid or Quick Rise Yeast (“Fast-Rising or “Fast-Acting” yeast, follow directions on the package that specify heating the liquid to 130° and be sure yeast is mixed in with the dry ingredients.

Yeast Enhancers – When yeast and water are mixed, these enhances will aid in the initial rising action
·      Granulated Sugar – add a pinch or simply use a little of the yeast called for in the recipe.
·      Ground (powdered) Ginger – add a pinch or two will not affect the taste but will aid the rising.

Types of Yeast —What is the difference between Active Dry Yeast, Instant Yeast,  and, Rapid or Quick Rise Yeast?
·      Active Dry Yeast is activated shortly after being hydrated or combined with water (sometimes referred to as “blooming”). It works slower but eventually catches up with the instant.
·      (Active Dry) Instant Yeast becomes active the “instant” it contacts moisture. It is ideally suited to the Rapidmix method of yeast dough preparation (where the yeast is added directly to the flour) but will not be harmed if added directly to water in the Traditional mixing method. Instant yeast does make the bread rise a bit faster than plain active dry yeast. THIS IS WHAT I PREFER. It is interchangeable with Active Dry; both can be used in recipes that don’t specify the type of yeast to use.
·      Rapid or Quick Rise Yeast (“Fast-Rising” or “Fast-Acting”) is more granulated and can cut the rising time in half. Like instant yeast, it is ideally suited to the Rapidmix method and can shorten the rising time of traditional recipes by as much as 50%. To adapt a recipe that calls for either of the above two types of yeast — mix the “Fast-Rising” yeast with dry ingredients and heat liquids to 130°.

Click on Yeast Bread Baking Tips on our blog for additional tips and information.  

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