I went shopping last week at one of my favorite places in Atlanta, Your Dekalb Farmers Market
. I needed some coconut oil, and I knew they were supposed to carry expeller-pressed coconut oil at a very reasonable price.
Unfortunately, it is not near my house. At all. So it’s not like I can just run down there whenever I need something. It’s kind of a special treat. And when I go, I have to explore every aisle, and peruse all of the exotic produce. I check out the cheese selection, and see if there is any fabulous seafood I can’t live without. It’s quite the expedition. And I always end up putting things in my shopping cart that I didn’t plan on when I started. In fact, on this particular visit I had only one thing in mind when I went – coconut oil. Guess what they didn’t have? Right – coconut oil. Sold out, I was told by the friendly Ethiopian man who was stocking shelves on that aisle.
Disappointed, but undaunted, I continued my shopping. After picking up some raw peanuts, a bag of Real Kosher Salt and some beautiful habanero peppers, I made my way from the produce section to the cheese and meat counters. On my way, I passed by the bakery. Out of curiosity, I parked my cart and got in line to see what they had in the baked-goods case (I hadn’t had breakfast, so I thought I’d pick something up to fuel the rest of my shopping adventure). They had this giant whole wheat croissant that I just had to try, and I also picked up an almond sable cookie. And a cup of coffee, of course.
I completed my shopping trip, ending up with a cart full of items I hadn’t necessarily planned for, but which have gone to very good use. In the car, on the way home, I broke into my little box from the bakery. The almond sable cookie was excellent – buttery and delicate and full of almond flavor. The croissant, though? That croissant was unbelievable. It definitely had a nutty whole-wheat flavor, and there was a textural element that spoke to the fact that it was not made with refined flour. However, it was light and flaky and buttery just like a croissant needs to be. It was inspiring, was what it was. I never imagined you could create a croissant using whole-wheat flour that would rival any croissant from a French patisserie.
1 1/2 cups butter
3 Tablespoons flour (I used a mix of hard red and hard white)
1 cup warm whole milk
3/4 Tablespoon instant dry yeast
1 Tablespoon honey granules
2 1/2 cups flour (same mixture as above)
1 teaspoon unrefined sea salt
Croissants are a member of the “laminated dough” family, meaning that the process by which they attain that flaky, light texture includes alternating very thin layers of butter with very thin layers of dough. With croissants, this is achieved by encasing a “butter block” within a sheet of yeasted dough and then folding it over on itself multiple times.
Begin by creating the butter block. Line up your three sticks of very cold (but not frozen) butter side by side, so that they are snugly touching each other. Place them on a floured surface and sprinkle them with flour. Begin to beat it with a rolling pin, and fold it over on itself. Continue working the butter, adding flour as needed, until it is easily rolled out. Be sure not to use your hands too much, as you don’t want the butter to get too warm. Place the butter on a piece of plastic wrap and roll it out to a 9×6-inch rectangle. Wrap and refrigerate.
To make the yeasted dough, dissolve the yeast and the honey granules in the warm milk. Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and add the milk/yeast mixture. Mix with a fork until a dough begins to form. Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Wrap and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
Once cooled, roll the dough on a floured surface to a 16×8 inch rectangle. Place the butter block on the top 2/3 of the dough, and fold the bottom 1/3 of the dough up over the butter, so that it covers half of the butter.
Fold the top 1/3 of the dough, with the butter, down over the bottom, like an envelope. Pinch the seams to seal.
Rotate the package so that the short end is facing you, and roll it out to an 18×8-inch rectangle. Fold it in thirds again (like an envelope) and rotate it so that the short end is facing you again. Roll it to 18×8 again and fold it again. Turn it, roll it and fold it a third time. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, roll it to 18×8 again, fold in thirds and turn. Repeat this twice more. Roll the dough to a 24×12-inch rectangle and cut it in half lengthwise. Refrigerate half the dough.
With the other half, cut triangles that are 4 1/2 inches at their base. Roll them from the base to the tip and curve them slightly as you go.
Place them on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Cover them with a damp towel and let them rise in a warm place in the kitchen for about an hour, or until they’ve increased in size by half. Preheat the oven to 375F. Brush the tops of the croissants with an egg wash and bake until brown, about 20 minutes.
You’ll be rewarded with flaky, buttery layers of deliciousness.
With the other half of the dough, I decided to fill them with an apple/raisin filling that consisted of:
1 Tablespoon butter
1 1/2 apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 cup of raisins
2 Tablespoons sucanat
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
I sauteed the apples and raisins in the butter until they began to soften. I added the sucanat and water and cooked it until it had reduced to a thick syrup. I finished it with the cinnamon and vanilla and cooked for just a minute longer to fully incorporate the flavors.
I cut the dough into 4-inch wide rectangles and placed a tablespoon or so of the filling on the bottom 1/3, leaving about an inch of space at the bottom. I rolled the dough up over the filling, creating a cylinder, brushing the top inch with egg wash to help seal the seam. I then brushed the tops of the rolled dough with egg wash and baked them, seam-side down, at 375F for 20 minutes.
They were brown and crispy on the outside, flaky and light on the inside and filled with a not-too sweet filling. The plain croissants were great, but these were especially nice with my morning cup of coffee.