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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Almond Croissants, and Epic Failure

I went up to visit my parents this past weekend who run a bed and breakfast in Cottage Country. My mom had this lovely cookbook for breakfasts "Do Breakfast", by Jane Donovan.

I decided to pull some of the recipes and try them out. This one is involved but I was feeling adventurous and decided to give it a try. I've never made croissant before but I also had never made bagels either and they turned out so well I though why not?

I can tell you without question that this was an EPIC failure. My dough didn't rise properly in the end. The almond paste oozed out of the dough. I kept at it but truth is...I can say I did not do this well. I'm sure the recipe itself is fine but I've never made pastry before so I'm sure it was something I did. I'm going to try again though. I will make some adjustment to the almond paste though as the one set out in the recipe was too runny.

Ingredients (makes 24 croissants)
1 1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp sugar
1 package dry active yeast
3 - 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 egg with 1 tsp water for glazing
Confectioners sugar for dusting

almond paste ingredients
2/3 cup blanched almonds
1 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 stick unsalted butter cut into pieces and softened
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp almond extract


In a small saucepan, heat the milk and half of the sugar over low heat until very warm. Pour into the bowl of an electric mixer, sprinkle the yeast and 1 tbsp of the flour and mix by hand until dissolved. Allow to stand until foamy (about 15 minutes). With a hand whisk, beat in 1 cup of the flour, the salt and remaining flour.

The milk once the yeast has become foamy.

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Fix the mixer with a dough hook and gradually beat in 2 cups of flour on low speed. Beat on high until dough comes together and begins to pull away from the side of the bowl. if the dough is very wet, sprinkle a little more flour into the mixture; Beat until smooth. Scrape the dough into a greased bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place until dough doubles in volume (about 1 1/2 hours).

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Punch down the dough and turn onto a lightly floured surface; knead lightly until smooth, about 4 to 5 times. Wrap in a dish towel and refrigerate for about 10 minutes.

While the dough is cooling prepare the butter.

Place the butter between two sheets of plastic wrap and roll the butter into a rectangular shape. Fold the butter in half and roll out again. Repeat until butter is smooth a pliable but still cold. Flatten to form a 6 x 4 inch rectangle.

Butter rolled
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Roll the dough to a 18 x 8 inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface, keeping the center third thicker than the two outer ends. put the butter rectangle on the thicker center of the dough, and fold the bottom third of the dough over the butter. fold the top third of the dough over the bottom to enclose the butter; with the rolling pin press down the "open edges" to seal the dough and create a neat dough "package"

Turn the dough package to that the short open edge faces you, the folded edge is on the left and it resembles a closed book. Gently roll the dough to a rectangle about 18 inches long, keeping the edges straight; do not press out the butter. (tip: if the butter squeezes out of the package, or the dough becomes sticky at any time, slide it onto a cookie sheet and chill until easier to handle.) Fold the rectangle in thirds, as we did for the butter, and press down the edges to seal. Press your index finger lightly into one corner to mark the first turn clearly. Wrap the dough in plastic warp and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Repat the rolling and folding, or turns, twice more, wrapping, marking and chilling the dough between each turn. After the third turn, wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Meanwhile, prepare the almond paste. Put the blanched almonds, flour, cornstarch and sugar in a food processor, and process until very fine crumbs form. Sprinkle over the butter, the egg, egg yolk, and almond extract, and process until a smooth paste forms. If not using immediately, cover and refrigerate.

Lightly grease 2 large cookie sheets. Allow the dough to soften at room temp about 5-10 minutes for easier rolling.

Roll the dough to a 1/8 inch thick rectangle about 13 inches wide on a lightly floured surface. Trim the edges straight. Cut the rectangle in half to form 2 long, narrow strips. Cut each strip into triangles, 6 inches high and 4 inches wide at the base. With the rolling pin, roll gently from the base to the point, stretching each triangle lengthwise.

Place 1 tbsp of almond paste about 1 inch up from the base of each triangle. pulling the base slightly to widen it, roll up the dough from the base to the point Arrange point side down on the cookie sheets, curving the ends to form a crescent shape. Brush each croissant with a little egg glaze; cover and leave to rise in a warm place until almost tripled in volume, about 2 hours. (At this point the formed croissants can be refrigerated overnight and baked the following day, be sure to refrigerate the egg glaze until ready to bake the croissants)

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F. Brush each croissant again with the egg glaze, then sprinkle each with a few flaked almonds. Bake for 2 minutes, then reduce the oven temp to 375 and bake until a light golden colour, approx 10 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool. Dust lightly with confectioners sugar, and serve warm with fresh coffee.

Here are my horrible looking Almond croissants. You will note, the almond paste was oozing out of the dough while they were rising. These are prebaked. Once baked they puffed up a bit. They are chewy as opposed to flaky. They taste good, but definately not light and flakey

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1 comment:

  1. I love how you have step-by-step pictures. Oftentimes, I'm put off by complicated recipes like this because halfway through I'm thinking to myself "Is it really supposed to look like this?" Often, recipes provide descriptions, but like they say...a picture's worth a thousand words!

    Croissants are an ambitious undertaking I've never had the nerve (or butter, or family willing to eat large amounts of buttery dough...) to try.

    Yours look yummy, though!

    Writing away about my latest 3 week adventure through China at


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