croissants with strawberry basil jam

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my list of new year’s resolutions tends to change pretty drastically every year. i was looking at some old journals the other day and laughed when i realized my goals in 2014 were to lose weight, go to more parties, get straight A’s, and get a boyfriend while 2016’s were to gain weight, stay in more, stop obsessing over your grades, and stay the hell away from boys. can you say polar opposites! i clearly struggle with doing things in moderation. only one goal has remained a constant new year’s resolution for the past four years: conquer viennoiserie. 

viennoiserie refers to a family of french pastries made from either a sweet leavened dough or a puff pastry dough. brioche, pain au chocolat, palmiers, and most famously, CROISSANTS, all fall under the category of viennoiserie. viennoiseries are almost always made with laminated dough, which has very thin alternating layers of butter and dough and, when baked, develops hundreds of flaky, airy layers.

viennoiserie has intimidated me for years; it takes a huge amount of time and effort and is incredibly prone to failure. the other day, though, i set my fear aside and finally decided to give croissants a go — and look how well they turned out! they took almost exactly 24 hours to make from start to finish. they require dedication. but they are so, so worth it. i can’t put into words how proud i felt pulling them out of the oven. and i can finally say that i’ve conquered viennoiserie! i’ll have to find a new culinary endeavor to put on this year’s list.

croissants (these measurements are in grams; if you don’t have a scale, just google the conversions) (recipe from weekend bakery)

  • 500g flour
  • 140g water
  • 140g milk
  • 55g sugar
  • 40g butter, softened
  • 11g instant yeast
  • 12g salt
  • 280g cold butter (for laminating)
  • 1 egg + 1 tsp water

jam*

  • 1 lb strawberries, hulled
  • 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp fruit pectin
  • 1/4 cup packed basil leaves

for the croissants, combine the water and milk in a glass bowl. heat in the microwave until it’s 110º, then sprinkle the yeast on top. let sit for 5 minutes. meanwhile, combine the flour, sugar, 40g of butter, and salt in a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. stir the yeast mixture (it should be foamy) then add to the stand mixer. beat for 3 minutes, then form the dough into a disc and place onto a plate. cover the plate with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

the next day, cut the cold butter lengthwise into 1 1/4 cm thick slabs. arrange the pieces of butter on waxed paper to form a square of about 15 cm x 15 cm. cover the butter with another layer of waxed paper and, using a rolling pin, pound butter until it’s about 19 cm x 19 cm. trim the edges of the butter and put the trimmings on top of the square. pound lightly until you have a final square of 17 cm x 17 cm. wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate the butter slab until needed.

take the dough out of the fridge and place on top of some floured parchment paper. roll out the dough disc into a 26 cm x 26 cm square. place the dough square so one of the sides of the square is facing you, then place the refrigerated butter slab on it with a 45 degree angle to the dough so a point of the butter square is facing you. fold a flap of dough over the butter, so the point of the dough reaches the center of the butter. do the same with the three other flaps. the edges of the dough flaps should slightly overlap to fully enclose the butter. with the palm of your hand lightly press the edges to seal the seams.

now the dough with the sealed in butter needs to be rolled out. on a lightly flour dusted surface, roll out the dough to a rectangle of 20 x 60 cm. start rolling from the center of the dough towards the edges, and not from one side of the dough all the way to the other side (this technique helps you to keep the dough at an even thickness).

fold the dough letter style, then cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes (fold one third of the dough on top of itself and then fold the other side over it). repeat the rolling and folding two more times (ending up with 27 layers of butter in total), each time rolling until the dough is about 20 cm x 60 cm. after each fold you should turn the dough 90 degrees before rolling again. the “open end” of the dough should be towards you every time when rolling out the dough. after the second turn, again give it a 30 minute rest in the fridge. after the third turn either refrigerate for an hour or leave the dough in the fridge overnight.

take the dough from the fridge and flour your work surface. roll out the dough into a long and narrow strip of 20 cm x 110 cm. next you’ll need a tape measure and a pizza wheel. lay a tape measure along the top of the dough. with the wheel, mark the top of the dough at 12.5 cm intervals along the length (7 marks total). now lay the tape measure along the bottom of the dough and make a mark at 6.25 cm. then continue to make marks at 12.5 cm intervals from this point (8 marks total). now make diagonal cuts starting from the top corner cutting down to the first bottom mark. make diagonal cuts along the entire length of the dough. then change the angle and make cuts from the other top corner to the bottom mark to create triangles. repeat this along the length of the dough. you should end up with 15 triangles and a few end pieces of dough.

using the pizza wheel, make 1.5 cm long notches in the center of the short side of each dough triangle. gently take a triangle and pull it by hand to elongate it to about 25 cm.

pull the two sides (separated by the 1.5 cm notch) of the short end of each triangle apart gently. roll them down towards the pointy end of the triangle to form the croissant shape. arrange the shaped croissants on parchment-lined baking sheets, making sure to keep enough space between them so they will not touch when proofing and baking. combine the egg with the water and whisk until smooth. give the croissants their first thin coating of egg wash.

drape plastic wrap over the croissants and let proof for an hour and a half. they’ll puff up and become very delicate. preheat the oven to 400º. right before baking, remove the plastic wrap and give the croissants their second thin coat of egg wash. bake the croissants for 10 minutes at 400º, then reduce the temperature to 375º and bake for 10 more minutes. take out of the oven, leave for a few minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack. let cool for a few minutes, then serve with jam.

for the jam, pulse the strawberries in a food processor until they’re finely chopped but not completely liquified. add the basil and pulse a few more times. combine strawberries and basil with the lemon juice in a large saucepan set over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. whisk together the sugar and pectin, then add to the strawberries. continue to stir until the mixture is at a full rolling boil, then remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes. ladle the mixture into mason jars and then screw on lids and rings. process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. remove from water and let cool completely, 12 to 24 hours.

*if you don’t have a canner and/or don’t feel like making jam, just stir some chopped basil into store-bought strawberry jam!

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