Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Whole Grain Croissants for High Tea

High Tea anyone?
This month I am attending the Monthly Mingle event at Aparna's, and the theme is High Tea Treats. The only caveat is that they be vegetarian, dairy and eggs are ok.
Since this is my first high tea, I wanted to make something special. I think of delicate sandwiches and pretty plates, and was happy to have a reason to use my three-tiered stand.

Delicate sandwiches deserve special bread so I made whole grain croissants, recipe below. They take two days and seem like a lot of work, but really all they need is time. I forgot about the dough from time to time, and I admit I shot up at 1am last night to make my last folds, but my dough was wonderfully forgiving and accommodating.
The results exceeded my expectations. I had made regular white croissants before and was thinking that whole wheat wouldn't live up to the light flakiness. I am happy to report that they are just as light, just as flaky, and just as delicious.
For my High Tea Treats (for two) - first I made a tarragon mayonnaise by adding some chopped fresh tarragon, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper to some good quality mayonnaise.
I hard-boiled 5 eggs, used two for my devilled eggs, just mixing the yolk with a little of my tarragon mayo.
I placed the devilled eggs on the top level with some gherkins.
In the middle: I placed the smallest of the croissants, garnished with some cherry tomatoes from my garden.
On the bottom, largest tier: I placed sandwiches made on the larger croissants, with the tarragon mayo, thinly sliced egg, and tender lettuce.

My husband was overwhelmed at how good the croissants were. I lost track of the amount of times he said Wow while we were eating dinner. This is always a good sign.

Yeasted Whole Grain Puff Pastry
adapted from King Arthur Flour, Whole Grain Baking (a great book for your baking library)

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3 cups unbleached bread flour
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp nonfat dry milk
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tbsp water

2 cups butter, softened but still cool to the touch
1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour

For the dough: Combine the flours, sugar, dry milk, salt and yeast in a large mixing bowl using the paddle attachment of your mixer. Beat together the egg and water, and add to the dry ingredients with the mixer running at low speed. Mix until the dough comes together, cleaning the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface , and knead lightly to make sure the moisture is evenly distributed throughout. Pat the dough into a 9-inch square, and wrap loosely in plastic. Place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

For the butter: Mix the butter and flour until smooth and well blended. Your can do this with a mixer, a food processor or by hand with a spoon. Take care not to incorporate too much air into the butter; you don't want it to be fluffy.

Lightly flour a piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper, place the butter/flour mixture on it, and pat it into an 8-inch square. Cover the square and place it on a flat surface in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. (Adding flour to the butter helps stabilize it so it won't "flow" out the seams when rolled.)

Rolling and folding: Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place on a lightly floured surface. Gently roll it into a square about 12 inches across. Put the butter square in the center of the dough at a 45-degree angle.

Pull the flaps of the dough over the edges of the butter until they meet in the middle. Pinch and seal the edges together, moistening them with water if necessary. Press out any air bubbles before sealing the last seam. Dust the top of the dough with flour, then turn it over and tap it gently with the rolling pin into a rectangular shape. Make sure the dough isn't sticking underneath - dust with more flour if necessary - and roll it out from the center into a larger rectangle, 20x10 inches. Make sure to measure.

When the dough is the right size, lightly sweep off any excess flour from the top with your pastry brush, wet the long edges just a little with your fingers, then fold the bottom third up to the center and the top third over (like a business letter) The dough may be a little floppy, so take care to gently line the edges up on top of each other, and even up the corners so they're directly above one another, before taking the next step. Turn the dough 90 degrees to the right, so it looks like a book ready to be opened. You have completed the first turn.

If the dough is still cool to the touch and relaxed, roll out to 20x10 inches again, fold, and turn 90 degrees to the right once more. If the dough springs back when you roll it, it isn't relaxed, so cover it and let it rest in the refrigerator for 20 minutes before trying again.

When you've successfully rolled out the dough and folded it twice, you've completed two turns. Make a note of how many turns you've completed, and the time, and then put the dough back in the refrigerator. Do a total of four turns for this yeasted whole wheat dough and let rest, wrapped, in the refrigerator overnight. You now have whole grain puff pastry.

Making croissants:
1/2 recipe dough - above (the other half can be double wrapped and frozen)
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, to glaze

Shaping croissants: On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to a 19x13 inch rectangle. Trim and discard the edges of the dough on all sides by using a ruler and cutting straight down with a very sharp knife or a pizza wheel. This cuts off the folded edges that would inhibit the "puff".

Cut the dough in thirds lengthwise and in half through the middle. This will give you six 4x9 inch rectangles. Cut these pieces in half diagonally, and arrange them so the points of the triangles are facing away from you. It's okay to stretch them out gently to elongate them when you do this. Cut a 1/2 inch notch in the short side of the triangle.

Roll up each triangle, starting at the notched edge and working toward the tip. Make sure the point is tucked under the bottom of the croissant. Form the crescent by bending the two ends toward the center where the dough's tip is tucked under. Place the croissants on the prepared baking sheet. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes; this keep the butter in the layers from running out too quickly once in the oven.

(I know you can/should allow for some rising with the yeasted dough - I'm not sure exactly if it should be before or after the chilling. I guess before. I didn't give it much rise time and it still rose in the oven perfectly)

Preheat the oven to 425F.

Baking the croissants: Take the croissants out of the refrigerator, uncover them, and brush the tops with the beaten egg mixture. Bake for 15 minutes; reduce the heat to 350F, turn the pan, and bake for 10 to 15 minutes more. The croissants should be a deep golden brown all over. Remove from the oven and cool completely on a rack.

Joe Pastry has a well photographed post on making and shaping croissants here.

Monthly Mingle was created by Meeta of What's for Lunch Honey?

I am very proud to say that my whole grain croissants have been Yeastspotted!