I have been attempting to bake different types of bread, rolls and other flour based items. So far I've tackled dinner rolls with great success and a cheddar cheese bread (good, but didn't live up to expectations). Since then I've been thinking about croissants. I love the Pillsbury ones you can get at the grocery store. They're flaky and buttery and you can use the dough for a lot of recipes. But depending on where you get them, they're anywhere in the 2 or 3 dollar range. Not bad, but let's see if we can save some money and keep the flavor.
Materials and Equipment
Unsalted butter - about 3 sticks cold, plus 2 tbsp softened in little pieces (little!)
Warm milk - 1 cup, microwaved for a minute
Yeast - 2.25 tsp
Sugar - 1 tbsp
Flour - 2.5 cups, plus some to keep things from sticking to everything imaginable
I loosely followed the recipe in Joy of Cooking, while adding in my own steps (as usual).
First off, beat the 3 sticks of cold butter with your rolling pin. I did this on my counter, and it worked eventually. Keep the butter cold and keep hitting it until you can mold it into a rectangle. So this takes forever, and I suggest cutting it into smaller pieces since they are easier to smash with your rolling pin into a malleable clump of butter. Shape the butter into a 9x6 in. rectangle, wrap it and put it in the fridge.
Mix the yeast into the milk with the sugar. In a large bowl, mix the flour and 2 tbsp softened butter. Make a well, and pour in the milk. Make dough, wrap and refrigerate 15 min.
Take out the dough, sprinkle flour on it (and your rolling pin) and roll until it's about 16x8 inches. Rolling dough is easy, but getting it into a rectangle isn't so you can kind of roll it into a piece that's roughly 16x8. Sprinkle flour over it. Arrange it so the long side is facing you (this is how I did it, but you can do it in the other direction). Grab the butter and stick it on the dough, with the longest side lined up with the 16 in side of the dough. Move it so that there's an inch of dough around it on 3 sides, and then the dough keeps going for another 6 inches or so. Fold the part of the dough (about 1/3 of it) that's not covered by the butter over the butter. Now you have a folded edge from the fold you just made, and the other short side. Fold the short edge so it meets with the folded edge. Overall it's like folding paper to fit in an envelope.
Orient the dough so the long side is facing you again, and roll it out so it's 18x8 inches. Refold it like a letter, and roll it out again. And now do that one more time, folding after and wrapping it. Put it in the fridge so the butter cools again (we don't want it warm). You'll see the chunks of it in the dough, don't be alarmed. After 30 minutes, take it out. Roll it out again, and fold it.
Roll the dough into a 24x12 rectangle. It should be a 1/4 inch thick. Wait a few minutes, and cut it into 24x6 inches. Here is where I took half and made something with it, and used the other half for croissants. So, for croissants take the 24x6 rectangle place it so the long side faces you and mark 2.25 inches from the left side. Mark every 4.5 inches after that (should get 5 segments). On the bottom, starting on the left side again, mark 4.5 inches in, and continue until you 2.25 left over. You get marks that alternate from top to bottom. Cut from the bottom left corner to the top 2.25 in mark (you'll get a right rectangle, ignore this for now). Now cut from the 2.5 mark on the top to the first 4.5 mark on the bottom. You'll get an isosceles triangle. Hopefully you can see that pattern now, as you cut triangles. You can reference Joy of Cooking for a picture if you need to!
Take the triangles, and roll the base towards the tip. They will look like croissants now. Yay! Place them on an ungreased baking sheet, and bend the tips in so they look like crescents. I fit 9 on a sheet. Let them rise, covered loosely with plastic, for 1-1.5 hours. This is important. For example, if you are hasty and only let the dough rise for 30 min because you're hungry they come out flaky but not as fluffy between the layers (this is what happened to my first half of the dough). Now heat your oven to 375 and brush the croissants with egg. This will brown the tops a lot. They'll be nice and golden brown after 20-30 minutes (depending on how many times you open the oven to check on them...)
I used the first half of the dough in a special snack. Because I didn't let it rise for the full 1.5 hours, it wasn't quite as fluffy. It was flaky, but it the layers were dense, and the outer ones almost crunchy though not burnt. The rolls came out great, but I won't brush with egg. The parts with egg cooked faster, and got a little too dark for my taste.
Cost: $2.13 for 18 rolls or $0.11 per roll. Usually you get 8 rolls in one store bought can, so this about half the price.