Today, I cordially invite you to come visit, perhaps the most visited city in the world- PARIS - the City of Light!
~The Roses of Notre Dame~
After all that sightseeing, how about an evening stroll through the winding pathways of Paris' famous Jardin du Luxembourg?
Aside from its architectural beauty, Paris is also one of the four major fashion capitals in the world! Ooh-la-la!
Parisian cuisine (especially Parisian desserts) is also something to marvel at!
(Starting top left: Paris-Brest; Directly below: La Parisieene Almond Croissant; On the right: Creme Brulee; Directly below: Pain au Chocolat)
La Dame de Fer
(The Iron Lady)
a.k.a. The Eiffel Tower
Ah yes, Paris is the place for me!!!
In the spirit of this French-themed post, I present to you a delightful recipe for Croissants (for when you may be feeling a little French)!
(Adapted from Reader’s Digest Creative Cooking)
Prep Time: 1- 1½ hours (plus rising)
Resting Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 15-20 minutes
For Croissants you will need:
4 cups AP flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons lard –or- 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening, 2 tablespoons butter plus 3 tablespoons water
2 packages active dry yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
6 tablespoons butter
For Croissant Glaze you will need :
1 egg, beaten
½ teaspoon sugar
Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Cut up the lard (or shortening mixture) and rub into the flour with the fingertips until blended to a coarse bread-crumb consistency. Proof the yeast with the water in a small bowl and pour it into a well in the center of the flour, together with the lightly beaten egg. Gradually incorporate the flour with one hand and beat the dough until it leaves the sides of the bowl clean.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it for about 10 minutes until smooth. Roll out the dough to a strip about 20 inches by 8 inches and approximately ¼ inch thick. Beat the butter with a rolling pin. Smear out with heel of hand, gather up and smear again, until pliable but not creamy (and still cold). Divide into 3 portions. Flake a portion of the butter and dot it over the upper two-thirds of the dough, leaving a ½ inch border unbuttered.
Fold the dough into thirds, bringing up first the unbuttered part, then folding the opposite over. Give the dough a half-turn and seal the edges by pressing with the rolling pin. Shape into a long strip again, fold, then turn the pastry and repeat once more. Put the folded dough into an oil bag and let sit in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Remove the bag, roll out the dough and repeat the rolling and folding three times more, but without adding more fat. Place back into oiled bag and left rest for about thirty minutes in the refrigerator.
To shape croissants, roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to a rectangle about 22 inches by 13 inches. Cover with oil plastic or towel and leave on the table for 10 minutes. Trim the edges if necessary with a sharp knife to a rectangle 21 inches by 12 inches. Divide the dough in half lengthwise and cut each strip into 6 triangles, about 6 inches wide at the base.
Beat the egg and sugar to make a glaze and brush over each triangle. Roll up each triangle loosely, finishing with the tip underneath, then carefully curve the pastry into a crescent shape. Place the croissants, well spaced on a baking sheet. Brush the tops with a little more egg glaze and cover them with oiled plastic wrap. Leave at room temperature to rise until light and puffy. In the meantime preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
Brush again with egg glaze before baking on the center and top rack of your oven. Bake the croissants for 15-20 minutes. Gently ease the croissants off the baking sheets with a metal spatula and serve while still warm.
To ‘proof the yeast’ simply combine packages of yeast with warm water and about 2 teaspoons of sugar. Mix well. Check the mixture after a few minutes and if it is bubbly, the yeast is good.
This particular recipe calls for more butter to be added during the first ‘rolling & folding’ process. I did not feel my dough needed more butter so I left it out. For a more ‘flakier’ croissant, add 6 tablespoons more of butter during the first ‘rolling & folding’ process.
This was the third time I prepared croissants. It is a time consuming preparation, but once you master the art of French baking, you will definitely want to try baking croissants again.
There are many variations to this French bread. You can add chocolate, nuts, ham or different cheeses to your croissants- making it sweet or savory.
(Photo(s) via Weheartit, Google Images, Flickr & Wikipedia EXCEPT for those that bear the title of this blog!)
~Midnight in Paris
(The lastest Woody Allen film)