Tribute a Julia Child – Croissants Part II. Rolling in the Butter!

What title better embodies Julia’s cooking style?? In fact Miss L and I have even discussed what a drinking game would be like watching Julia Child…every time she adds butter, you take a sip of your drink and any time she stutters or repeats herself, you take a shot. Patent pending…

But I digress. This part is actually really fun. Beating up butter to soften it and then starting to roll the pastry into multiple layers like puff pastry.

Read on for instructions and photos (lots and looots of photos!)

II. Rolling in the Butter

  • Take your twice-risen dough and punch it down as after the first rise. Turn out onto a lightly floured marble board. Cover airtight with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.

  • Beat 4 – 7 ounces of chilled, unsalted butter (if this is your first time, like me, use the smallest amount to make things easier on yourself!) with a rolling pin. Make sure to do this on a cool surface like a marble cutting board.

  • Start smearing out the butter on the marble board with the heel of your hand (NOT the palm, as the heat from your hand will melt the butter as opposed to softening it). Continue until the butter is a nicely smooth paste. Do not let it become soft and oily.

  • Flour the marble board lightly and place your chilled dough on it. Flour your palms and push the dough into a rectangle about 14″ x 8″.

  • Using a pastry scraper spread the butter evenly over the upper two thirds of the dough, leaving a 1/4″ border all at the top and side edges.

  • If your butter isn’t quite soft enough, use your hands, which will warm the butter enough to allow you to spread it more evenly across the dough.

  • Fold the lower third up over the buttered middle, then fold the top third over that (like a business letter again). This is your first “Turn.” (3 layers of dough, 2 layers of butter)

  • Lightly flour the board again, as well as the top of your dough. Turn the dough so the edge of the top flap is to your right (like a book, says Julia).

  • Roll out the dough into a rectangle about 14″ x 6″. Roll rapidly, starting an inch from the bottom end and ending an inch from the top edge. Pat the sides of your dough in to keep it at 6″ wide.

  • Fold the dough again into 3 (like a business letter…get it yet? = ) ). You’ve now completed Turn 2. (7 layers of dough, 6 layers of butter).
  • Sprinkle dough lightly with flour, wrap in plastic wrap (I used the same piece from the first rising through the very end of the process!). Place in a plastic bag and refrigerate. The dough now needs to rest for 1 to 1 1/2 hours so that the gluten can deactivate a bit (otherwise you will literally be wrestling with the dough to do the next two turns…imagine dough arm wrestling with you!).

  • Unwrap dough and sprinkle lightly with flour. Tap the dough gently with your rolling pin several times to deflate it.
  • Cover and let the dough rest 8 to 10 minutes (once again, you’re relaxing that stubborn gluten!).

  • Lightly flour the board and the dough and roll the dough again into a rectangle of 14″ x 6″.
  • Fold the rectangle like a business letter (Turn 3!).

  • Roll out again into a 14″ x 6″ rectangle and fold into three. This is your fourth and final turn. You now have 55 layers of dough!
  • Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours before forming the dough into croissants (the next Croissant entry!). Or, you can leave the dough in the fridge overnight if you cover it with a board that has a 5 lb. weight on it (which is what I had to do…I have a life sometimes!)
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