Trips to the gym, calorie counting, eating plenty of veggies…before the new year officially begins, I thought I’d give you a final hoorah, something to cap off the holidays with a bang. There has to be a good reason for making croissants, as they certainly aren’t your everyday kind of bread roll. I make these babies once in a blue moon, and celebrating the end of 2014 is a good enough reason for me. Making croissants requires time, patience, and a gentle touch. And, as any baker who has made croissants before knows, the frigid December air makes the process that much easier.
The first time I made croissants was in pastry school. I remember the day clearly as it was one of the main reasons I enrolled in classes. It’s a good thing I did too, because croissant making is really hard to learn from text, and even harder to explain. The process of creating a laminated dough can be thrilling for a baking enthusiast, but only if you feel like it’s something you can learn without getting overwhelmed.
There’s one simple addition that makes a croissant go from pale butter yellow to earthy leaf green, and that’s a good quality matcha powder. The matcha gets incorporated into the flour-based part of the croissant dough or dètrempe, not the beurrage, or butter block.
One full recipe of this dough makes 32 crispy, flakey mini matcha croissants. If you like variety, then divide the dough up to make both regular (16) and chocolate croissants (12), which are a bit larger than the plain kind. If you want to enjoy every croissant fresh out of the oven, you can easily freeze the croissants after shaping them. Simply freeze them after they are parked on the baking sheet. When they’ve hardened, place them in airtight bags in the freezer so that you can bake them up whenever you’re in need of a tea break.
The matcha actually makes the croissants taste more savory, so these are ideal for creating tea sandwiches like smoked salmon or turkey tarragon. My favorite way to enjoy these matcha croissants is plain and simple, with a dab of some sour raspberry jam and a cup of light, frothy matcha on the side. Serve them for New Year’s brunch as a delicate and decadent way to finish off the holiday season.
Makes 32 plain or 16 plain & 12 chocolate.
1/2 cup water, warm for activating yeast
1 Tbsp active dry yeast
3 1/2 – 4 cups all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp matcha powder (I used Mizuba Matcha)
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tbsp salt
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
egg wash, one egg beaten with 1 tsp of water
12 oz butter, slightly colder than room temperature (stiff but not hard to the touch)
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
semi-sweet chocolate chips
stand mixer with large bowl and dough and paddle attachments
large plastic zip bag
large work surface
2 large baking sheets, fitted with parchment paper
1.) In a small bowl, combine yeast with warm water. Set this aside for a few moments to activate the yeast. In bowl of stand mixer fitted with dough attachment, add the proofed yeast mixture and 1 cup of milk. With the mixer on low, gradually add 3 1/2 cups of flour, matcha, sugar, and salt. Mix for 1-2 minutes until a soft dough is formed. If the dough looks too moist and is sticking to the bottom of the bowl, add 1 Tbsp of flour at a time until the dough doesn’t stick to the bottom of the bowl. You may need to add up to a total of 4 cups of flour. Set the mixer to high and mix the dough until it is smooth, elastic, and no longer sticky. This should take about 4 minutes. The dough should be the consistency of soft butter.
2.) Cover the dough with plastic wrap completely, then place it into a large plastic zip bag and seal tightly. Leave at room temperature to sit for 30 minutes to allow for the gluten to relax.
3.) To make the butter block, clean the now used/empty mixing bowl, then attach the paddle attachment to the stand mixer. Beat the butter and flour on high speed until you get a smooth consistency similar to the croissant dough you just made. Make sure there aren’t any lumps. If there are, smash them out with your fingers. Place this butter-flour mixture on a large piece of plastic wrap and cover completely.
4.) With your hands, mold the plastic covered butter into a rectangle that is 5″ by 6″, and about 1″ thick. Try to slap out any air from the butter block. Place in the fridge to chill until needed.
5.) On a lightly floured work surface, roll the croissant dough to a rectangle 10″ by 16″. Brush off any excess flour from the dough’s surface with the pastry brush. Place the chilled butter block into the center of the rectangle, with the short side of the butter facing the long side of the dough.
6.) Start to make brochure-like folds by first folding in the left side over the butter block. Again, brush off any excess flour with the pastry brush.
7.) Now fold the right side of the dough over the center to create a brochure looking dough package. Again, brush off any excess flour.
8.) Rotate the dough package 90 degrees to the right. Use the rolling-pin to lightly press the dough into a 10″ by 16″ rectangle again. Be gentle, patient, and kind to the dough. Press the rolling-pin down to make impressions rather than using a strong rolling motion. Try not to roll over the edges as that may cause the butter to leak out.
9.) When you achieve an 10″ by 16″ rectangle again, fold the left and right sides in towards the center, to create a 3 layered brochure again. This is your first turn, hence you can place one finger impression in the dough (I placed in upper right). Now cover the dough with plastic wrap, then place this brochure-like rectangle into the fridge to chill for 30 minutes. Repeat this process 3 more times for a total of 4 turns, covering the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerating for 30 minutes in between each turn.
10.) After 4 turns, make sure to chill the dough for 30 minutes again.
11.) Divide the dough into 4 pieces. Each piece gets rolled into a 7″ by 18″ rectangle. Work with one piece at a time, refrigerating the other pieces until you are ready for them. 12.) Roll one piece of the dough into a 7″ by 18″ rectangle, trimming off sides with a sharp knife to create clean edges. Mark the dough every 2 inches using a ruler and knife. Cut lines connecting the marks to create 8 full triangles (and two-half triangle scraps at each end).
13.) For each triangle, score the center of the base about 3/4″ in to create an Eiffel Tower looking piece of dough.
14.) Roll the base of the Eiffel Tower up towards the tip to create a finished croissant. Push the ends in to create a crescent shape. Make sure the tip is tucked under so that it doesn’t puff up during baking.
15.) Place the finished croissants (8 to a pan) on a large, parchment lined baking sheet. Uncovered, let them proof for about 2 hours at room temperature. When ready, brush with egg wash, then bake in a pre-heated 350 degree F oven for 12-15 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Repeat steps 12-15 to make another set of plain matcha croissants.
16.) To make chocolate croissants, roll a piece of dough out (from step 11), again into a into a 7″ by 18″ rectangle, trimming off sides with a sharp knife to create clean edges. On the top and bottom of the long sides of the dough, mark the dough every 3 inches using a ruler and knife. Cut lines connecting the marks to create 6 long rectangles.
17.) Place some chocolate chips at the bottom of one rectangular dough piece. Roll it up in a sushi roll like fashion, sealing the top edge with a brush of egg wash.
18.) Place the chocolate croissants (6 to a pan) seam side down on a large, parchment lined baking sheet. Use the palm of your hand to slightly smash the roll down so that it lays like a pillow. Uncovered, let them proof for about 2 hours at room temperature. When ready, brush with egg wash then bake in a pre-heated 350 degree F oven for 12-15 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Repeat steps 16-18 for another set of chocolate matcha croissants.