baked sweets/ breakfast/ recipes

Flaky Buckwheat Croissants

Am I a little nutty for adding buckwheat flour to my croissants? Maybe a little. These croissants are a little nutty, too. The standout flavor is definitely butter, but unlike standard croissants, these ones take you to unchartered territory, where buckwheat and butter can be found living in harmony.

In all seriousness, these croissants are very tasty. As I made them my mind wavered from concernedly questioning the addition of buckwheat, to excitedly exclaiming how cool it would be if the grey sheet of dough in front of me actually resulted in flaky croissants. I wanted to believe that the buckwheat had the potential to puff and crisp up alongside it’s totally opposite pal, all-purpose flour, but I was afraid it might smell my eagerness and desperation, so I tried to remain level-headed, disinterested and cold. Of course, I was practically inflating my insides with giddiness, so much so that I think it started to run through my veins.

From the outside (i.e. as you view videos of professional pastry chefs making 10 kg’s worth of croissants on Youtube), making croissants yourself sounds unattainable. After enough video viewing and jaw dropping you will realize that it would be inaccurate to say you lack the capabilities/utensils/ingredients to make croissants (unless you really don’t have a rolling pin, flour, or butter in your home), but it would be 100% true to say that the flaky pastry requires way too much time. And not just plain ol’ waiting-for-the-brownies-to-bake kind of time, but actual fiddling and rolling and turning time. It’s kind of like you’re on babysitting duty for a few hours; you check to see if it’s risen, you check to see if it’s too cold, and you really hope that it isn’t sitting in a big yellow puddle when you check on it for the last time. If you’re schedule can’t allot you a handful of hours over a two day period, then homemade croissants may sadly be out of the question (although you can find same-day croissant recipes on the internet).

The first time I made croissants I was not nearly prepared enough. The weather in Melbourne was hot and slimy, but I didn’t think much of it, I’ll just work super quickly, I told myself, not realizing how difficult it is to super quickly roll out delicate layers of melting-by-the-millisecond butter and soft dough. My work did result in a batch of croissants, but they were a little lot on the wonky side. Buttery and tasty, yes, but lacking the visibly layered interior that makes croissants the stuff of reveries. This time around I was determined to at least inch a little bit closer to golden flaky galore. And I did. A lot more than a little bit.

It is summertime in Tokyo and the worst time of the year to make croissants. Some days it feels like the temperature won’t stop climbing; the sun is out to scorch and turn naively proofing croissants inside out. In an effort to bypass the unforgiving hot weather, I began my croissant-making in the early hours of the morning, waking at 6 AM to roll out and fold the dough twice before the clock even struck 9. I also turned the air con way up and chilled my rolling pin and cutting board in the freezer before working with the dough. I can now say with certainty that attention to detail truly pay offs (in the form of crispy, buttery pastries).

If you finish reading this thinking, yeah, I’m never going to attempt croissants, I’ve probably done a good job of over exaggerating how lengthy and intricate the process it. There are no handstands and juggling clowns involved, not even the metaphorical ones. There is, however, a little bit of dough handling (rolling, turning, folding, x2) and a fair bit of waiting. Here is a simple breakdown of events:

1. Make dough. Allow dough to rise for 45-60 minutes. Roll, fold, and set dough in fridge overnight or for at least 8 hours.
2. The next day, create the sheet of butter. Allow the butter to chill further if it is melting. Roll dough, sandwich butter in between, and roll again. Perform one book fold and refrigerate for 15-20 minutes.
3. After dough has chilled, roll and perform one letter fold. Allow the dough to rest in the fridge for 15-20 minutes before performing one more letter fold. After the last fold, allow the dough to chill for 1 hour.
4. Roll the dough out one last time. Cut into two rectangles and then slice into four triangles. Trim off blunt edges. Roll each triangle into a croissant. Brush each croissant with egg wash. Cover and let proof at room temperature (22-25 C) for 30-45 minutes until puffier.
5. Preheat oven to 190 C as croissants proof. Bake croissants for 20-25 minutes. Enjoy croissants while they are warm.

See? It’s not that challenging of an endeavor. There may be a longer than ideal waiting period in between making the dough and baking it, but a little bit of waiting and a lot of bursting-at-the-seams excited anticipation is supposed to be healthy for the mind, body, AND soul. I know because I made these croissants, ate them, and feel just about as good as they look: glowing!!!! But with good vibes, not butter. Okay, maybe a little bit of butter.

Makes 4 small croissants

1/2 cup & 2 tbsps (87.5 g) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup & 2 tbsps (46 g) buckwheat flour
2.5 g instant yeast
70 ml (70 g) milk, lukewarm (I used soy milk, but you can opt for dairy milk)
Scant 1/4 tsp fine salt
1/2 tsp rice malt syrup or other liquid sweetener
55 g unsalted butter (if using salted, don’t add the above salt)
1 egg (for brushing the croissants)

These instructions may appear long and daunting, but I’m only trying to be thorough. Not knowing exactly what to do when you’re in the middle of a recipe is NOT fun! 

1. Combine the flours, salt, and yeast. In a saucepan, mix together the milk and syrup and lightly heat the mixture up (alternatively, use the microwave). It should only take a handful of seconds to reach ‘baby bottle’ warm, so let the mixture cool down if it heats up too much. Pour the liquids into the bowl of dry ingredients, stirring until well combined and it becomes too tough to stir. Very lightly knead the dough (less than 1 minute) in order to form a ball. Allow the dough to sit in a moderately warm place (around 22-25 celsius) for up to an hour or noticeably doubled in volume. If you live in a warmer climate, the dough may very well double in 45-50 minutes!
2. After the dough has risen, gently roll it out into a roughly shaped rectangle and fold the right half on top of the left half, forming a book. Wrap in plastic wrap (any dough that’s exposed to the fridge air will dry out, so wrap well) and set in the fridge overnight or for at least 8 hours.
3. The next day, cut up the cold butter into a few thick slices and layer them beside each other in a small ziplock bag or in between two sheets of plastic wrap. Proceed to roll out the butter until you have a 3 by 4.5 long inch rectangle. If your environment is very warm and the butter is beginning to melt, pop it back into the fridge for a few minutes before continuing to flatten it. After rolling, put it back in the fridge to chill as you roll the dough. Know that you do in fact want the butter to be a little soft and malleable; hard butter will shatter when rolled into the dough.
2. Unwrap the dough and roll it out into about a 6 by 4.5 inch rectangle. You want the dough and butter to be of relatively equal softness before rolling them together. If you have to, very lightly dust your workspace, but don’t over do it or you’ll get extra bready croissants. Place the sheet of butter on one half of the dough and fold the other half of dough on top of the butter, creating a butter sandwich. You want to make sure that the butter pretty much reaches every inch of the dough; if there is a big gap between the butter and edge of the dough, separately roll out the butter a bit more. Roll the butter-dough sandwich into a rectangle, about 6.5 by 8 inches long. Now you’re going to complete one book fold. With the rectangle laid out horizontally in front of you, take the left quarter and fold it onto the second quarter of dough. Now take the far right quarter and fold it over the remaining exposed quarter. Lastly, fold the right half of dough over the left half, creating a book. Wrap the dough in plastic and set it in the fridge for 15-20 minutes.
4. After the dough has chilled, roll it out into a rectangle again and complete a letter fold. With the dough laying in front of you horizontally, take the left third and fold it over the center third of dough. Next, take the third of dough on the far right and fold it over the dough to the left. So far, you’ve completed one book fold and one letter fold, which results in 4×3 or 12 layers. Wrap up the dough again and set it in the fridge for another 15-20 minutes to rest before completing the former step (one letter fold) again. The resulting dough will have 4x3x3 or 36 layers. After the last fold, allow it to sit in the fridge for 1 hour.
5. Once the dough has chilled, roll it out into a 6.5 by 8 inches long rectangle. Trim off the uneven edges so that the remaining rectangle has straight edges and pointy corners (you can reserve the dough trimmings to make 1-2 tiny croissants or pan au chocolates). Cut the rectangle in half to make two smaller rectangles. Slice each of the smaller rectangles diagonally, creating two long triangles per rectangle. Each triangle will turn into a croissant. Take one triangle and, with the wider edge or crust facing towards you, use a rolling pin to very lightly roll each point out to create a wider edge. Doing this will result in a croissant that has more visible curls on either end. Now, lightly use your fingertips to roll the croissant toward the single tip, being careful not to squash down the down as you roll. Rolling should feel swift and light. Once shaped, lightly brush each croissant with the egg wash (you should have a lot left over), and loosely cover the croissants with plastic wrap or a thin kitchen towel. Allow them to sit at room temperature (22-25 C) for 35-45 minutes or until they take on a marshmallowy appearance (they won’t be quite doubled in size). Preheat the oven to 190 C/375 F as the croissants proof. When the croissants are puffier and you can notice the separate layers from sideview, they are ready to go into the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until noticeably golden all over. Enjoy immediately with (my favorites) strawberry or apricot jam and maybe even an additional swab of butter (don’t say I told you to)!!!

Important note: this recipe was adapted from David Lebovitz’ whole wheat croissants!

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