Breakfast Breads 4: Croissants and Danishes

2006-09-30

The rising sun painted the sky a wonderful orange and magenta on my way to class this morning. We came early in order to make up for time lost a few weeks ago when our croissant dough had to be tossed.

Almond CroissantFirst order of business: croissants. After two full days of thawing, our doughs puffed considerably so we degassed them before rolling them out into a 16"×32" rectangle. Chef stressed the importance of the dimensions so that our finished products would be uniform. We trimmed the edges square, then split the rectangle in half lengthwise. Marking the long edges every 4", and the bottom edge the same way but shifted 2", we cut zigzags to make isosceles triangles out of the dough. The base of each one was 4" and the altitude (from base to tip) was 8".

Interior of Almond CroissantTo make filled croissants, we sealed three chocolate coating wafers or a small log of almond paste near the base of the triangle. Then, we rolled the dough tightly towards the tip of the triangle. A quick roll under the palm helped to seal the dough further, then we brought the ends around and pressed them together to make a crescent shape. Both my partner and I remarked on the striking resemblance of the stretched dough to a thong, hee hee. We egg-washed the raw croissants and put them in the proofing box before baking.more…

For the danishes, we first made two fillings. Poppy seed was a shortcut version, as we didn't soak and grind the seeds to boost their flavour, a technique for many Hungarian and Polish baked goods. This filling was quite runny due to the added water, but the resting time helped the graham crumbs to absorb the moisture. The hazelnut filling was prepared in the mixer and was made with butter.

Poppy Seed Danish After rolling half the chilled danish dough to 12"×20", we spread the poppyseed filling over it, then rolled it up into a log. After slicing it into rounds, we either tucked the loose end underneath to leave a simple spiral, or partially split the rounds lengthwise then twisted one half around to make a fancier shape. With the remaining dough, we spread half of it with nut filling then folded the bare half over before slicing it into thin strips. Each strip was twisted then coiled into a spiral or a double spiral. Making a slight depression in the centre allowed us to place a dollop of lemon or cherry pie filling onto the nut danishes. We eggwashed both types of danishes and put them in the proofer before baking.

Chocolate CroissantsAs Chef predicted, the ends that we had pressed together separated so that the baked croissants took on the characteristic crescent shape. To finish, we dusted the croissants with icing sugar or drizzled them with melted chocolate. We all did a good job with the lamination, as the croissants were plump, flaky and tender. Surprisingly, the roll-in fat didn't taste too bad, but they definitely lacked the distinct flavour of butter.

Hazelnut DanishFor the final touches on the danishes, we sprinkled icing sugar on the poppy-seed danishes while the hazelnut ones were received a brush of melted apricot glaze and a drizzling of fondant. The poppy-seed ones weren't all that great, too much crunch and not enough flavour (mostly the lemon zest instead). The hazelnut ones were the best: an attractive spiral with the hazelnut spread peeking through, light sweetness from the glaze and icing, and a bit of cherry filling to complete it.

Cream Puff tells her tale here.

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