Ok, y'all, I'm not talking about THAT kind of tasty business. I'm talking about the OTHER kind of tasty business. The kind that can totally invalidate all arguments regarding the superiority of Gale -- croissants. And although we can't have Peeta in real life, and even if we could, there's only one of him so we'd have to come up with some sort of complicated sharing system, we CAN have croissants. And if, like me, you live in a small town without a fancy French bakery on every corner, you learn to make your own (cos let me tell you -- once you've had good croissants, you'll NEVER get grocery store ones again).
So this recipe is KIND OF a pain in the ass because it takes three days to make, but each step is pretty easy. I know, I know, when you want croissants, you want them NOW, but trust me. This is one instance where delayed gratification is a very, VERY good thing. And if Katniss can sacrifice everything in the Games, surely you can sacrifice waiting 3 days for croissants! If you start tonight, you could be pulling hot, buttery, flaky deliciousness out of the oven Friday morning. Plus, you need SOMETHING to fill up yr time before Mockingjay comes out. So let the other kind of Hunger Games begin!
Croissants from French Women Don't Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano (although I don't know how because if I had these in my house all the time I'd be enormous)
1 cup milk, plus 2 tablespoons to brush over croissants
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 1/4 cups plus 3 tablespoons sifted all-purpose flour, separated
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon milk or 1 tablespoon jam, melted, and mixed with 1 tablespoon milk
Stage 1 (evening)
1. Heat 1 cup of the milk to lukewarm. Dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup of the lukewarm milk. stir in 2 tablespoons flour (from the 2 1/4 cups) and whisk until there are no lumps. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until doubled in volume, about 20 minutes.
2. Mix the sugar and salt into the remaining 2 1/8 cups flour.
3. Heat the remaining 3/4 cups milk. Transfer the raised dough to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, add the lukewarm milk, and with the mixer at high speed, start adding the sugar, salt and flour (from step 2), a little at a time, reducing the speed to low-medium until the dough is sticky and soft.
4. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight. Start rereading Hunger Games.
Stage 2 (morning)
1. Bring the butter to room temperature and work it with the heel of your hand to incorporate the remaining 3 tablespoons of flour until smooth. Shape into a square like this:
2. Sprinkle the work surface with the flour, shape the cold dough into a 6x15-inch rectangle, and spread the butter square on the upper 2/3 of the rectangle, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the sides and top.
Fold the dough like a letter into thirds.
Turn the dough counter clockwise (it will look like a notebook with the open flap on your right), and then again roll out the dough into a 6x15-inch rectangle and fold as before.
3. Transfer the dough to a baking pan, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 6 hours.
Stage 3 (afternoon)
Roll out the dough 2 more times, wrap, and refrigerate overnight. Read a few more chapters of Hunger Games.
Stage 4 (morning)
1. About 1 1/2 hours before baking time, remove the dough from the refrigerator and sprinkle flour on the work surface. Roll the dough into a 16-inch circle, working as quickly as possible. Using a knife, cut the dough into quarters and then cut each quarter into 3 triangles.
2. With both hands, roll the base of each triangle toward the remaining corner. Do not curl the ends in a croissant shape. Transfer the croissants to a baking sheet and brush with 2 tablespoons milk. Let stand at room temperature for about 45 minutes, until doubled in size.
3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Brush the croissants with the glaze and bake for 15-30 minutes. If the croissants brown too fast, cover them loosely with foil and continue baking. Let cool 20 minutes before serving.
Pain au chocolat is a delicious variation on the croissant, and my husband's favorite (did you spot his sneaky fingers in the picture above?). Instead of cutting one quarter of the circle into triangles, cut it into squares. Place a little chocolate (today I used Ghiradelli dark chocolate chips) in the center of the square and either roll it up or fold the ends up so they meet in the middle.