Saturday, May 22, 2010

Almond Pseudo-Croissants

I love almond croissants.  The best almond croissants I've ever had were at a coffee stand in the New Orleans Intercontinental.  Sheila and I were there for the ACS meeting, and I think we had almond croissants for breakfast every morning.  That was a fun meeting!  (Perhaps a bit too fun in some ways, but that's a story for my other blog.)
I've always wanted to make croissants, and had planned to do it while I still had a lot of time on my hands.  In the traditional recipe, you make a square of butter, put it on top of the dough that's been rolled out, fold it up like a letter, and chill it.  Ever so often, the dough is rolled out, refolded, and returned to the fridge.  This results in flaky layers.  At the end, the dough is rolled out, cut into triangles, and rolled into the traditional croissant shape.  It's a time consuming process.  Like making baguettes, it's probably best left to professionals.
I didn't do much cooking for a while.  By now, a lot of my kitchen is packed up already, and I'm improvising when it comes to ingredients.  I still wanted almond croissants, though.   I found the following recipe, which uses similar techniques as the no-knead breads that I've been making.
Yeast, water, milk, and egg yolks are combined.  Meanwhile, flour, butter, and sugar are combined. The butter is cut into the flour until the mix is crumbly.  The liquids are then mixed in, and the dough is allowed to chill in the fridge overnight.  Then you roll it out, cut it into triangles, and spread it with an almond paste mixture.  The wedges are rolled up and baked.
I had to grind up some rock sugar, since I was out of the regular stuff. There were still some larger chunks left in, but it wasn't noticeable in the final product.  I also used bread flour instead of regular flour. Sacre bleu!
Anyway, they certainly were easy.  The dough rolled out nicely and was easy to handle. It was somewhat slow to rise, though, but that's pretty typical for the refrigerator doughs.  The croissants were moist, buttery, and tasty.  They did not have the flaky croissant texture, but were quite good.  I ate one for breakfast and had another one for my picnic lunch at Point Reyes.  My parents finished off their batch already and raved about them.
I can see making these again, but shaping them and letting them rise in the evening, and then just baking them in the morning.  The dough would also be a great base for cinnamon rolls.
Someday, I'll find a real croissant recipe and make the traditional style ones.  I have a mental image of myself doing this in Ithaca, on a snowy weekend.  It's a nice image.  It's not quite as likely as me shoveling snow from my driveway, of course, but I'm going to hold onto my illusions as long as possible.

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