White Chocolate, Cranberry, and Orange Croissants
Anyone who knows me knows I can be a bit of an odd duck. On the one hand, I can be super ambitious about things, but I can also be incredibly lazy about other things. Need an example? After recent binge on Great British Bake-Off (hereinafter, “GBBO.” Sorry, lawyer humor) episodes, I decided that I had to make my own version of croissants for you guys. Despite having never made croissants in my life except for the Pillsbury kind. Because why not? And did I stop there? Nope. I also decided that you all deserved to get bagels and French macaron because those were delicious looking GBBO tasks, too.
Flash forward to this weekend, when I didn’t feel like cooking, so I had pancakes for 4 of the 5 meals I’ve eaten the past two days. See? Both ambitious and lazy. And those posts on bagels and macaron? They’re forthcoming. Don’t worry, I wouldn’t deprive y’all. That would be just plain rude.
In all seriousness, GBBO has taught me a TON about baking, which is why I felt even remotely confident enough to even try making croissants. Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry are fantastic at helping the bakers understand what techniques and flavors work, which is immensely helpful to home bakers like myself. I kid you not, Paul’s advice has improved my bread making skills 100-fold. And Mary is just a queen. I’d love it if she would adopt me as her granddaughter. If you have never seen the show and want to improve your skills, I highly recommend you watch it. And if you just want to laugh, Mel and Sue’s baking innuendo could make even the crabbiest person crack a smile.
One of the most important things I’ve learned from GBBO is that weighing ingredients is, without a doubt, a more accurate way to bake than using measuring cups. Why? Because when you use measuring cups, it’s possible to include more of a particular ingredient than you actually need. For example, if you gave two people the same bread recipe and one of them spooned the flour into the measuring cup and the other used the measuring cup to scoop the flour into the bowl, chances are you’d end up with vastly different end results. The difference would be a result of how they measured the flour. Using the measuring cup to scoop the flour causes more flour than necessary to be used. If both people had weighed their ingredient, they would have gotten far more consistent results.
For certain things, like cookies, a little extra flour isn’t going to make a massive difference. But for others, like yeasted doughs, that extra flour can really mess with your results. Before I started weighing my bread ingredients, I had horrible, dense results. Now, my yeasted doughs almost always turn out well. Or at least better than they have in the past. Because this croissant dough is essentially a bread dough, I decided against converting the recipe to cups.
I apologize if that annoys you, but I really do believe that weighing makes for better baking. Heck, I weigh 99% of my food because I’m on Weight Watchers and have been for the last 4 1/2 months. I swear, if you’re consistently weighing your food and baking ingredients, after a while it just becomes second nature and you start looking for conversions to recipes that don’t include weight measurements.
I’ll get off my kitchen scale soapbox now and back to these croissants.
As I was talking to the roomie about what kind of croissants I should make, we kind of stumbled onto the idea cranberry and white chocolate. Then I added in the idea of orange zest. It’s hard to go wrong with the combination of white chocolate and cranberries. Personally, white chocolate is not my favorite flavor on its own because of how sweet it is, but when that sweetness is cut by the slight tartness of the dried cranberries and the zing of orange zest it’s just divine. That’s just as true in these croissants.
I should warn you, though, that these croissants require some preparation. Okay, a lot of preparation. This is not the type of recipe you just through together, because if you do you won’t enjoy the results. Croissant and puff pastry doughs require lamination, which is basically the process of creating alternating layers of butter and dough. The layers are what make puff pastry and croissants puff up. When you rush that process, the butter actually melts into the dough or it leaks out onto the baking sheet, which ultimately makes the pastry more bread-like.
So as much as I wish there was an easy way to get croissants at the drop of a hat, there isn’t and you’re going to need to set aside the better part of a day or an evening and morning for these. I started the pastry on a Friday evening, after work, and it was about 10:30 before they were done.
“Say what now?? It takes how long?” you ask. Don’t worry, the vast majority of that time is inactive, but for the first few hours, I do recommend that you’re at home, instead of running errands, because you have to add “turns” do the dough every hour. “What in the…you’re speaking a foreign language here?” Let me back up. A turn is where you roll the dough out and fold it over itself to create more layers, that’s all. And between turns, you put the dough into the fridge to chill so that the butter doesn’t melt and make bread, instead of croissants. Easy peasy, I promise.
Then, you let the croissants rest for 8 hours or overnight in the fridge. Because I started mine in the evening, I just put the dough in the fridge and went to bed. If you start yours in the morning and need to go run errands, now would be the time to do it. After the cold rest/prove, I rolled the dough out once more, cut it and filled it, and rolled up the croissants. Then they rise until doubled and are baked. If all goes well, you should have flaky, golden brown pastry. Mmmm…
I promise, these croissants are well worth the effort you put into them. I mean, what’s better than a warm pastry filled with chocolate and fruit? I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
White Chocolate, Cranberry, and Orange Croissants
Paul Hollywood's Croissant Recipe taken up a notch by adding in white chocolate chips, dried cranberries, and orange zest.
These take a long time, most of it inactive, but the results are worth it. Feel free to experiment with flavors or leave out the filling for basic croissants.
Just a note: The main dough of this recipe requires a scale. If you don't have one, I really do recommend getting one. They make baking so much more precise, in my opinion. I've noticed a HUGE difference in my bread baking, in particular, since I started using a scale.
Croissant Dough (Day 1)
- 500 grams white bread flour, also called strong flour
- 10 grams salt
- 80 grams granulated/caster sugar
- 10 grams instant yeast This may also be called "rapid rise" or "fast action", depending on the manufacturer.
- 300 Milliliters cool, not cold, water
- 300 grams Cold unsalted butter
Finishing (Day 2)
- Zest of 1/2 orange, no white pith.
- 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1 pinch salt
Croissant Dough (Day 1)
Place the bread flour into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the sugar and salt to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other side of the bowl.
Don't let the yeast touch the salt and sugar directly at this point because it can slow down the yeast's development.
Add all of the water to the bowl and mix with the dough hook on slow speed for two minutes. After two minutes, increase the speed to medium. Continue mixing for another 6 minutes. The dough will be stiff.
While the dough mixes, lightly flour your work surface. Gently tip your dough onto the floured work surface, form it into a ball, and then dust the top of the dough with more flour.
Carefully place the dough into a clean plastic bag and place into the fridge to chill for an hour.
Don't do what I did and place the dough into the freezer, unless your kitchen is particularly warm. This makes the dough harder to work with.
After the dough has chilled for an hour, roll it out into a 24 by 8 inch rectangle. It should be approximately 1/4 inch thick.
Flatten the cold butter into a smaller rectangle, approximately 16 by 7 inches. I did this by placing it between two sheets of parchment paper and bashing it with a rolling pin.
It is important that the butter is very cold, because otherwise it will just melt into the dough when you add it and do your turns.
Place the flattened butter on top of the dough, positioning it so that it's on the lower 2/3 of the dough. It's okay if it is a little patchy or some sticks to the parchment paper. Just scrape it off and add it where there are patches.
Fold the top 1/3 of the dough over the butter. Take a knife and cut through the butter just below the folded over dough line. Make sure you don't cut through the dough under the butter. Place the rest of the butter on top of the folded over dough section and then cover with the remaining dough.
When you are finished, your first, third, and fifth layers should be dough and your second and fourth should be butter. Seal the butter into the dough, by pinching the edges together, so that no butter leaks out during turning. Put the dough back into the plastic bag and place in the fridge to chill for another hour.
Remove the dough from the bag and put it on your lightly floured work surface with one of the short edges facing you. Again, roll the dough into a 24 by 8 inch rectangle. The shortest edge should remain facing you.
If your work surface is not big enough to roll the dough out in front of you, just make sure you're rolling from one short end to the other to increase the size of the rectangle.
Fold 1/3 of the dough down, then cover with the bottom 1/3 of the dough. This is a single turn.
Place the dough back into the bag, and chill in the fridge for another hour.
Repeat the rolling and turning process two more times, chilling for one hour between turns. This is what forms the layers.
Again, do not put the dough into the freezer, like I did. This resulted in my butter breaking up as I rolled it out, which ended up harming the layers in the end. the dough also ended up looking somewhat like it had cellulite. Not pretty.
Rest the dough in the fridge for 8 hours or overnight after the final turn. The dough will develop a better flavor the longer it rests and slowly proves.
Day 2 (Finishing)
Line two to three baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Gather the chocolate chips, orange zest, and cranberries.
Place the dough on your lightly floured work surface and roll it into a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. If it's too thick and keeps snapping back, let it rest for a few minutes and try again.
Cut the edges to neaten them, then cut the dough into twelve equal rectangles.
Place a small amount of each filling ingredient on the short end of each croissants. I recommend between 1/2 to 1 tbsp each of white chocolate chips and cranberries and 1/4 tsp of orange zest, but feel free to add more, if you prefer.
Carefully roll each croissant, lengthwise, starting with the end of the croissant that has filling in it. This ensures that the filling is in the very middle of the croissant. If some of the filling comes out, that's fine. Try to fit it into the croissant or enjoy some of the extra chocolate chips. You deserve it!
Continue until all of the croissants are prepared.
Place the croissants on the prepared baking trays, leaving plenty of room for growth. I recommend about two inches between each croissant.
Leave to rise at cool room temperature for about 2 hours or until doubled in size.
During the last half hour or so, preheat your oven to 390 Degrees Fahrenheit. A strange temperature, I know, but Paul's original recipe requires 200 degrees Celsius, which is really 392 Fahrenheit and my oven only goes up in increments of 5 so this is as close as I can get without going over.
Lightly whisk your eggs and add a pinch of salt. Brush onto the top and sides of the croissants.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden browned. Because we lowered the temperature slightly, these may take closer to 20 minutes.
Cool on wire racks. These are best enjoyed warm, but I had them several days later cool and they were still pretty tasty. If you aren't going to eat them right away, store in an airtight container.
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