When buttermilk is discovered on my refrigerator shelf, I know my husband has plans to whip up a double batch of his light and fluffy pancakes. The recipe he uses leaves a small amount of smooth, pungent buttermilk in the carton. My resourceful nature kicks in and I get creative, trying to use every flavorful drop.
While there are multiple recipes to choose from, this croissant recipe, when coupled with a few pantry staples, will produce two dozen scrumptious, plump, flaky, specialty rolls, and that smidgen of buttermilk gets a lot more mileage.
Buttermilk croissants freeze well. After they have been rolled into their famous shape, place them on a platter and let them freeze for 90 minutes. Remove the frozen morsels and transfer into a freezer bag, and squeeze as much air as possible out before sealing. When ready to bake, add one hour to the rising time and bake per instructions below.
The simple preparation steps are not intimidating. If you are an experienced cook, this might be your new go-to croissant recipe. If you are a novice, I hope this encourages you to take your baking to a new level.
I've been asked if you can substitute margarine for butter. I have made them several ways. A batch using all butter, another with all margarine, and I've tried using a blend/mixture of both. I recommend all butter or a combination of both.
Simple Buttermilk Croissants
Makes: 24 croissants
2½ teaspoons yeast
1 cup water
¾ cup, plus 1 tablespoon buttermilk
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg, slightly beaten
5 cups of flour
¼ cup butter, just melted (not clarified), and cooled
1 cup cold butter, cubed or shaved
Optional: 2 tablespoons butter melted, to top freshly baked croissants
You will need two large mixing bowls. In one, start by mixing the yeast and water. Use a fork to quickly whisk together, just a few seconds. Make sure that all the yeast has been dissolved. Then add in the buttermilk, salt, sugar, beaten egg, 1 cup flour and last, the ¼ cup melted butter. Blend everything well.
In your second mixing bowl, place the remaining 4 cups of flour. Top the flour with cold butter, whether cubed or shaved. Using a pastry blender, cut the flour and butter together. Start blending in the middle of the bowl and rotate as you rock the pastry blender back and forth. What you should see is pea-sized clumps forming, much like pie dough preparation. Make sure all flour is being touched by butter.
Transfer the flour and butter, now blended, into the first mixing bowl. Blend everything to make a large ball of dough. Do not over mix. Cover with wax paper, a clean pastry cloth or plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or at least 10 hours.
Remove the dough from your refrigerator. Take the heel of your hand and push down in the middle of the dough and turn or fold in half; repeat three or four times. What you are doing is "waking up" the dough, and in particular, the yeast. This step must not be overlooked.
Divide the dough into two equal parts and quickly shape into two rounds.
On a floured surface, with rolling pin, roll one round of dough into a 14-inch circle, turning it over once or twice.
Take a pizza slicer and cut first down the center to make two halves and then again until you have 12 cut triangles or wedges. Take the top edge of each cut piece, and roll toward the point of the cut dough, making the famous shape of a croissant. Repeat with the other round of dough, until you have 24 lovely croissants.
On prepared (with cooking spray or lightly rubbed with shortening) baking sheets, place nine croissants to a pan and let them rise four hours. Bake at 375 degrees for 16-19 minutes. You want each to have a light golden top.
When baking for the first time, make sure the bottom sides are not burning, as ovens, pans and altitude can vary cooking time.
Optional: Brush tops with a small amount of melted butter just after they've been baked and removed from the oven.
Shannon M. Smurthwaite is a Southern California native, author of "Mormon Mama Italian Cookbook," food columnist and freelance writer. Her blog: www.myitalianmama.com. She and her husband, Donald, reside in Idaho. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org