I adapted this croissant recipe from Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads to take as a dinner roll to dinner with my Aunt Mary & Family. It was a hit, and not as complicated as you would think croissants would be. Even though you start the dough the day before you plan to bake, there is not that much work you have to do, most of the time the dough rests in the fridge. Remember that even if they aren't perfect, even if you tear holes in the dough or your butter breaks into lumps, all is not lost and the resulting croissants will still be delicious, flaky, buttery, and tender.
These are small croissants, and so light and buttery that if you don't choose to disclose it, no one will guess they are whole wheat.
Whole Wheat Croissants
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp dry yeast
2 Tbsp honey
2 cups very warm milk
Prepare the dough. In a large mixing bowl blend 2 cups of flour with the salt and yeast, add the hot milk and honey and stir with a wooden spoon to thoroughly blend the batterlike dough, about 2 minutes.
Stir in additional flour, ¼ cup at a time, to make a soft dough. Knead by hand or with a dough hook for 5 minutes to form a solid mass. There is no lengthy kneading, which would toughen the otherwise tender dough.
Refrigerate the dough, this begins the process of cooling the dough and at the same time allowing it to rise. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for one hour.
While the dough is chilling, bring the butter up to near room temperature and smash it together until it is smooth and has no lumps. Form it into a 6” square.
Determine that both the dough and the butter are about the same temperature, 65* is ideal. The butter should be pliable but not oily, if it is oily it is too warm and should be chilled a few minutes.
Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and with your hands press it into a 10” square. Place the block of butter on the dough. Bring the sides of the dough over the butter, overlapping the edges at least 1”. Press the dough into a neat package. With a heavy rolling pin, roll the dough out into a rectangle about 8”x18”. If the butter seems to be breaking into small pieces under the dough rather than remaining solid, allow the dough/butter to warm a few minutes, but if the butter softens, becomes sticky, and oozes while making the turns, put the dough back into the refrigerator for several minutes.
First and second turns: fold the dough into three, like a letter. Turn the dough and roll again, changing the direction so the former short side becomes the long side of the new rectangle. Repeat one more time, then fold the dough in thirds again, wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and let chill in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.
Third turn: Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place on the floured work surface, Unwrap, roll out, and fold in three one final time. This is the last turn before it is rolled out and cut into croissants.
Wrap the dough up again and put in the fridge overnight.
Have ready a sharp knife or pizza cutter, and a ruler if you want perfectly shaped croissants, otherwise just eyeball it and they'll be fine.
Put the dough on a floured surface and roll out into a generous 10”x38” rectangle, and, most imporntantly, about ⅛” thick. This is a crucial dimension since it determines the size and texture of the croissants. Cut the rectangle lengthwise to make two 5” strips. Cut each strip into 5” squares, and each square diagonally to make triangles.
Separate the triangles, place them on a baking sheet, and chill for 15 to 20 minutes. Any time the butter softens and sticks, place the triangles in the refrigerator until they are chilled again.
Place the first triangle on the work surface, point away. Pull the point gently out. Roll the triangle up from the bottom to the point, slightly stretching the dough sideways with your fingers as you roll. Place the croissants on the baking sheet. Touch the tip of the point to the pan, but do not place underneath the body of the croissant. Bend into a crescent or half-moon shape. Repeat until the sheet is filled. Cover lightly with plastic wrap.
If there are more croissants to bake than there are pans or oven space, cover the triangles before shaping and reserve in the refrigerator.
The covered croissants will rise to nearly double in 1 to 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 425* 15 minutes before baking.
Place the sheet on the bottom shelf, after 10 minutes move to the middle or top shelf for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, watching closely. (Parisians like their croissants a deep brown, almost burnt. You may take them out earlier, when they are golden brown all over)
Place the croissants on a rack to cool, admire, and then devour. They need no accompaniment.