Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Dare to Bake: I Kinda Can Believe It's Not Butter

Who doesn't love the luscious, flaky, buttery layers of goodness that is a croissant? Or better yet, a twice-baked pan amande or pan au chocolat? Oh la la. And while there are pretty spectacular vegan versions of many dairy-laden, egg-heavy desserts, butter croissants tend to pose some difficulties. For September, I was given a chance to let vegan croissants shine...I failed pretty miserably.

The Daring Bakers go retro this month! Thanks to one of our very talented non-blogging members, Sarah, the Daring Bakers were challenged to make Croissants using a recipe from the Queen of French Cooking, none other than Julia Child! Check out the real recipe here (pdf).

I decided to consult one of my favorite cookbooks, Blood Root Volume 2. It has guided me through some pretty fantastic scones and cakes, not to mention the 'real' food! But the croissant recipe, I found, had a few quirks that yielded rather disappointing pastries. Using water and mixing coconut oil with flour are the main culprits for a baked good that resembles more of a crescent roll than a croissant. Looking back on a prior successful attempt at flaky wonderfulness, I've tweaked the recipe in a way that will hopefully yield some more decadent treats. Beware, though, this version is much messier...I would not recommend wearing something you would hate to see covered in grease stains!

A Not-So-Buttery Croissant (based on recipe from The Best of Bloodroot Volume II)
1/4 cup warm water (100F)
1 tbs active dry yeast
1 tbs sugar

1/4 cup coconut or almond milk
2 - 2 1/2 cups all purpose or white whole wheat flour
1/3 cup oil (canola, safflower, sunflower, or nut)
2 tsp salt
3 tbs sugar

1/2 cup solid coconut oil
1/4 cup olive or canola oil
2 tbs coconut milk

1. Mix warm water, yeast, and sugar. Let sit until starts to bubble.
2. Combine milk, oil, flour, salt, and sugar. Knead until no dry bits remain. Add flour if stick. Wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3. Mix together coconut milk and oil and vegetable oil. Place in refrigerator for 20-30 minutes until firmed up again.
4. Roll out half dough on a floured surface into a rectangle about 1/4 - 1/2 inch thick. Slather oil mixture all over, leaving about 1/4 inch around the edges. Fold into thirds, pinching the edges. Roll out again and spread oil again. Fold pinch and place in refrigerator for 45 minutes. Repeat with second half of dough and oil mix (if you have leftover spread, you can use it in the next round).
5. After refrigerating, roll out again into a rectangle, fold into thirds, roll out, fold and place back into refrigerator. Repeat with second half. And repeat this step once more.
5. Roll out dough into a parallelogram from which you can cut triangles to roll up into crescents. You can add fun things like cinnamon sugar, almond paste, and chocolate slabs. Shape and place on a cookie sheet. Allow to rise for 1 hour.
6. Bake at350F until just starting to brown. Brush with coconut milk or oil and continue to bake for another 5-10 minutes. Allow to cool or eat right away!

What a scrumptious challenge. I'll be back in business for blogging after this weekend...and my imminent stay tuned for the upcoming Vegan Month of Food (MoFo)!

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