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Portable Breakfast

February 15, 2012
Croissants

A great addition to any breakfast is a fresh, warm, buttery croissant.  Growing up in Hungary, croissants filled with cheese, chocolate bites or ham and cheese were cheap and easily available breakfast you could just pick up at any bakery on your way to school or work.  While they are not that common a sight – especially the filled ones -, they are not as hard to make as it seems!

First, in about 1/4 cup of warm milk, mix a heaping tablespoon of sugar and 2 teaspoons of instant dry yeast.  Let it stand at a warm, draft-free place until the mixture becomes bubbly and the yeast activates.  Make sure you do this in a non-metallic bowl, and use only non-metallic tools to stir it.  Actually, the best way to stir yeast is by hand.

Yeast

Yeast, proofing

While the yeast proofs, in a large bowl, mix together 500 grams (about 17 ounces) of flour, a heaping tablespoon of butter or margarine, 2 eggs, a teaspoon of salt and about 3/4 cup warm water.  Once the yeast is ready, add it to the dough and work it together well.

Ingredients

Ready for the yeast

Knead it smooth, then refrigerate the dough for an hour.  Then, roll it out about 1/4″ thick, and spread butter all over it.  Don’t be skimpy – the more butter you use, the softer and flakier the dough will turn out.  I used only about a stick’s worth, while the original recipe calls for about a stick and a half.

Butter

Butter it up

Fold up the dough threefold, like a letter; then fold the folded dough again, but in the other direction.  Gently roll the dough our once more, and fold it again similarly , but rotating the dough 90 degrees in either direction.  You can add only half of the butter in the first roll, and add the other half now; but this is not necessary.  After the second fold, put it right back in the fridge for another hour.

Fold

The next fold goes top to bottom

After the second trip to the fridge, roll the dough out 1/8″ thick – take care not to press too hard, as that way you may squeeze the butter out on the sides!  Cut the dough into triangles.  For snack-size croissants, make the triangles about 3-4 inches tall; for full-fledged croissants, go with about 6 inches.  In the meantime, also pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.

Triangles

If the triangles are too thick, stretch them out by hand

Place a piece of thinly sliced ham and a big pinch of shredded cheese in the wide part of each triangle.  Use sharp cheddar or pepper jack for a rich cheesy flavor, or mix around with the fillings:  grilled chicken, spinach and cream cheese, jams, jellies, fresh fruit, pie fillings, nuts, chocolate chunks – it’s all up to you!

Stuffin'

Stuffin'

Roll up each triangle, starting from the bottom with the filling, forming either a straight or a crescent-shaped croissant.  Make sure none of your filling is poking out, especially not the cheese, so it won’t run out of the pastries as it melts.  Place the croissants on a greased cookie sheet, and brush them each with an egg wash.

Roll

Rollin' like the French

Pan

Brushed up and ready to go

They bake ready in about 15 minutes.  Let them sit for at least 15 minutes before eating, so the hot, molten fillings won’t burn your mouth.  They are great even a day or two after baking them – but I doubt they would last that long!  If you prefer to have a freshly baked croissant for breakfast every morning, you can also freeze them individually before basting and baking, and bake them from frozen: in a 350 degree oven it only takes about 20 minutes for them to thaw and bake.

Croissants

Ham and Cheese Croissants

Enjoy your meal!

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