Cut butter into 1/2-inch-thick slices. In a medium mixing bowl
stir butter slices into the 3 cups flour till slices are coated
and separated. Chill butter mixture while preparing the dough.
For dough, in a large mixing bowl stir together 1 1/2 cups flour
and the yeast; set aside. In a medium saucepan heat and stir the
milk, sugar, and salt till warm (120 to 130 degrees F.). Add the
milk mixture to the flour mixture. Add 1 egg. Beat with an electric
mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. Beat
on high speed for 3 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the chilled
flour-butter mixture till the flour is well moistened (the butter
will remain in large pieces).
Sprinkle a pastry board or pastry cloth with 1/4 cup flour. Turn
the dough out onto the floured surface. With floured hands, gently
knead the dough for 8 strokes. With a well-floured rolling pin,
roll the dough into a 21x12-inch rectangle. (If necessary, sprinkle
the surface of the dough with up to 1/4 cup flour to prevent sticking.)
Fold dough crosswise into thirds to form a 12x7-inch rectangle.
Loosely wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 1 to 1 1/2 hours in the
refrigerator or 20 to 30 minutes in the freezer, or till dough is
firm but not excessively stiff.
On a well-floured surface, roll dough into a 21x12-inch rectangle.
Fold dough crosswise into thirds again and give dough a quarter-turn.
Roll, fold, and turn twice more, flouring the surface as needed.
(It is not necessary to chill dough between each rolling.) Place
dough in a plastic bag. Seal bag, leaving room for the dough to
expand. Chill dough for 4 to 24 hours.
To shape, cut dough crosswise into fourths. Wrap and return 3 portions
to the refrigerator till ready to use. On a lightly floured surface,
roll the fourth portion of dough into a 16x8-inch rectangle. Cut
the rectangle crosswise in half to form 2 squares. Then cut each
square diagonally in half to form 2 triangles. (You will have 4
triangles total from each rectangle.) Loosely roll up each triangle,
starting from an 8-inch side and rolling toward the opposite point.
Repeat shaping with the remaining 3 portions of dough. Place croissants
4 inches apart on 2 ungreased large baking sheets, points down.
Curve the ends to form crescent shapes. Cover and let rise in a
warm place till nearly double (about 1 hour).
In a small mixing bowl beat 1 egg and 1 tablespoon water or milk.
Lightly brush the egg mixture over croissants. Bake in a preheated
375° oven for about 15 minutes, or till golden brown. Remove
from baking sheets; cool on a wire rack.
RASPBERRY CROISSANTS: Place 1 teaspoon of raspberry preserves on
one 8-inch side of each croissant dough triangle and roll toward
the opposite point. Proceed with the recipe.
CHOCOLATE CROISSANTS: Chop your favorite chocolate bar and place
about 2 teaspoons along one 8-inch side of each croissant dough
triangle and roll toward the opposite point. Proceed with the recipe.
SAVORY CROISSANTS: Roll up 1 thin slice ham and place on one side
of each croissant dough triangle, or spread one side with 2 teaspoons
of semisoft cheese with garlic and herbs, or 1 teaspoon cheese and
1 ham slice; roll toward the opposite point. Proceed with the recipe.
Recipe reprinted by permission of Weldon Owen. All rights reserved.