Everybody thinks croissants were invented by the French, but it was in Budapest in 1686 that the first croissant was born. [Editor's Note: Never wanting to contradict one of the luminaries of the Food World, check out History of the Croissant to see Alan Davidson help us take on Chef Puck.] I recommend doubling this recipe, since croissants can be baked, immediately frozen, and reheated as needed. (Reheat in a 350°F (175°C) oven for 5 minutes, or until the crust is crisp. They will always taste fresh if this procedure is followed.)
1 pound all-purpose flour
Using the dough hook of an electric mixer, combine flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl.
Dissolve the yeast in 1 cup lukewarm milk. Add to the flour mixture, together with the remaining milk, and mix until dough forms a ball.
Remove dough hook. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow dough to rest for 1 or 1-1/2 hours, until double in bulk. Punch down the dough and refrigerate it, covered, for 30 minutes.
Mold the butter into a block. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Cut a deep cross in the dough. Spread out the sections of dough so that the center is the thickest part. Roll it in opposite directions to form a four-leaf clover, keeping the center thicker. Place the block of butter diagonally in the center of the cloverleaf and bring the edges of the dough to the center, enclosing the butter completely. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.
To make the turns, place the chilled dough on a lightly floured surface. Pound lightly and evenly with your rolling pin to make the dough malleable. Roll out into a rectangle approximately 9 by 16 inches. With the 9-inch side in front of you, fold into thirds, starting with the bottom third and folding over the top third. You have now completed the first turn. Turn the dough so that the narrow end faces you, keeping the seam on your right (a quarter turn). Again, roll out the dough into a rectangle approximately 9 by 16 inches, and again fold into thirds. You have now completed two turns. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Pound the dough evenly and again roll out into a 9-by-16-inch rectangle. Complete two more turns to make four turns. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 50 to 60 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400°F (205°C) .
Roll out dough into two rectangles 1/6 inch thick. Cut into triangles and shape into crescents. Put them on a baking sheet and allow to rise for 20 minutes.
Brush each croissant with egg wash and bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
Yield: Makes 24 croissants
History of the Croissant
How to Make Croissants
Can Croissant Dough Be Frozen?
Chocolate Croissants/Pain au Chocolat