While nothing matches real croissants, in a pinch you can make a very reasonable facsimile from pizza dough. Here's how.
Let's preface this by saying, I know better. I've been trained, by experts, to make professional-grade croissants, and I understand that there are few shortcuts in that process. But that doesn't stop me from tinkering.
So this evening, when we impulsively bought tamales on the way home from work, I was left with a nice piece of dough that was retarding in the fridge. What to do? If I left it in there, the sourdough cultures would take over and wreck it. Throw it away? Hardly. I remembered that I had a new bag of Pain au Chocolat sticks that I bought at King Arthur, and some leftover almond paste from recent adventures, as well as some slivered almonds, an impulse buy at the produce store. A croissant Perfect Storm in the making.
Pizza Dough Croissants
Makes 10 croissants
Pizza dough (purchased or homemade*) for one large pizza - about 1 pound, or 3 cups
2 T dry milk
1/8 cup sugar
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) Unsalted butter, shredded
Pain Au Chocolat sticks
Almond paste, formed into small fingers (about 1 1/2 T per croissant)
1 egg (for egg wash)
Simple syrup (2 T sugar brought to boil with 2 T water, then removed from heat)
*for Quick Pizza Dough (optional):
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 tsp salt
1 T instant yeast
1/2 cup (heaping) thick sourdough starter
1/2 cup + 1 T warm water
Combine the flour, salt, and yeast in electric mixer bowl with dough hook fitted. Stir to combine. Add the sourdough starter and water, and mix at slow medium speed for 4 to 5 minutes.
- Mix dry milk and sugar with 1 T water until smooth. Combine with pizza dough in a mixing bowl, using one chopstick (so you don't overwork the dough).
- Turn the dough out onto a floured countertop. It will be wet; Using a metal pastry scraper, fold from the outside to the center, incorporating some of the flour, until the dough is still soft, but workable. Pat into a 6-inch square:
- Pat or lightly roll the dough into a 14" square. Place the shredded butter in the center of the square, positioned like a diamond on top of the square. Fold the dough corners to meet in the middle, enclosing the butter.
- Roll out gently to a rectangle 7x15. Fold in three like a letter. This is turn One.
- Turn the dough 90 degrees, roll out the same way and fold the same way. This is Turn Two. Refrigerate the dough for 15 minutes on a floured plate.
- Remove from refrigerator, give Turn Three, then refrigerate for 15 minutes.
- Remove from refrigerator, give Turn Four (final), then roll out to 12x15 inches. It should be about 1/4" thick.
- Using a pizza rolling cutter, cut the dough in half, creating two pieces 6x15. Then, cut into fairly even triangles which are 6" long and about 4 to 5" at the base. For each croissant, place a chocolate stick or almond paste log at the broad end and roll up while stretching the croissant lengthwise a bit. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Allow to rise for about 2 hours, or until quite puffed. Brush top surfaces with beaten egg, avoiding the cut edges. For almond croissants, adhere slivered almonds to the egg-washed surfaces immediately after brushing:
10. Preheat oven to 425F. Bake for 17 minutes on high rack. For almond croissants, brush with simple syrup immediately after removing from oven. Cool on rack.11. Enjoy!
Have fun this weekend! We will.