Remember when the Engineer was making croissants? It turns out that now that I can buy lactose-free butter in the U.S., I can make my own lactose-free croissants with that recipe! It is from Baking Illustrated. Note that the dough (and especially the butter square) should be kept cold – do not attempt this recipe on a hot day. Note also that the recipe makes 12 croissants, but some had already been eaten by the time I took any pictures!
I used some of these delicious croissants as vehicles for jams by Simon Turcotte – it turns out that while I love the taste of his jams and spreads, I feel like the texture is too loose (though his jellies are fine). That being said, if you want to place an order for his products or other items from Quebec’s terroir and want an English interface or want items from different businesses in a single order, try here.
For the dough
3 cups (15 oz) all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1 Tbsp. instant yeast
¼ cup (1 ¾ oz) sugar
1 ¼ tsp. salt (use less, since there’s only salted lactose-free butter on the market at the moment)
1 ¼ cups lactose-free whole milk, cold
2 Tbsp. lactose-free butter
For the butter square
24 Tbsp. (3 sticks) lactose-free butter, cut into 1-Tbsp. pieces and kept cold
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
For the egg wash
1 large egg, lightly beaten
For the dough
Whisk 2 ¾ cups of the flour together with the yeast, sugar and salt in a medium bowl.
Place the milk in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add the flour mixture and knead at low speed until a ball of dough forms, about 5 minutes. Cut the butter into small pieces and add them to the dough. Continue to knead until the butter becomes fully incorporated and the dough becomes smooth, begins to form a ball, and clears the sides of the bowl, an additional 5 or 6 minutes. (The dough should be sticky, but if more dough is sticking to the sides of the bowl than to itself, add the remaining ¼ cup flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, as necessary.) Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate it for 1 hour.
For the butter square
Using a bench scraper, toss together the butter pieces and flour on a clean work surface. Smear the butter and flour back and forth against the work surface until the have combined into a smooth and homogenous mixture.
Wrap the butter mixture in plastic wrap and use the edges of the plastic to form it into an even 7-inch square. Refrigerate until ready to use, at least 30 minutes.
Lightly dust a work surface with flour. Roll the dough into an 11-inch square. Remove the plastic wrap from the butter square and place it diagonally in the center of the dough. Fold the corners of the dough over the butter so that they meet in the middle of the butter square (it will look a bit like a letter in an envelope, though the edges on the dough won’t be overlapping). Pinch the ends of the dough together to seal.
Using a rolling pin, tap the dough from the center outward until the butter begins to soften and become malleable. Gently roll the dough into a 14-inch square, dusting the work surface with flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking. Fold one outside edge of the dough (roughly a third) in toward the center and bring the opposite edge in over the top (it will look like you are folding a business letter). Repeat the process in the opposite direction, folding each narrow edge toward the center to make a square. This is two turns. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours before repeating this step (for a total of four turns) and chilling again for 2 hours.
To shape the croissants
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or a silpat. Place the chilled dough on a floured surface and gently roll the dough into a 20-inch square. Use a pizza roller (my preference) to cut the dough into two equal rectangles. Cut each rectangle into thirds widthwise and then cut each of those rectangles into 2 triangles, to yield a total of 12 triangles.
Working one at a time, lift a triangle off the work surface, holding the base (the short side) in one hand and the tip in the other. Gently stretch into an isosceles triangle. With the base closest to you, cut a 1-inch slit into the center of the base of the triangle (this will allow the croissant to roll evenly) and fold the two sides of the slit outward. With both hands, roll the triangle from the base, gently stretching the dough as you roll, leaving at least ¼-inch of the tip unrolled. Transfer the croissant to the prepared baking sheet, unrolled tip facing downward. Bring the ends of the croissant toward each other to form a crescent shape. Repeat with the remaining triangles, placing 6 on each baking sheet.
Cover the croissants loosely with plastic wrap. Let them rise at room temperature until puffy (they will not double in size), 45 to 60 minutes.
To brush with egg wash and bake
Adjust the oven racks to the upper- and lower-middle positions and preheat the oven to 400 °F. Brush the croissants with the beaten egg. Bake until the croissants are golden-brown, 18 to 22 minutes, rotating the baking sheets front-to-back and top-to-bottom halfway through the baking time. Cool the croissants on a wire rack until warm, 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.