Hiya! Well this post took me a week.
p.s. it’s a long one
Remember when we were in San Francisco last month? I happened to be browsing Buzzfeed and noticed an article about a San Francisco bakery having their recipe book stolen. They’re big seller: cruffins.
Cruffins?! You mean, a croissant muffin? I’m not one for fads (e.g. I still haven’t had a proper cronut), but I mean, I just so happened to be in San Francisco that week. And when life gives you lemons…
So the following morning, I woke up early and braved the Tenderloin to stand in line at 1042 Larkin Street for the infamous pastry at Mr. Holmes Bakery. I had spent the previous evening picking apart Yelp for tips on the best time to get your hands on a cruffin before they sold out. When I arrived, there was a small line out front which I eagerly joined. As I neared the bakery counter, I noticed there was only one row of cruffins left. They’d had the cruffins out for only 30 minutes, there was no way that was the last of them… right? As I waited, my eyes searched for a hint or some sign of a second batch. As I waited in line I whispered prayers under my breath and crossed my fingers, hoping against all hope there’d still be just one delicious cruffin sitting there as the baker turned to me, asking what I would like. The woman in front of me asked for the last two cruffins, and all was lost.
So, I went home cruffinless. I walked from the bakery with a box full of croissants (I couldn’t not get something… plus the packaging was really cute) and spent the next few hours sulking over my failed cruffin escapade. Roy and I met on his lunch break and we munched on said croissants as I explained to him my horrible morning. After I was done, he looked at me and said, “couldn’t you try making one yourself?”
I don’t know why I hadn’t thought about it before. Maybe because all I’ve heard about croissants is they’re REALLY REALLY HARD, meaning the process takes 3 days and lots and lots of practice. When I got back to LA, I watched Youtube videos and read blog posts and magazine articles, researching how to achieve a great croissant. My first go went horribly wrong because my butter was so cold is broke when I attempted to roll out the dough. The second time, I experimented with the placement of the dough inside the tall muffin tin to get the right shape. In the end, I came up with this recipe for Matcha Cruffins.
Like any croissant, these cruffins are flakey and buttery, and at least one should be enjoyed right from the oven. I’m a huge fan of mixing French and Japanese tastes. Matcha was an easy choice here and a favorite of my friend who I’ll be gifting a giant bag of these to as a going away present! Though all kinds of fillings would pair well here, such as fruit jam, vanilla pasty cream, or chocolate.
Croissant making isn’t out of this world difficult, but then again it kind of is. The process is simple, but the time it takes to make the croissants, plus the little things that can mean the difference between a decent croissant and a bakery worthy one is what makes this stressful. I’ve done a lot of research online and here are some great tips and resources I’ve found:
1. For a great basic overview of croissant making, check out this amazing video from Laura in the Kitchen.
2. Many of the recipes I found stressed the importance of keeping everything as cold as possible during the rolling process of the dough and suggested freezing the dough between turns. I followed this initially and ended up breaking the layer of butter beneath the dough because it was too cold. I tried again with the method Laura uses of refrigerating the butter between folds rather than freezing. Depending on the temperature in your house and the climate, you will want to freeze or refrigerate the dough between folds accordingly. When working with the butter, make sure it is malleable enough to roll out smoothly but cold enough to hold its shape.
3. European butter is recommended (I’m honestly not sure why–UPDATE: a reader mentioned that this is because European butter is higher in fat content than American butter). On my first try, I used Plugra which might have also resulted in the butter layer breaking when rolled out. I noticed that another brand of european butter, Vermont Creamery, was slightly squeezable while in the fridge while the Pulgra was rock hard. I used the Vermont Creamery butter for my second try and had better success with it. Again, choose between brands accordingly but make sure that it’s european (I still don’t know why).
4. Here are some other really great blog posts and articles I’ve read with great photos and information. If you’re making croissants for the first time, I highly suggest reading these!
–My Diverse Kitchen
–Simply A Foodblog
5. Pastry cream is also a bit tricky. Here’s a great step-by-step video from Everyday Food, which is the recipe I based the matcha cream one used here off of.
6. You can use regular muffin tins, but I liked the way the cruffins looked baked in taller muffin tins. I used popover tins, which I bought off Amazon! I only bought one which was a real pain when I started baking the croissants. After cutting and placing the dough in the tins, they have to sit out and proof for 2-3 hours. Which means it took me forever to bake all 24 cruffins. Buy two popover tins!
I did not get a successful cruffin until my third batch, so don’t be discouraged if your first try doesn’t turn out. Even then, I am no croissant expert by far. But once you finally start to get it right, these cruffins are amazeballs. Seriously. You need to try these!
Recipe makes around 20 cruffins
For step-by-step photos, check out My Diverse Kitchen
For the croissant dough:
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups whole milk
4 tsp instant or rapid-rise yeast
4 1/4 cups (21 1/4 oz or 602g) all-purpose flour (King Arthur preferred)
1/4 cup (1 3/4 oz or 50g) sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
For the butter layer:
12 oz (24 tbsp) unsalted European-style-butter, cold (european butter recommended)
1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Remove from the pan and immediately add the milk. Whisk in the instant yeast and transfer the entire mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment.
2. Add the flour, sugar, and salt to the bowl. Knead on low speed for 2-3 minutes until a dough forms. Increase the speed to medium-low and knead for another minute.
3. Flour a pie dish or flat plate and drop in the dough. Use your fingers to spread the dough out slightly. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight.
4. Fold a 24 inch of parchment paper in half lengthwise. It will look like a book cover.
5. On all the three open ends of the paper, fold the loose ends inwards to create an 8 inch square. Make sure all sides are sealed. I started with the two sides opposite one another and then did the last one.
6. Remove butter from the fridge. Unfold your parchment square. Place your butter on top of one of the sides of the 8 inch square. I like to cut the butter in 1/2 inch slices and place them next to each other to form a square shape inside the parameter of the square. Fold the sides over again to seal the butter inside and flip the packet so the loose ends are on the bottom. Use a rolling pin to roll out the butter to one smooth 8 inch slab. Return the butter to the fridge for another 30 minutes to harden up.
7. After 30 minutes, remove the dough from the refrigerator. Deflate it slightly with your fingertips and flour your work surface. Turn the dough out onto the work surface and use a rolling pin to shape the dough into a 10×10 inch square.
8. Take the butter slab from the fridge and unwrap it from the parchment paper. Place the slab in the center of the dough, but at an angle so the butter and dough look like a diamond sitting on top of a square. Make sure your butter is not too stiff that it cannot be rolled out or too soft that it will not hold its shape. Fold each corner of the dough over the butter slab and seal together in the middle so the butter is fully encased.
9. Roll out the dough into an 8×24 inch rectangle. Fold the dough into thirds and make sure to brush off any excess flour with a pastry brush. Cover in plastic wrap and return to the refrigerator for 30 minutes to allow the butter to harden again.
10. After 30 minutes, remove the dough from the refrigerator. Turn the dough 90 degrees so the longer side of the dough is vertical to you. Roll the dough out to another 8×24 inch rectangle and fold into thirds. Return to the fridge for 30 minutes. Repeat this step (turn, roll, fold) again one more time. After all three turns, cover the dough with plastic wrap and place it back in the fridge to rest overnight or for 24 hours maximum (overnight is best).
11. The following day, remove the dough from the fridge. Cut the dough in half and place the second half back in the fridge until ready to use. Roll out the first half of the dough into a 8×15 inch rectangle.
12. Use a knife to make small cuts in 3 inch increments down the longer side of the dough. Cut the dough into 3×8 inch rectangles, then cut rectangle in half at an angle to create a triangle-like shape.
13. Roll the triangles up starting from the larger side, making sure to keep one side flat as you roll. Place the cruffin in the popover tin, flat side down. Try to place it as evenly as possible so the cruffin will be able to stand once it is baked. You can use a toothpick to help push the edges down into the tin to create a stable base. Cover the cruffins with a kitchen towel and let proof for 2-3 hours. The cruffins will not double in size but be significantly larger.
14. After proofing, preheat your oven to 400F and place a rack in the middle position. Create an egg wash by whisking one egg and a splash of milk together. Brush the egg wash on top of the cruffins. Bake them for 20-25 minutes until completely browned.
For the Matcha Pastry Cream:
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
pinch of salt
2 cups whole milk, room temperature
4 egg yolks, room temperature
2 tsp matcha powder, sifted
35g butter, cut into cubes
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1. In a metal saucepan, whisk the caster sugar and cornflour together. Add in a pinch of salt.
2. Measure the milk out into a bowl. Whisk in the eggs yolks and sifted matcha powder, making sure everything is evenly combined.
3. Pour the milk mixture into the saucepan with the dry ingredients, whisking constantly.
4. Add in the butter and heat the saucepan over a medium heat. Keep whisking until the pastry cream begins to boil. The cornstarch will not activate until it reaches a boil. After one minute, add in the vanilla bean paste.
5. Use a mesh sieve the mixture into a separate bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, making sure the plastic touches the top of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until ready to use.
1. Use a knife or chopstick to create a small hole and tunnel inside the cruffin. It’s best to make the tunnel as vertical as possible.
2. Fill a large bowl with a cup or so of granulated sugar. Roll each cruffin in the sugar. You can also use your hands to sprinkle the sugar over hard to reach areas.
3. Fill a piping bag with the chilled pastry cream. Once all the cruffins have been coated in sugar, pipe the cream into the opening you created until it is filled. Then pipe a small swirl on top. A small sprinkling of cocoa powder can be added to the top of the cruffin.