Spring is a joke. Every year it approaches you when you least expect to be approached. It kisses your cheeks like a coy hollywood star and fades back into the crowd. It is the faint kiss that haunts you and plants in your soul notions of sandals and maxi dresses, and whispers for you to roll your car windows down and blast Jack Johnson.
The hollywood star is that ever-illusive ‘One Warm Day’, and once she has kissed you there is no removing the implanted idea that Winter is suddenly archaic and Spring is where we ought to be.
Every year I try to dodge One Warm Day’s hypnotic kisses, but she inevitably locates me and replaces my winter-loving mentality with an irresistible urge for tulips, farmer’s markets, and airy dresses. This year was no different and I am fully enveloped in her spell.
Spring’s arrival is marked for me by the opening of my local farmer’s market. Early Saturday mornings are cool enough to demand a sweater but warm enough to make sandals acceptable. The flowers are winsome in their first-bloom glory and spring vegetables fill the air with the smell of growth and earth but, without a doubt the market’s strongest attraction for me lies in the small tent filled with pastries. With cafe au lait in hand I order my “raspberry cream cheese turnover”and Spring officially enters my life.
Sometime ago I decided that I needed to be able to produce these pastries throughout the year. This meant I would have to learn how to make puff pastry. It took me several days to perfect my pastry skills and recipe, but the ends well justified the means.
Now would be a good time to point out the fallacy which many, including myself, have been told. Puff Pastry is not the dreaded beast of which we have been warned. In fact, it is just a few steps beyond the simplicity of a pie crust. And, as I am sure you know, anyone can make a pie crust.
The only special equipment the pastry maker must have is a food scale - it matters, for real.
Puff pastry takes some time; it’s mostly a lot of folding and refrigerating. We want to stratify our butter throughout the dough to achieve that irresistible flakiness.
You may choose to make your pastries into turnovers or croissants. I did a few of both and it really just depends on your preferred ratio of filling to pastry.
Welcome Spring, we’ve been expecting you.
Raspberry Cream Cheese Croissants
recipe adapted from Emeril Lagasse / makes 8 croissants
- 12 ounces all purpose flour
- 2 ounces cake flour
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
- 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
- 1 cup ice water
- 3 ounces cream cheese
- raspberry jam
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon water
- granulated sugar
Sift to combine all-purpose flour, cake flour and salt. Cut 6 tablespoons of the cold butter into cubes and place the cubes in the flour mixture. Use a pastry blender or the tips of your fingers to blend until the texture of rough cornmeal, similar to pie crust.
Make a well in the center of the mixture and add the cold water. Use a spatula to gently mix into a rough dough. Do not over mix, the dough will be rough and sticky. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Place the remaining chilled butter on a sheet of plastic wrap and cover with a second sheet. Use a rolling pin to smash the butter to form a 5-inch square of butter. Chill until ready to use.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place on a floured surface. Roll the dough out into a 12-inch circle and place the chilled sheet of butter in the center. Wrap the sides of the dough up around the butter and pinch the ends to seal. You should now have a square of butter enclosed in dough.
Roll the dough out into a 16 by 8-inch rectangle. If needed you may use the rolling pin to pound the dough and make it more pliable. Be careful not to tear the dough! Fold the rectangle 3 times like a business letter. Place the rectangle in front of you lengthwise and roll again into a 16 by 8-inch rectangle. Fold again 3 times like a business letter. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
When the dough has rested return to a floured surface and repeat the process of rolling the dough into a rectangle and making a business-letter fold. Do this twice as before and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Remove rested dough from the refrigerator and return to the floured surface. Repeat rolling and folding process twice as before and refrigerate for 2 hours. Now the puff pastry is ready to use.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a small bowl whisk the egg with a teaspoon of water.
Roll the dough out into a 24 by 8-inch rectangle and cut the dough into 8x3 inch strips.* On one end of the strip place a rough tablespoon of cream cheese and a spoonful of jam. Paint each end with egg wash.
Roll the dough over on itself three times to form the croissant and brush the top with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.
Place the croissants on a baking sheet lined with parchment and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the pastry has puffed and is deep golden.
Allow to cool before serving. Enjoy!
*If preferred the dough may be cut into squares and folded diagonally to form turnovers.