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Pierre's Pastry Cafe Butter Croissants

1-3/4 C. whole milk
1-1/3 oz. compressed fresh yeast (available in the dairy section in most supermarkets)
5-1/2 C. hard wheat baker's flour (available in some health food and gourmet stores) plus extra for work surface
1/3 C. granulated sugar
2 t. salt
3/4 lb. + 1/3 C. butter (at room temperature), divided use
2 eggs, lightly whisked

Materials Needed:
5-quart mixer, with dough hook attachment
Rolling pin
Pastry brush
2 baking sheets, lined with parchment
Pizza cutter

Warm milk to approximately 90 degrees. Crumble yeast into milk and stir to dissolve. In a 5-quart mixing bowl, add flour, granulated sugar, salt and 1/3 cup butter. Add in milk-yeast mixture and knead with dough hook on low speed for about 3 minutes or until mixture forms a rough-looking ball and begins to pull away from sides of bowl. Place ball of dough on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Using a knife, cut a large "X" about 1-inch deep in top of dough. Flour lightly, then cover lightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 45 minutes.

While dough is resting, prepare a 6-inch square block of butter. Place remaining 3/4 lb. butter between 2 large pieces of plastic wrap. With a rolling pin, roll into a flat, 6-inch-by-6-inch square block. Chill lightly. After 45 minutes, remove dough from refrigerator and place on a heavily floured work surface. Carefully roll dough into a large 16 x 16-inch square. Brush off any excess flour with a pastry brush. Place unwrapped butter block in center of square. Fold sides of dough square over butter to completely enclose. Carefully roll dough into a rectangle measuring about 9 x 12 inches. Lightly rewrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 to 45 minutes or until the dough feels slightly firm.

Remove dough to a lightly floured work surface. Carefully roll into a rectangle measuring about 12 x 24 inches. Brush away any excess flour. Fold dough into thirds, as if folding a letter. Rewrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until slightly firm.

Repeat above step two more times. When finished, wrap dough and refrigerate overnight before shaping and baking.

To shape croissant rolls, roll out dough on a lightly floured work surface into a rectangle about 1/8-inch thick. Cut into uniform triangles with a pizza cutter. Dimension of triangle should be about 8 inches high and 4 inches wide at base. Starting with wide end of triangle, roll each into a crescent shape and place on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Lightly brush croissants twice with whisked eggs. Set pan in a warm spot so croissants can rise to double their original size. Do not allow them to get so warm that butter starts to melt. Bake at 375F. until golden brown, approximately 12 to 15 minutes.

Makes about 12 mid-sized croissants.

Note: Begin this recipe the day before needed as preparation time is approximately 4 hours.

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