Croissants, South Indian style - Pain au 'Poornam'
Ahh the lingering enduring pleasure of taste memory..Its been almost three weeks since I tucked happily into these buttery pastries and here I am already getting set to start making plans for an encore. I'm planning to experiment with a different filling but before I add that to my repertoire of croissant flavors, I just have to write this recipe up before the details gradually fade away, like the spice notes of cardamom & saffron that completely had me under their spell.
Poornam (literally translated as filling in my native Tamil) is the term used generically for any kind of filling and stuffing used in South Indian dishes. Its a poornam irrespective of whether the filling is in the stuffed tortilla like Poli (or 'Boli' as Tamilians mispronounce it), or in Modaks (rice flour skin steamed dumplings). The fillings may either be sweet or savory, its still a poornam.
I'm not going to repeat the details of making the croissant dough in detail all over again and instead will just direct you to the previous post. Once you've been through the directions for the first 2 days, come right back to this page for the final part of the directions for the South Indian version.
Pain au 'Poornam' (Croissants with a sweet coconut, cardamom & saffron filling)
(makes ~ 8 large pastries)
For the Dough:
Please refer to the original post!
For the Filling:
1 cup fresh shredded coconut
1/2 cup jaggery (gud) or dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons warm water
1/2 teaspoon powdered cardamom
10 - 15 strands saffron, crushed & dissolved in 1 tablespoon of warm milk.
Add the sugar to a small non stick skillet along with the water. On a gentle low heat dissolve the sugar and then add the coconut, stir well to coat the coconut meat. Add the cardamom and the saffron strands. keeping the heat on low, allow all the moisture to evaporate. At this point the mixture will begin to harden. Once the mixture gets sticky, (before it turns into a hard mass) remove the filling from the heat and allow it to cool completely. Divide into 8 portions.
“Wake up the dough up” by pressing firmly along its length with the rolling pin. Don’t widen the dough but simply begin to lengthen it with these first strokes. Slowly roll the dough into a long and narrow strip, approximately 6” by 24”. If the dough sticks as you roll, sprinkle with flour. (This recipe is for half the total amount of dough specified in the original post)
Once the dough is about half to two-thirds of its final length, it may start to resist rolling and even shrink back. If this happens, fold the dough in thirds, cover, and refrigerate for about 10 minutes; then unfold the dough and finish rolling.
Lift the dough an inch or so off the table at its midpoint and allow it to shrink from both sides and prevent the dough from shrinking when it’s cut. Check that there’s enough excess dough on either end so that when you trim the edges to straighten them, you have a strip of dough that is 24’ inches long. Now trim the edges so they’re straight.With a knife, mark the top of the dough at 3-inch intervals along the length on either side of the strip of dough (there will be 7 marks in all).
Use a pizza wheel/ pie wheel or a bench scraper and cut the dough in a straight line between the marks on either side of the strip.This yields 8 rectangular pieces of dough.
Gently roll out a piece of dough along the width without applying too much pressure to measure about 4 inches. Place a portion of the filling parallel and towards the edge of the short side of the dough as shown in the photograph above.. Gently roll the dough and ensure that the ends are tucked below the pastry. Gently press down to remove any excess air and crimp the edges wither by using a fork or a ravioli stamp. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough and filling.
(I did try making the croissants in the shape of a triangle, but would not recommend it since it was hard to get the shape all uniform).
Proof the croissants
Brush the croissants with milk (or a mix of milk and cream). If you use eggs, make an egg wash by whisking one egg with 1 tsp water in a small bowl until very smooth. Lightly brush this on each croissant.
Refrigerate the remaining milk/ milk+cream (or egg wash) for brushing the croissants again later. Place the croissants in a cool and draft-free place (the butter should not melt) for proofing/ rising for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. I found that covering the croissants with plastic wrap & placing it in an oven with the light on worked great.
They might need longer than 2 hours to proof, maybe as much as 3 hours, so make sure to let croissants take the time to proof. The croissants will be distinctly larger but not doubled in size. They’re ready if you can see the layers of dough from the side, and if you lightly shake the sheets, the croissants will wiggle.
Bake the croissants
Just before the croissants are fully proofed, pre-heat your oven to 200C (400F) in a convection oven or 220C (425F) in a regular oven. Brush the croissants with milk/ milk+cream (or egg wash) a second time, and place your baking sheets on the top and lower thirds of your oven (if regular) or bake one tray at a time in the convection oven.
Bake them for about 15 to 20 minutes till they’re done and golden brown on top and just beginning to brown at the sides. In a regular oven, remember to turn your baking sheets halfway through. If they seem to be darkening too quickly during baking, lower the oven temperature by 10C (25F). Cool the croissants on the baking sheets on racks.
Serve warm or at room temperature with a hot cup of Masala Chai.
This post is being Yeastspotted!