How to Make Craquelins

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Bouchon Bakery (The Thomas Keller Library)Craquelins are made with an enriched dough and baked in individual paper molds. Just before baking, they are sprinkled with pearl sugar, a large-crystal sugar that doesn’t dissolve in the oven and gives them a crunchy topping. Our version includes grated orange zest, candied orange peel, and orange liqueur, and in the tradition of this Belgian preparation, we add a sugar cube to the center of each craquelin, for additional sweetness and moisture. But even so, these are not overly sweet.

  • Yield: 12 Craquelins

Ingredients

Starter
  • 3½ tbsp (60 g) Whole milk at 75°F/23.8°C
  • 20.37 tsp (8 g) Instant yeast
  • ½ cup + 2 tbsp + ¾ tsp (90 g) All-purpose flour
Dough
  • ½ cup + 2½ tbsp (150 g) Candied Orange Peel cut into 1/8 inch pieces
  • 2½ tbsp (15 g) Grated orange zest
  • -1½ tsp (8 g) Cointreau or Grand Marnier
  • 2¾ cup + 2 tsp (390 g) All-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup + ½ tsp (52 g) Granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp (12 g) Kosher salt
  • ¾ cup + 2 tbsp (225 g) Eggs
  • 10.5 ounces (300 g) Unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces, at room temperature
  • 12 sugar cubes
  • Egg Wash
  • 3 tbsp (36 g) Pearl sugar
How to Make It
    For the Starter
  1. Place the milk in a small bowl and stir in the yeast, followed by the flour. Mix with your hands to combine. The mixture will be dense and dry.
  2. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour. The starter will be softer to the touch.
  3. For the Dough
  4. Combine the candied orange peel, zest, and Cointreau in a small bowl.
  5. Place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and mix on the lowest setting to distribute the sugar and salt evenly. Add the starter and mix for 30 seconds to incorporate. With the mixer running, add the eggs in 3 additions. The dough will be very dry. Increase the speed to low and mix for 15 minutes, stopping once to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  6. Push the dough off the hook and continue to mix on low speed. Add the butter a few pieces at a time, incorporating each addition before adding the next. Once all the butter has been added, mix for 2 minutes. The dough will be very sticky.
  7. Dust the work surface with flour and spray a large bowl with nonstick spray. Run a bowl scraper around the sides and bottom of the mixer bowl to release the dough and turn it out onto the work surface, adding flour only as needed to keep it from sticking. With your hands, gently pat the dough into a rectangular shape. Pour the orange mixture onto the dough and knead it into the dough, which will be sticky, to distribute it evenly. Pat the dough into a rectangle again.
  8. Stretch the left side of the dough out and fold it over two-thirds of the dough, then stretch and fold the dough from the right side to the opposite side, as if you were folding a letter. Repeat the process, working from the bottom and then the top. Turn the dough over, lift it up with a bench scraper, and place it seam side down in the prepared bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a clean dish towel and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
  9. Use the bowl scraper to release the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently but firmly pat the dough into a rectangle, pressing any large gas bubbles to the edges and then out of the dough. Repeat the stretching and folding process, then return the dough to the bowl, seam side down, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
  10. Spray the paper baking molds with nonstick spray and arrange on a sheet pan. Release the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Using a bench scraper, divide the dough into 12 equal portions (100 to 105 grams each). Cup your fingers around a portion of dough and, using the palm of your hand, roll it against the work surface to form a ball. Continue to roll until the dough is completely smooth. Repeat with the remaining dough. (When you become proficient at rolling with one hand, you can use both hands and roll 2 portions at a time.)
  11. Turn the balls over and push a sugar cube one-third of the way into each one. Turn over again and reroll each one to encapsulate the sugar cube and move it into the center of the roll. Place the balls in the prepared molds. Brush with egg wash.
  12. Cover the sheet pan with a plastic tub or a cardboard box and let proof for 1½ to 2 hours, until the balls have risen to % inch below the tops of the papers.
  13. Preheat the oven to 325°F (convection) or 350°F (standard).
  14. Brush the tops of the craquelins with egg wash again and sprinkle with 3 grams/¾ teaspoon pearl sugar each. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes in a convection oven, 26 to 30 minutes in a standard oven, until the tops are a rich golden brown and the centers are baked through when tested with a toothpick. Cool completely on a cooling rack.
  15. The craquelins are best the day they are baked, but they can be stored wrapped tightly in a few layers of plastic wrap or in a single layer in a covered container at room temperature for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 week.
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