This has been a long search and a long craving. For years I have been dreaming of the fragrant taste of newly made cornetti, Italian croissants, coming right out of the oven. In Rome, it is traditional to have breakfast out and to eat freshly baked cornetti just before work, or school. It is also traditional to wait until sunrise, after a night out with friends, to buy the new cornetti at the local bakery.
In Sweden there is a great baking tradition, but croissants (and of course cornetti, too) do not belong to it. Unfortunately, to make my own cornetti seemed like an impossible dream. All the recipes I found were in fact just… impossible. Besides the difficulty, I knew that my 2-year old would not have understood why mummy was ignoring her for two days in a row to make the perfect pastasfoglia, puff pastry.
But I could not give up. The cornetti craving was too strong. So I looked and looked until I finally came across something that required hours rather than days… a recipe for cornetti made out of briosche dough.
Briosche, right. In Northern Italy that’s the way they call cornetti, actually. But what is it? Apparently some versatile sweet dough that can be used in different preparations and does not require a lot of fat. It was apparently very popular in the 18th hundred, to the point that Marie Antoinette, the infamous queen of France, supposedly said “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche“, let’s them eat briosche, when she learned that the poor did not have bread. Well… I did not have cornetti. Let’s make some briosche!
You need: 250 g (2 cups) all-purpose flour, 250 g (2 cups) manitoba flour (or bread flour), 2 eggs, 25 g (0.9 oz) fresh yeast, 50 g (1.8 oz) butter, 120 g (little more than 1/2 cup) sugar, 200 ml (about 3/4 cup) milk, 1 teaspoon orange extract (my addition), 1 egg yolk (for the finishing). Powdered sugar (optional)
How to: in a large bowl put the flour, the sugar and the butter (cut in small pieces). Mix for 5 minutes by hand or with a mixer. Add the eggs. Mix for further 5 minutes. Meanwhile, turn on the oven to 50 degrees (Celsius, 122 Fahrenheit) and turn it off as soon as it has reached the temperature. Let the yeast dissolve in a little bowl with the cold milk. Add the orange extract to the milk/yeast mixture and then incorporate the mixture, little by little, to the flour/sugar bowl and mix for other 5 minutes. The dough should be now smooth and even. If not, place on a board and mix by hand, eventually adding a little flour. Shape it into a ball. Place the ball back into the big bowl and place it uncovered in the oven. Let rest for a couple of hours. Take the ball out of the oven and divide in 3 parts (making 3 smaller balls). Flatten each of them to form a circle. Cut each circle into 8 triangles as shown below.
Flatten each triangle a little more, trying to make it longer. Now place whatever filling (or none) at the center of the dough and roll each triangle on itself starting from the base. Make sure that the top of the triangle ends up under the cornetto. If you bend the edges of each cornetto a little you will have the typical croissant shape.
Place the cornetti on a baking tray covered with oven paper. Make sure to leave quite some space in between them, cause they will grow. Let them rest covered with a kitchen towel for further 2 hours.
Turn on the oven to 190 degrees (Celsius, 374 Fahrenheit). Now mix the egg yolk with a tablespoon of milk and spread over each cornetto. Place in the oven and bake for about 12 minutes.
The following morning I finally woke up to a typical Italian breakfast: cappuccino and cornetto. The cornetti we did not eat right away went into the freezer and were ready for other wonderful breakfasts (after only 15 seconds in the micro). Heaven on earth.
A dream came true: cornetto al cioccolato (chocolate-filled cornetto)
CONSIDERATIONS: I strongly recommend this recipe. I do not have a proper kitchen machine so basically anyone can do this. My addition of the orange extract was a good idea and brought the taste closer to the cornetti I used to have back in Italy. One day I will try the puff pastry version (just because) but for now I am really happy with briosche dough. Oh… one last thing. This is an affordable treat not only in terms of time and effort but also when it comes to cost and calories. They contain only a little sugar, have far less fat than regular croissants, cost almost nothing. I am in love.
Recipe adapted from http://www.nennaki.it/cornetti_di_pasta_brioche.html
This post was submitted to YeastSpotting: http://www.wildyeastblog.com/category/yeastspotting/