This Italian cousin of the French croissant is a little sweeter and has a slightly different texture. Cornetti can be made with butter or lard (yes lard!), but the combination of the two gives them a buttery flavor and fluffy texture. They can be filled with pastry cream, Nutella, or served with jam…apricot being the favorite!
For the dough:
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup sugar, divided
- 5 1/2 to 6 cups all-purpose flour, divided (I use “00” Italian flour)
- 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1/2 cup nonfat dry milk powder
- 1 tablespoon fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons orange zest
- Pearl sugar (optional)
For the butter layer:
- 1 cup unsalted butter, cool but not solid
- 1 cup lard (find it in the baking section Snow Cap is a good brand)
- 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (I use “00” Italian flour)
- For the dough: Create a sponge” by putting the eggs and water in a large mixing bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of the sugar, 3 cups of flour, and the yeast. Mix until well blended; set aside for 15-20 minutes until the yeast begins to work.
- For the butter: Cut the butter and lard into 1˝ chunks and combine with the salt and flour in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix at low speed until just smooth, with no visible lumps.
- Spread the butter/lard mixture on a piece of plastic wrap and shape into an 8˝ square. Wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.
- Finish the dough: Add the melted butter, vanilla, and orange zest to the sponge. Whisk together then add the remaining sugar, 2 1/2 cups of the flour, the dry milk, and salt to the sponge. Mix until the dough forms. Knead for 5-10 minutes; if the dough is sticky to the touch, add the remaining flour 2 tablespoons at a time until the dough is the desired consistency. It should be smooth and elastic but should not stick to your fingers. Pat the dough into a 9˝ square, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for one hour.
- To laminate the dough: Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and gently roll it to a 12″ square.
- Unwrap the butter square and place it in the center of the dough at a 45° angle, so it looks like a diamond in a square. Pull the corners of the dough into the center of the butter diamond. Pinch the seams together to enclose the butter. Dust the top with flour and turn the dough over.
- Tap the dough all over with a rolling pin, encouraging it into a rectangular shape. Roll it to a 20˝ x 10˝ rectangle, picking it up and dusting lightly with flour as needed.
- When the dough has reached the proper size, dust off any excess flour and fold the into thirds, like a business letter. Take care to keep the edges straight. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate it for one hour to allow the gluten in the dough to relax.
- Repeat step 8 twice more, refrigerating for one hour in between rolling and folding.
- Refrigerate the dough overnight before using. You can also freeze the dough at this point.
- To shape the cornetti: Cut the dough in half lengthwise. You can make the entire batch now or wrap one half in plastic and freeze for another time.
- Roll into a 13˝ x 18˝ rectangle. Trim the edges about 1/4˝ all the way around with pizza cutter. This removes the folded edges that would prevent the dough from rising evenly.
- Cut the dough in thirds lengthwise and in half down the center. This will give you six 4˝ x 9˝ pieces. Cut these pieces in half diagonally and arrange the triangles so the points are facing away from you. Stretch them gently to make them a little longer, then cut a 1˝ notch in the center of wide end of each triangle.
- Roll the wide end of the dough triangle toward you, building a curved shape as you roll the base of the dough toward the tip. Make sure to securely tuck the tip up under the bottom of the croissant so it doesn’t unravel when baking. Place the cornetti on a parchment-lined baking sheet and let rise for about 90 minutes. The pastry will visibly rise.
- Preheat the oven to 425° F. Brush each croissant with an egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water and sprinkle with pearl sugar (optional).
- Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350° F and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until deep golden brown and no raw dough is visible where the layers overlap. Remove from the oven and let cool for 20 minutes before serving.
- Serve with butter and jam (apricot is best!).