No trip is complete without a little memento. On my last journey, I happened to think these milk bottle’s (my little niece & nephew) enjoyed everyday, was worth carting back in the luggage…;)
What goodness will Flour, Eggs and yeast get you? With the addition of milk to form a smooth, slack dough and a thousand layers of flaky butter…could you & would you, want to say no?
When I began my culinary studies last year, there were a handful of recipes I truly wanted to learn & perfect. (Do you find it’s a novelty being able to say last year, even though it was only a week ago!) Amongst these, were a few of those classic French pastry techniques, being Choux pastry & Full Puff Pastry.
There was a however, a single word, a promise, which actually made my heart go pitter patter… that word being Croissant. or more correctly, Danish doughs which of course make those beautiful crescents of buttery, flaky, moreish…I could go on & on!
Rolling out those layers of dough, became my therapy. The soft fall of flour as it hit the bowl. Sunshiny streaks of yellow, as it mixed into the clouds of flour… The massaging of smooth, glistening mounds of butter, was also therapeutic, (if not the messiest thing I ever experienced.)
That is, until I learnt to wrap it in a little baking paper before doing so.
Make no doubt about it, there is a definite art to making croissants and sure, it’s not for the faint hearted, but the results are so worth it! In fact, when I mentioned I was in the process of making these incredible little morsels, two of my male friends asked in earnest for my tips & hints on how to get a delicious result.
Well the wait is over friends!
I’m no expert, but I promise I’ve practiced this step by step method, many times. It’s a labour of love and to finally take that crisp pastry in your hands and unroll the ends to slather with jam whilst they’re warm….
Want to know a little more about creating beautiful layers of flaky pastry and working with volumes of butter? See here for the Puff Pastry Showdown
Croissants-makes 1 bakers doz (13) medium sized crescents.
Time: approx 2 & 1/2 hrs. To save time you could make the croissant dough the night before and (shape the crescents) the next morning too.
Ingredients: *(video recipe= double quantity than below)*
250g of strong flour extra for dusting & rolling,
220g of butter, (room temp is ideal)
Pinch of salt,
110ml of milk (just warmed)
1 egg, ( beaten)
7 g dried yeast,
You’ll also need a large mixing bowl, rolling pin, small knife, wooden spoon, cling wrap, baking paper, baking trays and a kitchen timer would be very handy!
Mix the strong flour with a pinch of salt. Rub in 20g of butter and incorporate with fingers or a small knife.
Make a well in the centre of the flour/butter mixture, add in the sugar, yeast, beaten egg and just warmed milk. Mix into a light dough, (beware it will be very sticky at first.)
If needed, you can incorporate a half teaspoon of extra flour at a time until the dough comes together. It should remain light and pliable, be careful not to overwork it.
Cover with cling wrap & rest for 20 mins in the fridge. Check your butter is nice and pliable. Sometimes you might need to knead it lightly between some baking paper (to get a better texture.)
When the dough has rested, return it to a bench which you’ve lightly dusted with flour. Make a cross incision through the centre and open up the folds. Don’t pull it out too much as the butter still needs to sit on top of the centre.
Place the butter into the centre of the cross and gently fold one edge over, (sealing the dough around the sides.) Repeat for the other folds until you have a neat ball.
**Gently roll out the package with the butter inside, being careful to distribute it between the dough.
If it breaks (ie butter pours out) immediately place it on a tray, cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for another 20mins. **Then repeat the previous step again.
Once the butter has been evenly distributed through the dough, lay it on a large baking tray, cover with cling film and refrigerate for 20 mins.
Next step is to lightly dust your workbench with minimal flour, (it helps if you dust the rolling pin with flour too.)
Roll out the edges of the dough to form a neat rectangle, refold the edges to the centre and then into a book shape. Rest again for 20 mins and repeat.
Eventually the dough will naturally stretch wider and it will begin to look more smooth, you’ll also notice the butter will be distributed more evenly between the layers and less streaky too.
Repeat these steps 6 times in total, continuing to roll the dough out into a larger sheet, (from which you’ll eventually cut the croissants.)
Once you’ve finished the fourth turn, preheat the oven at 180C (356F) for later.
After the dough has rested & been folded sufficiently, dust the bench lightly and lay the dough down.
Roll out to form a rectangle approx 20 x 30cm.
Don’t roll it too thin, as you want to keep those layers of the dough, so they can puff up. If you roll it too thin, you won’t get that puff!
Cut long triangles across the width and add a little slit in the top of the straight edge, the width of the top edge measured approximately 4-5cm on my strips.
Roll up slowly, starting from the top slit & curl the little ends to form a crescent shape. Tuck the triangular end/flap over or under the base of the croissant (depending on where it naturally sits.)
Lay on a flat baking tray (pre lined with baking paper) and leave to prove for 30mins (minimum)
Up to this point the dough was kept fairly cool in the fridge, now is the time where you see it expand rapidly and (hopefully) puff up to become light & fluffy inside.
Flick each tray with a few drops of warm water and bake in a very hot oven at 200C (400F) until light, puffy and golden brown.