Guest post written by Sarah Hart from Cooking by the Canal du Midi
Is there anything more French than a croissant? The truth is they were first made in Austria, but we will pass on that fact. Wherever they originated, there is no denying that they are certainly delicious and reminiscent of foreign trips for those of us who grew up many years ago in countries where such pastries were extremely exotic. Croissants were only eaten on holiday and were such a cosmopolitan treat for a girl from England in the 1980s. So, today, I suggest that you take some time to make your own.
Dedicate some time
But why, oh why, would anyone make their own croissants; especially if they have a fine bakery just down the road? Good question, which becomes an even better question when you realise that croissants are not too quick to make. They are not difficult to make but do require you to dedicate some time for them. A rainy day at home would be perfect and the prize at the end is worth it.
So, perhaps the reason for making your own croissants is to appreciate them fully when you next buy such a humble item from the bakery, now that you know what effort has taken place in their creation. Another reason for making croissants is that – the home-baked version tastes better than any one that you can buy, mainly because it is full of butter rather than cheaper, less tasty fats. They are also super impressive and everyone you know will go ‘wow!’ and think that you are amazing. So, now that I have convinced you that this is a good idea, let’s go.
This amount will make 8 large or 16 small croissants.
If my description of the ‘turning’ and ‘laminating’ process is difficult to understand, there any many Youtube videos showing this.
500g T45 flour
15g fresh yeast
50g caster sugar
250ml full-fat milk
250g butter – cut into 8 slices
2 tsp salt
Sieve the flour into a bowl. Add sugar, yeast and salt. Mix together. Slowly add milk and egg until you have a smooth, sticky dough. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel or cling film. Place in the fridge for 1 hour.
Pull the dough into a large rectangle. Place the sliced butter on to two-thirds of the rectangle. Fold the third with no butter on into the centre, over one-third of the buttered dough and fold the final buttered third into the centre making a piece of dough one-third of its original size.
Roll the dough back to its original size and fold into three like a letter. This is called one ‘turn’. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Repeat this turning process twice more, placing the dough in the fridge in between. The aim is to produce multiple layers of dough with the butter evenly spread throughout – called ‘laminating’.
It is now ready to use. You can keep half in the fridge for a later date if you do not want to use it all at once.
To shape your dough into croissants:
Roll the dough back into a large rectangle. Cut it into 4 smaller rectangles across the longer edge. Cut each rectangle diagonally to create 8 long triangles. To create smaller croissants, cut the rectangle into 8 pieces before cutting diagonally.
Place one triangle in front of you with the long point facing you. Stretch the two shorter corners and roll them towards you, ending with the fine point tucked under the dough. Repeat with the other triangles.
Put the croissants on to a baking tray turning the ends inwards to make a crescent and stop them from burning. Leave to rise at room temperature for around an hour.
Place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Heat oven to 220 degrees. Place tray of water in the bottom of the oven to create steam. Brush croissants with egg yolk and milk glaze. Bake for 10-12 minutes – depending on size and oven – until golden brown.
Cool on rack until eating.