Things were never going to be good from the start. Regular readers will know my fear of sticking to recipes, but also that, when baking, I try to make a concerted effort, in the hopes it will turn out as it should. This method seemed to work well for March’s challenge, Kringel, but I chose to make this when visiting mum and dad up in Chester. My first question of, do you have any bread flour or yeast was met with ‘No, but Sainsburys do’, so that was our first port of call. After returning home, I asked where the dough hooks were…or perhaps a set of scales…in metric rather than imperial?
Oh well, we tried our best to convert, then half, then weigh the ingredients, as 24-28 croissants between 3 of us seemed a bit greedy to be honest! We thought we were on to a winner when we had a measuring jug and it was even marked in the correct units; until, that was, we noticed that having halved the ingredients, the measurement we needed on the jug was rather worn.
So, I’m writing this between days: the dough is resting overnight in the fridge after ‘Part 1’ of the method. We’ll see how it turns out tomorrow!
In the mean time, this month’s challenge was hosted by Corrie from Hot Potato. She swears by River Cottage’s Bread Handbook, by Dan, and it was there she found this recipe.
Makes 24-28 croissants
1 kg strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
330 ml warm water
330 ml warm milk
10g powdered dried yeast (instant/bread machine yeast)
140g caster sugar/white sugar
500g unsalted butter
2 medium egg yolks
Mix all the ingredients, except the butter, into the mixer bowl and fit the dough hook. Knead on low to medium speed until the dough is soft, stretchy and satiny – about 10 minutes. Put the dough in a decent sized polythene bag (it needs room to rise), suck out the air, tie a knot in the bag and put it in the fridge to rest over night.
First thing in the morning, get the butter out of the fridge. When it becomes easy to roll out, lightly flour the butter, lay it between two sheets of cling film and bat it out with a rolling pin to a fairly neat square about 1cm thick. Take your time to get the thickness and shape as even as possible, then put it to one side. (I just battered it until it looked like a cross between an oblong and a square.
Take your dough out of the fridge, flour it and roll out to a rectangle, a little more than twice the size of the butter (allow a couple of centimetres extra all around). Now lay the butter on one half leaving a border, fold the other half over and press down all the way round to seal the butter in.
Next roll the dough away from you until it is twice its original length, then fold the top and bottom edges in by one sixth. Fold them in again by another sixth, so the folds meet in the middle, then fold one on top of the other.
Give the dough a quarter turn and roll it out again to about the same size as before, fold the top and bottom edges in to meet at the middle, then fold one on top of the other. Roll this out slightly and seal the edges with the rolling pin.
Put the dough back in the plastic bag and return it to the fridge to rest for an hour or so. I left mine overnight as recommended by Corrie.
In the meantime, you need to cut a template from a piece of cardboard (the back of a cereal box or something similar). You want an isosceles triangle, measuring 20cm across the base and 25cm tall. (The easiest way is to draw an upside down capital T and join the points, like a cartoon sail).
When your dough has rested, unwrap and roll it out to a neat rectangle, a little larger than 140cm x 50cm. Now trim the rectangle to these measurements leaving perfectly straight edges. Cut the rectangle in two lengthwise, to give two 25cm wide strips. Now using your template as a guide, cute 12-14 triangles from each strip.
Lay each triangle away from you and roll it up from the base. Wet the pointed end and seal it.
Curl the tips around to form a crescent and pinch them together to hold them in place; or you can leave them straight if you prefer. (At this point you could freeze some if you like. Space them out on a tray and freeze, then pack into bags. Allow an extra hour for rising when you come to use them).
Lay your croissants with the sealed point underneath, on baking trays lined with greased baking parchment or (better still) silicone mats. Cover with cling film or a bin liner and leave to rise until doubled in side. As the dough is cold, this could take a couple of hours, or longer. I was surprised how much my croissants enjoyed this part, they sort of spread themselves out to fill the tray, which, in turn, led to not very croissanty shaped croissants. Tasty nonetheless!
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 200C/400F /Gas Mark 6. Beat the egg yolk and the milk together, then gently brush all over the croissants.
Bake for about 10 minutes, then lower the setting to 170C/325F/Gas Mark 3 and bake for a further 10-15 minutes until they look beautifully golden. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool slightly, while you make coffee.
I took each part stage by stage, and, as Corrie says, each part is easy and quick; it’s the waiting for it to rest in between that takes the time. And unless you actually get up very early for the last stage, in order to give the dough time to prove and rise before popping in a hot oven, you’ll have to have them for afternoon tea instead! Which isn’t really a problem! We saved a batch once risen in the fridge to bake the next morning. After all the difficulties of actually making the original dough, I was amazed how well they turned out: even dad wanted to know if I’d actually done it all myself. Tips for next time? Smaller triangles and less rising time (not in hot conservatory for the whole day)! This ‘following recipes’ idea is a really good one. I’ll try it again next month. Have a look at Fresh from the Oven for the round-up of our bakers’ efforts!