21 December, 2015
Another tick on my bucket list. Even though I religiously make my own puff pastry which is a lot of trouble, I have never ever tried making croissants before. So I took up the challenge finally and I have to say I was ecstatic to see the almost perfect results, being it’s my first time.
I usually watch a few videos, read and compare few recipes and read reviews before trying a new recipe. This recipe is straight from the “Joy of baking.com” one of my favourite go-to web sites for cooking videos. I have not changed anything with regard to the technique but have omitted few ingredients to keep it simple.
Original recipe called for SAF Gold yeast, but I am using the ordinary instant dry east that we use at home to make bread. Unlike the SAF, instant yeast has to be activated before adding to the flour. Original recipe also calls for dry malt which has additional enzymes that helps break down starch to feed the yeast. This is totally optional. But I used bread improver instead, which has a similar effect in bread making. Remember to add the (MRU) recommended percentage if using.
The other only change is the type of butter. All classic French croissants recipes call for European style “cultured butter” but I’m using ordinary butter and Lurpack in this case. I am a fan of salted butter and so I normally don’t bother with using unsalted butter and then later adjusting flavour by adding salt. It’s entirely up to personal preference.
There are a few important tips that really helps make a pretty croissant. First and the most important is to keep the dough cool all the time. Ideal surface to work laminated pastries is a steel or marble bench top. I don’t have either at this point, so I had to work really fast and finish rolling before the dough loses its cool (literally). If you think the dough has become too soft or warm, return it to fridge immediately and let it cool before handling again.
The other fact, is that when rolling, always press the dough outwards. Never drag or force the dough to stretch or it will tear and the layers will get all messed up.
This process spans across two days, and so it’s ok to start the recipe in the evening, so you have overnight to chill and rest the dough.
The dough itself is not suitable to freeze unlike puff pastry. Once the croissants are shaped, and risen, however, you can freeze them for longer. They can be baked straight from the freezer.
- 475g flour
- 10g dry instant yeast
- 65g granulated white sugar
- Improver (MRU) (optional)
- Pinch of salt
- 25g butter (softened)
- 1 cup water
- 3 tbsp. of milk or cream
- 225g cold butter
- One egg + one egg yolk to glaze
- Start by activating the yeast. Place the water in a bowl and add yeast and a teaspoon of sugar. Stir, cover and set aside for 10 minutes until, bubbly and frothy.
- Place flour in a big bowl, add salt, sugar, improver (if using) and 25g butter and rub until combined. Add the milk and yeast mixture.
- Work slowly with a wooden spoon or hand, to bring the dough together. The dough at this stage is wet and sticky. Stretch and fold to endure the dough is well hydrated all over.
- Place the dough ball in the same bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave at room temperature for about an hour. This is bulk proving, allowing the starch to be broken down to feed the yeast.
- After an hour, the dough would be doubled in size and softer.
- Take the dough in to a floured surface and roll out to fit the tray you are using. I’m using a 9 by 14 inch tray.
- Once rolled out, place the dough in the tray, sprinkle flour on top, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or at least 6 hours.
- Following day, take out the cold butter, and mould it in to a 9 by 7 inch slab. Use a stencil for this. Draw the rectangle on a parchment paper and place the butter pieces. Place another parchment paper on top and bash the butter with a rolling pin until it fills the drawing.
- Place the slab back in fridge until needed.
- Take the dough out and back on to a floured surface and roll out if it shrinks.
- Place the butter in the centre and fold sides to enclose the butter in the dough. Enforce the joints.
- Roll out to a rectangle, 9 by 12 inch, and fold the two ends to the centre overlapping each other. Place on the tray, cover and refrigerate for an hour.
- Repeat this rolling and folding for two more times. I usually do double folds in one go, so I actually do six folds, which gives it more layers. You can do that as long as the dough is kept cool all the while.
- After the final fold, roll out the dough piece a little to help rolling out later before refrigerating.
- After an hour, roll out the dough to full length of 14 inches.
- Use a paper mould to cut out triangles. 9 inches long with a base of 4 inches.
- Put a small cut at the base of the triangle, stretch sideways, and roll towards the pointy end. That’s one croissant. Shape the croissant and place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
- Use two trays and leave space for the croissants to rise.
- Once done, cover the tray with a big grocery bag and leave at room temperature for about 2 hours.
- The croissants will rise and get softer and wobbly.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200 °C.
- Prepare glaze by whisking an egg with one egg yolk.
- Once croissants are risen, brush with egg mixture and bake for about 20 minutes, turning the tray at 10 minutes mark to get even colour on all sides.
- Cool on a wire rack.
- Baked croissants last for about a week when refrigerated in a plastic bag.
- Drizzled melted chocolate on to cooled croissants if desired.