Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Make it, eat it: croissants

I've got rid of Sunday Cooking, after its very short life. I cook too sporadically for that! Instead, welcome to 'Make it, eat it'. Pretty self-explanatory, really.

This weekend I made croissants. I love croissants: when I was little we had them every Sunday, winter and summer. Or so it seemed. I used to COVER them in butter (I have a huge soft spot for butter. In everything) until it was dripping out of each end, and it was heaven. As the years went on, fry-ups and croissants for weekends breakfasts branched out: french bread and jam, boiled eggs and kippers, continental brunch. Croissants never totally disappeared from breakfast, but just as the routine changed, so did my croissant eating. I replaced the pat of butter for dipping it in coffee instead, and having made croissants and seen what goes into them,  I realised that was probably a sensible thing to do!

The recipe is from How to Bake by Paul Hollywood. It belongs to my house mate John, and when I saw the recipe for the croissants I knew I wanted to make them. They're fairly time consuming - I started making them on Saturday afternoon, and we ate them about 24 hours later. Time it right, and they'd be perfect for breakfast. Don't be put off by the seemingly endless instructions, they're really not hard to make!

Ingredients (makes 12):-

  • 500g strong white bread flour
  • 10g salt
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 10g instant yeast
  • 300ml cool water
  • 300g chilled unsalted butter
  • 1 medium egg to glaze
  1. Put the flour into a bowl. Add the salt and sugar to one side of the bowl, and the yeast to the other. Add the water and mix on a slow speed with a dough-hook for 2 minutes, then on a medium speed for 6 minutes. The dough should be fairly stiff (although mine didn't feel particularly stiff, and they came out fine!).
  1. Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a ball. Dust with flour, put into a clean plastic bag and chill in the fridge for an hour.
  1. On a lightly floured surface, roll out your dough to a rectangle, about 60x20cm; it should be about 1cm thick. Flatten the butter into a rectangle about 40x19cm by bashing it with a rolling pin. This rectangle of butter should cover the bottom two-thirds of the dough. Make sure that it’s positioned neatly and comes almost to the edges. (Mine wasn't really the neatest positioning ever, and neither were my rectangles particularly rectangle-shaped. It turns out fine, don't stress.)
  1. Fold the exposed dough at the top down over one-third of the butter. Now cut the remaining exposed butter very gently, and place it on top of the dough you've just folded over. Fold the bottom half of the dough up. You will now have a sandwich of two layers of butter and three of dough. Pinch the edges lightly to seal in the butter. Put the dough back into the plastic bag and chill in the fridge for an hour to harden the butter.
  1. Take the dough out of the bag and place on a lightly floured work surface with the short end towards you.  Roll into a rectangle, once more about 1cm thick. This time fold up one-third of the dough and then fold the top third down on top to make a neat square. (Once again, mine didn't turn into a square. I just went with folding the bottom third onto the middle third, and then the top third onto that. Not sure that there's much difference between it being a square and a rectangle.) This is called a single turn. Put the dough back into the plastic bag and chill for another hour. Repeat this stage twice more, putting the dough back into the fridge for an hour between turns.
  1. Your dough now needs to be left in the fridge for 8 hours, or overnight, to rest and rise slightly.
  1. When you are ready to shape your croissants, line 2-3 baking trays with baking parchment or silicone paper, or lightly grease them.
  1. Put the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to a rectangle, about 42cm long, 30cm wide, and 7mm thick. Trim the edges if they aren’t neat, although I didn't do that because I didn't want to waste my buttery dough.
  1. Cut the rectangle into two strips lengthways, and the cut triangles along the edge of the rectangle. These should be about 12cm wide at the base and about 15cm high. Once you have cut the first triangle, you can use it as a template for the rest. One of my triangles was a bit stunted, but hey. A stunted croissant still tastes awesome.
  1. Starting at the thick end of each triangle, roll it up into a croissant. You will have 12 medium-sized croissants. For a traditional crescent shape, turn the ends in towards each other slightly.
  1. Put the croissants on the baking trays, about 4 to a tray, leaving space in between for them  to expand. Place in a plastic bag and leave the croissants to rise at room temperature until at least doubled in size. This should take about 2 hours.
  1. Heat your oven to 200C.
  1. Lightly whisk the egg with a pinch of salt to make an egg wash.  Brush the top and sides of the croissants with the eggwash.  Bake for 15-25 minutes or until golden brown. If they start to look burnt, put some foil over the top and carry on cooking.
  1. Cool on a wire rack, and eat whilst still warm. They taste incredible.


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