Croissants – Week 20

There’s something decadent about eating a croissant for breakfast. For us it is always part of our Christmas Day breakfast but that is not the only time we eat them. That first flaky, buttery bite of a fresh croissant just pulled from a hot oven is sheer bliss! It was also, to say the least, an ambitious make for Cookery School especially when working with children, coupled with Brioche and time limited to 4 hours in my small home kitchen.

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My young ladies with their amazing Brioche!

But dear reader – I hope you will realise that I am adventurous and brave – flour, butter, salt, sugar and an egg put together in a methodical and careful manner will produce these lush crescent shaped Viennioserie (i.e. made with yeast and then enriched with butter) pastries. Well, even my professional baker husband thought I was completely mad but we did it. I may be a little batty but am never happier than when in the kitchen, covered with flour and beating, rolling or shaping dough so I gave it a shot and they were amazing! As I said to my students – read and follow the recipe! Take your time and work carefully. Don’t rush it. This is a perfect rainy day recipe. I confess that I have always used my trusty old recipe that uses a fresh yeast starter but this one worked beautifully. I find that when teaching allowing the students a chance to get stuck in and have a go from the start (rather than sit through a demo) and them guiding them and giving them plenty of time works really well. Often I get a message to say the children have taken themselves off to the kitchen and produced a recreation of their makes and sometimes even that they have taught a sibling or a friend. Sharing the love. Perfection!

Ingredients

  • 500g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 50g sugar
  • 2 x 7g sachets fast-action dried yeast
  • oil, for greasing
  • 300g butter, at room temperature.
  • 1 egg beaten

Method

  1. Put the flour, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl. Measure 300ml cold water into a jug, add the yeast and stir. Make a well in the flour and pour in the liquid. Mix, then knead on your work surface for 10 mins. Shape into a ball, put in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and chill for at least 2 hrs.
  2. Put the butter between 2 sheets of baking parchment. Using a rolling pin, bash and roll it into a rectangle about 20 x 15cm. Leave wrapped in the baking parchment and chill.
  3. Transfer the chilled dough to a floured surface and roll into a 40 x 20cm rectangle. Place the unwrapped slab of butter in the centre of the dough, so that it covers the middle third.
  4. Fold one side of the dough up and halfway over the butter.
  5. Fold the other side of the dough up and over the butter in the same way, so that the two edges of the dough meet in the centre of the butter.
  6. Fold the dough in half so that the point where the ends of the dough meet becomes the seam. Wrap in cling film and chill for 30 mins.
  7. Repeat the rolling, folding and chilling process (steps 3-6) twice more in exactly the same way – rolling the pastry while it’s still folded – without adding more butter. Wrap and chill overnight.
  8. The next day, roll the dough out on a floured surface into a large rectangle, measuring about 60 x 30cm. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, trim the edges to neaten.
  9. Cut the dough in half lengthways so that you have 2 long strips, then cut each strip into 6 or 7 triangles with 2 equal sides.
  10. Take each triangle in turn and pull the two corners at the base to stretch and

widen it.

  1. Starting at the base of each triangle, begin to gently roll into a croissant, being careful not to crush the dough.
  2. Continue rolling, making sure the tip of each triangle ends up tucked under the croissant to hold in place.
  3. Bend the ends of the croissants inwards, then transfer to baking trays lined with baking parchment, spaced well apart. Cover with lightly oiled cling film and leave to rise for 2 hrs, or until doubled in size.
  4. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Mix the beaten egg with a pinch of salt and use to generously glaze the croissants. Bake for 15-18 mins until risen and golden brown, then cool on wire racks.
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