I never thought I could do it but I did! I have successfully conquered one of my greatest kitchen fears and made croissants (and pain au chocolat but they are really the same thing and honesty… who is counting :-))! Hooray! At the moment I officially rock.
My mother (bless her) deplored pre-made food. She would spend her Saturday mornings in the kitchen making all sorts of essentials for the week: pasta, flaky pastry, short pastry, Asian bread, whole grain loaves, dumplings, spring rolls and you name it. Needless to say, my childhood was terribly delicious and I was understandably, round around the edges. I inherited my mother’s tenacity and determination in anything food. H and I generally have a go at making everything from scratch instead of giving in to the general trend of ready made ingredients. But having to hold down a full time job, a side cake business, look after a needy dog and sometimes a needy boyfriend means that occasionally I cave in and swing by a bakery for bread, Sabato for pastry and anywhere for dried pasta. I am weak … but human.
We are both silly fans of croissants from the La Cigale market. I say silly because a pain au chocolat can easily set us back $5. Last weekend, I decided enough was enough. Since I had a free afternoon to myself, why not roll us my sleeves and make some pastry!
I started off by ploughing through my baking books and indexed recipes from the Internet. Every person and her mother has a spin on how to make flaky pastry/croissants. Every one claims to be able to speak with authority, the correct butter to flour ratio for croissants. Honestly? Whatever floats your boat is what I say. The basic concept is not that hard to grasp, you need a dough of some sort folded over itself multiple times with a butter layer between each fold. I am not a big butter fan and like my food quite plain. I also would like to live to a ripe old age and watch my grandchildren grow up so numbers had to be tweaked.
It is really simple actually. All you need to have is a bit of patience, a good DVD playing in the background, some space in the freezer and a tape measure.
For the dough
- 3¼ cup flour
- 1¼ cup milk
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 8g instant yeast
- 5og butter
For the butter square
- 150g butter
- 2 tbs flour
For egg wash
- 1 egg whisked
- Put all the dough ingredients save the butter in a mixing bowl and whisk still combined (using a dough hook).
- Mix in the butter and mix till a dough has formed and is not sticking to the side of the bowl (but should be sticking to the bottom). Do not over mix.
- Remove from bowl and roll out to a 13 inch square.
- Wrap well and chill for 1 hour.
- Mean while combine the butter and flour for the butter square just enough so the two become homogeneous. Do this with a wooden spoon or a pastry scraper because you do not want to cream the butter.
- With a piece of glad wrap covering the butter/flour mixture, roll the mixture out into a 6 inch square.
- Wrap well and chill for at least half an hour.
- Take the two layers out of the fridge and unwrap.
- Lay the dough on work surface and centre the butter square diagonally on top of the dough. You should be left with four triangular overhang.
- Fold the overhang pieces up over the butter square and using your fingers seal the edges until you are left with a square shaped parcel. Make sure you do this step properly as you don’t want any butter seeping out while rolling.
- Flour the parcel lightly and roll out into a 15 inch square.
- Fold the square into thirds horizontally.
- Then fold the strip vertically into thirds. You should end up with a squarish looking block.
- Wrap well and leave in freezer for one hour.
- Remove from freezer, gently tap with rolling pin to loosen the dough.
- Roll the block out into a 15 inch square.
- Repeat steps 13 to 15 twice.
- Roll the block out into a 20 inch square and cut into half horizontally.
- For each horizontal strip make three vertical cuts so you end up with four equal rectangular pieces of pastry. Doing the math, you should end up with 8 rectangles.
- Cut each rectangular pieces diagonally so you end up with 16 triangular pieces of pastry.
- Gently shape each triangular piece of pastry so that the two long sides are roughly equal in length. Starting from the short straight edge, roll the dough gently towards the pointed end.
- Once the dough has been rolled up gently shape the log into a crescent shape. This is where you can add your croissant fillings as you roll the dough, chocolate, berry compote, or even cheese.
- For the ones to be frozen, this is when you line your freezer with baking paper and freeze the uncooked croissants.
- For the ones you intend to bake straight away, leave on lined baking tray for about 1 hour to proof.
- Egg wash the croissants once the pastry has proofed in room temperature and bake for 20 minutes on 170°C fan bake or until the pastries are cooked.
Looks like a handful I know but the best thing to do is to take your time and go through the steps one by one. A glass of soothing merlot does not hurt either!