The croissant is one of those things, for me anyway, that are quite daunting. Not only do they take nearly 17 hours to make, there are so many steps to them which can put you off trying to do them. The pictures below show my 2nd attempt; when I had first tried to make them, I didn’t anticipate the 2 hours for them to prove after shaping, and so they turned out tiny!
Although these are better, there is so much that needs to be improved; nevertheless, I think I did pretty well considering it was only my 2nd time! The great thing about Paul Hollywood’s book is the inclusion of a step-by-step photo guide, it’s very helpful and makes it seem less daunting. If you have the time, these are definitely something to make and experiment with!
- 500 g strong white bread flour (plus extra for consistent dusting)
- 10 g salt (plus a pinch for eggwash)
- 80 g caster sugar
- 10 g instant yeast
- 300 ml cool water
- 300 g chilled, unsalted butter (of good quality)
- 1 medium egg to glaze
- Add the flour to a large bowl; then add the salt and sugar to one side of the bowl, followed by the yeast on the other. Add the water and mix with your hand for around 8-10 minutes, the dough should be stiff. If you have a mixer, use the dough hooks and mix on a slow speed for 2 mins, then on a medium speed for 6 mins.
- Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape it into a ball. Dust with flour, put in a clean plastic bag and place in the fridge to chill for 1 hour.
- After 1 hour, roll the dough to a rectangle on a lightly floured surface (60 x 20 cm and 1 cm thick approx). Flatten the butter to a rectangle too (40 x 19 cm) by covering in flour and bashing with a rolling pin. Place the butter on the dough so that it covers the bottom 2/3’s of the dough – make sure it is positive to come almost to the edges.
- Fold the exposed dough at the top down over 1/3 of the butter; gently cut the exposed bit of butter without going through the dough itself, and put it on top of the dough that has just been folded down. Fold the bottom half of the dough up. It will now resemble a sandwich of 2 layers of butter and 3 of dough. Pinch lightly on the edges to seal in the butter. Put this back into the plastic bag and leave to chill in the fridge for 1 hour.
- Take the dough out of the fridge and out of the bag and place on a lightly floured surface with the short end towards you. Roll into a rectangle (approx 60 x 20 cm as before). This time, fold up 1/3 of the dough and then fold the top 1/3 down on top to make a neat square. Place the dough into the bag and chill for another hour. This has to be repeated twice more, putting the dough into the fridge for an hour between turns.
- The dough now needs to be left in the fridge for 8 hours, or overnight, to rest and rise slightly (agonising isn’t it!)
- After such time has passed, line 2-3 baking trays with baking parchment.
- Put the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to a rectangle (42 cmx 30 cm, 7 mm thick); trim the edges to neaten.
- Cut the rectangle lengthways into 2 strips, then cut triangles along the length of each strip (12 cm wide, 15 cm high from middle of the base to the tip). You should get around 6 triangles per strip.
- Before rolling, hold down the wide base of the triangle and gently tug the thin end to cause tension. Starting from the thick end, roll up into a croissant.
- Put them on the prepared baking trays, leaving space in between for them to expand (4-6 per tray). Put each tray into a clean plastic bag and leave them to rise at cool room temperature until doubled in size, you can expect this to take 2 hours.
- Lightly whisk the egg with a pinch of salt to make an egg wash. Brush the top and sides of the croissants with the egg; bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack and enjoy warm.