Saturday, December 20, 2014

a lesson in patience, or how to make croissants

I think one of my defining characteristics is my lack of patience. With people, at appointments, in shops, at traffic lights.. and when cooking, particularly. So it's weird that I decided two weekends ago to make croissants. I've been wanting to try making them for so long, as there are few things I enjoy more than breaking into a hot croissant, slathering it in butter and jam with a fresh orange juice on a lazy sunday morning. After browsing recipes constantly, I decided that I needed a good two days off to do it. Two weekends back, I had my weekend off, and decided to go for it.. 

It was so worth it. I really enjoy those Jus-Rol croissants that you get in a can, mum used to make them for us as treats or at Christmas when we were little, so I really wanted these to be better than that. I can safely say that they are SO much better than that. 

I just used the first recipe I found, which happened to be Paul Hollywood's recipe - I figured his was probably a good recipe to use - however his recipe does has a lot of waffly wording in it, so I found a more condensed version on the website. I've combined the two below, with my own additions, so I'm not taking credit for the recipe but I've added my own comments...
- 500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
- 10g salt, plus a pinch for the eggwash
- 80g caster sugar
- 10g instant yeast
- 300ml cool water
- 300g chilled unsalted butter (a good quality butter, I used President)
- 1 medium egg to glaze
1. Place the flour, salt, sugar and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Using a wooden spoon, slowly mix in a little water until the mixture forms into a pliable dough.
2. Place the dough on a floured surface and knead well until it feels elastic, I find about 15-20 minutes of good kneading.
3. Place the dough in a lightly floured plastic bag, and place it in the fridge for an hour.
4. Return the chilled dough to your floured work surface and roll it into a rectangular shape, around 60x20cm.
5. Roll out the chilled butter into a rectangle about 1cm thick between two sheets of baking parchment, around 40x19cm.
6. Place the butter rectangle at one end of the the dough rectangle, covering two thirds of the dough.
7. Make a small cut in the butter (not going through the dough) and fold the dough third with no butter, over the butter layer. Then fold the remaining dough and butter third over this, to make a neat rectangle. 
8. Pinch the edges to keep the butter in, and then place in a floured bag and return the dough to the refrigerator to chill for a further hour.
9. Flour your surface again, and roll out the dough to a rectangular shape, around 60x20 cm. 
10. Fold one-third of the dough into the middle, then fold the other third down over it, so you have another rectangle. Return to the plastic bag and refridgerate for a further hour.
11. Repeat this process of folding and chilling two more times, then place in the bag again and chill overnight or for eight hours.
12. On a floured surface, roll out to about 45x30cm and cut into two equal strips and trim the edges with a knife. 
13. Cut the dough into squares and then into two triangles, or into triangles with a 12cm wide base and 15cm high.
14. Place the dough triangles on a floured surface with the narrow point facing you, pull it down slightly to length the crosisant. Then, starting at the wide base end, roll the triangle up over itself, you could then curl them in on themselves if you like. 
15. Place the shaped croissants on baking trays lined with baking parchment and leave to rise for 1.5-2hrs. 
16. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/Gas 6. 
17. Make an egg wash with a pinch of salt, and lightly egg-wash the croissants. Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown. 
How amazing do those layers look?! The lamination with the butter makes them taste amazing, they don't even need butter when eating them, which I really like to use. Just jam, because when they cook the butter in the layers melts and makes the dough so moist and buttery. 

There is no getting away from it, they do take a long time to make, but yes, they're definitely worth it! I know recipes that take days always say 'oh but they're worth it' and sometimes I go through all the faff and thing you know what, they're not worth it the hassle. You do need to have the time on your hands, but these croissants were hand-down the best pastries I've ever eaten. I've even got some dough chilling in the fridge as we speak, I'm making a batch this weekend and freezing them so we can have them on Christmas morning! I just ate with a selection of jams (pear and damson were the absolute best) but you could definitely have them with Nutella or something, or even put chocolate inside to make some pain au chocalat... 

So, to summarise my thoughts on the homemade croissant: some things that are a right faff are definitely worth inhaling eating, maybe I'm not as impatient as I thought, you can get a surprising amount of present wrapping done between rolling turns, I could never get tired of these.

1 comment:

I love getting comments and receiving them, and I will always reply to them, even if it takes me a little while, please be patient!