Thursday, 3 July 2014

Andrew's Homemade Croissants

One of the best things about being on holiday in France is getting to the bakery, or boulangerie et patisserie if you prefer, early to purchase Croissants for breakfast.

And, if I'm really lucky, Andrew will get up first and go up into the village himself to get them - as that usually involves rowing to the village from the boat, it give me ages to lie in bed & read my book!

There is something wonderful about these buttery, flaky little pastries and of course, you can buy them from the supermarket but unless they are very fresh they always seem to be a bit 'cardboardy' & stale. Believe me, nothing beats the real thing and baking them at home, eaten straight from the oven with Brittany butter, apricot preserve and a cup of espresso is perfection.

In our house Andrew is the baker and croissants are his signature dish. Every few months he will  make a large batch & we freeze them - uncooked - to be thawed & given a final proving early on a Sunday morning!

We have had to limit ourselves to only eating them on a Sunday - otherwise we get soooo fat!

To Make 12-14

500g strong plain flour plus extra for dusting
45g unrefined sugar
1 tsp salt
15g fresh yeast (if using dried follow the packet instructions to make equivalent)
200ml lukewarm water
100ml lukewarm milk
250g butter plus extra for greasing 
1 egg.

Place the butter between two sheets of greaseproof paper and beat with a rolling pin

Until you have flattened it into a 20cm square

Pop back in the fridge to harden - this makes it easier to work with later

Measure out your flour, sugar & salt.......

And sift into a large bowl.....

Crumble your yeast into the warm water & milk, mix & leave for about 5 minutes for the yeast to dissolve and to start 'working' - the top of the liquid will start to become frothy

Make a well in the middle of the flour and pour in your yeast mixture. Stir in the liquid gradually drawing the flour, until you have a smooth dough.

Shape into a ball, cover and leave to rest in the fridge for 20 minutes.

We followed a friends advise of putting the dough ball into a large freezer bag - but this proved a bit messy when removing the dough ball......

Although it did work well apart from that small problem....

Dust a surface with flour and roll the dough out to a 40 cm square - you want your dough square to be twice the size of your butter square....

Place the butter into the middle .....

And fold your dough over.....

You need to make sure the ends meet and the butter isn't poking out

fold over any edges to make your square

Roll the dough out to a 24cm by 60cm rectangle. Dust with a little extra flour so that the dough doesn't stick to the work surface, if needed.

Fold one third of the dough on top of the other and then fold over the remaining third...

Turn by 90 degrees, roll out again and then fold again as describe above .....

Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge to rest for 30 minutes.

Repeat the rolling out & folding two more times, then wrap the dough & leave in the fridge for a further 30 minutes...

Now make a triangle template measuring 21cm by 21cm by 14cm. Because Andrew makes croissants quite often he's made a wooden template but stiff card or an old ice cream tub lid will work just as well.

Roll out your dough to 42cm square

Cut the dough in half horizontally, then mark out your triangles and cut out

Roll the dough from the base of each triangle and shape into a crescent if you wish - we prefer to leave them straight

Place on a lightly buttered baking sheet and leave them to double in size at room temperature

 (sorry about my manky baking tray......)

Heat your oven to 220C /gas 7

Brush with a beaten egg and bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

We had a few strips of dough left over so rolled up & studded with dark chocolate to make our version of 'pain au chocolat' as an extra treat....

Serve on their own or with a little butter & jam.....

Bon appetit.................

Here's the printable recipe