My parents have always been obsessed with croissants, so much so that when my father couldn’t work out where the cereal was kept on his house and left alone for breakfast, there was no question of sending his secretary out to the corner shop to buy him none other than a croissant. What’s not to love? A buttery, flaky pastry that melts in the mouth, a crisp exterior best served warm with lashings of jam. Even the famous ‘French Women Don’t Get Fat Diet’ recommends a small croissant for breakfast as the only way to start the day. Marie-Antoinette is said to have brought these delicate pastries over from Vienna to Paris. Virtually the only thing she would eat, they are even said to have inspired the notorious ‘Let them eat cake’ quotation. Definitely not an everyday bake, rather time consuming, they are nonetheless exceptionally satisfying to make, and make the house smell amazing, making my parents’ only 24 hours in the house in my 2 weeks at home, special.
Makes 13 small croissants
250g plain flour
70g whole milk
20g unsalted butter
large pinch salt
drop vanilla essence
140g cold butter
1 egg, beaten to wash
1. Mix all the ingredients together ( I used a dough hook on my kitchen aid). When combined knead for 3mins so there is moderate gluten development, too much will cause too much fight back from the dough while ‘laminating’ (adding the butter). The best way to tell is when the dough has turned shiny and doesn’t leave any traces on the side of the bowl. Shape the dough like a disc (so it can be easily shaped into a square later) and leave in the fridge overnight.
2. To Laminate, start by slicing the butter and filling a 7.5cm square on a larger piece of baking parchment. Place another baking parchment piece on top and roll out to 9.5cm square. Trim the uneven edges to 8.5cm square and place the trimmings on top, gently even out the thickness. Then refrigerate. To get an even thickness, roll from the middle to each side, rotating
3. Take out the dough. Roll out to 20x30cm rectangle using the same method as above. BUT this time sprinkle both pieces of paper with flour. Take your butter out of the fridge and place in the centre so that a corner is facing an edge. fold each corner of the dough into the centre like an envelope. Roll out using the method above to a 20x30cm square. Fold the edges in like an envelope again and refrigerate for 30mins. Repeat this process 4 times. On the last time roll the dough out to 20x70cm, dust with flour, carefully fold and refrigerate overnight. Alternatively you can leave in the freezer for a couple of hours then the fridge for another couple of hours.
4. Take the dough out and trim any curved edges. Using a pizza cutter/knife and a tape measure, mark 10cm intervals along the top. Mark 5cm along the bottom then continue in 10cm intervals. Using a ruler, cut diagonally towards the firs 5cm notch from the top left corner and then diagonally up to the first 10cm notch on the top, this will form a triangle. Continue. You should have 13 triangles and a few extra pieces for make into pain au chocolate’s (by filling with a square of good quality dark chocolate) or just odd shaped croissants.
5. Take a triangle, make a cut in the middle of the bottom and roll up to the point. Continue with the remaining triangles. Place on a lined baking sheet and brush with egg wash. Leave for 2 hours at room temperature to prove. .
6. Bake at 180oC fan for 6mins. Then turn the oven down to 150oC and bake for a further 8-9mins. They can be reheated, not as good as freshly baked, but almost.