I have been trying to make perfect croissants for quite a while now.
They are not as complicated, really, as they are made to seem. But they do require something which I do not possess: a lot of patience.
But as my beautiful daughter teaches me this virtue more and more, I have found that I have wanted to attempt them again. And this time, it worked.
Under the careful guidance of Paul Hollywood in his recipe, which I have adapted a little to make them slightly more healthy, I found I have been able to make a month’s worth of weekend croissants for us in one batch, and have it come out well every time.
So if you have a little bit of time spread over a couple of days, a lot of patience, a few basic ingredients, and a desire to make your own croissants, which are healthier and far better tasting than the shop-bought ones, then give this a go.
Once you’ve had homemade ones, trust me, you won’t want to go back!
Makes 12 big croissants or 18-24 small ones
250g white bread flour
250g wholemeal bread flour
60g caster sugar
10g fast action yeast
300ml cool water
250g chilled unsalted butter
1 egg to glaze
1. Put the flour in the bowl of a freestanding mixer, place salt and sugar on one side and yeast on the other, add the water and mix on low speed, then move up to fast speed for 6-8 mins (you can also mix and knead this by hand). You may need to add a little more water to bring it together, but it should be a fairly stiff dough, so don’t overdo it!
2. Shape the dough into a ball, wrap in cling film, and leave to rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
3. While the dough is resting, place the block of butter between two large pieces of cling film or greaseproof paper and bash with a rolling pin until it forms a large rectangle (about 40 x 19cm), then wrap in clingfilm and leave in the fridge to chill again until the dough is ready.
4. Roll the dough out to a rectangle that is a third longer, and only slightly wider than the butter (about 60 x 20 cm). Place the butter on the bottom two-thirds of the dough, fold the top of the dough over the top third of the butter, then gently cut the exposed bit of butter and move it on top of the folded dough. Finally, fold the bottom third of the dough over the exposed butter (so you should have three layers of dough and two of butter alternating). Pinch the edges together, wrap in clingfilm, and place back in the fridge for at least another hour.
5. Roll the dough into the same size rectangle as before (about 60 x 20cm). Fold the bottom third of the dough up to the centre, then fold the top third over it. Wrap in cling film again, mark it (or a piece of paper) with a “1” to signify one turn, then return to the fridge for another hour. Repeat this step twice more, so that you have completed 3 turns, chilling the dough for an hour between each turn.
6. Leave the dough in the fridge overnight, or for at least 8 hours.
8. Tug gently on the long end of the triangle to lengthen it slightly, then roll the croissant up from the wide end. (Again, if you would like a visual aid, this video is great.) If you want to make filled croissants (chocolate chips, ground almonds mixed with almond extract or your own choice), place a line of your filling along the wide end of your croissant before you roll it up. If you make a mixed batch of plain, and different fillings, as I tend to do, make sure you mark clearly which ones are which (with toothpicks in filled ones, or writing an A for almond, C for chocolate, etc on the baking tray next to the right ones).
9. Place croissants on baking trays lined with greaseproof paper, cover loosely with cling film, and leave to rise at room temperature for 2 hours.
10. Brush with beaten egg and bake at 200C/180C fan for 15 mins, until golden brown.