Baked for lunch, Monday 11 June 2007
This recipe isn't from Delicious, but I wanted to post it anyway. There's something very satisfying about baking your own flaky, buttery croissants from scratch. It does take time. Although most of it is resting the dough at various stages, rather than hands on work, it does require some attention. Allow four hours. That said, it is not a difficult recipe. It's something of an eye opener to see the slab of butter that goes into this. Perhaps croissants should carry a Sugeon General's Warning.
The first part can be handled by your bread machine if you have one. Put 1.5tsp dried yeast, 330g plain flour, 15mL sugar, 1tsp salt, 25g butter, 1 egg and 145mL milk in the macine, in the order appropriate for the brand, and tell it to make dough. This will take about 70 minutes.
While you're waiting, you might as well prepare the other ingredients. Tear 70g ham into small pieces and cut 175g Gruyere cheese into small sticks.
Soften 175g butter and shape it into a 2cm thick block. If it's as cold as it was here today, you'll probably need to use the microwave and do this when the dough is nearly ready. I prepared it too early, and the butter had hardened again by the time the bread-machine had finished, so I needed to pop it back in. 30 s to 1 min on "defrost".
Tip the dough onto a floured surface, knock it down lightly, then roll to a roughly rectangular shape twice as long as the butter block and a little bit wider:
Put the butter on the dough, fold it over and press the edges to sela them:
At some time in the next few steps, it's almost inevitable that some butter will leak. Don't worry about it, just spread the butter over the dough and re-seal.
Roll the dough until it is about 2cm thick and twice as long as it is wide:
Fold one end over, then the other. Roll it out again, and repeat.
Wrap in plastic and chill for 15 minutes. Repeat the rolling, folding and chilling twice more, chilling for 30 minutes instead of 15 minutes the last time. All this folding and rolling is what creates the buttery layers in the final pastry.
By now probably 2.5 hours have passed since you started. At last, you can start shaping the croissants. One thing I like about the book this recipe is from is that the instructions are nice and specific. Roll the dough flat, into a rectangle of 53cm x 30cm. Cut it down the middle to create two 15cm strips. Next, measure and mark 15cm intervals along one long edge of one strip. Measure 7.5cm from the end of the otehr long edge, then mark out 15cm intervals from there. Cut diagonally to create 6 not-quite equilateral triangles. Repeat for the second strip.
Place 1/12th of the ham and cheese near the long edge of a triangle. Pull the corners out a little, then roll it from the flat edge, over the filling, towards the point. Leave the point tucked under the bottom.
Curl the edges away from the point to make the familiar crescent shape.
Lay out the 12 croissants on two baking sheets. Cover with plastic and leave in a warm place to rise. Ideally, they should double in size. This will take at least half an hour, but today it took 45 minutes and they hadn't quite doubled. On a winter's day, you might need to get creative to find a warm place. My usual trick is to put them in the back of the car, in the sun, but there wasn't much sun today. Instead, I put them in our bathroom, under the heat lights. Before rising:
Brush with an egg yolk beaten with 1tbsp milk, then pop them in a hot (200C) oven for 15-20 minutes.