The croissant interior when hot and just fresh out of the oven.
The croissant interior at room temperature.
After the success of my attempt at making Danish Pastries last year, I have been aspiring to try making croissants since. I have come across an award winning recipe from the Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie (World Cup of Baking) held in France in 1999. The article has very clear illustrations of each crucial step of making the croissants from ‘Fine Cooking’ magazine (USA) a few years ago, so I decided to use it as my first try at making croissants. The only changes I made were to use 80% bread flour and 20% plain flour (all-purpose flour), and also I used instant yeast instead of the active dry yeast stated in the original recipe. I also reduced the quantity to use just 1 block of 250g-butter so there’s no need to open a new pack of butter.
The croissants tasted really fantastic fresh out of the oven and wonderfully light and flaky even though they were my very first effort at making the traditional laminated dough. Although it was very time-consuming to make, the chance of eating the freshest of the fresh croissants is reward enough. My techniques of rolling and folding of the dough, and the shaping of the croissants still need lots of practice (I found it hard to shape the croissants to curve as much as those in the original recipe with the two ends almost touching each other), but they still look reasonably good for a first attempt! I also forgot to cut a notch at the base of the triangular pastry before rolling up, which resulted in the croissants ‘straightening’ after baking – well I think that’s the reason anyway!
Makes 14 to 18 croissants depending on size
200g bread flour
1/2 teaspoon caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
150ml lukewarm water
150g bread flour
80g plain flour
2 tablespoons milk powder
60g caster sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons instant yeast
100ml (approx.) lukewarm water, adjust as necessary
40g unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
210g unsalted butter, cold
1 egg, lightly beaten for eggwash
Mix all ingredients together until flour is moistened. Cover and let rest at room temperature for 12 hours. (I forgot to plan ahead so rested the sponge dough for only 6 hours.)
1. In a mixing bowl, mix together bread and plain flours, milk powder, sugar and salt. Stir in prepared sponge dough, yeast and gradually add just enough lukewarm water to form a slightly sticky dough. Knead for about 10-15 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Add cubed room-temperature butter and continue to knead until incorporated.
2. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with cling wrap and let proof in a warm place for about 1 hour (it may takes longer in cold weather), or until double in size.
3. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a rectangle slightly larger than 24 by 24cm. Place the dough rectangle on a baking sheet.
4. Cover with cling wrap and freeze for about 30 minutes to get the consistency of chilled butter.
5. Roll the 210g chilled butter between plastic sheet to form a rectangle 24 by 12cm. Square up rectangle with a spatula or dough scraper.
6. Position the butter rectangle on one side of the dough (pic #1 above). Fold the rest of dough over butter and seal edges to completely enclose the butter (#2).
7. Turn the dough 90° so that the longer side is nearest to you (#3). Roll out the dough into a 20 by 36cm rectangle (#4). Fold one-third of the dough towards the centre (#5). Fold the other third over the two layers (#6). Wrap the dough in cling wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes. Repeat the rolling and folding process two more times (pics #3 to #6) and chill.
8. Finally, on a floured surface, roll the dough into a 36 by 48cm rectangle (#7).
9. Place the dough so that one of the 48cm sides is nearest to you. On the upper edge of the 48cm side (the side furthest from you), measuring from the left corner, cut small notches every 12cm (or 9.5cm for smaller croissants). On the lower edge of the of the 48cm side (the side nearest from you), do the same thing. With a pizza cutter and a ruler, connect the upper left corner of the top edge to the first notch on the bottom edge. Continue making parallel diagonal lines. Now connect the lower left corner of the bottom edge to the first notch on the top edge to cut a triangle (#8); continue until you end up with 14 triangles (or 18 triangles if making smaller croissants) and some scraps. Cut a small notch in the middle of each triangle base and dab the three corners with egg wash. The notch helps the rolled croissant curls into a crescent.
The shaped croissant doughs.
10. To roll the crescents, start at the base and roll towards the tip. Finish the roll so that the tip is underneath the croissant. Curve the end of each croissant. (The shaped croissant doughs may be frozen at this time).
After eggwashing the croissants.
11. Preheat oven to 190°C. Arrange croissants on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Let them rise uncovered at room temperature or until they puff up and feel airy. Brush with eggwash. Bake the croissants for 18 to 20 minutes.
Texture: Light and flaky, crispy outside with a slightly chewy buttery interior
Consume: Best served warm
Recipe Reference: ‘Baking Light and Flaky Croissants’ by Robert Jörin, from December 1999/January 2000 issue of ‘Fine Cooking’ magazine, USA