The ideal croissant must be crisp and flaky on the outside – achieved with a double if not treble layer of egg wash; have well-defined, honey comb layers which are created by triple lamination and have a soft, airy buttery interior. I use a local, slightly salted welsh butter in all my croissant and pastries – the quality, flavour and consistency really does sing through and pay in great results. Practice and technique is the key to good croissant – be sure to keep your dough and your butter chilled before and between ‘folds’ so that the layering remains true and to trim your dough sheet between laminations. Croissants freeze really well too – either proved and unbaked or baked lightly. Either way, bake from frozen at around 180°C for about twenty minutes.
520g strong flour
300g full fat milk, cold
35g soft brown sugar
25g fresh yeast
250g butter - for laminating, chilled.
Flour to roll out.
Kit: rolling pin, plastic sandwich bag, triangle template, pizza cutter or sharp knife, lined baking sheet.
Ideally, prepare the dough the night before and store it in the refrigerator so that it is really chilled by the time you come to make your croissant. Alternatively, prepare the dough at least two hours before hand, place in a plastic container with a lid and chill.
Method: To mix the croissant dough by hand, rub the butter into the flour in a bowl. Separately mix the milk, sugar, salt and yeast in a bowl and add to the flour mixture. Bring together into a crumbly dough. Turn out onto a clean work surface and knead for ten to fifteen minutes.
If you are using an electric mixer, process with a dough hook on low speed for three to four minutes, then increase the speed to high and mix together for another 2 minutes.
Keep wrapped and cool in the fridge whilst you prepare the butter.
Liberally flour your butter blocks and place in a medium sized plastic bag, food grade. Use a rolling pin to gently pound the butter into a 10cm x 18cm rectangle, about 1cm thick.
Take your dough and roll out into a rectangle, 30 x 18cm and place the butter in the centre of the dough. Fold the dough over the top, squeezing the edges together to completely enclose the butter. Carefully roll the dough out into a rectangle 65 x 18cm. Fold the rectangle from one long end by one third. Fold the other long end over the top so that the dough is layered in three levels. These folds are similar to the folding of a letter to place in an envelope and are known as a letter fold.
Put the dough into a plastic bag or cover well with cling film and chill 20 minutes to allow the gluten to relax and the butter in the layers to set. Repeat this folding and resting process twice more, each time rotating the dough 90 degrees so that as you roll it out you are stretching it in the opposite direction to the previous fold.
Once the dough has been rolled and folded three times, and had a final rest in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes (alternatively, pop it in the freezer for a couple of hours and remove when ready to use – the dough will take about thirty minutes at room temperature before it is good to roll but this is a handy way to manage your time), it is ready to be pinned out and shaped into croissants .
Form your croissant as instructed in the workshop and glaze with an egg wash. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to prove for two hours.
Heat oven to 200°C. Egg wash your croissant for a second time and load into the oven. Reduce the heat to 190°C and bake for 15 minutes. If necessary, turn the tray and bake for a further 5 minutes, until deeply bronzed. Cool on a wire rack.
For further information on bakery and cookery workshops run by Vic North Bakes, please visit our website www.vicnorth.co.uk or call on 01239 682002