In today’s blog post, I want to give you a deeper look into the recipe I made in my latest YouTube video, ESB Monthly Bake Special : Weekend Parisian Croissant, to complete a bakers dozen of posts on my blog since the start of the year.
You can watch the video below or click the link here.
As I said in my video above, French pastries have made a name for themselves as being difficult to make. However, if you have a little extra time on your hands and want to spend some quality time baking, making your own croissant is a very rewarding bake to make and share with family and friends. And if you make them ahead, you can stash them away in the freezer and whip them out for your own stress-free Parisian breakfast any day of the week, in the comfort of your own home.
This recipe isn’t the simplest in the world but the key to making it manageable is to divide the steps over a long weekend, or three days. Dividing the steps of the recipe means that you have to do less on each day, and can rest the dough well inbetween to deepen the flavour. And although there is a bit of elbow-grease involved, it is well worth it in the end!
For me, croissants are synonymous with France and therefore Paris. Parisian breakfasts have a frisson about them, as they are prepared with love and care to create a special start to the day. In our household, having a croissant in the morning at the weekend on a Saturday has become a family tradition so I always wanted to learn how to make my own.
In May this year, I went on a Bread Ahead Course for my birthday and as part of their French Masterclass, learnt how to make my own croissant, among other bakes. Recreating them at home felt like an achievement in itself but having found that freezing them worked just as well as making them fresh, I wanted to share the recipe with you, so that you can make your own croissant too, and as easily as possible.
Weekend Parisian Croissant
Makes 12 croissants
500g Strong White Bread Flour, plus extra for dusting
55g Caster Sugar
40g Soft Butter
4g Easy Bake Yeast
140ml Cold Water
280g Unsalted French Butter
Strawberry Jam, to serve
How to make the bake
- On Friday night, or the night before you want to start making the croissant, mix together the flour, sugar and salt in a big mixing bowl. Then, as if you were making a crumble, rub the soft butter into the dry ingredients until it has almost disappeared.
- Add the yeast to the mix before combining the milk and water in a jug. Make a well in the centre of the dry mix and pour in the wet mixture. Stir all of the ingredients together until there are no dry ingredients left at the bottom or sticking around the sides and then spread it out at the base of the bowl. Cover the bowl with a shower cap or cling film to keep the dough moist and then leave in the fridge overnight. This allows the dough to relax before you work it and deepens the flavour of the finished croissant.
- The next day, or Saturday morning, it is time to laminate the dough with butter. (Top tip – Laminating means creating layers of butter in a dough to enrich it and make the texture flaky, like puff pastry.) Take the 280g of butter out of the fridge and sprinkle with flour before bashing with a rolling pin to make it into a rough square. (Top tip – Using good quality French butter, such as President, for this and other French pastry recipes, ensures better flavour and results as it has a bigger percentage of fat to water than other cheaper alternatives.)
- Take the dough out of the fridge and place on a floured surface. The next couple of steps sound more complicated than they are so to see it in action, watch the video above! Roll it out into an inch high square, then take a sharp knife and cut a diagonal slit at each of the four corners, leaving a small square in the middle. Gently pull apart and roll each section, so that you are left with thinner edges and a slightly raised centre. Put the bashed butter on the middle square and fold over the top, bottom and sides of the dough to encase the butter like a parcel.
- Take the rolling pin and roll out the parcel you have just made into a vertical rectangle. It should be about the length of the rolling pin itself with the folded seams running down the centre. Having rolled the dough out, brush off any excess flour with a pastry brush (pro tip!) and fold it in three – bringing the bottom third up to the centre and top third folded over it. Gently press down with a rolling pin, wrap the dough in greaseproof paper and leave in the fridge for an hour to rest.
- When the hour is up, take the dough out of the fridge and repeat the steps you did before. Roll out the dough into a rectangle, brush off excess flour, fold in thirds and leave to rest in the fridge for another hour. Repeat step 5 twice more before leaving the dough to rest in the fridge overnight, to cement the layers of butter you have created.
- When the dough has rested overnight, take it out of the fridge and line 2 baking trays with greaseproof paper. Sprinkle a clean surface with flour and roll out the dough into a horizontal rectangle. It needs to be about 1 cm high and the length of 1 1/2 rolling pins.
- When it’s rolled out, it’s time to start cutting and shaping your croissant dough. Trim off the excess dough from either end to give you straight edges and then, using four of your fingers as a guide, start from the left, place your fingers against the bottom corner and cut diagonally from where they stop. Move your first triangle aside, then place your fingers at the top and cut another triangle from where your fingers stop. Continue cutting triangles until you have 11 or 12 and have used all of the dough.
- With all your triangles cut, start shaping them by placing one a triangle with the base facing you and the tip furthest away. Make a small slit in the base with your knife, then twist over the sides and roll up the croissant until you reach an inch before the tip. Gently stretch the final inch of dough and tuck the point under and you have your first shaped croissant. Obviously this is a skill that takes years to perfect but as they are homemade it doesn’t matter if they look a little rustic. Continue shaping the croissant with the remaining triangles and place them, spread out, on a baking tray.
- When you have shaped your croissant, you have a choice of how you want to use them. If you want to eat them straight away, leave them to rise in a warm place for about two hours. Preheat the oven to 200’C and brush them with beaten egg before baking for 12 – 15 minutes until they are golden brown and are light to the touch around the edges.
- Or, if you want to eat them later, place the baking trays in the freezer for an hour or so and then pack four frozen croissant each into a sandwich bag. They keep for a month in the freezer so whenever you want to eat them, take them out of the freezer the night before. Put them on a baking tray and cover with a tea towel overnight to rise and defrost. Then, in the morning, brush with egg and bake for 12 – 15 minutes in 200’C oven. Serve with jam and the hot drink of your choice to have a Parisian breakfast in the comfort of your own home!
Thank you for popping by my blog and reading my guide to making your own croissant. If you decide to make it, let me know by tagging me @EnglishSingingB on Twitter or @englishsingingbaker on Instagram, and with #esbcroissants.
Hope to see you next time for another post, but in the meantime,
English Singing Baker x