I have always wanted to try making croissants but there’s one ingredient needed that I normally can’t find: TIME.
The other day, I was watching this cooking show called Alive and Cooking and I saw French chef Emmanuel Mollois demonstrating to James Reeson (and of course the people watching the show) how to make croissants. He made it look so easy, plus the amount of butter in the recipe (although it was a lot), was not as much a I thought croissants needed. I have decided TIME has come to me at last — despite the heaps of clothes to fold and iron and a house that needed cleaning heehee.
I can’t say my first attempt at making croissants was 100% successful but it IS a success — does that make sense? They came out crunchy on the outside and fluffy inside and eating them by itself or with something else (my daughter put cheese, my husband used cheese spread and jam on another) with your breakfast coffee or hot chocolate on a cold winter morning with your family is definitely one of those moments you would remember 🙂 But of course, I had to do some adjustments, as you probably would everytime you try a recipe.
500 grams plain flour, sifted (yes, sifted please)
1 teaspoon dry yeast (please check that your yeast is not expired; they should be in a foil pack so that they are protected from air)
1 tablespoon milk (I used semi skim milk, which is what we have)
260 mls cold water (I didn’t get from the fridge — I just used room temp water)
25 grams butter, melted (no, this is not all the butter you will need. I used salted butter but original recipe called for unsalted butter)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt (you can adjust this to just 1 teaspoon if you are using salted butter, but I didn’t adjust at all and it didn’t turn out salty at all)
55 grams caster sugar
250 grams unsalted butter, softened (again, I used salted butter)
egg wash (Emmanuel’s recipe called for a mixture of 1 egg with 1 egg yolk beaten with 50 ml milk — I used 1 extra jumbo egg plus milk that I didn’t even measure lol — this is just for brushing on top of the croissants before baking to make them glossy)
a pair of strong arms (yours or your husband’s if you can convince him to get off the couch)
Since it is winter, I left my 250 grams butter on the counter to soften for later use. You should not leave your butter in the counter this early if it is summer or your butter will melt. Forget about the butter for awhile.
Warm your milk in the microwave oven for about 30 seconds. If you have a thermometer, check the temperature — it should only be about 50 deg C, or lukewarm.
Put 450 grams of your flour in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the yeast and on the yeast, pour the milk (at this point, Emmanuel says to sprinkle a bit of flour on the milk and see that it starts to bubble as this would ensure your yeast is working — mine didn’t bubble so I was starting to feel a bit doubtful but I went on with the next step). Slowly add the water and melted butter. If you have a mixer, mix using your hook attachment. If you don’t have a mixer, either use a wooden spoon or your hands to mix them together. Add the remaining 50 grams of your flour a little at a time as needed (I said “as needed” as sometimes you don’t need as much — you can use the remaining flour for later, when you are kneading). Add the salt and sugar and keep mixing until a sticky dough forms.
Lightly flour your clean counter or table top and knead the dough for about 10 minutes, or until the dough forms a smooth ball. If necessary, dust with a bit of flour to reduce stickiness. When the dough is smooth and not sticky anymore, place it in the same bowl you used earlier, and cover the dough with cling wrap. Refrigerate (yes, refrigerate!) for 3 hours — told you, you need time for this recipe :0
Your dough should double in size he said, but mine didn’t seem to do so, hence I was again in doubt. Should I forge on and do the next (long) steps? Yes, I did. In the original recipe, although Emmanuel said to leave the dough in the fridge for 3 hours, he also added that overnight is preferred — that probably is to give it more chance to rise. But I decided to stick to the 3 hours (risen or not), do the next steps, and leave my dough to rise overnight AFTER they are made into crescent shapes.
Next step is to take the dough out of the fridge, prep your surface again with a bit of flour and using your rolling pin, roll the dough flat to make a vertical rectangular shape that is 3 times longer than it is wide — I hope you understand what that means. Don’t be afraid to stretch your dough to make the corners. Mine measured about 21 cm x 34 cm or thereabouts. Sorry, I forgot to take a photo.
Spread with your fingertips 1/2 of your softened butter on the center third part of the rectangular dough. Fold down the upper third of the dough to cover the buttered section. Spread the remaining half of the softened butter on top of the folded section again using your fingertips. Now fold up the bottom third of the dough to cover the buttered section. I can only compare the folding method to the way you would fold a typewritten letter before you put it in an envelope, except top part first before bottom (people, remember paper letters? Anyway…).
Turn the dough 90 degrees so that the folded seams are facing either to the right or to the left. Roll your dough using your rolling pin, again to make a vertical rectangular shape like the one you did earlier. Fold the same way, except of course without the buttering part. Cover entirely with cling wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. You would need to repeat this procedure (rolling and folding without the butter) 3 more times (yes, 3 more times!) resting the dough wrapped in the cling wrap in the fridge for 30 minutes each time you do it, for a total of 4 times (unfortunately, I only did it 2 more times as my daughter was excited to do some of the shaping and if I did this step one more time, she would be sleeping really late so I had to give in).
Roll the dough this time into a larger and thinner but same vertical rectangular shape about 3 -4 mm thick. Cut out triangles measuring about 10 cm wide x 20 cm long. Make a small incision at the base of each triangle and fold outwards the resulting small flaps before rolling up towards the pointy part of the triangle.
Leave the shape as is, or bend it make a crescent shape (as you make the crescents, you will see for yourself whether you want to change the size to bigger, or smaller ones — remember though, this will double in size). Place in a tray lined with wax paper leaving spaces in between each crescents to allow for rising and leave in a draft free place (no need to cover) preferably where the temperature is about 20 deg C, which was more or less how it was during that time. In the original recipe, you only need to wait about 20 -50 minutes and the dough should rise by a third of their original size, but again, mine did NOT and I was already feeling downhearted at this point. I decided to turn on the oven at 180 deg C for about 2- 3 minutes and then turned it off again then placed my trays of unrisen croissants inside and left them overnight without any expectation and fingers that were crossed. (WARNING though when you do this: do NOT leave your oven on for more than 3 minutes because if your oven is hot and not just warm, the heat will melt the butter in your dough resulting to flat croissants flooded with melted butter. That was a mistake I did the 2nd time I made croissants. My heart sank when this happened, just like what happened to those croissants.) It is therefore better just to leave your dough in your oven WITHOUT warming it up first if you are leaving them there overnight anyway. That’s plenty of time for them to rise.
Around 4:30 am after tossing and turning and worrying about my croissants, I got up and opened the oven. WOW, they have more than doubled in size! Happily I went back to bed and left them in the oven. At about 6:30 am, I took them out and brushed each with eggwash, preheated the oven at 200 deg C for 10 minutes. I baked them for about 10 minutes, turned down the heat to 170 deg C and continued baking them for a further 5 minutes. DO NOT BE TEMPTED TO OPEN YOUR OVEN during the cooking process. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
You should hear a crunching sound as you bite on one, and inside should be fluffy 🙂
I wouldn’t say my first attempt at making croissants is 100% successful because despite being scrumptious and heavenly (our opinion), it probably would be better if I did the fourth folding (maybe).
This isn’t something I would be doing that often as it needs time, but it was a joy to make and as my husband and daughter said, the recipe is a keeper. Buying them from the shops is alright but coming out of your own oven is much better 😉 Coffee please!