Croissants

I will get round to posting some topical blogs but for now heres a baking post. Origionally posted at https://whatyougotcooking.wordpress.com/ my dedicated baking blog.

It took three days,

not a lot of effort

and it was totally worth it!

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I made some mini ones from scraps of dough

I gave this recipe two goes, the first part of this blog will mostly discuss the things I learnt and what went wrong. The second will discuss the changes I made to try and improve from the first.

I went in search of a detailed and well researched recipe & method with plenty of visuals to guide my way. This came in the form of The Weekend Bakery.

Recipe:

500g Plain Flour (10-11% protein)

140ml Water

140ml Whole Milk

55g Caster Sugar

40g Soft Unsalted Butter

11g Yeast

12g Salt

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280g Unsalted butter

1 egg & 1 tbsp. water for the egg wash.

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I spent a good month after discovering the recipe sourcing all the correct ingredients and equipment, reading, re-reading the method so I would be familiar with the processes. I read the questions and comments that people had left underneath the original post and the responses (this particularly helped in opening my eyes to the world of Protein % in flour!).

So I got myself a decent fine flour, the bakers over at Weekend Bakery recommend something called French Type 55 flour but even in the posh-est supermarket near me with the widest choice of all kinds of flour this wasn’t available. There was a comment on the website that I had read which said the best flour would be one with no less than 10% and no more than 11% protein. I looked at the nutritional information on all the different flours and settled for McDoughalls “00” Grade Premium Plain Flour at 11g of protein per 100g flour.

I chose a locally produced butter made up of 82% fat so nothing basic or too expensive.

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Some of the people who’s culinary excellence has rubbed off on me slightly. Their watchful eyes still didn’t help my first attempt.

An unwilling alteration I made was to use the dried active yeast. Because my dad makes his own bread we always have yeast in the fridge, usually fast action and dried active, on this particular day my dad had just made a fresh loaf of delicious bread and used the last of the fast action yeast. I could have just got in my car and gone to get some more but having already been to the shops that day I decided to use what I had. To activate the dried active yeast I warmed up the water and milk and stirred in the yeast (by warm I literally mean about 35 degrees).

A few tips from Weekend Bakery:

Before you embark on this kind of project ensure you’re working in an environment no hotter than 20 degrees. If your kitchen is too warm the butter will soften (or even melt) too quickly and its imperative to keep the butter as cold as possible.

Shaping the dough into a disc on day 1 will make it easier to roll out on day 2.

Keep your dough as cold as possible while laminating (folding the layers of butter) and try to keep the rolling out and folding process to less than 4/5 minutes.

When rolling always roll from the centre out not from one side to another.

Give yourself plenty of time to familiarise yourself with the method especially at¬†the Weekend Bakery¬†¬†I was very prepared and even still if you continue to read this post you’ll see the things I struggled with or may have done wrong.

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DAY 1

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Day one is about making the dough. Simply combine all the ingredients in a bowl and knead for a small about of time (3/4 minutes just until the ingredients all come together) shape into a ball and flatten the top down into a disc. Put on a plate, cover with cling film and refrigerate overnight.

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DAY 2

Take the butter out of the fridge and cut into strips about 1 1/2cm wide and arrange into a square on a sheet of grease proof paper, cover with another sheet of grease proof and begin to roll the butter out to about 19x19cm square, trim to a square about 15x15cm. Put the excess back on top and continue to roll to 17x17cm.

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* I found I had to spread the excess butter onto the square because when I tried to roll it back out to 17cm it didn’t keep it’s shape.

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Pop the butter back into the fridge and pull out the dough. Lightly dust the work surface and roll the dough out to 26x26cm square (as square as you can get). Keep the dough square to you and place your chilled butter on top with one corner towards you (like a diamond on top of the square).

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Fold the dough over the butter to encase it completely, lightly compress the creases and turn over.

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Roll out to 20x60cm fold the left third into the middle and then the right on top. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

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After 30 minutes roll again to 20x60cm, be sure to roll out from the sides where you can see the folds (imagine it is where you left it after the first fold, then ‘turn’ 90degrees). Wrap and refrigerate for another 30 minutes then repeat the lamination once more before refrigerating overnight.

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DAY 3

Today kids…you’ll need a tape measure and pizza wheel.

Roll the dough out as before but to 20x110cm. Trim the edges so the dough measures 20x100cm. Along one side make small notches in the dough at 12.5cm intervals, and on the other side do the same but starting from 6.25cm.

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Now using the pizza wheel join the notches together to form diagonal lines and again the other way to make the triangles for each croissant.

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So something like this / / / / / / / / then /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/

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Next make a 1.5cm cut in the centre of the shortest side of the croissant triangle (so the odd side¬†of the¬†isosceles-¬†check me and my triangle knowledge out) ¬†and from that roll the croissants up. This is the step I struggled with the most until I watched the video that Weekend Bakery had provided along side their post. I honestly wouldn’t know how to describe it so if you don’t know what you’re doing take a look here: http://youtu.be/Ot3jKnkTfPY

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Once all the croissants are rolled place them spaciously on baking trays brush lightly with egg, cover and prove for 2 hours. The temperature must not exceed 25 degrees (something I discovered is imperative through failure) otherwise the butter sweats or even melts. (On first try without a proving draw¬†I set the main oven to warm up for the cooking and attempted to prove in the top oven from the heat below, this was far too hot and the yeast in the dough wasn’t given enough time to raise before the butter had melted so they flopped. see below what I did to have more success second time around)

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Once the croissants have at least tripled in size set the oven to 200C and wait for it to get up to temperature, brush once more with egg wash, reduce to 190 and put the croissants in for 6 minutes before reducing once more to 165. These directions are specific to the Weekend Bakery so may not be the best method oven-to-oven, this will need adjusting to specific ovens.

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The croissants came out looking like someone had stood on them half way through the baking but inside they had a great ‘honeycomb’ structure and the taste was exactly as you would expect from this classic breakfast pastry. I ate about 4 all in one sitting.

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Here are the things I did differently when I came to making the croissant dough the second time around.

Number 1: I used the fast action yeast!- there was no waiting for the yeast to activate, which wouldn’t be a problem to someone who is more experienced with bread making and working with yeast but for a novice like me I do think it was undesirable in this particular recipe. The fast action yeast went in the bowl along with the dry ingredients then incorporate the milk, water and butter.

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Number 2: I used a flour with only 10% protein- theres something to do with the protein in the flour creating a dough that’s too elasticated so when you’re laminating it shrinks back and becomes a pain to work with meaning you have to spend more time with the dough out of the fridge and the butter will soften. I didn’t feel like I was spending less time faffing about and if I had I would count having already laminated before being what sped up the process.

Number 3: When making the dough I used pure human strength!- Basically I didn’t use a mixer with a dough hook, I used a bowl and my hands.

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Number 4: I shaped the dough into a square- not sure it helped the edges rounded off anyway!

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Number 5: I used a different block of butter. Just a Sainsburys unsalted block. Other supermarkets are available.

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Number 6: Skipping ahead a bit Proving!- I set the main oven to 70 degrees while I rolled out my dough to form the croissants and kept a thermometer in the top oven to regulate the temperature. This made the little croissant rolls puff up beautifully. They still sank a bit in the main oven but that’s for me to work on as oven temperatures and ways in which different ovens work vary, ours is pretty old.

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Twists I made with the cut offs

So there you have it. If you’re read in detail this blog then I don’t think its too much to be presumptuous and wish you luck when attempting this tricky kitchen delight.

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