Z or Dead
Alex's Foolproof Croissants
You make this in two parts. First you make a dough, then you roll and fold in a huge block of butter.
Ingredients (makes 10 to 12)
Before you do anything else, prepare the butter block. Knead the butter with your hands until it is fairly smooth and there are no cold patches or hard lumps. Form the lump into a square about 1cm thick and place on greaseproof paper in the fridge while you make the dough.
Weigh the dough ingredients into a mixing bowl.
Mix with your hands until formed into a dough.
Once the dough has formed take out of bowl and knead on the table for a while until a consistant lump is formed. The dough should be neither sticky nor dry (cracked) and should be very elastic.
Roll Butter Into Dough (First Fold)
Sprinkle flour onto the table and onto your rolling pin. Use a lot of flour throughout, you want to avoid ripping the dough or, later, letting the butter out of the layers. Sprinkle more flour out if the dough starts sticking.
Roll the dough into a rectangular sheet a bit wider than the square of butter and a bit more than twice as long.
Place the square of butter onto the dough and fold the dough over. Press together the edges of the dough to contain the butter. Try not to catch too much air in the pocket.
Carefully roll the parcel into a rectangle three times as wide as it is long, and about as wide as the parcel was to start with. It will end up about 1cm thick. Add flour if the top or bottom gets sticky.
Fold the dough in like a letter (think of three squares next to each other, the left square folds into the middle, then the right square folds on top of that).
Wrap the folded dough loosely in tin foil and put in the fridge for thirty minutes.
Take out of fridge and roll and fold and roll and fold and roll and fold for twenty or thirty minutes. The more folds the better. Remember to use lots of flour, and try to make each fold in a different direction to keep the edges from splaying out.
Once you're bored, and not a minute sooner, wrap in foil again and put back into fridge until a couple of hours before you want to serve the croissants (could be overnight, if you like).
The Final Roll and Shape
Take out of the fridge about two hours before you want to bake the croissants. The dough takes a while to warm up, then a little while longer to rise.
Roll the dough out into a long thin rectangle, about 15cm wide, less than 0.5cm thick and as long as it has to be.
Cut this long sheet into 10 or 12 tall triangles (with the short sides along the long edge of the sheet).
Cut a small notch on the short side of the triangles (about 2 cm) then pull the corners out a bit and roll up the triangle into a croissant shape. Pop the completed roll onto greaseproof on a baking tray, leaving some space around each for them to rise.
Leave the proto-croissants to sit and rise for at least an hour, or longer if they haven't risen much (it takes a while). Do not put them under hots lights as you'll kill the yeast, a warm room is fine.
Finally, put into an oven at gas mark 5-6 for 15 to 20 minutes (middle shelf of the Halley oven).
Eat and enjoy...
If you want, you can glaze the croissants with egg yolk before you set them to rise. This will make them shiny, but won't alter the taste much.
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