Sunday, 14 November 2010

Sunday is baking day

I got up early and decided to make croissants and pains au chocolate for breakfast.

I've lived in France for 27 years now, but only discovered the secret of croissant-making about five years ago. They do take a long time to prepare, about four hours from start to finish, but much of that is time waiting for the dough to rise, or the time they spend in the oven. I love to make them because they make me feel creative and all that work really is worth it when you bite into the delicious flaky, butteriness of them.

If there are any left over, they freeze very well and can be gently heated in a warm oven.

I make my croissants with organic flour, butter, milk, yeast, salt and a small amount of sugar.

Here's the recipe:


500g flour
200g butter
300 ml milk
20g fresh yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 egg for glazing

Mix the flour, salt and sugar in a large shallow bowl/plate or directly on a work surface. 
Cut 50g of butter in to small pieces and rub into the flour.
Heat the milk to hand temperature and add the yeast, mix until it has "melted".
Pour the milk/yeast into the flour and knead for 5 minutes until you have a soft springy dough.
Cover and leave it to rise for about 30 minutes, then knock it back and fold in three to make a rectangle, and roll it out on a floured surface.
Cut the remaining butter in two pieces and, using plenty of flour and a rolling pin, start by bashing it and then roll it in the flour until you have a large flat "leaf" of butter. Do the same with the second piece of butter.
Now cover the lower 2/3 of the dough rectangle with the butter, fold down the top 1/3 downwards and the bottom 1/3 upwards. 
Tuck in the edges to stop the butter from escaping, then put the open side to the right and roll out the dough again.
Fold and roll the dough in the same way two more times.
Now put the dough in a floured plastic bag, in the refrigerator and leave it to rise for one hour.
Roll the dough out again into a rectangle, which you will cut down the middle lengthwise.
Cut each length into several triangles (for the croissants) and rectangles (for the pains au chocolate).
For the croissants, roll the triangles up from the long base towards the point of the triangle, keeping it fairly tight. Then turn the ends towards each other to make a croissant shape.
For the pains au chocolat, place a smallish piece of chocolate at the short end of the rectangle and roll up, making sure you leave the "seam" on the underside.
Cover and leave your croissants and pains au chocolat to rise again for about 20 minutes.
Brush them with beaten egg, and place them in a pre-heated oven at 200°C for around 20 minutes or until nicely golden.
Best eaten warm!

Then in the afternoon here's what I made: an apple tart. The pastry looks a bit over-cooked but it was nice and crispy lol. I cheated a bit because I lined my pastry with apple sauce, it keeps the whole thing nice and moist.This was for afternoon tea. That's a lot of butter in one day - maybe it's a good job I only have time to make patisseries at the weekend!

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