We love a good pastry at breakfast, and our friends from stylish Somerset hotel At The Chapel (whose bakery is packed with treats) assure us this is the recipe for the perfect croissant! Rolling pins at the ready…
335g strong white flour, plus extra to dust
10g fresh yeast
7g fine sea salt
35g caster sugar
160gms cold water
160g good-quality unsalted butter, straight from the fridge
Plastic tray or chopping board that will fit in the fridge
Dough scraper (available from most cook shops and online)
Large freezer bags, split
1-2 baking trays
1. Put the flour in a mixing bowl. Stir in the salt, sugar and yeast. Add water, then mix using a dough scraper. When everything comes together into a dough, use the scraper to turn it out onto the work surface (don’t flour it). Or you can put all these ingredients together in a mixer (liquids first) and mix with a dough hook for 3-4 minutes on a slow speed.
2. Work the dough, stretching it and folding it over itself, for 4-5 minutes. Form into a ball and cut a cross in the top with a knife (this will help the dough relax while resting). Put in a lightly floured mixing bowl, cover with cling film, and then rest in the fridge overnight.
3. Lightly flour the work surface. Turn out the dough then, starting in the centre of the cross, roll out the 4 corners until you have a square that’s approximately 25cm.
4. Open the pack of butter but leave it sitting on its wrapper with a split freezer bag or a piece of baking paper over the top. Use a rolling pin to flatten the butter into a square, tapping it gently (the bag/baking paper will prevent the rolling pin from becoming greasy). Turn the butter over, wrapper and all, and tap again until about 1cm thick and the square is about 13cm.
5. Remove the butter wrapper and set aside (use to grease the baking trays later), then use the bag/baking paper to lift the flattened butter and turn it over onto the centre of the dough square – the aim here is to touch the butter as little as possible to avoid warming it up. Remove the bag/paper.
6. One at a time, fold the 4 sides of the dough over the butter. Using a rolling pin and rolling lengthways only, roll out into a rectangle 3 times longer than the original length, then fold the 2 ends into the middle and over again. Wrap the dough up in a freezer bag and refrigerate for an hour.
7. Take the dough out of the fridge using the rolling pin. Roll the dough out lengthways to 3 times its length, then fold into thirds. Lift onto a plastic tray or board, cover with a split freezer bag and chill for an hour.
8. Beat the egg with a pinch of salt to make an egg wash.
9. Roll out the dough to a rectangle of 30cm x 50cm and 4mm thick. With a large, sharp knife, cut lengthways down the middle and trim the edges to make a neat rectangle. Discard the trimmings.
10. Cut each strip into 5 large triangles, making the base of each large triangle about 10cm and the sides about 15cm.
11. Roll each triangle up from the base. Don’t crush the dough. Continue rolling, then gently roll back and forth briefly with your fingertips to seal.
12. Brush the tops of the croissants with the egg wash, brushing lightly from the centre outwards so you don’t get any excess sticking the folds together. Put on the greased baking trays, leaving space in between to let them expand.
13. Leave the croissants to prove in a warm place such as a cupboard for about 2 hours. Twenty minutes before the croissants are ready, heat the oven to 220°C/fan 200°C/gas 8.
14. Glaze the proved croissants again with the egg wash. Turn the oven to 190°C/fan 170°C/gas 5, then bake the croissants in the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden. Cover with foil if they’re browning too quickly and, if they’re baking unevenly, move the croissants and/or the trays around accordingly. Avoid opening the oven door too much early on in the cooking process, though, as this may knock the air out of the croissants and affect the rise. Put on wire racks to cool, then serve.