It was after reading an article on Croissants in my local Sunday newspaper that I was left a little confused but non the less intrigued about what classified the perfect Croissant. The question the article asked was; what constituted the ultimate Croissant? According to the journalist the ultimate Croissant was layered but not overly crispy that it would crumble once broken. This left me doubting. I gathered my cornucopia of cookbooks and began my own research into this fascinating bake.
Yes, we all know about the debate that the Croissant was not invented by the French but in fact by the Turks, hence the crescent moon shape that resembles the Turkish flag, but my research was heading in a different direction, I wanted to know what classified the perfect Croissant. Whilst on holiday in Paris I had the luxury of tasting Croissants at their very best. As good as they both were there was a definite difference between the Croissant I tasted at Laduré and the one I had at the corner Boulangerie.
While I’m no expert in the above I think that I have managed to come up with an answer that make sense to me and hopefully you will agree.
The analysis goes like this. Croissants can be divided into two groups,” Croissants de Pâtissier” which are puff pastry crescents and get their name as they are prepared by a pastry chef. These pastries are made without yeast and are baked at a high temperature to create steam that separates the layers of dough resulting in a flaky end product that practically shatters when pulled apart. The second group are” Croissants de Boulanger” and are baked by a bread baker, using a yeasted lamented dough resulting in a Croissant that is more sturdier and flexible.
So in conclusion the perfect Croissant is not in the flakiness or sturdiness of the bake, but rather the preference of the person savouring this iconic treat.
While I must admit that Croissant baking is time consuming and a little tricky, I can guarantee that the end result no matter how strange looking or shaped will taste delicious as you will feel totally satisfied in creating your very own Croissant.
Being a Boulanger by heart I’m preferable to” Croissants de Boulanger”and if the mood takes you here is my Croissant recipe.
“Just teddy” Croissants:
My advice to you is that if you are taking the time to make your own Croissants then you owe it to yourself to use the best quality butter you can find. I use a French butter that is available at most supermarkets.
250g cake flour
250g white bread flour
1 10 gram packet instant dry yeast
10 g salt
1 egg, beaten
300g butter, chilled
egg wash to glaze
In a bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook place flour, yeast , sugar and salt. Mix to combine
In a separate bowl mix together milk, water and beaten egg.
With the mixer running on low, add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture and knead until combined. Turn the mixer onto medium and knead for ten minutes until smooth. The dough will be on the dry side. Remove from mixer, wrap in cling wrap, chill for 30 minutes.
Prepare the butter by placing between two sheets of cling wrap and beating with a rolling pin until flattened. Place butter block into the freezer for 15 minutes. Remove the chilled dough from the fridge and on a lightly floured surface roll out into a rectangle shape, about 6mm thick. Place the frozen prepared butter block on top of the dough . The butter should cover two thirds of the dough. Fold the top half over the centre and then the bottom half over that. What you should be left are layers of dough with butter sandwiched between each layer.Press down the seams to prevent the butter from seeping out . Keeping the surface floured at all times turn the dough to a 90° angle and begin to roll into a rectangle. Repeat the folding and rolling once more, wrap the dough in cling wrap and return to the fridge. Chill the dough for an hour, remove from fridge and repeat the rolling and folding process twice more. Return the dough to the fridge once more, allow to chill for a further hour and then repeat the rolling process twice more. Place the dough into a large freezer bag allowing room for a slight rise, return to the fridge, chill overnight.
Remove the dough from the fridge and roll into a rectangle approximately 6mm thick. Using a pastry cutter, cut strips of dough about 10 cm wide. Cut each strip into elongated triangles. Roll each triangle into a Croissant shape and place onto a greased baking tray, cover loosely with cling wrap and allow to prove at room temperature for two hours. Thirty minutes before baking preheat the oven to 200°c . Once proved brush with egg wash and bake until puffed and golden. Watch carefully as the enriched dough can burn very quickly.