Sunday 8 February 2009
[To beat, my heart stopped - Perfect croissants]
The most paralysing feeling. This is what I felt as I woke up this morning.
Just the thought of an empty day ahead of me was enough to make me feel numb. Wide awake and yet, unable to move. The time had stopped. For a day.
Too tired to eat and too hungry to sleep*, I headed to the kitchen – my favourite room of the house – and by the time I had reached the cagibi [larder], I knew croissants would be made and eaten this same morning.
* favourite song alert here.
You see, the prospect of twelve unbound hours felt so unusual that I had to get back to my daily pâtisserie-making routine.
Over the past month, I haven’t been much too work. Ten days to be accurate. The rest got spent at school, in London, and in Lyon – where I was lucky enough to pay the SIRHA a visit, but also have my very own special tour guide of the town and its many pâtisseries (thanks B.).
An exciting month for sure, but terribly exhausting as well.
Now I’m back here. For good; at least until I leave again. One thing is certain though. Days off – and particularly Sundays – make perfect experiment fields for pâtisserie.
That said, I must confess I’ve never felt as great as I do right now. The crumbs of croissant that quietly sit around my mouth are so not going to disagree!
Making croissant can seem pretty daunting at first, but once you’ll really pay attention to the different steps, you’ll realise it’s as easy as making pâte feuilletée.
First, you make the détrempe – with yeast this time (remember, croissant dough is a pâte feuilletée levée). Gently combine flour, sugar, salt, butter, yeast and water. Knead into a very soft and smooth ball; and proof until doubled in size.
Then, you roll the détrempe into a neat 60 x 20 cm square and spread the beurre de tourrage [remaining butter used for making the tours] across the far left two thirds of the rolled détrempe.
Fold the right – and butterless – part over the middle one. Then fold the far left end over the whole thing. You should have a ‘book’ with the spine on the left.
Chill for a couple of hours, then roll again into a 60 x 20 cm square making sure you place the ‘spine’ on your left beforehands. Make a tour double. Chill, make a tour double. Chill, make a tour simple. Roll the dough into two 80 x 25 cm (half a centimetre thick that is). Then cut triangles – top to tail – with a base measuring approximately 15cm. Each dough triangle should weigh around 180g 90g (and one batch should yield to 20 croissants). Then shape into a croissant. Place on a lined baking sheet and proof for an hour or until doubled in size.
Bake at 180°C for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
The great thing about these is that you can make them a day or more in advance. Just get the dough ready. Shape the croissant and keep them either refrigerated (not more than 12 hours) or frozen (up to a month). Allow them to come to room temperature before baking. And there you are. Fresh croissants on a Sunday morning!
for the détrempe
80g butter, at room temperature
2 tbsp dehydrated milk
150g caster sugar
one tbsp fleur de sel
25g fresh yeast
for the beurre de tourage
180g butter, at room temperature
for the glaze
one egg, beaten
Make the détrempe by mixing the flour, butter, dehydrated milk, sugar, fleur de sel and water together until a dough forms. Knead in the crumbled yeast, then keep on working the dough until very smooth. Place in a large bowl and allow to proof at room temperature for a couple of hours, or until just doubled in size.
Push the air out, then roll into a 60x20cm square and proceed as explained above. Spread the butter onto the far left two thirds. Fold the right end over the middle part, then make the same with the left part. Film and chill.
Next follow to tours doubles, with an hour-long refrigerator pause in between.
Finally, give the dough a tour simple before rolling out thinly (1/2cm) and cutting triangles out. Make sure the triangles weigh around 180g before shaping them into neat croissant.
Proof the croissants at room temperature until doubled in size and glaze by gently brushing a beaten egg white all over the dough. Bake in a preheated oven until golden.
Now I’m afraid I’ll have to leave you. A cotton fabric needs to be embroided. See you soon my favourite people in the entire world!