It all went a little bit continental in the GBBO tent this week as the team tackled European cakes. This was a new theme for 2014 although last year there was a French week (when I made goats cheese, caramelised onion, walnut and rocket filled choux bun canapés).
Signature Bake: Yeast leavened cakes
Technical Challenge: Princess Torte
Showstopper Challenge: Dobos Torte with caramel
I decided that I really didn’t want to make a big cake this week as it’s my boyfriends birthday on Friday and I’m planning on making a (hopefully) spectacular cake for that!! I decided to stray slightly from the theme, but keep within the yeast / European realm and make croissants.
I’ve never made croissants before but liked the fact that it involves lots of the same principles as puff pastry which I’ve also never made, but have always wanted to try. I quite enjoyed making them as I love working with yeast and dough, as I find it so exciting to see how much it rises each time you leave it to prove (oh it’s the little things in life eh!)
I was pretty pleased with how they turned out, although as you can see below, they came out quite bronzed! I think I used slightly too much egg wash to glaze the tops as that layer did taste slightly eggy and I would perhaps next time use salted butter to lift the flavours slightly and stop them being too one dimensional.
I would definitely recommend leaving the croissants to cool before serving, to allow the dough to go crisp and let the flaky layers be more distinguished. I would also pat them with kitchen roll to remove the excess butter and fat. The bottoms of my croissants weren’t soggy, but there was some excess grease from the sheer amount of butter the recipe uses.
I was thrilled (and quite surprised!) to see the layers inside my croissants when I cut them open! There actually were some!!! The texture was light and fluffy, with well defined layers of pastry which had crisped nicely on top.
** 500g strong white flour (plus extra for kneading)
** 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
** 50g sugar
** 2 x 7g sachets of fast-action dried yeast
** oil for greasing
** 300g butter
** 1 egg, beaten
1) Fill a measuring jug with 300ml of cold water and mix in the two sachets of yeast.
2) Put the flour, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl, make a well and pour in the water / yeast mix.
3) Mix everything together until it is all incorporated into a wet, sticky dough.
4) Tip the dough onto a floured work surface and knead for 10 minutes until it is smooth and pliable. Shape into a ball and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl and then chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
5) While the dough is chilling, place the butter between 2 sheets of baking parchment. Using a rolling pin, bash and roll the butter into a rectangle approximately 20 x 15 cm. Leave the butter wrapped in the baking parchment and put it in the fridge to chill while the dough does. Can we just also take a second to appreciate my AWESOME dinosaur ruler?! It even does that moving, 3D thing when it’s tilted…I know!!!
6) After 2 hours take the chilled dough out and tip it onto a floured work surface.It should have risen and have lots of air in it. Roll the dough into a 40 x 20 cm rectangle and then place the chilled butter in the centre of the dough so it sits in the middle third.
7) Time for Paul Hollywood’s famous book fold method! Take one end of the dough and fold it into the middle so it covers half the butter.
8) Fold the other end of dough in to meet the other at the centre of the butter.
9) Fold the dough and butter in half, then wrap in cling film and chill for 30 minutes.
10) Repeat steps 6 – 9 two more times – rolling, folding and chilling the dough (but do not add any more butter). Wrap the dough up and then chill overnight (after which it should have puffed up a lot!!)
11) The next day re-flour your work surface and roll the dough out until it is approximately 60 x 30 cm. Neaten up the edges by trimming them with a sharp knife or pizza cutter.
12) Cut the dough in half lengthways so you have two long strips and then cut each strip into 6 or 7 triangles which have 2 equal sides.
13) Take each triangle and stretch out corners of the the long end and then roll it up from here, making sure the tip of the triangle is tucked under to hold it’s shape.
Top Tip: If you’re adding fillings such as raisins or chocolate, place these along the wide edge before rolling up.
14) Place the rolled up dough onto baking trays lined with baking parchment, making sure you leave plenty of room between them. Round the ends in so they make a crescent shape.
15) Cover your baking trays with lightly oiled cling film and then leave for two hours until they’ve doubled in size.
16) Heat your oven to 200C / Gas Mark 6. Beat your egg and mix it with a punch of salt and then glaze each of your croissants with it. Pop them in the oven for 15 – 18 minutes until golden brown.
Top Tip: The dough is still very soft and fragile at this point, so be careful not to be too heavy handed when adding the egg wash else you might pop air bubbles, or pull the dough out of shape.
17) Place them on a cooling rack to chill slightly and crisp up, and then get stuck in!
Overall I was really pleased with my first foray into croissant making, but they’re not something I will be making too often, purely because you have to leave them to prove for so long and so many times. It’s quite a lot of effort for a plain pastry (especially when they’re so readily available to buy pre-made!…shhh don’t tell Paul Hollywood I said that!)
What would you make for European Week?
You can check out my other posts in the 2014 GBBO Challenge series below:
** 2014 GBBO Challenge – Week 3 – Bread (Ciabatta)
** 2014 GBBO Challenge – Week 2 – Biscuits (Florentines)
** 2014 GBBO Challenge – Week 1 – Cake (Swiss Roll)
** 2014 GBBO Challenge – The Great British Bake Off is Back