Croissants and pain au chocolat

I have wanted to make croissants for ages but it seemed like it might be too much mither. Well, last night I decided to take the bull by the horns and just give it a go. It was quite a bit of work, but actually not as much as I was expecting and the results are more than worth the effort.  You just need to do a bit of preparation the night before, leave the dough to rest in the fridge and then finish off in the morning.

In fact I was quite excited this morning about it all and I was really pleased when they turned out to taste just as good as I hoped. I made some croissants and some pain au chocolat – what a treat!

I used Rachel Allen’s recipe from her book Bake (ISBN 13 978 0 00 725970 0) which if I could have found a link online I would have just pointed you in that direction as I am dreading writing all this down, but here goes. (Bake is well worth seeking out, I have used it a lot since I bought it and Rachel Allen’s recipes always work).

I got some early morning help from my two girls this morning so they appear in some of the pictures.

Makes 18 croissants

275ml milk
25g sugar
1 sachet of easy bake fast acting yeast
450g Strong white bread flour
275g salted butter, softened (but not too soft)

For the egg wash:
1 egg beaten with 1 tsp milk

If you want to make pain au chocolat you will need a dessert spoonful of chopped chocolate for each pain au chocolat that you wish to make. I made 12 croissants and 6 pain au chocolat.

If you want them for breakfast then I suggest you start the night before with the following steps.

Heat the milk until warm. Rachel Allen suggests rubbing in 50g of the butter into the flour but I just put it into the warm milk so that it half melted.  Place the flour, sugar and yeast in a large bowl. Add the milk and butter and bring the mixture into a soft dough.  I used my KitchenAid freestanding mixer with the dough hook attached and mixed it for 5 minutes.  If you haven’t got a freestanding mixer then this doughy is sticky and you will need lightly floured hands to knead it by hand for ten minutes until it is soft and elastic. Make it into a ball and place back in the bowl.  Cover with a large plastic bag or clean tea towel.  Rachel Allen suggests putting it in the fridge for two hours but I just left it in a cool place in the kitchen.

After two hours, place the remaining butter between two large sheets of clingfilm and, using a rolling pin, beat and roll it until it is about 8mm thick and measures roughly 10cm x 20cm.

Take the dough out of the bowl and place onto a lightly floured surface and roll it into a rectangle measuring 20 x 40 cm. Place the butter onto one half of the pastry.

Fold the other side of the pastry over onto the butter.

Roll the dough out until it again measures about 20 x 40cm.  Fold one third over, then fold that over and then fold again. Cover the dough with the large plastic bag and place in the fridge to rest for 30 minutes.

Take the dough out of the fridge and place it with the open ends facing towards you. Roll out the pastry again to a similar size as before, then fold in three again.  Place the dough back into the bag and put in the fridge overnight.

In the morning it will look something like this, having begun to rise:

So the next morning, take the dough and roll out again into a rectangle and then fold over three times again.

Roll out the pastry until it is about ½ cm thick and measures about 35cm x 55cm.  This takes quite a bit of effort as the dough is cold.

Now I wanted to make some pain au chocolat and some croissants, so I sliced off one third of the dough and then cut this into six pieces.  On each piece I placed a spoonful of chopped good quality chocolate and then rolled up firmly like a swiss roll.

For the croissants I cut the remaining dough in half lengthways and then into thirds widthways and then each rectangle into a triangle. This resulted in 12 triangles.  Starting from the widest edge roll the pastry tightly, then tuck the tip underneath and shape into a crescent shape.

Place on a baking sheet (you will need two) leaving space for them to rise and brush gently with egg wash.

Leave to rise in a warm place for 30-40 minutes.  I put mine on top of two tea cloths on the warming plate of my Aga.

When they have risen, brush gently with egg wash again and then place in a preheated oven at 220°c, gas mark 7, or the roasting oven of the Aga for 10 minutes and then turn the oven down to 180°c, gas mark 4, or move them to the baking oven of the Aga for another 10 minutes until golden brown all over.  Place them on a wire rack to cool just a little.  They are best eaten warm, with lashings of butter and jam (or lemon curd, or marmalade) on the croissants.

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26 responses to “Croissants and pain au chocolat

  1. Yummy! These sound just wonderful – I’ve always wanted to try making them but yeast and I never seem to get on well together but I’m going to give it a go next week 🙂 Too good not to at least try!

  2. Oh you are a brave woman!!! I’d love to give this a try but it scares the heck outta me! They looks so good too … maybe I just need some wee helpers in my kitchen too lol

  3. Oh Kath, you and your girls are real stars and what fantastic pastries you’ve produced. I made croissants once at school and remember them as being a real faff. But now you have put me to shame – can I really have a chocolate blog and not try making some pain au chocolat – aghhhhhh!

  4. Gorgeous. It looks like you and your little helpers had fun, and I could really go for some pain au chocolat about now. Another good word, mither. Thanks for giving us Yanks a link to the definition : )

  5. I’ve always wanted to try croissants – but never have done. Always too scared of the work and the difficulty. But I’m going to do it this year with this recipe. Yes, I really am! Thanks so much.

  6. Wow – well done! Steve has made croissants but I have never been bothered to go to all that effort. Your ones look perfect!

  7. Very impressed!

    They look fantastic and delicious.

  8. Tres bon! as we say in these ‘ere parts

  9. My husband and I love croissant and often enjoy a couple of croissant and cafe au lait (Mauritius style) over the weekends before enjoying a walk on the beach. Well done, yours look great.
    🙂 Mandy

  10. Wow, these are incredible – though I felt my thighs expand just looking at the photo of the butter on the dough! And what a wonderful word mither is!

  11. Wow! You made croissants! Great job with that. I definitely wouldn’t be able to make it in Singapore (with the heat and all) and I haven’t been brave enough to try here in Melbourne.

  12. You have all put me to shame, I have never made croissants. Such a great way to get children involved in making and eating homemade food.

  13. Your chocolate croissnats look fantastic & amazing & pretty too!

    I also have this book Bake! from Rachel!!! I love all of her unique & fab never to fail recipes!

    Greets from Brussels to you!

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