There’s no better way to show your other half you care than by greeting them with breakfast in bed. But not just any breakfast in bed. Leave the porridge and marmite on toast for the other 364 days of the year and go French for your chéri with homemade croissants.
No man, woman or fish can fail to get excited by the crisp flakiness of the outside and the tender, buttery middle of a croissant. Straight from the oven with a spoonful of jam and a pot of coffee (we’re being French remember), this will make even the least romantic heart flutter. It’s not just the croissant itself, but the effort you have gone to. That, to me, is real romance. You can whack a dozen red roses on the credit card in a flash, but setting the time aside to make something special for someone extra special will score you more brownie points than even the biggest gaggle of Girl Guides could muster.
If you’re intimidated by the prospect of making laminated dough, then this weekend is the perfect time to (wo)man up and overcome your pastry fears. It may sound like a bake too complicated to attempt, but let me put your mind at rest.
The only thing remotely complicated about croissant dough, is rolling and folding it. What’s that you say? Folding’s easy? Well, exactly. So, go and make some croissants then. What’s the worst that can happen?
Makes approx. 15
1 x 7g sachet of fast action dried yeast
500g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
40g caster sugar
250g unsalted butter
Place the milk and water in a saucepan and warm gently. You do not want the liquid to be hot, just 30 to 35 °C. Dissolve the yeast in the warm liquid.
Sift the flour into a large bowl and add the sugar to one side of the bowl and the salt to the other. Form a well in the middle of the flour and pour the yeast, milk and water into the centre. Bring the dry ingredients into the wet from the edges, mixing everything together until it forms a dough. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and work the dough until it has become elastic and pliable.
Put the dough into a lightly floured bowl, cover with cling film and place the fridge to rest for at least 2 hours, or preferably overnight.
Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface into a rough rectangle. Bash the cold butter (while still in its wrapper) with a rolling pin until slightly flattened, unwrap it and place it in the middle of the rectangle. Fold the dough over the butter and seal all the edges with your fingers.
Roll out the dough to a rectangle about 16 x 8-inches. Position the dough so that one of the narrow ends is facing you. Brush off the excess flour and fold the dough into three. Fold the top section, the one furthest away from you, first and then fold the bottom section up to meet it, just like folding a business letter. Seal the edges together with your fingers. Dust the work surface with more flour and turn the dough 90 degrees so that the folds are running vertically in front of you.
Repeat this rolling and folding twice more, so that you have rolled and folded the dough three times in total. Place the dough to rest in the fridge for at least half an hour.
Roll the dough to a thickness of about half a centimetre. On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough out until it is about an eighth of an inch thick. Cut the rolled dough into isosceles triangles approximately 8-inches by 4-inches.
With the narrow point of the triangle facing away from you, roll up the base towards it and place on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Repeat with the remaining triangles of dough. Leave the croissants to rise for an hour.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan)/400°F/Gas Mark 6
Bake for 20 – 25 minutes and serve.