Thursday, March 27, 2008


Have to admit I have never had too much success in making croissants. They never seemed as light as the bought ones which seem to be more like puff pastry than a yeast bread. Mine seemed to turn out like bread without the puff. Maybe I rushed the procedure cutting out a couple of the rollings/chillings. . Nevertheless, a recipe is given for making by hand (details for making by machine follow). Pains au chocolate are a variation of crossaints (details also given below).
Croissants: makes 12
1lb 2oz (500g) strong white flour
half tsp salt
10 oz (280g) butter, softened
1 sachet (7g) easy-blend dried yeast
1 oz (25g) caster sugar
approx half a pint (300ml) warm milk
beaten egg for glazing
Sift the flour and salt into a bowl then lightly rub in half the butter. Stir in the yeast and sugar. Make a well in the centre and pour in enough warm milk to make a soft dough (don't panic if the dough is too soft, add a little more flour). Turn out onto a floured board and knead for 3 - 4 minutes, then form into a bowl, place in a greased bowl, cover and leave to stand in a warm place until doubled in size.
**Knock back the dough, slightly, then onto a floured surface and roll out to form a rectangle 14" x 7" (35 x 18cm). Form the remaining butter into a block about 3/4" thick (2cm). Place this at one end of the dough, so that it covers 2/3 rds, then fold the remaining dough over the top of the middle bit, and the remaining third over on top of that (as you do when making puff pastry). Seal the edges with a rolling pin.
Give a quarter turn so that the fold is to the left and and roll into a rectangle as before then (without using butter) fold again - bottom third up, top third over that. Seal edges as before. Wrap in greaseproof, chill in the fridge for 20 minutes. Repeat the rolling, folding and chilling, twice more, giving a quarter turn each time.
Finally, on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to make a 21" x 14" (53 x 35cm) rectangle, and cut into 12 equal triangles. Starting from the long side, roll each into a sausage shape ending with the point at the centre. Curl round into a crescent and place on two greased baking sheets. Cover lightly and leave to rise in a warm place for half an hour or until doubled in size.
Lightly brush with egg, and bake at 220C, 425F, gas 7 for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and crisp.
Serve warm.
to make in a breadmaker:
as quantaties above, but allow the full amount of milk. Add an extra half tsp salt, and use fast-acting yeast. Add the 2 oz butter to the flour in the machine and set to the dough setting. Once taken from the machine, continue from ** in the above recipe.

Pains au Chocolate:
First prepare 6 oz (175g) chocolate by chopping finely.
Follow directions given above up to the final end of the rolling/folding/chilling processes. Then roll out as the size/rectangles as for croissants, but this time cut them into 12 equal rectangles. Put 1/2oz (12g) chocolate at one end of each rectangle, then roll up to make a tube, enclosing the chocolate completely. Place, seam-side down, on greased baking sheets, then cover and rise as for croissants. Bake at a slightly lower temperature (200C/400F/gas 6) for 15 - 20 minutes until crisply golden. Serve warm.
breadmaker: follow directions as given for croissants.

When Marie Antoinette said "let them eat cake", it apparently was a mistranslation, for what she really said was "let them eat brioche". Brioche is a great favourite of mine, although expensive to buy, the main reason why I rarely eat it. Must have a go at making it myself.
Brioche: serves 10 - 12
8 oz (225g) strong plain flour
good pinch salt
1 1/2tsp easy-blend dried yeast
1 oz (25g) caster sugar
2 oz (50g) butter, melted
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 - 2 tblsp warm milk
egg for glazing
Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Stir in the yeast and sugar, making a well in the centre. Add the butter, eggs and enough milk to form a soft dough.
Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Shape into a round, place into an oiled bowl, cover and leave in a warm place until doubled in size (this may take longer than ordianry bread).
Knock dough back slightly then tip out onto a lightly floured surface and remove one quarter, setting this to one side. Knead the remaining dough into a large round and place in a 2 pint brioche mould (this could be a round cake tin or use a loaf tin), both greased and floured. Shape the smaller piece of dough into a round (or oblong) and place it on top, pressing down lightly. Cover and leave to rise again for half an hour, or until the dough reaches the top of the mould/tin.
Brush the dough with beaten egg and bake at 230C, 450F, gas 8 and bake for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 190C, 370F, gas 5 and bake for a further 20 -25 minutes or until the bread is golden and sounds hollow when tapped underneath. If browning too quickly, cover loosely with foil. When baked, turn out onto a cake airer to cool. Can be served warm or cold.
Note: a brioche mould has a wider top than base, with fluted sides. The brioche could also be baked in a ring mould, just making allowances for a possible difference in timing.