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Croissants have been on my 'never made but must do' list for years...and I have to say they were quite straightforward to make but took quite a bit of time as you have to start the dough off the night before you want to make them.  Are they worth all the effort?  To be honest...they were nice but I am not sure I would want to spend all that time making them again.

500g (17 1/2 oz) strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting 10g (2 teaspoons) salt, plus a pinch 80g (3oz) caster sugar 10g (2 teaspoons) instant yeast 300ml (10 1/2 fl oz) cool water 300g (10 1/2 oz) chilled unsalted butter 1 medium egg to glaze

Put the flour into the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the salt and sugar to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other. Add the water and mix on a slow speed for two minutes, then on a medium speed for six minutes. The dough should be fairly stiff.

Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape it into a ball. Dust with flour, put into a clean plastic bag and chill in the fridge for an hour.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out your dough to a rectangle, about 60 x  20cm; it should be about 1cm thick. Flatten the butter to a rectangle, about 40 x 19cm, by bashing it with a rolling pin. Put the butter on the dough so that it covers the bottom two-thirds of the dough. Make sure it is positioned neatly and comes almost to the edges.

Fold the exposed dough at the top down over one third of the butter. Now gently cut off the exposed bit of butter, without going through the dough, and put it on top of the dough you have just folded down.

Fold the bottom half of the dough up. You will now have a sandwich of two layers of butter and three of dough. Pinch the edges lightly to seal in the butter. Put the dough back into the plastic bag and chill in the fridge for an hour to harden the butter.

Take the dough out of the bag and put it on the lightly floured work surface with the short end towards you. Roll into a rectangle, about 60 x 20cm, as before. This time fold up one-third of the dough and then fold the top third down on top to make a neat square.

This is called a single turn. Put the dough back into the plastic bag and chill for another hour. Repeat this stage twice more, putting the dough back into the fridge for an hour between turns.

Your dough now needs to be left in the fridge for eight hours, or overnight, to rest and rise slightly.

When you are ready to shape the croissants, line two or three baking trays with baking parchment or silicone paper.

Put the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to a rectangle, a little more than 42cm long and 30cm wide; it should be about 7mm thick. Trim the edges to neaten them.

Cut the rectangle lengthways into two strips, then cut triangles along the length of each strip; these should be 12cm wide at the base and about 15cm high (from the middle of the base to the tip). Once you have cut the first triangle, you can use it as a template for the rest. You should get six triangles from each strip.

Before rolling, hold down the wide base of the triangle and gently tug the opposite thin end to cause a slight tension in the dough. Now starting at the thick end of each triangle, roll it up into a croissant. You will have 12 medium-sized croissants. For a traditional crescent shape, turn the ends in towards each other slightly.

Put the croissants on the baking trays, leaving space in between for them to expand; allow four-six per tray. Put each tray inside a clean plastic bag and leave the croissants to rise at cool room temperature (18–24C) until at least doubled in size. This should take about two hours.

Heat your oven to 200C.

Lightly whisk the egg with a pinch of salt to make an egg wash. Brush the top and sides of the croissants with the egg wash. Bake for 15–20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Eat warm.

Recipe from Paul Hollywood


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