Mini Croissant, Pain au Raisin and Danish pastries
I think most people adore croissants and danish pastries and if you are motivated to want to make your own then this recipe and method with plenty of detail will help you. If this is your first attempt at an enriched laminated dough then the recipe amounts are small and just right. You will need a table top mixer fitted with a dough hook. I made 6 mini croissant and 6 apple kites but there are so many options available. The kites are gorgeous made with almond paste and apricots.
To make the dough: Place the ingredients into the bowl of your table top mixer. The ingredients are listed in order so start with the yeast then the flour and salt. In a heat proof jug place then the butter and sugar and pour over the hot water and stir until the sugar and butter dissolve then add the milk. Pour the liquid over the flour, fit the dough hook and start your machine on a low setting and keep it running for about 5-6 minutes until the dough has come together but is still shaggy in appearance.
If the dough looks at all dry then add another tbsp milk. The dough needs to stick to the sides of the bowl at this stage. Turn up the speed slightly and mix for another 5 minutes by which time the dough will be smooth, stretchy and the sides of the bowl will be clean.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured worktop and continue to knead until it is smooth and non-sticky. Transfer to a roomy bowl which has been greased, cover with a shower cap and leave in a warm place to rise until it has doubled in size. This may take up to two hours depending on the ambient temperature.
Whilst the dough is rising prepare the butter. Take your chilled piece, take from the wrapper and place between two sheets of greaseproof paper. I then hit it with a rolling pin, flattening it evenly to a thickness of about 1/2cm (1/4 inch) and measuring roughly 18cm x 12cm. (7 inches x 5 inches) Pop it back into the fridge to firm up again.
When the dough is nicely risen turn out onto a lightly floured work top and take the butter from the fridge. Peel off one side of the butter paper and set aside so that it starts to return to room temperature.
Roll the dough into a square measuring about 22cm (9 inches) then pop it into the freezer for 5 minutes. The dough will be warm – this quick chill is just to prevent the butter melting when the two are mixed together.
Take your piece of butter and test to make sure that if you stick your finger into it you leave a fingerprint. Too hard and your butter will break during the rolling. It needs to be firm but not brittle.
Take the dough from the freezer and lay the piece of butter in the centre of the square of dough and bring the top and bottom piece of dough into the centre so that the butter is completely concealed, sides and bottom. Pinch the edges. Roll out the dough to a long rectangle measuring around 40cm (16 inches) in length then perform a single turn, ie take the top third of the dough, fold it over the middle third then take the bottom third and fold it over to cover the first third. Turn the dough 90 degrees so that the sides are now the top and the bottom.
Carefully flatten this piece of dough with a rolling pin to a thickness of 2cm (3/4 inch) then roll out into a long rectangle as before.
The next turn is a book turn or double turn where we turn both ends of the dough into the middle then close them together (like a book). Take the top end and fold it into the centre and take the bottom end and fold that into the centre too. Then fold the whole lot together as though you were closing a book. Turn the dough 90 degrees again and flatten with the rolling pin to a thickness of 2cm.
Repeat this turn again – turning the dough 90 degrees as before. Flatten the dough to 2cm (3/4 inch) then cover and pop it into the fridge to rest for an hour. If at any time the dough gets sticky or you feel flustered simply flour the dough, wrap it in paper and pop it in the fridge for ten minutes and take a breather. Remember where you were up to – this dough will not spoil.
This rolling, turning and re-rolling will give you the beautiful lamination which is the classic feature of croissants, Danish pastries and other Viennoiserie .
At this stage the dough needs to rest for at least an hour. I often leave my dough in the fridge overnight well wrapped and continue the next day.
When ready to shape – take the dough from the fridge and roll out on a lightly floured surface until you have a large square measuring 30cm x 30cm approx. (12 inches x 12 inches).
To make 6 Mini croissant and 6 Apple Kites divide the square into 9 equal parts. Note: The mini Pain au Raisin will be made from the pastry trimmings.
To shape an Apple Kite. Take one of the squares and cut out opposite corners about 1/4 inch (1/2cm) in from the edge. Dampen the edge of the pastry with water. Pop about a tsp apple puree in the centre followed by three or four slices of very thin apple over the top. No sugar is required. Take then a cut corner and fold over the top of the filling and secure to the opposite corner then repeat with the other corner. Transfer the little apple parcel to a baking sheet and when all the pastries have been shaped leave in a warm place (a closed microwave is perfect) to prove for an hour.
To form a mini croissant take one of the other squares and cut from corner to corner so that you have two triangles. Using a small rolling pin on a floured surface then roll from a flat side up towards the point. The purpose is to elongate the triangle to a cone shape. Roll then from the flat end finishing with the point tucked underneath. Transfer to a baking sheet and leave to prove again for an hour either in a sealed unit or with a thin piece of cotton fabric.
When ready to bake preheat the oven to 200 degrees c. Brush the croissants and Danish pastries with the egg wash taking care not to brush it over the edges and onto your precious laminations as any egg will prevent the leaves of dough expanding during the bake. Pop straight into the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes or until a rich golden brown.
The mini croissants are fine to serve as they are. The Apple Kites I prefer to glaze the apple with a little sugar syrup to both sweeten and shine. A drizzle of water icing and the lightest dust of icing sugar makes these treats an absolute delight.
I had 140g left over dough trimmings plus a few tablespoons of egg wash and felt I had put so much work into this delicious pastry that none of it would go to waste. To make 6 mini Pain au Raisin : –
Roll out the remaining dough to a rectangle or square then neaten off with a pizza cutter. Mix together the butter, sugar, ground almonds and extract then add sufficient left over egg wash to make a thick paste (reserve about a tsp to brush over these little beauties). Spread the paste over the rolled out pastry, leaving a half inch gap at the top and bottom. Drain the raisins from the tea and scatter them over the paste. Start at the top and roll the pastry into a sausage then cut into six even sized pieces. Place on a baking sheet and gently press them flat then leave to prove for about an hour or until doubled in size.
Gently egg wash with the tiny amount you have left and bake at 200 degrees c for 8-10 minutes until a shiny dark golden brown. A brush with a little sugar syrup or a dusting of icing sugar is perfect.
Croissant dough will freeze very well. To freeze simply place the unbaked and unproved croissants on a baking sheet, pop the whole lot into the freezer then when solid pack into boxes or plastic bags. When ready to use take as many or as few as you want from the freezer, space out on a baking sheet, cover lightly and leave in the fridge overnight. The next day prove at room temperature for about 2 hours or until doubled in size then wash with egg and bake for 10 minutes.
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