Learn how to make a classic French croissant dough then bake these Parisian style buttery flaky croissants, and other breads on the River Cottage Advanced Bread Baking class.
This French croissant dough recipe takes time but gives real patisserie quality results.
- 500 g good bread flour
- 140 ml water
- 140 ml milk
- 55 g sugar
- 40 g soft butter
- 10 g instant yeast or 30g fresh yeast or 60g starter
- 12 g fine sea salt
- 280 g unsalted cold butter
- 1 egg for glazing
Place all dry ingredients into a bowl and mix together. Make a well and add the butter and liquid. Bring together then place onto a floured surface. Work the dough lightly for about 3 minutes. You don't want to over work the dough as it will be harder to incorporate the butter on the next day. Push the dough down to form a flat disk place onto a lightly floured tray, cover and place into the fridge for at least 8 hours and up to 12.
1 hour before you take the dough from fridge. Get your butter and pound it with a rolling pin to make it nice and flat. For the easiest method, place the butter between two pieces of parchment paper and gently pound until square and flat about 1/4". Place back into the fridge.
Take your dough out of the fridge and place onto a lightly floured surface. Pin out to form a square. Then pin each side out so you have an envelope, 4 thin corners and a slightly raised centre piece.
Place the butter in the centre of the dough. Then pull in each corner to totally enclose the butter in the dough. Pin the dough out into a long rectangle shape. Brush off any flour and fold into 3. This is called a half fold. Place back into the fridge and rest for 1 hour.
Again take the dough from the fridge onto a lightly floured surface, pin out to a long rectangle and give another half fold, place in the fridge for another hour. Repeat one more time so your croissant dough would have had 3 half folds.
Place in fridge on a lightly floured tray, cover and leave for a good 12 hours.
This will help hold the layers you have created and make it easier for the final stage.
Take dough from fridge. Place onto a lightly floured surface. Pin out again to a good rectangle shape about 4mm in-depth. With a sharp knife you want to cut your dough into 12 equal triangles. At the top of each triangle and in the centre cut a little about 1/4".
Fold the corners down, hold the tail and roll up your croissant making sure the tail is on the bottom of the rolled up croissant. Place onto a parchment paper lined tray. Ensure they are evenly spaced out.
Whisk your egg up and brush over each croissant. You now need to leave your croissant to rise.
They need to be in a warmish place ideally about 24c for about two hours.
In this time they will double in size and you will be able to see the layers you have so lovingly created. If they are not ready after two hours give them a bit longer it will be worth the wait.
Pre heat your oven to 190c. Place the croissant into the oven, bake for 15-18 mins they will be a nice golden colour and slightly crispy on the outside.
Take out and enjoy!
Advanced Bread Baking Course at River Cottage
It’s that perfect time of year when skies are a crisp blue, the promise of new growth is all around and the hope of spring surrounds us. I like London when it’s like this, but I spent some time in Paris before university and thought that it was a particularly special city in April. Of course, Paris being Paris meant there were other benefits; boulangeries and patisseries everywhere with windows full of tempting buttery delights. And while it was the simplest thing to find croissant perfection in France, it’s a little harder here with the ubiquitous cheap cellophane wrapped, spongy impostors found in supermarkets which have a miniscule connection to the real thing.
I was therefore delighted to attend an advanced baking day at River Cottage HQ, just outside Axminster in Dorset. I was especially interested because among the items we would be cooking would be proper, butter filled croissants. Driving down was spring perfection; that vibrant green of the first leaves that I find particularly energizing. Heaven would have been bowling down the road in a sporty two seater, but even without that arriving at RC HQ elicits thoughts of Good Life-esque living off the land, eating food picked daily from the garden and having a larder overflowing with home-made cured meats, cheeses and breads, preserves and pickles.
It was a full day (9.30 – 5) packed with learning; as well as croissants, we also make brioche, a small baguette, fougasse, a molasses and caraway rye bread, and covered two ways of making sourdough. It’s also a day packed with butter: brioche and croissants are both delicious ways of eating lots of extra butter without thinking about it. But it’s not a day of nothing but unhealthiness; the sourdough recipes, in particular, result in a slower fermented and more easily digestible bread, as does the wheat free rye loaf.
The cookery school itself is based in a new building, next to the barn and behind the original cottage. As it’s purpose built, it’s excellently organized; we were 4 to a workstation which gave up plenty of room each, and we using 4 of the 5 stations in the room. We were also very well looked after, with drop scones and jam on arrival and coffee and drinks throughout the day. An introduction to the idea of a bakers’ nip of Kingston Black aperitif half way through the morning kept us going until lunch, which was a delicious selection of dishes based on local ingredients: some indeed couldn’t have been more local having come from the kitchen garden in front of the cottage. A team ready to do all the washing up took that chore out of our hands, leaving us more time to learn.
I learn best by doing after seeing a demonstration, which is lucky as this is how the day is taught. Aiden Chapman, our teacher, was always ready to lend a hand if our dough wasn’t behaving itself. As always with bread, there is much time spent waiting for things to rise, but rather than sit and wait, we had a number of projects on the go at once so it was a non-stop day. By the end of it, I was much happier with the idea of trying some more challenging bakes, working with very high hydration doughs and just generally giving it a go. What’s the worst that can happen?
The day long advanced bread making course at River Cottage Cookery School costs £195. Other course are available including veg, fish, meat, foraging, beekeeping and are priced between £145 – £240
Natural Chef and recipe blogger Ceri from Natural Kitchen Adventures took the advanced gluten free course with Naomi Devlin earlier this month. Ceri says:
“I had a wonderful time at River Cottage, from the tractor ride down to the farm at the beginning of the day, the stunning seasonal 2-course lunch, and the opportunity to have a whistle stop tour of the vegetable gardens at lunchtime the day was non-stop inspiration – It’s easy to see why this small farm River Cottage has become the institution it is today. I took the course in part to have an excuse to visit River Cottage, but also to deepen my knowledge and practice cooking with gluten free flours under Naomi’s expert guidance. I’d consider myself to already know a lot on this subject, but just don’t have the time in my everyday schedule to get on and practice. A full on day gave me just that, and whilst the recipes were those that should be reserved for special treats e.g. baguettes, or choux and sweet pastry, I’m now determined to make more time in my everyday schedule to try them again at home.”
Choclette from Tim & Thyme also visited a few years ago and took the preserving course.
If you would like to learn to bake your own bread, then I have teamed up with River Cottage and have a day’s course to give away to one Fuss Free Flavours Reader.
Learn the ins and outs of truly great bread, with a day of mixing, kneading, baking and eating at the River Cottage Cookery School. Home-baked bread always tastes better – and we’ll prove it. On this fun, educational one-day cookery course, our River Cottage chefs will inspire you to rise to the occasion, abandon ready-sliced loaves and discover a world of delicious fresh bread baked at home. We’ll teach you our basic bread recipe and show you how it can be adapted in many different ways, giving you the confidence to become master of your own bakery. You’ll also explore international breads such as focaccia and roti, make wood-fired pizza for lunch and create your own wild yeast starter, for fabulous sourdough.
Location: River Cottage HQ, Trinity Hill Road, Axminster, Devon. EX13 8TB
Win A Bread Making Course at River Cottage – RRP £195
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- Closing date Midnight 26th May 2016
- T&C’s: The prize must be taken by the 30th January 2017. Travel to River Cottage HQ and accommodation is not included. The prize is non-transferable once dates are confirmed. This prize is for one winner who must be over 18 years of age.
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Fuss Free Flavours was the guest of River Cottage, all opinions our own.