Croissant: World Renowned French Artisan Treat

We are all familiar with this crescent-shaped French pastry that has a flaky and light texture and buttery flavour known as Croissant. Everyday  at Dello Mano at both the New Farm Dello Mano and the Tattersalls Arcade store we offer croissants, almond croissants and Madelienes Almost every patisserie in France offers this world-famous pastry, and some even have their own versions. Croissants are made from yeast-leavened dough and butter. The classic recipe only calls for these two ingredients but today, they are often made with a variety of fillings, from cheese to chocolate and even meat. The hard part is actually putting together the dough and butter. The key is to make sure that the butter does not melt into the dough so when baked, the croissant would achieve that beautiful flaky texture inside.

We often think of France as we hear of croissant, but the truth is it’s a creation which originated from Austria. The journey of this genius pastry creation from Austria to France is nonetheless as interesting as that of many pastries and desserts we have today, like brownies, tart tartin, and Madeleine.

Dello Mano treats – Croissants, Almond croissant and Madeleines

History accounts that croissants were patterned from kipferl – a traditional pastry in Vienna, Austria. The story dates back in 1683, when Vienna was sieged by hundreds of thousand Ottoman Turks. After several months of trying to starve the city into submission, the Turks attempted to dig a tunnel underneath the walls of the city. Alerted by the sound of the digging, the city defenders were able to carefully plan out how they are going to face the Turks. Unaware of the preparation by the people in Vienna, the Turks got in and were defeated in a battle.

To celebrate their victory, bakers in Vienna made a pastry that looked like crescents which they have seen in the battle standards of the enemy. They called it ‘Kipferl’ which is the German word for crescent. From then on, bakers in Vienna made baking Kipferl an annual tradition to commemorate the Austrian victory from the Turks.

From being the symbol of success, Kipferl also became a symbol of love and union. In 1770, Austrian Princess Marie Antoinette married King Louis XVI of France. And croissant was born.

Princess Marie Antoinette was an all-time fan of Kipferl. She came to France as a new bride at the age of 15. And to honour her as the new Queen, bakers in France made her favourite crescent cakes for the royal dining. But instead of ‘Kipferl’, they called them ‘croissant’ which is the French word for ‘crescent’. They also made some tweaks in the preparation of the dough to make it more complex for the royal dining.

But there’s another story. Some researchers say that the Princess refused to dine with the members of the royal French family, and would sat at the table not removing her gloves. She will have her meal in her room, and would require dishes from her homeland, including her favourite Kipferl. Later on, Princess Marie came to accept and love its French version – croissant.

Whichever of these historical accounts are true, it can’t be denied that Princess Marie had a significant role in the popularisation of croissants. Thanks to her!

Croissants

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Croissants – Dello Mano

Croissants in their traditional form, is a simple pastry made from pate feuilletee – a dough composed of flour, yeast, milk, butter and salt. They are simple and delicious as they are, even without a filling. The taste and quality of the pasty depends mainly on the quality of the dough.

But just like we enjoy brownies with peanut butter, cream cheese, nuts and all sorts of added flavours, croissants also taste wonderful with extra additions.  At Dello Mano we handmake from scratch a delicious Almond Jam that we fill into puffy, crispy croissants. We coat each one with toasted almonds and finish with a sprinkle of icing sugar. So delicious!

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Almond Croissants – Dello Mano

Or have you tried chocolate-filled croissants? A Belgian Chocolate Croissant would be just wonderful. You’ll find below Nigella Lawsons recipe for these little delights – her recipes are always fabulous and her love of chocolate really shines through!

 Making Croissants at Home

Thinking about making croissants at home.? While the ingredients are pretty basic (pastry dough and butter), the challenge lies on the process. To achieve that light and flaky texture, you must ensure that the butter does not melt into the dough until the croissants are being baked.

Here are some tested croissant recipes we’ve collected from the internet for you to try.

Classic French Croissants by Paul Hollywood

croissants

This recipe is from Paul Hollywood and originally published in the Telegraph UK.

Ingredients:

  • 500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 10g salt, plus a pinch for the egg wash
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 10g instant yeast
  • 300ml cool water
  • 300g chilled unsalted
  • Butter, preferably a good-quality Normandy butter
  • 1 medium egg to glaze

Procedure:

For the dough:

Put the flour in an electric mixer fitted with dough hook. Add salt and sugar to one side of the bowl, and the yeast to the other. Add water and mix on low speed for two minutes. Then, put on medium speed for six minutes. The dough should be fairly stiff by this point.

  • Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape it into a ball. Dust with flour.
  • 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.

Preparation:

  • Roll the dough to a rectangle on a lightly floured surface, about 60 x 20cm.
  • Put the butter between two sheets of parchment or wax paper, then flatten and shape it into a square by bashing it with a rolling pin.
  • Put the butter on the dough so that it covers the bottom two-thirds of the dough. The butter should be positioned neatly and comes almost to the edges.
  • Fold the exposed dough at the top down over one third of the butter. Then, 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. 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 onto the floured surface, with the short end towards you. Roll into a rectangle, same with the previous measurement (60 x 20cm).
  • Fold up one-third of the dough and then fold the top third down on top to make a neat square.
  • Put the dough back into the plastic bag and chill for another hour. Repeat this process twice more, putting the dough back into the fridge for an hour between turns.
  • The dough now needs to be left in the fridge for eight hours, or overnight, to rest and rise slightly.

Shaping the Croissants

  • On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a rectangle, 42cm long and 30cm wide. The dough should be about 7 mm thick.
  • 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). One strip can produce 6 triangles.
  • 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.
  • For the traditional crescent shape, turn the ends of each croissant slightly towards each other.
  • Arrange the croissants on a baking tray, leaving some space between each for them to expand.
  • Bake for 15–20 minutes or until golden brown at 200C.

Croissants by James Martin

Here’s another croissant recipe by British chef and television presenter James Martin, which was published in BBC website.

Ingredients:

  • 500g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1½ tsp. salt
  • 50g sugar
  • 2 x 7g sachets fast-action dried yeast
  • oil, for greasing
  • 300g butter, at room temperature
  • 1 egg, beaten

Preparation:

  • In a mixing bowl, put the flour, salt and sugar. Measure 300ml cold water into a jug, add the years and stir.
  • Make a well in the flour and pour in the yeast-water mixture. Mix then knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for 10 minutes. Form into a ball, put in a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and chill for at least two hours.
  • Put the cold butter between two sheets of parchment. Using a rolling pin, bash it and shape into a square, about 20 x 15cm. Without taking out the wrap, chill the butter.
  • Put the chilled dough to a floured surface and roll into a 40 x 20cm rectangle. Place the unwrapped slab of butter in the centre of the dough, so that it covers the middle third.
  • Fold the other side of the dough up and over the butter in the same way, so that the two edges of the dough meet in the centre of the butter.
  • Fold the dough in half so that the point where the ends of the dough meet becomes the seam. Wrap in cling film and chill for 30 minutes.
  • Repeat the rolling, folding and chilling process (steps 3-6) twice more in exactly the same way, rolling the pastry while it’s still folded, without adding more butter. Wrap and chill overnight.
  • The next day, roll the dough out on a floured surface into a large rectangle, measuring about 60 x 30cm. Trim the edges to neaten using a sharp knife or pizza cutter.
  • Cut the dough in half lengthways so that you have 2 long strips. Cut each strip into triangles of equal sizes. This should make 6 or 7 triangles.
  • Take each triangle in turn and pull the two corners at the base to stretch and widen it.
  • Starting at the base of each triangle, begin to gently roll into a croissant, being careful not to crush the dough.
  • Continue rolling, making sure the tip of each triangle ends up tucked under the croissant to hold in place.
  • Bend the ends of each croissant towards each other and transfer on the baking tray, spaced well apart. Cover with lightly oiled cling film. Leave to rise for 2 hours, or until doubled in size.
  • Brush the croissant with egg wash. Bake for 15-18 minutes until risen and golden brown at 200C.
  • Let cool on a wire rack.

Chocolate Croissants by Nigella Lawson

What about chocolate-filled croissant? Sounds good? Try this recipe from Nigella Lawson. If you don’t feel like using a ready-made dough, you can make your own from scratch.

Ingredients:

1 (13-ounce) packet ready rolled butter puff pastry

1 (100-gram) chocolate bar (milk or dark depending on taste)

1 egg beaten

Preparation:

  • Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.
  • Unfurl the pastry sheet and cut into 6 squares.
  • Cut each square diagonally to make two triangles. Put the triangle with the wider part facing you and the point away from you.
  • Break off small pieces of chocolate to place on each triangle, about 2cm/3/4-inch up from the wide end nearest you.
  • Roll and seal the croissant, and curl it around into a crescent.
  • Place the croissants on a lined baking tray and brush with egg wash.
  • Bake for 15 minutes until golden and puffy.

Tips for Successful Homemade Croissants

Making croissant can be somewhat challenging, but making this  French artisan bread is really rewarding. Here are some tips for successful homemade croissants.

  • When working on the dough, do it as quickly as you can. If the dough gets too warm, the butter will start to melt and the flakiness of your croissants will be reduced. If you feel that the dough is no longer cold, chill it in the fridge for several minutes.
  • If the butter starts to break through the dough, dust the area with a little flour then continue kneading after chilling.
  • As you get used to making croissants, you can experiment with many other fillings, such as chocolates, raisings and cinnamon, cheese, and more.
  • Making croissants is a labour of love, so make sure not to waste those cut-offs! Make smaller triangles and turn them into mini croissants.

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