Recipe Nico Verster Photographs and recipe courtesy of Struik Lifestyle
Making croissants always seems very romantic, but be warned, they require a lot of work and dedication, not to mention bags of patience. The dough must be prepared two days in advance of baking the croissants.
To start, you’ll need:
- 150ml warm milk
- 150g cake flour
- 15g instant dried yeast
Ingredients for the dough:
- 800g cake flour
- 70g caster sugar
- 4t fine salt
- 1T melted unsalted butter
- 425ml warm milk
- 30g instant dried yeast
- 625g unsalted butter, chilled and cut into thin slabs
Ingredients for the egg wash:
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1t water
- Salt for sprinkling
- Sesame or poppy seeds for sprinkling
For the starter, combine the milk, flour and yeast in a bowl, cover and leave to froth for 30 minutes.
To make the dough, sift the flour, caster sugar and salt in a bowl, then make a well in the centre. Combine the melted butter, milk and yeast, pour into the flour well and raw some of the flour into the mixture to create a smooth paste. Allow to froth for 12 – 15 minutes. Combine the starter and dough ingredients and knead for 12 minutes to form a smooth, elastic dough. Dust with flour, cover in clingfilm and refrigerate overnight.
Unwrap the dough on a floured surface and roll into a large rectangle. Place the cold butter slabs on half of the rectangle. Fold the other half over the butter then press the edges together to seal the butter inside. Lightly flour the dough then roll out into a large rectangle again, but don’t overwork the dough. Fold as before, cover with clingfilm and chill. Repeat the folding and rolling twice, chilling after every fold. Refrigerate overnight.
Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. On a floured work surface, roll each piece into a thin rectangle, then cut into triangle shapes with a pizza wheel. Shape the croissants by rolling each triangle from the base up all the way down its length until the pointed end of the triangle is directly underneath the croissant. Now bend both ‘legs’ towards you to form a tight crescent shape and gently press the tips of the legs together.
Make an egg wash by whisking the egg with the water in a small bowl. Lightly brush over each croissant and sprinkle with salt and sesame seeds. Leave the croissants to double in size in a warm area for approximately 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 180°C, then bake the croissants for 16 – 20 minutes until golden and crisp.
You’ll find more delicious recipes in Nico Verster’s cookbook, ‘Savannah To Sea’ (R295, Struik Lifestyle).