Life's better with cake and a sprinkle of fairy dust
It’s not every day in sunny Singapore that the average temperature drops below 30 degrees Celcius, so when the temperature reads 25, let’s break out the butter and rolling pins, baby. It’s croisssant weather!
B-but… crossiants are so yesteryear. And breakfast was six hours ago.
Nope, I refuse to put down the butter.
Let’s make the CRONUT.
My brain is screaming, “TRANS FAT!!!” Erm, try not to eat every single one? Sharing is caring. Or replace the butter with a low- or no- trans fat pastry margarine. I’ll stick to butter, thank you – margarine scares the life out of me.
First, let’s make the cronut, or esssentially, croissant dough.
Unwrap 250g of butter that’s just below room temperature, put in into a small plastic bag and whack away with the rolling pin until it looks like this.
If butter squishes everywhere, it’s too soft. Put it back in the fridge for a few minutes. If the butter cracks, it’s too hard. Leave it on the counter for a few minutes before trying again. The aim is to get an evenly spread, fairly regularly-shaped sheet of butter. Once that’s done, put it back in the fridge while we prepare the dough.
In the bowl of your mixer, weigh out 400g pastry flour, 100g bread flour, 1 tsp salt, 5 tsp sugar and a tiny pat of butter, just to lube up the dough a bit. Mix for about 20 seconds on the lowest speed until the fat is rubbed in.
Mix in 2.5 tsp or 1 sachet of instant dry yeast, followed by 280ml of very chilled water. Mix on low speed for 1 minute, or until the flour is just incorporated.
I probably mixed just a few seconds too long; the bowl is way too clean. Overmixing develops the gluten matrix, which makes it difficult to shape the dough when we are ready to roll in the butter later.
Turn the dough out onto a very lightly floured clean work surface.
Give it 4, maximum 5, kneads with the heel of your palm, so it looks like a smooth ball. Resist the urge to knead it to hell, we are not making pizza dough.
Cover the dough with a piece of plastic and rest for 20 minutes. If the weather is warm, wrap it well and rest in the fridge. My kitchen was a cool 25 degrees Celcius today, so I just left this on the counter.
After resting, roll the dough out to a rectangle that’s thrice as long as it is wide. If the dough keeps shrinking back and resisting your efforts, it’s either not rested long enough or overmixed. Cover it again and rest for another 10 minutes in the fridge.
Remove the prepared and chilled sheet of butter from the plastic bag and place it on one end of the rectangle of dough. The butter should cover just under 2/3 of the dough.
Using your fingers or a bench scraper, tear or cut the butter into 2 equal portions. Now, working in imaginary ‘thirds’, position each portion of butter to fit over the middle and right thirds of the dough.
Dust off any excess flour and fold the left third (no butter) of dough over the middle third.
Then fold the right third over the left third, encasing all the butter in one neat package, with the “open” ends on the top and bottom, and the “seam” on one side.
Now we are ready to make the FIRST TURN. There’s a total of 3 turns we have to put in croissant dough. Here’s how to make one turn:
Always working with the “open” end of the dough nearest to you, use the rolling pin to apply even pressure from the middle towards the two ends, stretching the dough and simultaneously, the encased butter evenly.
Then roll, from the middle, the dough in both upward and downward direction until you get a rectangle that’s thrice as long as it is wide. Start seeing a pattern here?
Use even, steady pressure and dust with a very light hand to prevent the dough from sticking. Do not use copious amount of flour. If you do find excessive flour on the dough, always, always, always brush it off before folding the dough. You don’t want all that flour to interfere with our beautiful, flaky layers of laminated pastry.
Turn the long rectangle 90 degrees clockwise, anticlockwise, whichever. Working in ‘thirds’ again, fold the left third over the middle third.
See that big air bubble? That is yeast at work. The more slowly you work, the more ‘gassy’ the dough is going to become. The key is to work fast and work cold. Quite difficult if you have to stop, dust off your hands and hold a camera, snap-snap-snap, put down camera and resume, like, 30 times, to make just one dough.
Right, the air bubble? Pop it and move on.
Fold over the right third and there you go, you’ve just completed ONE TURN.
If you are still following at this point, haven’t decided that life’s too short and you should just go out and buy a dozen of these, and still are very determined to make your own cronut, make ONE indentation with your finger on the dough for ONE TURN, wrap in plastic, stick it in the fridge for 45 minutes to an hour, then repeat the turning process until you have THREE of these little indentations on the dough. Stop. Stick it back in the fridge for at least 1 hour or overnight.
Then pop a beer and congratulate yourself.
You have just made cronut/ croissant dough.