I had forgotten how obsessed I was with cooking shows in the absence of Masterchef Australia. Perhaps it was withdrawal interspersed with denial? I couldn't face the truth?
Whatever it may be, I rediscovered the excitement with the airing of Poh's Kitchen on ABC last Wednesday. Ok, that's not entirely accurate. Actually, it's quite inaccurate. I didn't follow it on TV at all. Rather, I watched it online the next day (which you may also do by clicking here). Poh was not a favorite of mine when Masterchef was on but I have to admit, I enjoyed her solo performance.
The show has a cute format where Poh and a guest chef (in episode 1, this was pastry chef Emmanuel Mollois ) and they share recipes with the audience.
I thought Emmanuel was endearing to watch but more than anything else, his almond croissants looked to-die-for. I've never attempted making my own puff pastry before, least of all in something as demanding as croissants where the success is based on how flaky and crispy the pastry is.
Mmm... challenging? Yes, but I wasn't deterred.
This is quite an involved process. To make almond croissants, you need croissants and pastry cream. I decided to make both those components myself. Therefore, I used all the recipe components provided on the Poh's Kitchen website. The difference is that I reduced the quantities quite substantially. For the originally quantities, click here. There is also a video available and I recommend you watch it, especially for the part involving the croissant dough because my explanations for how to roll and fold aren't as good as Emmanuel actually doing it.
Serves ~ 4-5
For the butter croissants
- 250g plain flour, sifted
- 1/2 tsp dried yeast
- 1/2 tbsp lukewarm full cream milk
- 130ml cold water
- 13g unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 27g caster sugar
- 125g unsalted butter, softened
- egg wash: 1 egg, 1 egg yolk, 50ml milk (it'll make way too much egg wash but I don't know how to divide this up
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 80ml full cream milk
- 1 egg yolk
- 20g caster sugar
- 10g plain flour, sifted
- 10g unsalted butter
- pastry cream, as above
- 50g unsalted butter, softened and diced
- 50g icing sugar, sifted
- 50g almond meal
- 1/2 tbsp corn flour
- 1 egg yolk
- croissants, as above
- almond cream, as above
- 50g sugar
- 100ml water
- almond flakes
To make the butter croissants...
1. Place the flour in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and add the yeast and milk.
2. Slowly add water and melted butter and combine gently with your fingertips.
3. Add the sugar and salt; keep mixing until the dough becomes very sticky.
4. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough with the palm of your hands by pushing it away from your body. Do this for 8-10min until the dough becomes smooth. Dust with a bit of flour as you go to reduce stickiness.
5. Place the dough in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. 6. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours but preferably overnight. The dough will double in size.
7. After the dough has risen, roll it out on a floured surface until it is 3 times as long as it is wide.
8. Blob half the softened butter across the middle section. Fold the bottom side up.
9. Spread the rest of the butter across the back of that bottom side and fold the top side down over it.10. Turn the pastry 90 degrees so that the seam is facing out on the right. Roll the pastry out to once again form a large rectangle. Fold it in 3, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 45min.
11. Repeat the process of folding and refrigerating another 3 times (a total of 4 times).
12. Roll the dough into a large 3-4mm thick rectangle and trim the edges. Cut out triangles. At the base of each triangle, make a small incision. Pull on the dough at either side of the incision and roll forwards wrapping the tip of the triangle around the rest of the dough (the video and pictures are necessary here to demonstrate what I mean). That should result in your basic croissant-shaped dough.13. Spread the croissants on a baking tray lined with baking paper and let them rest at room temperature for about 20-25min to rise again. In this time, preheat your oven to 220 degrees Celsius and prepare your egg wash.
14. Brush the egg wash over the croissants. Bake for 10min. Lower the temperature to 180 degrees Celsius and bake for another 6min. Don't open the oven door in this time.
15. You may serve the butter croissants hot, as is, or fill with the almond cream.
For the pastry cream...
1. Put the milk and vanilla extract in a small saucepan and bring to the boil.
2. In another bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and sugar until pale and creamy. Add the flour and mix well.3. Pour the hot milk slowly into the egg yolk mixture and mix well.
4. Strain the mixture back into the saucepan and cook until thick (whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming).
5. Finally, pour into a bowl, stir in the butter and cover with cling wrap until required.
Note: for my pastry cream, I basically divided the original recipe by 10 so my quantities are minuscule. It's not easy to follow the steps exactly (e.g. beating 1 egg yolk, or boiling a tiny portion of milk) so I improvised along the way.
For the almond cream...
1. In an electric mixer, beat the butter, icing sugar, almond meal and corn flour until pale and creamy. Add the egg yolk, mixing well.
2. Add the pastry cream and mix well to combine.
To construct your almond croissants...
1. Make a sugar syrup by bringing the water and sugar to the boil.
2. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Cut open a croissant lengthwise. Dab the inside with the sugar syrup.
3. Spread some of the almond cream inside and close the croissant again.
4. Spread some more of the almond cream over the top and sprinkle with the flaked almonds.
5. Bake in the oven for 15-20min. Emmanuel likes to squash the croissants down. I tried to keep the original shape, for presentation reasons. The almond croissants are supposed to be served completely cooled down, with a dusting of icing sugar.
The croissants took a long time (2 days, in fact) to make. I was really pleased with how they puffed up. It was a huge sense of achievement to create those little croissants that looked just like the ones from the bakery. I didn't eat them plain and I regret this fact because I'd like to pass judgment on how well I did with making just the butter croissants.
The almond version was quite delicious but not as great as I hoped. I loved the almond cream so that part was a success. I have a feeling I either used too much sugar syrup, or accidentally put vanilla extract in the syrup. The part of the croissant that was dabbed in syrup sort of had no texture/structure whereas the outside was crisp. I can't confirm whether that's just how my croissants turned out or whether the syrup made the insides mushy.
In any case, I liked the flaky exterior and the almond filling but wasn't a huge fan of the rest of the texture. To be honest, I've had my fun so am unlikely to attempt making butter croissants from scratch again. It is likely that I'll reattempt the almond croissants using store-bought croissants though.