Laminated doughs are seen as some of the harder, more tedious types of pastry and most chefs in cookbooks and on TV seem very happy to recommend using ready made versions. I am guilty of that myself, on here and in my books but in general I stick by it. It does take a number of hours to make a batch of puff pastry or a croissant dough and so I think it is perfectly acceptable pop to the shops and buy a packet, but you know what? If you have a few hours spare making these doughs is actually, for me at least, very rewarding and actually quite relaxing. Maybe its something to do with the constant rolling and folding but I find it quite calming to make these doughs. Of course having a few hours spare is a luxury and a rarity. To make croissant dough or puff pastry you make the dough portion and then over a few hours roll in the butter, its not a quick process but could it be? Is it possible to make a croissant dough in minutes rather than hours. Most people know there is a quick version of puff pastry but would a similar process work with croissant dough? The answer is yes! After stumbling across a mention that Julia Child makes here Danish Dough in the same manner as rough puff pastry I thought I would see if the same style of process would work for croissants.
To test how well the dough worked I compared it to a batch of the real thing. I made up croissants with both my quick croissant dough and a classic dough. Both produced tasty and seriously buttery croissants, the major difference was the proofing. The croissants made with the quick pastry ended up a little smaller as after two hours the croissants were still not as proofed as they should be (something I will play around with a lot more soon). If you look at finished croissants you can see both versions are well laminated and produce croissants that are very flaky, the signs of a good croissant.
I also tested the dough as a way to make cinnamon rolls (more about that tomorrow) and for that it worked beautifully. I really hope that you have a play with this dough, it only takes 20 minutes of active work and is significantly easier than the real thing but importantly I think it works as a viable alternative, I will definitely be playing around with it a lot more in the future.
20 Minute Croissant Dough
60ml milk, body temperature
65ml water, body temperature
125g plain flour
125g strong bread flour
6 grams dry active yeast
30g caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
150g unsalted butter, diced and chilled
Place the milk, water and yeast into a medium bowl and mix to combine, set aside. Place the flours, sugar and salt into the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter pieces and pulse until the butter is in small pieces. This is the important stage, you are not making a bread or a pastry so don’t over-process the mixture you need to see chunks of butter, around 1cm in size.
Tip the mixture from the processor onto the liquid ingredients. Using a spatula or bread scraper gently fold the dry goods into the liquid, trying to moisten everything without making the butter any smaller. Once the liquid is roughly combined, tip the mixture out onto the work surface and lightly knead together to form a ball of dough. Place the dough back into the bowl and cover with clingfilm and pop in the fridge for a few hours. This first stage should only take 10 minutes.
After allowing the dough to rest for a few hours place it on a well floured worksurface. Roll the dough out into a roughly 20cm x 40cm rectangle. Fold the dough in thirds, like a business letter brushing off any excess flour, this is the first turn. Turn the dough through 90° so that the folds are facing you. Repeat the rolling and folding process two more times, giving the dough a total of three turns. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and refrigerate overnight before using.
If you want to use the dough to make croissants roll the dough into a roughly 25cm x40cm rectangle and cut out triangles 8cm wide at the base at 30cm from tip to base. Roll the dough from the wide end into a classic shaped croissant. Place the croissants onto a parchment lined baking tray and cover with a piece of clingfilm. Allow to proof at room temperature until doubled in size. Brush the croissants with egg wash and bake at 180C for 20-25 minutes.