Making Croissants - Part 2: Shaping, Baking and Variations

So you've made your dough and it's chilling in the fridge while you work out what to do next, well done you! Or perhaps you've decided to buy the dough and just go from there, that's ok too.


In this post, I'm going to go through what you need to do next. And the first thing you want to do before you get everything else ready (unless you are freezing your croissants that is), is crack an egg and add a good pinch of salt. This is going to be used to glaze our croissants before we bake them. The salt breaks down the egg, making it easier to glaze, but it takes a little time to do this, so best get that out of the way before we continue.


Now this time I've stuck to a few firm favourites. I've made classic croissants; I've made pain aux chocolate (with some added hazelnuts); I've made cheats almond croissants and lastly, I made cinnamon croissants. I also made croissant-doughnut snippets which are a great bakers perk, I'd refuse to share them if I were you. There are lots of other variations that you could make and I'll add some more suggestions at the end.





The last types of croissants that I am going to make will be traditional almond croissants. The traditional ones are made with frangipane or almond cream and are made with day-old plain croissants traditionally.


So let's start, shall we?


Rolling Out The Dough


You'll need your rolling pin again now, a sharp knife, some more flour and a couple of lined or buttered and floured baking trays.



1. Take your premade dough out of the fridge, and place on a floured surface so that the book opens to the side. This time we're going to roll the dough out in both directions, not just forward and backwards. So start by rolling your dough out, forwards and backwards until it's as almost as long as your rolling pin, roughly 35cm is what you are going for. As before try and keep the square edges as you'll have to trim the dough later, and you don't want to waste too much (not that we will waste it, don't worry). Once it's looking around the right size, turn it 90 degrees and roll it the other way, this time you want to roll it till it reaches just shy of double the length of your rolling pin, about 75cm. Your dough is cold so this might take a bit of time, don't worry it gets easier to roll as you get towards the end.



2. You should now have a large rectangle of dough. But it probably looks messy. We don't want those edges in your delicious finished croissants. So the next step is to neaten everything up. Take a large sharp knife or if you have one a pizza cutter works great too, and trim the edges to leave a neat rectangle of dough. Put the offcuts to one side, for now, I have a use for those.




3. Next, you want to cut your dough in half lengthways, so that you have two long equal-sized strips of dough. Now you are ready to make croissants. Now is the point to decide what you would like to make as different pastries are different shapes. If you are just making traditional croissant shapes just head to that section now. If you want to make pan au chocolate or any other shapes you need to divide your dough accordingly. You can make 12-14 croissants or other pastries from your dough. For croissants you'll be making triangles, for pan aux chocolate you'll want 1/7th of a strip of dough in a rectangle shape. For Pan aux raisins and variations on that, you'll want to avoid cutting it up entirely and as you'll fill the entire sheet, or perhaps half or a quarter of it, as this one gets rolled up and filled and sliced the way you would for a cinnamon bun.




Croissants


4. For croissants begin by dividing your dough into triangles. You can get 7 out of each half of your dough. They should be about 9cm wide and 15cm long. Once you have done this take your first triangle, make a small cut into the narrowest side of your croissant, the side you will role from, this needs to be about 1cm deep. You can do with all of your triangles at the start if you like.



5. Next, take your triangle of dough and hold it up by the end with the cut. Place your fingers behind the dough and your thumb in front. Gently move your fingers and thumb down to the point of the triangle at the bottom to stretch it. You can now put it down again so that this point faces you.



6. Next stretch the top of the croissant a little, either side of the cut that you made, then fold over the top of the croissant as in the photo below. To get the smoothest finish, the best way to shape your croissants is to roll the croissant towards you with flat of your palm. Simply place your hand on top and roll it towards you. Place your finished croissant on your baking sheet with the tail tucked underneath to keep it all neat. Now you can move on to your next one.





Variations

The most common variations are almond or hazelnut croissants. Traditionally these are made with day-old croissants and almond or hazelnut cream. If you don't want to wait and want a cheat option, you can simply add some hazelnut or almond butter. Place a small dollop at the top of your croissants before you roll. To finish, scatter with flaked almonds or chopped hazelnuts just before baking. You can, of course, do this with any nut butter including pistachio or peanut butter, or even hazelnut chocolate spread. Yum!


Another good option is cinnamon croissants, scatter your unrolled croissant with a mix of cinnamon and brown sugar.


Pain Aux Chocolate


To make pain aux chocolate, cut each of your long strips of dough into 7 rectangle pieces. Place a couple of pieces of chocolate at the top, normally dark, but milk or white work too, and role up your dough from this end. Move to place them on your two baking trays to prove. Make sure to leave plenty of room for them to double in size. I like to sprinkle my pain aux chocolate with a few chopped nuts before I role.





Pain Aux Raisin