Nancy Birtwhistle's Raspberry and Almond Croissants

Nancy Birtwhistle's Raspberry and Almond Croissants

The dough here will make a batch of flaky croissants as well as Apple and Lemon Kites. The croissants have a sweet filling made from powdered freeze-dried raspberries, ground almonds and sugar.

Make Nancy's Apple and Lemon Kites here.

For how many? Makes 12

Ingredients

  • For the dough:
  • 500g strong white bread flour
  • 17g fast-action dried yeast (from 3 x 7g sachets)
  • 10g salt
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 20g powdered milk
  • 300ml lukewarm water
  • 80g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed
  • 240g unsalted butter, well chilled
  • For the filling:
  • 65g ground almonds
  • 65g caster sugar
  • 65g icing sugar, plus extra for icing
  • 2 drops of almond extract
  • 1 tbsp freeze-dried raspberry powder/granules
  • 1 medium egg, beaten to mix

Instructions

Equipment: 2 baking sheets, lined with baking paper

1. Make the dough first so it has plenty of time to rest and chill. Put the flour into a large mixing bowl (or the bowl of a large, free-standing electric mixer fitted with the dough hook). Add the yeast, salt and sugar and mix well with your hand (or the dough hook). Stir the milk powder into the warm water and add to the bowl with the cubes of soft butter. Mix everything together with your hand (or in the mixer on the slowest speed) to make a soft, sticky dough.

2. Turn out on to the unfloured worktop and knead by hand for 10–13 minutes, lifting the dough up and slapping it back down, until it will peel away cleanly from the worktop. (Alternatively, knead with the dough hook for about 8 minutes until the dough is firm enough to leave the sides of the mixer bowl cleanly.)

3. Shape the dough into a ball and return to the bowl if necessary. Cover the bowl tightly with clingfilm and leave the dough to rise on the worktop for about 55 minutes until doubled in size. If you want to speed up the rising process, knead the dough for 15 minutes, then put the bowl (which needs to be microwave-safe) in the microwave and heat at 100watts power for 5 minutes; return the bowl to the worktop and leave it for 15 minutes.

4. Punch down the dough to deflate it. The dough now needs to be thoroughly chilled before you layer the butter in. Re-cover the bowl and chill the dough for about 40 minutes until cold and firm. Alternatively, pat the dough out 2cm thick, place it on a cold baking sheet or tray lined with clingfilm and cover it with more clingfilm, then chill in the freezer for 10 minutes.

5. While the dough is cooling down prepare the butter. Place it between 2 sheets of baking paper and pound it with a rolling pin until is pliable but still cold. Form it into a rectangle about 20 x 15cm. Keep in a cool spot until needed.

6. Turn out the chilled dough on to the lightly floured worktop and roll out away from you to a 50 x 20cm rectangle (a short side will be nearest to you). Set the chilled butter in the centre of the rectangle. Fold down the top third of the dough so it covers the centre third of the butter rectangle. Fold the bottom third up to cover the other two layers of dough (plus butter). Press the edges to seal.

7. Turn the parcel or 'book' of dough 90 degrees so the rounded edge or 'spine' is by your left hand and the visible short edge is by your right hand. Roll out the dough once more to a 50 x 20cm rectangle and fold in three again. Seal the edges, then wrap the dough in clingfilm and put into the fridge to chill and relax for about 30 minutes until firm.

8. Place the dough on the floured worktop so that the rounded edge is by your left hand and roll out the dough away from you to a 50 x 20cm rectangle again. This time do a 'double fold' or 'book fold': using the tip of a sharp knife, very lightly draw a fine line across the middle of the dough rectangle, parallel with the short ends. Fold one short end up to touch the centre line; repeat with the other end – the two short ends will meet in the centre. Now fold the dough in half to make a 'book' of 4 layers of dough.

9. Give the dough ‘book’ a 90 degree turn (the folded sides will now be to the left and right), then repeat step 8. Wrap and chill once more for about 40 minutes so the dough can relax and firm up.

10. Weigh the dough, then cut it into 2 equal portions. Wrap each piece in clingfilm and keep in the fridge while you make the filling. (One portion will be used for the croissants and the other for the Apple and Lemon Kites. If you don’t want to make both pastries straight away, you can freeze the second portion of dough for a month.)

11. To make the croissant filling, put the almonds, both sugars, almond extract and raspberry powder into a bowl and mix well with a wooden spoon. Work in enough beaten egg to make a firm marzipan-like paste (save the rest of the egg for glazing). Turn out on to a worktop lightly dusted with icing sugar and roll into a sausage 60cm long and 5mm thick. Cut across into 12 equal pieces. Place them on a plate and set aside.

12. Roll out one portion of dough on the floured worktop to a 22 x 32cm rectangle. Trim the sides with a sharp knife and ruler to make a neat 20 x 30cm rectangle. Cut into six 10cm squares, then cut each square diagonally in half to make 12 triangles. If the dough starts to feel soft and hard to work, lay it on a baking sheet or tray lined with clingfilm, cover with clingfilm and chill in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes until firm but not solid.

13. Set a piece of the raspberry filling sausage along the wide edge of each triangle, then roll up the dough from that edge, gently pulling and stretching the tip of the triangle to elongate the dough slightly. Arrange the shaped croissants on the lined baking sheet with the pointed tip underneath – set the croissants well apart to allow for expansion. Cover lightly with clingfilm and leave to rise in a cool spot for 30–40 minutes until almost doubled in size.

14. Towards the end of the rising time heat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas 7. Uncover the risen pastries and brush them lightly with beaten egg to glaze. Bake in the heated oven for 10–15 minutes until well risen and a good golden brown (for the best results rotate the sheets after 8 minutes so the croissants bake evenly). Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool.

15. To finish, dust the cooled croissants with icing sugar.

For more baking inspiration, see The Happy Foodie's A to Z of Baking.

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