30 January is National Croissant Day – a day dedicated to the flaky goodness of the popular French-inspired pastry. While the pastry does tend to have diva tendencies in the fact that it can be rather difficult to make, it’s one that has become a firm favourite around the world.
Although initially an Austrian pastry, it was Marie Antoinette who popularised the croissant in France by requesting the royal bakers replicate the kipfel – her favourite treat from her homeland. As the years went on, the French put their own twist on the pastry. The dough became lighter and more delicate throughout time, and, eventually, the kipfel was developed into what it is known now as the croissant.
Today, the croissant is one of most popular symbols of French food culture,” Wouter Vermeulen, General Manager Southern Africa, Air France-KLM explains. “The pastry has become so popular around the world and while the Covid-19 pandemic means that many of us are not able to travel to France to indulge in the delicacy at this time, it doesn’t mean we can’t create magic in our own kitchens this National Croissant Day”
One personality who isn’t afraid to push herself in the kitchen is television and radio personality Kriya Gangiah. The star continues to test her limits in the kitchen as the world continues its lockdown procedures to stop the spread of Covid-19 and has developed a fool-proof recipe to bake fresh, flaky croissants from the comfort of your own home – with none of the frustration!
“Everyone who knows me knows that I am a sucker for a culinary challenge,” Kriya says. “However, the croissant is one pastry that has intimidated me for months. I have tried and failed making croissants before but I have found a fool-proof recipe that a home cook on any level can succeed with!”
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
4 teaspoons active dry yeast*
2 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, cold
1 cup milk (you may need slightly more or less)
egg wash (1 large egg beaten with a teaspoon or two of water)
Place the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt in a large bowl and whisk together until combined.
Slice the butter into half a centimetre thick slices and toss in the flour mixture to coat.
Add the milk and stir together until a stiff dough forms.
Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a long rectangle shape.
Fold it into thirds (like a letter), turn 90 degrees, and repeat 4 to 6 more times, or until the dough has large streaks of butter in it but it is smooth and flat. (If at any point the butter starts to feel soft, chill it in the refrigerator or freezer until stiff.)
Wrap tightly and chill for 1 more hour, then divide the dough in half and roll each portion out to a thickness of about 0.3cm, in a long rectangle shape (approx. 25cm wide by 55cm long).
Cut the dough into long, skinny triangles (about 12cm at the wide end).
Notch the wide end of each triangle with about a 1cm cut, then roll from the wide end to the pointed end, tucking the point under the croissant.
Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and allow to proof until doubled in size (1 to 2 hours).
Preheat the oven to 190 degrees, and gently brush the croissants with egg wash.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until puffed, golden brown, and flaky.