Crisp, buttery homemade croissants are achievable – you just need a little time, patience and know-how. Here’s how to get them right, every time
1.Warm the milk in a small pan over a low heat until warm to the touch. Tip in the yeast and mix well. Put the flour, sugar and 2 tsp fine sea salt in a large bowl, and make a well in the middle. Pour in the milk mixture and combine to form a dough.
2.Tip out the dough on a lightly floured work surface and knead for 5-10 minutes or until smooth. Put in a bowl, cover and leave at room temperature for 30 minutes, then chill for 1 hour 30 minutes. Meanwhile, put the butter between two sheets of baking paper and use a rolling pin to gently bash it into a 20cm x 15cm rectangle. Wrap and chill until needed.
3.Remove the dough from the fridge and turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. Dust the surface of the dough with a little flour and roll out to a 50cm x 30cm rectangle. Turn so the longest side is facing you and trim the edges to neaten. Put the butter rectangle in the centre of the dough with the longest side facing you, to match the pastry. Fold one side of the dough up and over the butter to cover half of it, then do the same on the other side. Fold the dough in half so all of the seams are on one side of the dough. Wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
4.Roll out the dough again to a 50cm x 30cm rectangle. Fold a third down from the top, followed by the opposite third, then fold in half again. Chill for 30 minutes. Repeat two more times, then wrap and chill overnight.
5.The next day, again roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface to a 50cm x 30cm rectangle and trim the edges to neaten. Cut in half lengthwise to create two long rectangles. Mark each side of the dough strips every 15cm using a cutlery knife, alternating where the marks go. Cut each piece of dough into triangles. You’ll end up with some end pieces and scraps – use these to make mini croissants, if you like.
6.Working with one dough triangle at a time, stretch it out slightly to elongate, then roll up from the wide end, tucking the thin end piece under the rest of the croissant and pressing it slightly to stick. Arrange over two large baking trays lined with baking paper and repeat with the remaining dough, leaving a space between each croissant on the tray. Brush with the beaten egg, cover and leave to prove at room temperature for 2 hours until risen and very puffy. Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/fan 6. Brush the croissants with more beaten egg and bake for 18-22 minutes or until risen and deep golden. Cool on a wire rack, then serve.