Introduction: Croissant Loaf!
Who doesn't love a flaky, buttery croissant? When I first came across the idea of a croissant bread (also known as a Danish Loaf) I was intrigued and couldn't wait to try it out for myself. I bought the ingredients the very same day and the results were a game changer! All the glorious buttery goodness of a croissant in perfect tender slices. You'll have to hide it away from family and friends if you want a slice for yourself :)
Step 1: Ingredients for the Magical Loaf of Goodness...
Ingredients are listed in grams and the equivalent U.S. cups and spoons measurements. It doesn't really matter which measurement you use as they'll both yield great results!
For the dough:
- 25g (1 tbsp + 2tsp) unsalted butter
- 210g (3/4 cup + 2 tbsp) whole milk, cold
- 7g (2 tsp) instant yeast
- 275g (2 cups + 2 tbsp) plain flour, sifted
- 30g (2 tbsp) caster sugar
- 4g (1 tsp) finely ground salt
- 220g (1 cup) butter, at least 82% butterfat!
For the egg wash:
- 1 large egg
- 15g (1 tbsp) milk
Step 2: Ready, Set, Dough!
The modern miracle of an electric mixer makes this step all too easy. Of course, more primitive technology such as a fork (and/or hands) will do the job just as well!
1) Microwave the (25g) butter until completely melted. Whisk in milk with a fork (if the butter solidifies, then microwave the entire mixture for another 10 seconds). Whisk in instant yeast.
2) Add yeast mixture, flour, sugar, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixture with the dough hook attachment. Knead on low speed (2 on a KitchenAid) for 2 minutes or until a shaggy dough ball begins to form. Turn speed up to medium-low (3-4 on a KitchenAid) and knead until a smooth dough forms, about 3 minutes.
3) Dust the bench, your hands, and the dough lightly with flour. Knead the dough into a smooth round ball with your hands. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour or until chilled.
Step 3: Get Ready to Roll.
4) Let your (220g) butter stand at room temperature for 10-15 minutes (so that it's not rock hard, but not super soft either). Cut up the butter into thin blocks and arrange in a rectangle (apprx 17cm x 11cm / 6.7" x 4.3") . Flatten the rectangle of butter with a rolling pin between two sheets of baking paper (it will spread out a little and that's okay).
Step 4: Let's Laminate!
'Laminating' involves rolling, folding, and turning the dough. If in doubt, follow the images!
5) Retrieve your dough from the fridge and dust the dough and your work surface lightly with flour. Roll the dough out into a rectangle that is the same length (longer side) and three times the width (short side) as your butter rectangle (apprx 35 cm x 20 cm / 13" x 7.8").
6) Place the butter rectangle in the centre of the dough and complete an envelope fold: bring the right-hand third of the dough over the butter, then bring the left-hand third of dough over the butter. Roll out length-ways to a rectangle which is, again, approximately 35 cm x 20 cm (13" x 7.8"). Complete the envelope fold again, then wrap the dough in plastic wrap and freeze for 10 minutes.
7) Rotate the dough so that the 'seam' (the open length of the envelope) is on the right hand side, then roll out lengthways to a rectangle- yes, again- of approximately 35 cm x 20 cm (13" x 7.8"). Complete the envelope fold and freeze for another 10 minutes. Complete this step two more times for a total of four times that the dough has been laminated and chilled.
- Fun fact while you wait! The envelope-folded-dough-rectangle is known as a plaque.
Step 5: Shaping the Dough.
This is where the magic happens! Our dough transforms from a buttery slab into something resembling a bread loaf.
8) Grease an medium sized loaf tin (mine was 21 cm x 11 cm / 8.2" x 4.3" along the base). Re-dust your work surface and dough with flour. Roll dough out into a rectangle which is the same width and twice the length of your loaf tin, for example my dough was 42 cm x 11 cm (16.5" x 8.6").
9) To braid: cut your dough lengthways into three even strips. Pinch the very top of each strip together to join the dough. Take the right-hand strip and pass it over the middle strip so that it becomes the middle strip. Pass the left-hand strip and pass it over the middle strip so that it is now the middle strip. Repeat this pattern, continuing to bringing each of the outer strips into the middle, until the length of the dough is braided. Pinch to seal the end.
- The above images are your friend for this step!
10) Flip the braid over. Fold up the ends of the braids so that they meet in the middle, then press firmly together with fingertips to join. Flip the bundle of braids over so that the join is on the bottom. Place into a loaf tin and allow to proof for 4 hours in a moderately warm place (24C / 75F) until the dough has doubled in size.
Step 6: Bake Away!
11) Preheat your oven to 200C (390F) fan-forced. Make the egg wash by beating together the egg and 1 tbsp of milk. Lightly brush the egg wash over the top of the bread. Put the bread in the oven on the middle shelf and immediately turn the temperature down to 180C (350F) . Bake for 20 minutes, turn the loaf around, then bake for another 15-20 minutes until golden brown and crisp.
- If the loaf begins to get too dark, cover in foil for the remaining baking time.
12) Here's the hardest part of the entire recipe... wait 15 minutes for the loaf to cool before removing from the tin! Then turn the bread out of the tin and cut yourself a slice (or two... or ten!).