Paul Hollywood Croissants, Almond & Chocolate

Today’s recipe is one close to my heart – croissants. I worked for years in a French restaurant with its own bakery, and the croissants are by far the thing I miss most about that job. A warm, crunchy croissant with some nice coffee is about as good as breakfast can get. Lucky for you, I held onto the recipe! While we’re making the signature Paul Hollywood croissant recipe today, I’ve got a couple of twists to make them that much more delicious saved just for you.

Now, before we get into it, a warning – croissants are all about precision and preparation. They’re not technically difficult to make, but your temperatures and speed will make a major difference in the quality that you get out of this recipe. That makes our first subsection the most important by far, so pay attention to and honour the mise en place.

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Paul Hollywood Croissants Recipe

First things first, we need to prepare. Whether you’re new to baking or a veteran, mise en place is the most important thing you can do to make quality food. For the uninformed, mise en place is a French term that literally translates to, “everything in its place.” It is a staple in every professional kitchen that I’ve ever worked in, and it’s drastically improved the quality of my work and home cooking by leagues. Now, onto the recipe!

Mise en Place

To make Paul Hollywood croissants, you’ll need:

  1. 500 grams strong white bread flour, with extra for dusting (not bread, self raising, or high-gluten AP flour)
  2. 10 grams salt, plus ~2 grams for the eggwash (AKA”a pinch”)
  3. 80 grams caster sugar
  4. 10 grams instant yeast
  5. 300 mL cold water – that means below your current room temperature by ~5-10 degrees C
  6. 300 grams chilled, unsalted butter – the better quality, the better end result. Paul recommends a good Normandy butter
  7. 1 medium egg

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The Process

Buckle in, kids, we’re about to get going.

Step 1

First, add your flour to a mixing bowl (with a dough hook attachment). Now, add your salt and sugar on one side of the bowl, with your yeast on the other. This is important, as salt will kill your yeast before it gets to do its thing.

Add water and mix at a slow speed for roughly 2 minutes. Up the speed to medium and mix for 6 more minutes. Your dough should be rather stiff – this is okay.

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Step 2

Lightly flour a work surface (I like to tape down parchment paper for easy cleanup). Dump your dough onto the work surface and shape it into a ball. Dust with flour and place in a clean plastic bag to chill in your fridge for 1 hour.

Step 3

On your still-floured work surface, roll your dough into a rectangle, roughly 60 cm X 20 cm, roughly 1 cm thick.

Now, working quickly, lay your chilled butter onto a piece of parchment paper. Flatten it to roughly 40 cm X 19 cm, bashing it with a rolling pin and then rolling. Put your butter on the dough so it covers the bottom 2/3 of your dough. It should neatly almost come to the edges of your dough.

Fold the top, exposed section of dough, cutting off the exposed butter without cutting the dough. Put the excess butter on top of the dough you just folded. Fold the bottom half of the dough up – you’ll be sandwiching the butter between dough (2 layers butter, 3 layers dough). Chill it again for another hour.

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Step 4

Repeat the process, rolling it out to the same dimensions. fold a third of the dough and then fold again with the top third to make a neat square (AKA single turn). Repeat the chilling and rolling process twice more, chilling between turns – yes, this takes a long time.

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Step 5

Chill dough overnight for at least 8 hours. It should slightly rise in this time.

Step 6

When ready to start shaping, line 2-3 baking trays with parchment paper. Put the dough on a floured work surface, rolling it into an (approximately) 42 cm long and 30 cm wide rectangle, roughly 7 mm thick. Trim edges to make them neat and uniform.

Cut the rectangle into 2 strips, then cut triangles along the length of each strip, roughly 12 cm wide at the base and 15 cm high (middle of the base to tip). You should get exactly 6 triangles from each strip. You can use the first one as a guide if needed for the rest.

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Step 7

Before rolling, hold down the base of your triangle, pulling lightly on the pointed end to stretch it slightly. Roll the dough starting from the wide section towards the tip. For a traditional croissant shape, turn the edges in towards the centre. Repeat for all 12 croissants.

Place the croissants on baking sheets, giving them space to expand. Cover your sheets and croissants with a clean plastic bag and allow them to rise at room temperature (18-24° C) until at least doubled in size, roughly 2 hours.

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Step 8

Heat oven to 200° C.

Lightly whisk your egg, adding a pinch (~2 grams) salt. Brush the tops and sides of the croissants with your egg wash, and bake for 15-20 minutes. They should be golden brown; cool them on a wire rack.

Almond or Chocolate Twist!

Now, this is not Paul Hollywood’s Croissant recipe – it’s my own adapted recipe! They’re both surprisingly easy to make, so let’s get right into it!

Almond Croissant Ingredients and Recipe

To make almond croissants, you’ll need:

  1. 1 medium egg
  2. 170 grams unsalted butter
  3. 240 grams almond flour
  4. 1 tsp cornstarch
  5. .5 tsp amond extract
  6. 170 grams powdered sugar
  7. Almond slivers for topping

Combine all ingredients and mix until it forms a paste. Before completing step 7 of Paul’s recipe (the rolling), drop 1 heaping tablespoon of your almond paste in the middle of the large end of your triangles and complete as usual. Top with almond slivers, drizzling with honey to help them stick.

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Chocolate Croissant (Pain au Chocolat) Ingredients and Recipe

This is super easy and can have a few variations, depending on what you’re feeling like. All you need is two high-quality chocolate bars of your choice and the base recipe. While I prefer using dark chocolate, you can use whatever your little heart desires. One friend of mine even used Nutella, which was a whole other level of deliciousness.

Place 1 small square of chocolate on each croissant before completing step 7 (just as above) and fold/chill/bake as usual. If you really want to get fancy, you could make a hazelnut version of the above almond paste, (just sub out hazelnut oil for the extract and hazelnut flour for almond flour). Follow that up with a small dollop of Nutella (and maybe some orange zest while you’re at it), and you’ve got an indulgent, homemade version of the classic pain au chocolat.

Final Thoughts

Croissants are rumoured to be the most difficult thing to bake for home and amateur bakers. I personally disagree, as it all comes down to timing and temperatures. If you’re finding that things are melting before you’re ready, chill it all. Rinsing your hands in cold water before folding will help prevent the butter from melting too quickly, and that’s all you really need to know.

Paul Hollywood croissants are light, flaky, and absolutely delicious. They also happen to make a great base for an almond croissant or pain au chocolat. Once you’ve got this recipe down pat, you’ll have a hard time not making it for everyone, all the time – trust me, they’re that good. Now get baking!