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    What makes a croissant great? According to US food writer Jeffrey Steingarten, it should be "extremely flaky on the outside; easy to break in half; moist inside, yet with all internal layers visible; and delectable." That may be a tall order, but this old recipe from French baker Patrick Leon Esquerré, from the Loire, stands up to the test.

    • Vegetarian
    • Preparation time: 45 minutes, plus chilling
    • Cooking time: 15 minutes
    • Total time: 1 hour, plus chilling 60 minutes

    Makes: 16


    • 400g strong bread flour
    • 2 tsp salt
    • 50g granulated sugar
    • 7g sachet fast-action yeast
    • 225g unsalted butter, 60g softened and the remainder chilled
    • 2 medium eggs, plus 1 beaten egg for glazing
    • 125ml whole milk, at room temperature


    1. Mix the flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Add the yeast, the 60g soft butter and the eggs. Using a mixer with a dough hook, mix slowly until the butter is well incorporated. Add enough milk to make the dough combine. Mix slowly for 5 minutes, then at medium speed for 10 minutes or until you have a smooth, slightly sticky dough. (You can do the mixing and kneading by hand, but a mixer makes it much easier.) Put the dough in a lightly greased, large, square container, cover and put in the fridge overnight to rise.
    2. Remove the dough from the fridge, turn it 90º so you're rolling in the opposite direction to before, and roll out to 25cm x 60cm. Fold in thirds and chill for 1 hour.
    3. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment and preheat the oven to 190ºC, gas mark 5. Put the dough on a floured surface. Turn 90º again and roll out to 30cm x 60cm. Cut into two 30cm squares then cut each into four squares. Cut each square diagonally into 2 triangles. Cut a notch in the middle of the long sides. Roll up each triangle, starting with the long side, then form each roll into a crescent. Put on the baking sheets. Leave to rise for 1½ hours or until doubled in size. Brush with beaten egg and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

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    Tear into a packet of Waitrose butter croissants (£1.15/two) and smother them in strawberry jam, dunk them into steaming hot chocolate or fill them with ham. Buy these hand-rolled, hand-shaped croissants made with Normandy butter and all the hard work's done for you.


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