Although croissants are time-consuming to make, the results are worth the effort. Do not substitute any fat for butter when making them.
French croissants are characteristically light and flaky because of the flour used to make them. When made with British flour, croissants have a more bread-like texture, but they are still buttery tasting.
To make 12 croissants, you will need 1tablespoondried yeast and 1teaspooncaster sugar, 250ml (8fl oz) warm water, 500g (1lb) strong white flour, 1teaspoonsalt, 25g (1oz) lard, 1 beaten egg, 250g (8oz) softened butter and alittle extra beaten egg to glaze.
Prepare the yeast and sugar with the warm water. Put the flour and salt in a howl, and then rub in the lard. Add the yeast liquid and beaten egg and mix to form a smooth dough. Knead until smooth. Roll out to a 50 × 20cm (20 × 8in) rectangle, keeping the edges straight. Divide the softened butter into 3 equal portions.
Use 1 portion of butter to dot the top two-thirds of the dough, leaving a narrow border around the edges. Fold up the bottom third of the dough and fold down the top third of the dough. Seal the edges with a rolling pin, then give the dough a quarter turn. Press lightly at intervals, then roll the dough out to an oblong again.
Repeat step 2 again with the next portion of butter. Roll out the dough as in step 2. Dot with the last portion of butter and fold the dough in thirds again. Cover with a tea towel and chill for 30 minutes. Then repeat the rolling and folding 3 more times without adding any more butter. Cover the folded dough and chill again for 30 minutes.
Roll out the dough to a 50 × 30cm (20 × 12in) rectangle on a lightly floured surface, constantly patting in the edges to keep the shape. With a sharp knife, trim the edges neatly, then cut the dough in half lengthwise. Cut each strip of dough into 3 equal-sized squares and then cut each square in half diagonally to make 12 triangles.
Roll up each triangle, starting from the wide side and gently shape into a crescent. Any filling should be added before rolling each croissant. Put on ungreased baking sheets, cover and leave to rise for about 30 minutes until doubled in size. Brush with beaten egg. Bake at 220°C, 425°F, Gas Mark 7 for about 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.