First make the pastry. Place the flour, salt, sugar and yeast into a large bowl and mix together. Then whisk together the warm milk, egg and almond extract and gradually add and stir until you have a smooth, slightly sticky dough.
Tip out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes dusting with more flour as necessary until the dough is smooth and the surface is slightly springy to touch and not sticky. Place into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with lightly oiled cling film and leave in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
On a lightly floured board, roll out into a 5mm thick rectangle about 30cm x 40cm with the shorter side facing you. Place the butter onto a board and bash with a rolling pin until it is approx. 26cm wide, 10cm in length and 1cm deep. Place in the middle of the dough and make sure there is a 2cm border Leave a 1cm border at the sides clear of butter, so that it doesn’t spill from the sides of the pastry during rolling.
Fold the butter-free part of the dough over the middle third, then fold the remaining, unbuttered third over to make a flat parcel (like folding a letter into 3 to put inside an envelope). Lightly press down the open ends to seal, then chill, covered in cling film, for 15 minutes. Remove the cling film and lay the dough on a floured surface with the short side facing you. Roll out in one direction. You’ll get a very long rectangle – don’t worry as the next time you roll the dough it will be a more manageable size. As before, fold the bottom third of pastry over the middle third, then fold the top third over. Wrap in cling film and chill for 15 minutes more.
Repeat the rolling and folding process 1 more time, but this time start the dough on the floured surface with the longest side facing you. Allow the dough to rest in the fridge for another 15 minutes. Repeat steps 5 and 6, so you’ve rolled the dough into a long rectangle 4 times. Wrap the dough with cling film and chill overnight until firm.
Trim the edges; the dough is now ready to make almond custard Danish pastries or croissants. Cut the dough in half and roll out one piece into a large rectangle. Cut into 8 x 12cm squares and then cut them diagonally to make 16 triangles. Repeat with the other piece of dough.
Hold onto the ends of the longest sides of each rectangle and roll it towards you to make a sausage shape and then curl the edges round to make a crescent shape. Place on 2 baking sheets lined with baking parchment, leaving a few centimetres' gap between each croissant to allow them to rise and spread during cooking. Cover with lightly oiled cling and leave in a warm place to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 200C. Remove the cling film, brush the croissants with beaten egg and then bake for 10-12 minutes. Serve straight from the oven with butter and jam. Best served on the day they are made.
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