One of the fondest memories I have from my three week jaunt through Europe is eating a fresh, buttery croissant from a small bakery in Paris. I was standing in the middle of a cobbled street, half way through a day of trekking around somewhat aimlessly (if not for the sole intention of eating at every bakery we saw) when I saw a window full of croissants in a window. Since then, croissants have never really been the same.
Making a homemade, not from the tub, croissant isn’t easy. I was skeptical that I could do it on my first go. There are a lot of steps! It requires a lot of down time! The beauty is that it doesn’t require too many fancy tools or ingredients though. Now about those steps…
Make the starter dough.
Then you have to chill it for 8-12 hours (or overnight). Only then can you start incorporating the butter.
That’s when you start pounding things (that was the fun part).
Oh, and then there is the folding.
And more folding… three different times.. and the rolling.
Only to chill it again overnight!
Roll it out again the next morning. Cut. Roll. Wash. Proof.
Easy, right? Right! You’ll forget all about the process once you taste one of these out of the oven. Mmm, I’m dreaming about them now.
Adapted from: Fine Cooking
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp cold water
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp cold whole milk
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar
3 tbsp soft unsalted butter (unsalted is key here)
1 Tbs. plus scant 1/2 tsp. instant yeast
2-1/4 tsp. salt
1-1/4 cups cold unsalted butter, cut length wise into five pieces or more each
For the egg wash
1 large egg
Step One, Prepare the Dough:
Combine all of the ingredients for the dough in a large bowl or stand mixer. Mix for 3-5 minutes on medium. Once all combined, put into a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Chill overnight.
Step Two, Buttery Layers:
Cut the butter into 1/2in thick slabs and lay out close together on a piece of parchment paper (about 5″ square is what you should try to end up with). Cover with another piece of parchment paper. Take a rolling pin and pound out the butter until all the pieces become one and it’s about 7″ square. Put the butter back in the fridge to chill while you prepare the dough.
Step Three, Prepare the dough:
Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Lightly flour a large counter or surface and roll out your dough until it’s roughly a 10″ square. Get the butter, unwrap it and place it in the middle of the dough, so the points of the butter square are opposite the points of the dough.
Fold the flaps of the dough over the butter, as shown above. Gently tug the sides if you need to pull them to stretch all the way across. Seal off all four corners in the middle, making sure that the butter isn’t showing.
Step Four, Rollin’:
With the rolling pin, start pressing on the dough, and then begin rolling, all while making sure the butter isn’t coming out of the dough anywhere. Make sure you’re lengthening the dough, not widening. The goal here is to evenly spread the dough and butter throughout. Roll out until the dough is about 8″ x 24″
Step Five, Foldin’:
Once you do that, fold one end one third of the way up the dough, and then fold the other end over that (much like you’re folding a letter).
Step Six, Chill Out:
Cover and freeze for twenty minutes.
Step Seven, Repeat? Repeat!
Repeat steps four through seven two more times, but instead of freezing the dough on the last time, chill it in the fridge overnight. When rolling out the dough again, make sure you roll from the open ended sides. You should be elongating the dough in the opposite way that you folded it. This ensures that you’re making new layers each time you fold it.
Step Eight, Roll & Cut:
The next day, take out your dough and roll it out to about 44″. This is going to take some work. Mark the top of the dough where you want to cut, should be about 2 1/2 in per piece. Use a pizza cutter to cut the triangles as shown in the picture.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment. Take one of the triangles, gently tug to elongate, and then roll from wide end up. Make sure the point of the croissant ends up on the bottom. Twist the ends inward to make the crescent shape we all love.
Step Nine, Wash:
Lightly beat an egg with one tsp water until smooth. Brush each croissant with egg wash. Let the croissants proof in a warm, draft free area for about two hours. Make sure it’s not too warm or else the butter might leak out (this happened to one of my croissants when I had them on top of an oven that was previously on). You’ll know they are ready when you can start to see the layers:
Step Ten, Bake:
At this point, preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Brush another layer of the egg wash on. Bake ten minutes, rotate and bake for another 8-10 minutes.
Step Eleven, Consume all the Croissants!
You don’t need an excuse to eat all of the croissants, but sure, here’s one: you went through all this trouble to make them and they just won’t be as good later. Better enjoy them while they are fresh! Right? (Nah, they are pretty darn good a day later too).
***I brought in leftovers to work the following day and people went crazy for these. One of my coworkers happens to be from Paris and while they weren’t quite up to snuff for him, he didn’t spit it out! I think I did a pretty good job for my first go ’round, though he did say they seemed a tad too buttery (is that really possible?).
Watch out for some Pain au Chocolat and Ham & Cheese croissants in the near future.
Additional Recipe with Croissant dough:
May I present to you, the Morning Bun: