Ever since I saw Ina Garten going to the bakery and buying six croissants for a breakfast party (why she needed so many for so few people at her breakfast party I have no idea) I wondered how hard they would be to make. I googled “croissant recipes,” but really got no good instructions. Everyone I mentioned making croissants to told me I was crazy, just buy them. Instead, I bought a cookbook that happened to have really good instructions for folded pastry dough.
We planned to bake these on a day when we had lots of time, a fast day. We stayed up all night doing the first three turns and then shaped, proofed, and baked them the next day. It was hard to do this without just tasting the dough, but we had a delicious meal to break the fast with. We froze the leftovers and had them for Saturday lunch.
In the end we had 24 croissants. They weren’t giant like bakery croissants, but they were definitely delicious.
Recipe (from The Art and Soul of Baking)
- 1/2 cup warm whole milk
- 1 teaspoon + 2 tablespoons sugar
- 4 teaspoons active dry yeast or 1 tablespoon instant yeast
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 cup cold milk
- 3 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon whole milk/cream
1. Pour warm milk into bowl, whisk in 1 tsp sugar. Whisk in yeast, set aside for 10 minutes.
2. Combine flour, rest of the sugar, salt, and cold butter. Blend on medium with the paddle attachment until it resembled bread crumbs. Add yeast mixture and cold milk. Mix with the dough hook on low speed for 1 1/2 – 2 minutes until the dough forms a very rough mass. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead 3 to 5 times, warp loosely and chill for 30-60 minutes.
3. Make the butter block. Cut butter into 1/2 inch pieces and toss with flour. Refrigerate for 20 minutes (we did this right after refrigerating the dough). Beat the butter with the paddle attachment for 1-2 minutes, wrap in parchment, and refrigerate while making the dough.
4. Dust work surface with flour, set dough on it, and sprinkle with flour. Roll into a 15×12 inch rectangle with sharp corners. The shorter side should be parallel to the edge of your work surface.
5. First turn of the dough: split the dough into three parts, putting dough on the top two. Do the letter fold*, pinch the seams, and roll it with a rolling pin 3 or 4 times to seal. Refrigerate one hour before the second turn.
6. Roll the dough into a 20×12 rectangle and do the book fold**. Seal the seams and roll with the rolling pin 3 or 4 times to seal. Refrigerate one hour before the third turn.
7. Roll the dough into a 20×12 rectangle. Do a letter fold*. Seal the seams. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 24. This would be a good time to go to sleep. You can resume in the morning.
8. Cut the dough – Roll the dough into a 26×14 x 1/4 inch rectangle (make sure the surface is floured!). Cut in half lengthwise so each half is 26×7 inches with the long edge parallel to the work surface. Make small nicks every four inches at the top of the dough. Make a nick 2 inches in at the bottom and then every 4 inches.
9. Cut the dough into triangles – line ruler with the top left corner to the first bottom nick – this first cut is mini, and not a regular croissant. The next 12 will be rolled into croissants for a total of 24.
10. Shape the croissants – Make a small nick at the bottom of the triangle, about one inch. With the point at top in one hand and the bottom in the other, stretch the triangle a few inches longer. Put it back on the table and roll the two parts of the bottom up and apart, widening the slit. Roll the entire triangle towards the tip, pulling at the tip gently to stretch Tuck the tip under the roll, place on the baking sheet (lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper), and curve the ends towards each other to form a crescent shape. Place each 2 inches apart on baking sheets.
11. Mix the egg and milk to make the egg wash. Brush each evenly with egg wash and let the croissants rise for 1-2 hours in a cool, room temperature spot (until doubled in size – if you squeeze one gently it should feel like a marshmallow).
12. Chill croissants in the fridge for 15 minutes or freezer for 10 minutes. Brush with egg wash again, bake at 400 degrees, 1 sheet at a time for 17-22 minutes, rotating halfway through. Cool on rack.
*Letter fold: fold the empty bottom third of the dough over the center third of the dough. Then fold the top third over the center.
**Book fold: Fold the two short edges into the center of the dough, leaving a quarter-inch crevice between them. Line up the edges precisely and square the edges as you fold. Then fold one side over the other, as if you were closing a book.