I did it! I did it! I did itttttttttttt!!!!!!!! For years, it has been on my bucket list to tackle croissants. And I did ittttttttttttt. I have had failed attempts in the past, but this time, this time, it worked out! I think I am now going to rename the blog to “Bakin’ is the Way to Happiness,” or well, at least for today. Bacon has taken second, at least for today.
What is it about croissants? Is it the flakiness? The butteriness? The flaky butteriness? The buttery, flaky, butteriness? Yep, it’s most likely that.
And, what is it about MAKING croissants that enables one to feel like… just… wow. It’s most likely the amount of time that goes into the process, coupled with the success that comes with the fruits (or breads) of your labor. After these beauties turned out, I felt like I could do anything. Like run for office. Or do a jig. Or even just eat them. And eat them I did.
And they were terrific. So terrific that I am unable to write about them in anything other than fragmented sentences.
I strongly encourage anyone and everyone to try making croissants at least once in your lifetime… and I really encourage you to make them several times, too!
On a scale of difficulty, I’d rate this around medium. I’d say some scratch baking experience is very helpful in this process, but the three trickiest steps in this process involve: proofing the yeast, having patience during the process, and having more patience during the process. You see, it takes several steps of rolling, folding, and re-rolling to create the various flaky layers. Proofing yeast is not all that difficult, but should your yeast be kaputz, well, that would ruin the whole process at the beginning.
Making croissants were, altogether, not terribly difficult, in my opinion. My failed past attempts were a result of a lack of patience, and I ended up with nothing other than buttery biscuits that, although delicious, were decidedly NOT flaky croissants.
In creating this recipe, I was hoping to find a middle ground between several recipes I had encountered over my past attempts- some were 12 hour recipes, some were 3 day recipes. I thought it had to be possible to find the middle ground: an afternoon of rolling and a night of resting. And the result was perfection!
Next challenge for this recipe: incorporating chocolate pieces before rolling up to bake! NOMMMMM.
Yields: 1 1/2 dozen (2 1/2″ sized)
Time: 24 hours
1 TBS active dry yeast
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup whole milk, warm
1/4 cup heavy cream, warm
3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour (plus extra for sprinkling work surface)
2 1/2 sticks sweet cream butter
1 egg (for egg wash)
Silpat (if you have one!)
1. Proofing your yeast: In a large bowl, combine yeast, salt, sugar, milk and heavy cream. Let it sit for about 10-15 minutes to make sure that it begins to bubble.
2. Add flour, 1 cup at a time. Depending on the humidity outside, you’ll reach the desired tacky, but smooth consistency somewhere in between 3 1/2 and 4 cups (key: the more humid it is outside, the more flour it may require).
3. Lightly flour your work surface. Knead the dough until it becomes an elastic ball. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
4. While the dough is still in the refrigerator, Cut the butter in half lengthwise as well as width-wise (about 1/2″ wide). Form these butter pieces into a rectangle in between parchment paper. With a rolling pin, roll out the butter and flatten it until it becomes one consistent, cohesive piece, about 7 to 8″ square. (To get to this size, you may need to cut some off to create a square, which is good– just make sure you place it in the middle and roll it back into the square).
5. Remove the dough from the fridge, roll it out on a lightly floured surface until it is approximately 10″ x 16″.
6. In the center of the rolled dough, place the butter square, but with the pointed edges facing the flat edges of the dough, so that it looks like a diamond within a rectangle (see the photo above for reference).
7. Fold the longest ends of the dough over the butter, so that they meet in the middle. Then, stretch the shorter edges of the dough to also meet in the center of the dough, pressing out any air. The butter should be fully covered.
8. Roll out the dough, elongating it to almost 2 feet, but not widening it much more.
9. Fold the dough into a trifold (think of how business letters are folded, but also reference the photos above). Make sure to dust off any excess flour during the process.
10. Cover with plastic wrap and place into the freezer for 15 minutes.
11. Remove the dough from the freezer, roll it out on a lightly floured surface to 10″ x 16″ again. Once again do the trifold, dusting off any excess flour. Cover with plastic wrap and place into the freezer for an additional 15 minutes.
12. One last time, remove the dough from the freezer, roll it out on a lightly floured surface to 10″ x 16″ again. Once again do the trifold, dusting off any excess flour. Refrigerate overnight.
13. The next morning: remove the dough from the fridge and unwrap it. Divide the dough in half. Lightly flour your work surface and roll out the dough to about 10″ x 24″. The dough should be no more than 1/4″ thick.
14. When it comes time to cut the dough, there are several ways in which to do it. I like to eyeball things, personally. If you don’t like to eyeball things, I would recommend finding a yardstick and make vertical cuts using a knife or pizza wheel at about 5″ apart along the length of the dough. You should have many smaller rectangles.
15. Make diagonal cuts on each of the smaller rectangles to create triangles.
16. To shape the croissants, roll the widest ends of the dough toward the pointed edge, stretching a little as you roll. Shape all the croissants. Placing onto a prepped baking sheet (or two, if needed) as you go.
17. Make your egg wash: In a small ramekin, beat one egg with about 1 tsp of water.
18. Brush the egg wash over top of each croissant. Let the dough rest for 1 hour.
19. Preheat the oven to 400*.
20. Bake the croissants for 8 to 12 minutes. Rotate and swap the baking sheets to ensure an even bake. Bake for an additional 8 to 12 minutes, until the croissants are lightly browning.
21. Cool on baking racks for 15 minutes.