Updated: Apr 21, 2020
Oh my, people go crazy for fresh croissants...
I learned to make these croissants in Paris, in my baking class with Didier, the French Master Baker. They are so good and I'm proud to say that even my teenage daughter says that they taste just like in Paris!
They take a little bit more time and effort. However, it is so much fun to make them and especially during these times, where we have a little extra time on hand, this is a fun family project.
They take at least 10 hours to make, but you can spread the process over 2 days. For guaranteed flaky croissants, please use European Style unsalted butter like Kerrygold or Plugra. Higher-fat European style butter contains less water than domestic butter, thereby creating flakier layers. This is quite important! If you have it, try to use high-protein flour like King Arthur unbleached all purpose flour. It develops more gluten and is more resistant to tearing.
Watch the video here
24 tbsp. (3 sticks) European style (Plugra, Kerrigold) unsalted butter, very cold
3 tbsp. melted butter
1 3/4 cold cups milk
4 tsp. instant or rapid-rise yeast
1/4 cups sugar
4 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp. salt
1 large egg
1 tsp. water
Mix 3 tbsp. melted butter, milk, yeast, sugar, flour and salt in a food processor, stand mixer, bread machine on dough function, or by hand until well kneaded.
Transfer dough to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and press into a 10 by 7-inch rectangle, about 1 inch thick. Wrap tightly with plastic and let rest in fridge for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
Important - The way to obtain wonderfully flaky croissants is to wrap dough around a large block of cold butter and roll out and fold dough over, 3 times in a row (this is called a “turn” - I will explain technique below). By doing this, you obtain the distinctive layering effect of the flaky and buttery croissants.
In order to make your block of butter:
Take 2 pieces of parchment paper and trace an 8” square on each piece.
Take the slightly softened butter and place it onto one of the pieces of parchment paper, onto the square. Now place the other piece of parchment paper on top of the butter and roll out butter to create an 8” butter square. Wrap it all up and place it into the fridge until it is really cold and hard again.
Lightly flour your countertop. Take your dough out of the fridge and roll into at 17 x 8” rectangle. Unwrap butter and place it in center of dough so that butter and dough are flush at top and bottom. Fold 2 sides of dough over butter so that they meet in center. Press seam together with your fingertips. Using rolling pin, press firmly on each open end of packet (this is so that the butter doesn’t squeeze out when you roll out dough/butter packet).
Roll out dough, perpendicular to edge of counter, into a 24 x 8” rectangle.
Fold one third of dough over, then fold other third over it, folding like a business letter into an 8” square.
Put dough/butter packet into freezer for 30 minutes.
Repeat these 3 steps 2 times (this is how you get the 3 “turns” I mentioned earlier), putting dough into freezer after every turn. It is very important to put dough into freezer after each turn! If butter and dough, get too soft, it will be messy and you won’t get the lovely flaky effect.
After your last turn, put dough into refrigerator for 2 hours.
After 2 hours (or more - not a problem if it fits your schedule better), put dough into freezer for 30 minutes (no more!)
Roll out dough onto lightly floured counter and roll into a 16 x 18” rectangle.
Using a pizza cutter, cut out the croissants. This part is a little fussy, but once you get it, it is easy.
Cut rectangle in half, into 2 parts. Put one part into fridge on a parchment lined baking sheet and cover with plastic sheet. You want to keep dough as cold as possible.
Using your pizza cutter, cut out triangles with the base measuring 3 inches. Altogether, you should obtain 22 triangles.
To shape the croissant: Cut 1/2” slit into short side of triangle. Grasp triangle by 2 corners on either side of the slit and stretch gently, then grasp bottom point and stretch.
Place triangle on counter so point is facing toward you. Fold both sides of slit down. Position your palms on fold and roll partway toward point. Gently grasp point again and stretch.
To finish, continue to roll, tucking point underneath - this is important, the point needs to be nestled underneath croissant shape, otherwise it won’t hold its shape.
Curve ends gently toward one another to create crescent shape. Repeat with remaining triangles.
A little trick to making great croissants: stick any dough that you are not shaping into fridge until you are ready to use. I just need to emphasize again that you want to keep dough as cold as possible at all times! The French bakers actually use a refrigerated marble countertop to keep dough cool. I use a metal rolling pin (*see reference in my product recommendation sheet) which I keep in the freezer before rolling out dough. With all that butter, the dough can get mushy easily and be very difficult to work and shape.
Place 12 croissants on 2 parchment lined baking sheets, leaving at least 2 1/2 inches between croissants, 6 croissants per sheet. Lightly wrap sheets with plastic, leaving room for croissants to expand.
Let rise at room temperature for 2 1/2 to 3 hours until nearly doubled in size.
After 2 hours, preheat oven to 425°F so that it is hot by the time you are ready to bake the croissants.
Whisk egg, 1 tsp. water and pinch salt together in a small bowl. Using pastry brush, brush croissants with egg mixture.
Reduce oven temperature to 400°F and bake croissants for 15 to 25 minutes, rotating sheet after 10 minutes.
Bake croissants until deep golden brown.
Transfer croissants to a wire rack and let cool until just warm, about 15 minutes.
"Close your eyes, bite into your croissant and imagine sitting on a terrace in a French café. Heavenly!"