Warning: If you’re looking for Pilsbury “crescents”, turn back now. These are not for you.
This was my first attempt at croissants. Well second, technically. The first recipe I tried- the dough was WAY too stiff, I knew it wasn’t working and that there was no chance it was going to turn out OK – so 4 packets of yeast and 10 cups of flour went into the garbage… Shame on me for not doing my research… Shame on me. After further examination I realized that recipe was drastically different than pretty much EVERY OTHER CROISSANT RECIPE EVER. So, I was lucky enough to have just enough yeast left to try again…
Croissants get a bad rep for being unforgiving, and I’m here to tell you that’s a lie. Since my first dough was a flop, I was left with just shy of enough yeast, only 2/3rds the amount of whole milk needed (so skim was substituted), I also only egg-washed half of the croissants (to see if it’d make a big difference- it didn’t), and I got tired of rolling them, and thought I’d want some big ones (not realizing how big the little ones would end up) so I made 8 GIANT ones from the same amount of dough that makes 12 average size ones.
Next time, I’m going to try fillings/toppings. With these I replicated something J. Alexanders used to serve on the side whenever you ordered a salad: Honey-butter glazed croissants. Which aren’t filled with anything, but came to your table warm, drizzled with a sweet, sticky honey glaze. They don’t serve them anymore, now they give you cold croissants with cold butter as a place-filler on your table. Bastards.
The recipe I attempted to follow can be found on epicurious here.
Below is the recipe I ended up with is below (along with my notes)
Croissants – makes 24 regular or 16 giant
Useful equipment: Stand mixer w/ dough hook, pizza cutter, pastry brush
- 1 c whole milk + ½ c skim, warmed to yeast-loving temps (105°F–110°F)
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon plus 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast (or the majority of 2 packets)
- 3 3/4 c all-purpose flour (plus extra for dusting)
- 1 Tb kosher salt
- 3 sticks cold unsalted butter
Making the Dough
- In the stand of an electric mixer with a dough hook attachment, mix the milk, sugar, and yeast. Let sit until foamy (appx 5 min). In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and salt, set aside until yeast has foamed, it’ll look something like this…
2. Add flour/salt mixture to yeast, while mixing on low. (I usually add half, then once incorporated add the rest)
3. Once it comes together into a smooth, slightly sticky mass, shape it into a rectangle about 1 ½ inches thick, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and set in the fridge for about an hour until chilled.
Laminating the dough
4. Once dough is chilled, line up sticks of butter and smash with a rolling pin between two sheets of parchment paper until they are roughly the shape of an 8 x 5 inch rectangle. Wrap and chill, swapping butter for dough in the fridge.
5. Unwrap dough and roll out onto a lightly floured surface, dusting with flour as necessary* into a 16 x 10 in rectangle. Arrange dough w shortest side nearest you, put butter rectangle in the center, and fold like a letter—cover the butter with the bottom 1/3rd of dough first, then with the top. Brush off any excess flour with a pastry brush.
6. Turn dough 90 degrees so new shortest side is near you, then pound with a rolling pin at even intervals, making uniform impressions (this will help the butter to spread). Roll dough again into a 15 x 10 inch rectangle. Brush off any excess flour, and fold in thirds again, stretching the dough as needed to square off the ends—thus forming a 3 layer 10 x 5 inch rectangle.
7. Give yourself a congratulatory pat on the back for doing your (presumably) first ever “fold”, rewrap the dough in plastic wrap, and stick it back in the fridge at least another hour. (I’m not going to lie, I got a little impatient and may not have waited the whole hour… on that same note, I also left the house a while between another fold and it was in for over an hour, and alas the world has not come to an end)
8. Repeat 5 & 6 three more times, creating a total of 4 “folds”. Once you have completed your last fold, rewrap the dough and place in refrigerator for 8 – 18 hours.
When you’re ready to shape the croissants…
9. Remove dough from refrigerator, unwrap and cut in half cross-wise. Re-wrap half of dough and place back in the fridge.
10. Roll on lightly floured surface into a 16 x 12 inch rectangle, stretching as needed to maintain rectangular shape
11. Cut in half again cross-wise and place half back into the fridge to chill
12. Cut the remaining half into thirds, then cut those thirds diagonally into triangles. I stretched my short side to be longer, so that my croissants could look prettier. Not all of them wanted to stretch, though, so just do your best
13. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place appx 2 hours.
Baking your croissants
Some croissant recipes are very intricate, while others are very basic. Being of a curious nature, of course I had to experiment with the complicated directions, then tried the easy way. Both came out fine, so I’ll give you the easy directions
14. [Optional] Using pastry brush, give your croissants a light egg-wash coating. I did some with egg wash and some without, and they cooked the same either way.
15. Bake your croissants at 375F for 15 – 20 minutes until golden brown.
*When you first start rolling, you will think you’re super awesome, not needing any additional flour. “What does it mean, adding flour when needed? I don’t need any flour…” I was even a little worried that I did something wrong because it was rolling out so nicely… Trust me, somewhere around your 3rd “turn” you will understand why you might need that flour…