A few weeks ago, I made croissants for the Troy Mother’s Day farmer’s market, and I’ve had so many requests for the recipe, I thought I’d jot it down here. Croissants have a reputation of being complicated to make, but I don’t think they are, just time consuming. I hope you’ll try them, because it’s so satisfying to make this French bakery staple at home, and if you, like me, live very, very far away from the nearest good bakery, sometimes you must take matters into your own hands!
***Allow five hours for initial prep of the dough, 8-18 hours resting time and another two hours to roll, form, rise and bake the rolls. Most of this time is inactive. I usually start the process in the early afternoon, rest the dough overnight and get up and bake in the morning. ***
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk, heated to warm
- 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon plus 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 3 3/4 to 4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) cold unsalted butter [I use salted sometimes too, and cut the salt down to about a teaspoon]
- 1-2 eggs, beaten, for egg wash
This recipe makes about 20-25 croissants.
First, make the dough. Dissolve the sugar in the warm milk, then add yeast, stir, and let sit until it starts to foam. Add the flour and salt and knead until you have a soft, sticky dough. You can use extra flour to make kneading easier if your dough is very sticky.
Form the dough into a rough rectangle and pop it in a plastic bag in the fridge until very cold, about one hour.
When your dough is close to being chilled, begin to prepare your butter. I find the easiest way is to take the three sticks of butter and cut them in half horizontally, then line them up next to each other on a cutting board to make a rectangle.
Now make the butter into one thin, uniform piece as much as possible, by pounding with a rolling pin, so it can more easily incorporate into the dough.
Take the dough out of the fridge and roll it out. It will spring back and “fight’ you. Let it sit for minute to relax if you want, or just keep rolling until you have a long, thin rectangle of dough.
Scrape the butter off the cutting board in one piece and place it in the middle of your strip of dough.
Then fold both ends of the dough over the butter to make an envelope shape [the process is only half done in the picture]:
Roll out thinly, and fold again the same way and put the dough back in the fridge for an hour.
It’s a lot of rolling. Bakeries have rolling machines that can make the dough much thinner than we can by hand.
In the pictures [taken by the lovely Madeline – thank you] I had just gotten home from yoga, and with the amount of rolling you will be doing, you might want to limber up and get some exercise wear on as well. I call it the French housewife workout, and it’s a nice way to offset all the croissants you will be eating later!
Then wrap the rough rectangle of dough tightly in a plastic bag or plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for 8-18 hours.
When you are ready to bake, take the dough out and roll it, as thinly as you can, into a long rectangle. It might take some time and wrestling to get it as thin as possible and you may have to re roll as you go as the dough springs back.
Cut your first croissant. You want to make as many long, thin, wide based triangles as you can from the dough.
Stretching the dough as you work, start to roll from the wide base of the triangle to make a croissant shape. [I don’t have pictures of this stage, but here are the finished, unbaked rolls]
Pre heat your oven to 350F/180C and let the croissants rise in a warm place for about half an hour, then brush them with egg wash and bake for about 20 minutes, until golden brown and well risen.
Yum! enjoy. My croissants are never as even as commercial ones, and sometimes they un furl in the oven and look more like snails, but despite their looks, the first warm, crunchy bite always takes me back to an early morning in a little village bakery near Lyon, France, where I ordered croissants and ate them all before I got back to the house.
Because of their high fat content, croissants freeze and re heat beautifully, so pop any leftovers in a bag in the freezer, and thaw at room temp for 10-15 mins before cutting in half and toasting, or crisping in a hot oven for 10 mins.