Croissants

One word. Butter. And lots of it. One of the thing I miss the most about living in Paris is the smell of freshly baked breads and pastries coming out of bakeries early in the morning. For a long time the smell of toasted butter from the boulangerie downstairs was my alarm clock right around 7 am. I would rush down the stairs (and almost tumbled a few times in my butter induced frenzy) and pick up a croissant or pain au chocolat for my commute to school.

On my days off I would have a croissant with café au lait for breakfast, sitting at a sidewalk table at the Café de la Paix near Opera, sipping a café crème and eating a croissant with confiture, watching the morning bustle and hustle of Parisian life. Those are hard to tame habits and as a result I think I’m forever doomed to a life of random cravings for warm buttery croissant. It’s not always that easy to find great ones here in the US unless you live in big cities so let’s make some, shall we?

Croissants aren’t as difficult to make as they seem. If you have experience making puff pastry from scratch you’ll find that the process is quite similar, the big difference is that it’s a yeast dough that requires a lot of rest in between turns. After shaping and proofing, the croissant are brushed with an egg wash and baked until puffed and golden, and believe me, the smell in your kitchen alone will be worth all the efforts. Give yourself plenty of time. Make the dough on one day and shape, proof and bake them on the next. They will be even better.

Croissants are made from layered dough that is made by encasing butter in a yeast dough, and taking it through a series of turns to produce many layers of butter in between sheets of dough. A perfectly rolled croissant dough has 81 layers. The key to success in this process is maintaining the integrity of each layer. If the lamination is successful and the layers are maintained the croissants will be light and flaky.

The leavening in croissant dough is derived mainly from the steam generated by the moisture in the butter and dough during baking. The laminated fat acts as a barrier to trap the water vapor formed during baking. As the steam expands in the oven it lifts and separates the individual layers to create a lot of deliciousness.

The only problem with this recipe is that you’ll end up with about twenty rich and buttery croissants and they will be right on your kitchen counter taunting you. And nobody, and I mean nobody, has enough restrain and self-control to resist this kind of torture. You better have an exit strategy to get rid of them. Call your neighbors, friends or family ahead of time and get-them-out-of-the-house while they’re still warm.

Or eat them all and spend a week on the treadmill. Enjoy!

  • Croissant Recipe

  • Makes 20 croissants
  • Adapted from ‘Pastries’ by Pierre Herme except for rolling technique.
    • For the croissants:
    • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
    • 7 tablespoons whole milk (68′F)
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 tablespoon fleur de sel
    • 6 tablespoons superfine sugar
    • 2 1/4 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft
    • 1 tablespoon dry milk powder
    • 1/2 cup mineral water (68′F)
    • 3 sticks (12 ounces) French butter
    • 1 large egg yolk
    • 1 whole egg
    • dash of fine sea salt
    • For the croissants:
    • Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk. Sift the all-purpose flour, then incorporate the sea salt, sugar, very soft butter, dry milk powder, water and yeast dissolved in warm milk. Knead the mixture briefly. Transfer the dough to a bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and keep it at room temperature (ideally at 72′F) for 1 1/2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in volume.
    • Punch down the dough to its initial volume and cover it with plastic wrap again. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Punch it down again and place in the freezer for 30 minutes.
    • Remove the dough from the freezer. Pound the cold butter in between sheets of parchment paper with a rolling pin to soften, then knead butter with hands forming a rectangle. Place it in the refrigerator while you roll the dough.
    • Sprinkle a work surface with flour and roll out a long rectangle of dough; it should be three times longer than it is wide. Place the pad of butter on one half of the dough rectangle. Fold the other half of the dough rectangle over the butter pad and pinch the edges shut around it.
    • To make the croissants you will need to put 3 double turns into the dough. To make your first double turn, dust your counter surface with flour and roll out the dough into a rectangle three times longer than it is wide.
    • Visually divide the dough lengthwise into quarters. Fold the two outer quarters over the center axis, or spine, of the rectangle of dough, so they meet in the center. Then close the book, bringing one edge to meet the other. Double turn complete. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour. Repeat the operation twice more for a total of 3 double turns with one hour of rest in between. Make sure you start each turn with the center axis, the spine of the book, on your left.
    • Roll out the dough to a rectangle about 8 inches wide and 1/8 inch thick.
    • Cut out long triangles, each 8 inches long from the pointiest tip to the center of the side across it and 4 inches wide at the bottom. Roll each triangle tightly from the wide bottom to the tip of the triangle and give them a crescent shape.
    • Transfer the croissants to two baking trays lined with silpat  or parchment paper. Cover lightly with plastic and leave at room temperature to double in size, about one hour.
    • Heat the oven to 450′F.
    • Whisk the egg, egg yolk and salt together in a small bowl and brush the top of the croissant generously.
    • Place the trays in the oven and immediately lower the temperature to 350′F.
    • Bake the croissants for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they double in size, caramelize on the edges, and have a crusty outer layer. Eat them right out of the oven or at room temperature.
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  • http://cestpasmoijeljure.wordpress.com Dr. CaSo

    Why the dry milk powder? I hate to buy stuff I’ll only use for one recipe and not even all of it… 

  • http://thewanderingeater.com/ Tina

    This is my favorite post as of recent. Not just because of those tantalizing, golden wispy croissants but really because of your brief memory of Paris. :)

    Most NYC croissants aren’t up to par to the ones I’ve had in Paris! Need to make them before the sweltering heat and humidity of summer kicks in…

  • Michaelconkey

    Looks just great Chef! I tried them once and they came out as tough little weapons. Dr.Caso, the milk powder will tenderise them slightly, and whilst you could use fresh milk instead it causes some enzymatic issues which you solve by scalding it first. Given the cost of your little packey of milk powder, and its other uses especially in breadmaking, its a worthwhile investment of a couple of bucks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1405246165 Frank A Fariello Jr

    I lived in Paris for two years and the memories of the croissants and other baked goods still haunt my dreams! Nothing I’ve had Stateside has compared—time to try making them myself! 

  • http://vanillasugarblog.com vanillasugarblog

    :::swoon::: when are we getting married? s’il vous plaît?

  • http://cestpasmoijeljure.wordpress.com Dr. CaSo

    Thanks for the explanation :)

  • http://cestpasmoijeljure.wordpress.com Dr. CaSo

    Thanks for the explanation :)

  • Nicola Quinn

    I think I’ve gone into a butter-induced coma just looking at these beautiful pasties. I’ve got to give these a go. Pinned!

  • Nicola Quinn

    I think I’ve gone into a butter-induced coma just looking at these beautiful pasties. I’ve got to give these a go. Pinned!

  • Anonymous

    Oh, yum!  Who doesn’t like croissants?  And fresh from the oven – I sure can’t resist.  I’ve never made these (or puff pastry from scratch, for that matter).  I really should someday – I know making puff pastry is within my abilities.  And it looks like a lot of fun.  Nice pictures, as always.  I like the last one the best, mainly because I like the crumbs – I always make a mess when I eat croissants!  Nice post – thanks.

  • http://foodmakesmehappy.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Making croissant is always a daunting task to me. Perhaps a video will help?? All that folding here and there just gets so confusing, but either way, your croissant looks so lovely and delicious!

  • http://movitabeaucoup.com/ movita beaucoup

    Your photos are exquisite! Aaaaand now I want to skip out on work today so I can make croissants…

  • Jeannie

    Look so proffesional! Love these buttery morsels too but not the calories.!

  • Kiri W.

    Looks beautiful! :) I love croissants, and so does my wife – perfect!

  • http://hallie84.blogspot.in/ Aurelie

    I love croissants of course as I m originally from France, it has been a big part of my breakfasts! But i’ve never try to bake them by myself. So now i’m saving your recipe, and I’ll try it!

  • http://www.ouichefnetwork.com Oui, Chef

    I remember (fondly) banging large blocks of dry butter into submission while a student in Paris for the purpose of making puff pastry and croissants…. a great stress reliever.  Butter can save your life.

  • Anonymous

    I saw that Michael gave you a better explanation than I could have myself. :) Cheers! 

  • Anonymous

    Ditto! 

  • Anonymous

    haha.. don’t get me started on those memories! :) I had a good time there. 

  • Anonymous

    Same here! They’re really hard to forget. 

  • Anonymous

    Vous arrivez un peu trop tard! lol 

  • Anonymous

    Thanks! Go for it!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks, John. You’ll be surprised how easy it is. 

  • Anonymous

    Thank you, Cindy. I agree. One day I’ll figure out how to do video for the blog. 

  • Anonymous

    haha.. just call work and tell them you have a croissant emergency. 

  • Anonymous

    Enjoy! :)

  • Anonymous

    Better jump on the treadmill after making those. 

  • Anonymous

    Alors tu aurais pu ecrire ce commentaire en Francais. :)

  • Anonymous

    I want a bumper sticker that says: “Butter can save your life.”

  • http://twitter.com/PascalsPastries Pascal’s Patisserie

    Thank you for a beautiful post, fabulous photos & great explanation regarding the science behind making the croissant. What compromises your wonderful story a bit for me is the guilt! The ‘getting rid of them’ & ‘getting them out of the house’ & a week on the treadmill. This for me perpetuates the bad rap French pastries endure just because they’re made with butter! The average cupcake is nearly 600 calories – I can’t speak for the croissant you made but ours at approx. 52 g serving size is only 192. There is new science too that says these kinds of calories at the front end of the day provide a good burnable source of energy. Something the French have always known instinctively perhaps? So let’s have our croissants and eat them too – avec plaisir!

  • Asha

    i want!!!!!!

  • Chez Us – Denise

    I keep playing with the idea of making croissants;  now I am dying to do it even more.  Stunning!

  • http://www.tastewiththeeyes.com/ Lori Lynn

    Really gorgeous images. You make them look mysterious, then de-mystify them. You are a magician!
    LL

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Peter-Minaki/560410552 Peter Minaki

    I bow to the croissant Le Roi…these look fab. You are French therefore you make excellent croissants!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Peter-Minaki/560410552 Peter Minaki

    I bow to the croissant Le Roi…these look fab. You are French therefore you make excellent croissants!

  • http://cookinwluv.blogspot.com/ Javelin Warrior

    Stephane, another amazing creation – these croissants look absolutely perfect and I’m so glad you shared your technique! I am featuring this post in today’s Friday Food Fetish roundup (with a link-back and attribution), but please let me know if you have any objections. It’s a pleasure to be following your creations…

  • http://www.vodkitchen.com Jon @ vodkitchen

    How many times have I thought about making my own croissants, only to put it off for another day? Your post might just push me over the edge to actually “just do it”

  • Anonymous

    Oh my goodness, these croissants are gorgeous!!!  I wish I was your neighbor!!  :)

  • http://damndelicious.tumblr.com/ Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious

    I’m very intimidated by croissant-making but when I’m up for the challenge, I will definitely be referring to this recipe.

    And btw, your croissants look absolutely perfect. Well done!

  • kath

    at what point in the instructions can I let the dough sit in the fridge overnight?

  • katherine Patterson

    only 2 cups flour?! my dough is SUPER wet.

  • Kabuki

    Hi there,

    These look amazing, and I have a lot of experience making puff pastry. However, I have little experience with yeast breads and I live in Denver. What sort of high altitude alterations would you suggest? Less yeast? Less flour? Thanks!

  • soyabeen

    Hello! If we are doing the croissants over a period of two days, when can we leave the dough over night? Thank you for the recipe and your time. :D

  • Bea Long

    I love homemade croissants and I have been making puff pastry! My fave thing is trying to perfect the Kouign Amann OMG, I need to leave the sparkling sugar alone. I think everything needs a little bit on top but this is not one of them! Thanks for sharing and I surely know the importance of powdered milk. I just get it from KAF with the other items I order. I was surprised when Iron Chef Zakarian said enough of the cronuts?? What is your thought if any?