How to Make Croissants

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If the thought of making croissants from scratch has you trembling with fear, rest assured... with a few basic pointers and following these simple instructions, anybody can master the classic French pastries. Created with a mixture of flour, milk, butter, yeast, sugar and salt, these irresistible croissants have a rich, buttery taste that is deliciously contrasted with a crunchy and flaky texture. If you're feeling ambitious, you can make these croissants in less than two days, or you can easily put them together over the course of a few days. Either way, the end result is worth all the time and effort in the world.

Enjoy fresh homemade croissants with jam.
Enjoy fresh homemade croissants with jam. (Image: Thalia Ho)

Ingredients: For the Pre-Ferment

  • 6 ounces / 150 milliliters whole milk
  • 0.25 ounce / 7 grams instant yeast
  • 6 1/4 ounces / 175 grams plain flour

Ingredients: For the Dough

  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon  instant yeast
  • 14 ounces / 425 milliliters whole milk, room temperature
  • 28 ounces / 800 grams plain flour
  • 2 1/2 ounces / 70 grams caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

Ingredients: For the Roll-in Butter

  • 22 ounces / 625 grams unsalted butter

Ingredients: For the Egg Wash

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 ounces / 60 milliliters whole milk

Step 1: Making the Pre-Ferment

In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a lukewarm temperature (80 F / 26 C) over low heat. Remove from heat, and stir in the yeast until dissolved.

Use a good food thermometer for accurate readings.
Use a good food thermometer for accurate readings. (Image: Thalia Ho)

Step 2: Mixing the Flour and Yeast

Transfer the yeast mixture to a medium bowl, and add the flour. Stir the mixture to form a smooth and sticky dough. Cover, and let the mixture rise in a warm place until doubled in size -- roughly 2 to 3 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.

The dough will be sticky but smooth.
The dough will be sticky but smooth. (Image: Thalia Ho)

Step 3: Making the Dough

Once the pre-ferment has risen, put the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the yeast, and mix together on a low speed to evenly combine. When the mixture has come together, increase the speed to medium and mix for a couple more minutes.

Use the dough hook attachment of your stand mixer.
Use the dough hook attachment of your stand mixer. (Image: Thalia Ho)

Step 4: Adding the Milk

With the mixer running, slowly add half of the milk to the yeast mixture, combining to form a smooth and thick paste. Reduce the speed to low and add the remaining milk, followed by the flour, sugar, salt and butter. Mix until the dough begins to come together -- about 3 minutes. Turn the mixer off, and let the dough rest for 15 to 20 minutes. Once rested, turn the speed back to low and mix to form a smooth and elastic dough. Cover the bowl, and let it rise in a warm place until doubled in size -- about 1 1/2 hours.

Tip

    • If the dough seems firm, add in 1 tablespoon of milk at a time.
The dough should be smooth and elastic.
The dough should be smooth and elastic. (Image: Thalia Ho)

Step 5: Chilling the Dough

Lightly flour and transfer the risen dough to a work surface. Gently press the dough flat to about 2 inches / 5 centimeters thick. Cover with plastic wrap, and chill for 4 hours or overnight.

Chill the dough for at least 4 hours.
Chill the dough for at least 4 hours. (Image: Thalia Ho)

Step 6: Preparing the Roll-in Butter

Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix it on medium speed until it is malleable but neither warm nor soft. Cover the butter in plastic wrap, and place it in the fridge to chill but not harden completely.

Use the mixer's paddle attachment for the roll-in butter.
Use the mixer's paddle attachment for the roll-in butter. (Image: Thalia Ho)

Step 7: Rolling the Dough

Dust a work surface lightly with flour. Place the chilled dough on the surface, and roll it into a rectangle -- 28 x 12 inches / 70 x 30 centimeters.

Roll the dough on a floured surface.
Roll the dough on a floured surface. (Image: Thalia Ho)

Step 8: Spreading the Butter

With the long side of the dough facing you and starting from the left side, evenly spread the butter over the left two-thirds of the rectangle -- leaving the right third butter-less. Fold the unbuttered third of the dough over the buttered middle, and then fold the left buttered third over the center, like a letter. Pinch the seams shut.

Spread the butter evenly.
Spread the butter evenly. (Image: Thalia Ho)

Step 9: Laminating the Dough

Turn the rectangle so the long edge of the dough is facing you. Roll the dough into a rectangle -- 28 x 12 inches / 70 x 30 centimeters. Fold into thirds again, as above.

Fold the dough into thirds a second time.
Fold the dough into thirds a second time. (Image: Thalia Ho)

Step 10: Chilling the Dough

Transfer to a lightly floured sheet pan, and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Let the dough rest in the refrigerator for up to 2 hours or overnight before making the final turn.

Once chilled, place the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Again, roll into a rectangle -- 28 x 12 inches / 70 x 30 centimeters -- and fold into thirds. Place and wrap the rectangle on the sheet pan, and chill at least 1 hour or overnight.

Chill the dough at least 1 hour.
Chill the dough at least 1 hour. (Image: Thalia Ho)

Step 11: Cutting the Croissants

To shape the croissants, slightly thaw out the dough before rolling it into a large rectangle -- 32 x 12 inches / 80 x 30 centimeters. Use a ruler to mark 4-inch / 10-centimeter intervals at the bottom of the dough, and cut the dough into triangles 4 inches / 10 centimeters wide at their base.

Cut the dough into long triangles.
Cut the dough into long triangles. (Image: Thalia Ho)

Step 12: Shaping the Croissants

Beginning with the base of the triangle facing you, gently stretch the base and roll it toward the point. Take the end point, stretch it gently and tuck it underneath the rolled dough.

Roll the base toward the point of the dough triangle.
Roll the base toward the point of the dough triangle. (Image: Thalia Ho)

Step 13: Letting the Croissants Rise

Place the croissants seam-side down on a lined baking sheet at least 2 inches / 5 centimeters apart. Cover and let rise in a warm place for up to 3 hours or doubled in size.

Tip

    • The ideal rising temperature is 75 F / 25 C.
Line the baking sheet with parchment paper.
Line the baking sheet with parchment paper. (Image: Thalia Ho)

Step 14: Egg Wash and Baking

When the croissants have risen, heat an oven to 425 F / 220 C. Whisk together the egg wash ingredients, and lightly brush the croissants with the wash.

Brush the top of each pastry with the egg wash.
Brush the top of each pastry with the egg wash. (Image: Thalia Ho)

Step 15: Baking

Place the croissants in the oven, and lower the temperature to 400 F / 200 C. Bake for 20 minutes or until the croissants are a deep golden brown.

Tip

    • Make sure to turn the sheet pan halfway through baking so the croissants cook evenly.
Bake the croissants to a deep golden color.
Bake the croissants to a deep golden color. (Image: Thalia Ho)

Step 16: Cooling

Remove the croissants from the oven, and place them on a wire rack to cool.

Cool the croissants on a wire rack before serving or storing.
Cool the croissants on a wire rack before serving or storing. (Image: Thalia Ho)
Enjoy your fresh croissants!
Enjoy your fresh croissants! (Image: Thalia Ho)

Tip

    • The croissants are best enjoyed fresh but can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 day or in the fridge for up to 3 days.
    • You can easily use this croissant dough recipe to create classic _pain au chocolat, croissant aux almond, kouign amann_ or a variety of different danishes.
    • You can achieve a similar result using an all-butter store-bought puff pastry and shaping, egg-washing and baking the croissants the same way -- though making the croissant dough from scratch is far superior in taste and texture.

References

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