I swear to you, croissants are a doable baked good, just time consuming. Please, don’t be afraid to try and make them.If you have never made any bread products maybe don’t start with croissant, but if you want to, I say what the hell give it a try! The worst that happens is that you screw up the layers and end up with a buttery roll. How could that be bad?
Here is how to make them:
625g bread flour (refrigerate first so it’s nice and cold)*
17g salt, plus a pinch for the egg wash
60g caster sugar
13g instant yeast
155ml cool water
500g chilled unsalted butter, preferably a good-quality
1 medium egg to glaze
It can seem like an impossible task when facing all the steps involved in making these, but really, it is just a few steps that get repeated.
Combine all dry ingredients** in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook. Combine the water and milk and add them to the mixer. Mix on a slow speed for two minutes, then on a medium speed for six minutes. The dough should be fairly stiff.
Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape it into a ball. Make deep cuts in the shape of hashmark on top of dough. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for an hour.
Take out chilled butter. Flatten it to a rectangle, about 17 x 17cm, by bashing it with a rolling pin between two pieces of wax paper. Put it back in frig to chill.
On a lightly floured surface, begin rolling out the sides of your dough, leaving the middle of the hashmark looking like a hump. Your dough look like a four legged starfish.
Place chilled butter in center of the dough. Now we will envelop the butter. Wrap bottom ‘leg’ over butter. Wrap top leg over butter, Wrap side legs over butter. Make sure all butter is completely encased in the dough.
With a rolling pin, push down gently along the length the envelop to flatten it, Flour as needed.
Roll dough out with the short end towards you to 20cm x 60cm.
This time fold up one-third of the dough and then fold the top third down on top to make a neat square.
This is called a single turn. Wrap dough and chill for 30min-1hr in frig.
Repeat this stage twice more, putting the dough back into the fridge for an hour between turns.
The whole key to laminated dough is to keep the butter cold and to do so you need to keep the dough cold. If dough becomes warm, or begins to spring back while rolling, wrap it up and chill it for 20 in the frig.
On the third turn, your dough needs to be left in the fridge for eight hours, or overnight, to rest and rise slightly. See, easy peasy so far right!
When you are ready to shape the croissants, line two or three baking trays with baking parchment or silicone paper.
Put the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to a rectangle, a little more than 110cm long and 20cm wide; it should be about 5-7mm thick. Trim the edges to neaten them (I sprinkle cinnamon sugar on the trimmings and bake them with the croissants.)
I don’t typically measure this part. I know I’m getting triangles in the end, so I start with my pizza cutter and I cut every 5 inches (12.5cm) or so. Then I go back the other way. Then I cut a notch about an inch or so into the center of each croissant base. This will help the croissant sides move out as you roll it up.
Before rolling, hold down the wide base of the triangle and gently tug the opposite thin end to cause a slight tension in the dough.
Now starting at the thick end of each triangle, place your palms like 2 little duck feet at the wide end of the croissant. As you roll up your croissant move your hands away from each other.
You will have about 14-16 medium-sized croissants. For a traditional crescent shape, turn the ends in towards each other slightly.
Can you see the layers?
Fun fact: Traditionally, straight croissant means butter was used and crescent shaped means margarine or some other fat was used.
Put the croissants on the baking trays, leaving space in between for them to expand; allow six-eight per tray.
Lightly whisk the egg with a pinch of salt to make an egg wash. Brush the top and sides of the croissants with the egg wash.
Cover each tray and leave the croissants to rise at cool room temperature (you don’t want that precious butter seeping out) until at they expand a bit, probably not double. This should take about 1 1/2 – 2 hours. You know they’re ready when they get a little jiggle in them…a little wobble. Shake the pan gently and see what the do.
Can you see the layers now?
Heat your oven to 400F.
Place pans on upper and lower racks. Bake for 10-15 minutes then rotate pans and swap positions. (My oven is hotter up top and towards the back, so the upper rack is browner than the bottom rack at this point.
Bake for another 10-15 or until golden brown.
Cool on a wire rack. Eat warm.
*The colder you keep your flour and butter through this process the more successful you will be at creating those flaky layers.
** Keep salt and yeast separate as salt can retard the yeast. Just add salt and run your fingers through the flour to combine before adding yeast.