Croissants: buttery, flaky, decadent. And absolutely delicious.
I’ve wanted to make them for ages, but I never seemed to plan ahead enough to make them in time for the weekend. You need to start the dough a day or two before you want to actually bake the croissants, and I used the “not planning” excuse to put off making them. In reality, I was slightly intimidated, though I’m not exactly sure why because I don’t often screw up baking.
Since I currently have some extra time on my hands and am looking for ways to keep myself busy, I decided to tackle croissants over the weekend. After the first bite of layers of buttery richness, I kicked myself for not making these sooner.
Letting the dough sit in the fridge for an extra day or two only resulted in a more complex flavor – sometimes it does pay to procrastinate! I’m telling you, these make the perfect Sunday morning breakfast. You’ll need to get up a little early to do the turns in the dough, but it’s so worth it.
Just a quick note – use a rolling pin with handles so you can make long, even strokes. This will help to ensure an even distribution of the butter.
recipe from The Secrets of Baking
For the dough
1 cup cold whole milk
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2 cups bread flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 ¼ teaspoons salt
¼ pound (1 stick) cold unsalted butter
for the butter block
¾ pound (3 sticks) cold unsalted butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 egg + 1 egg yolk, for egg wash
sliced almonds (optional)
instructions for the dough
Whisk the milk and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer until yeast is dissolved. In a separate bowl, combine the flours, sugar, and salt. Add the butter and work with your fingers until blended. Add the flour to the milk and knead on low with dough hook for one minute. Increase speed to medium and mix for 3-5 minutes, or until smooth, being careful not to overwork the dough. (If the dough is dry, add a tablespoon of water.)
On a floured surface, shape the dough into a ball. Cut an “X” half way through the dough and wrap well with plastic wrap. Place on a baking sheet and refrigerate overnight.
instructions for the butter block
Sprinkle a sheet of parchment lightly with flour. Cut each stick of butter in half length-wise and place on parchment. Sprinkle butter with flour. Using a rolling pin, give the butter a few light bangs to tenderize it. Form the butter into a block measuring 6x6x1 inches.
to laminate the dough
Remove the dough from the fridge. Unwrap it and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll along the “X,” from the center to the corners into a 12 inch square. Place butter block in the center in a diamond pattern. Bring the corners of the dough towards the middle. Press the edges together to seal, leaving no pockets of air. Tap the top of the dough with the rolling pin to help seal.
Roll the dough in the X pattern, always rolling the dough away from you to properly distribute the butter, dusting the dough and board with flour as necessary. Roll the dough into a rectangle about 10×18 inches. Turn the dough so the longer edge faces you and mentally divide the dough into thirds. Roll the first third over towards the middle, and roll the remaining third over on top of the first third (kind of like folding a piece of paper up so it fits in an envelope).
To “lock” the dough, use the rolling pin to gently roll along the edges to seal the dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Repeat the process of rolling out the dough into a rectangle, and folding the edges towards the middle two more times, refrigerating for 30 minutes in between.
Roll dough out into a 20×18 inch rectangle, with the longest side facing you. Use a ruler to mark the sides of the dough at the 9 inch mark; cut along this line to form two rectangles (one above the other), each 20×9 inches. Use a ruler and small knife to mark off the top and bottom of the two rectangles at 5 inch intervals.
Using a sharp knife, cut from the top left corner of the top rectangle to the first mark on the bottom rectangle. Continue moving along the top rectangle, cutting a line to the next mark on the bottom rectangle. Now do the same thing in reverse until you end up with a total of 14 isosceles triangles and 4 small right triangles. Starting at the small end of each triangle, roll the dough up into a crescent shape, sealing the tip well underneath. Place croissants on two baking sheets lined with parchment or silpats.
Cover the baking sheets with plastic wrap sprayed with cooking spray. Proof the dough at room temperature for 2.5 hours.
Preheat oven to 400*F. Brush each croissant with egg wash. If desired, sprinkle croissants with sliced almonds.
Bake for 12 minutes on the middle rack, then reduce oven temperature to 350*F and rotate the pan. Bake another 10-12 minutes, or until brown. Cool and serve.
(If making almond croissants, brush each croissant with simple syrup after removing from oven. To make simple syrup, combine equal parts sugar and water in a small saucepan. Boil until the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and allow to cool.)
The croissants can be frozen up to a month.