I conquered one of my biggest culinary fears recently, and right on time too.
One of the reasons why I love cooking so much is because of the process. Long, involved, complicated recipes have always appealed to me because my mind is always racing at a thousand miles an hour, and being able to completely throw myself into something helps me to slow down and clear my headspace. It sounds counterintuitive, but it’s always worked for me. And lately I’ve been craving that slow time now more than ever, as life has kind of been all over the place. I blame daylight savings, mercury being in retrograde, the end of the year approaching, and ten other things outside of my control.
But I digress because this blog post is about making homemade croissants, which has been another one of my “white whale” recipes (another recipe being bread, and you can read all about my first time making that here). If you’re anything like me and like throwing yourself into a project that takes a long time, is kinda unnecessarily complicated, but reaps a huge reward, look no further than this croissant recipe.
Croissants have been one of my favorite foods for as long as I can remember. I love bread and butter, and I literally cannot think of anything that satisfies my basic cravings more than croissants. Especially a croissant smeared with Nutella, but that’s for another time.
One of my fondest memories from visiting Paris last year was walking around the corner from the AirBnb in the rain with my family, pulling our luggage behind us carefully under our umbrellas, and being the first customers at a local patisserie that opened its doors just a few minutes before we had to run to our train. We rushed in and grabbed a few of their fresh croissants and shoved them in our faces one-handed as we rushed to the Metro so we could catch our flight back to London. Those were the most buttery, fresh, flaky croissants I’ve ever had and my sister and mom both agree that it’s up there as one of the best foods we’ve ever had. We talk about those croissants all the time, even over a year later. They were that good.
This croissant recipe doesn’t come close to what we had in Paris, but they are pretty darn good. As this was my first time making it I already have a few alterations in mind for my next go around, but overall this recipe is simple enough to follow through. My main pain point was the assembly at the very end – my first round of croissants looked more like blobs than the delicate crescent rolls that we’re used to, but they were still delicious none the less.
And take the day off. Seriously, croissants are a commitment and require constant attention and love. I had so much fun making them, and look forward to doing it again soon. And next time I’ll certainly add a dollop of Nutella to the center.
Homemade Croissant Tips
- If your yeast mixture does not bubble after 15 minutes, throw it out and start again. Make sure you’re using fresh, active yeast from an unopened package (if using individually wrapped servings).
- When you’ve cut the dough into triangles and you’re finally ready to roll the croissants, it may help to roll the triangles flat with a rolling pin. This way you are able to fold them multiple times and create even more flaky layers.
- Roll the croissants pretty tight as they may unravel a bit as they expand and rise.
- Bake until nicely golden brown to ensure it’s baked completely through. You don’t want a doughy center!
- 1 1/2 cups milk lukewarm
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tbsp plus 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
- 3 1/4 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp salt
- 3 sticks unsalted butter
- 1 egg for egg wash
- In the bowl of a mixer, add the warm milk, brown sugar and yeast and stir it with a fork slightly. Let it stand for about 5 minutes. If the yeast is good, the mixture will get all foamy, otherwise throw it out and start all over again. Next, add the flour and salt. Using the dough hook or wooden spoon, mix on low speed for about 5 to 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and very soft. I used about 3 1/2 cups of flour, but if you need more than just add more. You might want to start with 3 cups and add as needed. Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and knead for a couple more minutes on your working surface. The dough needs to be soft and slightly sticky. Form the dough into a rectangle that's about 1 1/2 inch in thickness, wrap it up in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for about an hour.
- Before you take out the dough, prepare the butter. Arrange the sticks of butter horizontally on a piece of plastic wrap. Cover the butter with another piece of plastic wrap. Pound and roll out on both sides until the butter forms a nice 8 by 5 inch rectangle. Take the dough from the fridge and unwrap it from the plastic wrap. Keep the plastic wrap because you will reuse it over and over again. You may need to dust some flour over your work surface. Roll out the dough into a big rectangle that's about 16 by 10 inches. Place the butter directly in the center of the dough and fold the dough as you would a letter, bottom third of dough over butter, then top third down over the dough. If you have any excess flour, make sure you brush that off.
- Next turn the dough so that the short side is nearest you and start rolling it another 16 by 10 inch rectangle. Fold in thirds like a letter again. This was the first fold. Wrap it up again in plastic wrap and chill it for another hour.
- After another hour, repeat as above. With the short side near you, start rolling until you get another 16 by 10 inch rectangle. Fold it in thirds again, wrap and chill for another hour. Repeat this 3 more times so that it will make a total of 5 folds. After the last fold, refrigerate it over night or at least for 8 hours.
- Cut the dough in half, freeze half if you're only going to use half of it. Roll out each piece of dough into a long rectangle, so that it's about 1/4 of an inch in thickness. I found it easier if I cut the piece into 3 pieces, so that I work with 3 squares. Using a pizza cutter, cut each square into 4 triangles.
- Using one triangle at a time, start rolling from the wide side, at the same time, stretching the end of the triangle. Continue rolling the croissant, and as you'll notice because you stretched into a long piece, you'll be able to roll the croissant a few times.
- Repeat this with remaining dough and place the croissants on an ungreased baking sheet, with about 1 to 2 inches in between them.
- Let the croissants sit for another hour, you'll notice they'll rise a bit, and brush them with egg wash. You can make the croissants ahead of time and refrigerate them for up to 18 hours before baking. To bake them, you need to preheat your oven to 400 F degrees. Bake the croissants for 8 to 12 minutes at 400 F degrees then turn down the heat to 375 F degrees and bake them for another 8 to 12 minutes. You want to make sure they are nice and golden brown.
Recipe credit: https://www.jocooks.com/bakery/breads/homemade-croissants/