Croissants. Croissants are intimidating. More intimidating than Cinnamon Rolls? Definitely. More intimidating than macarons? Yes! More intimidating than your boyfriend watching The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show? Possibly.
Tony was in Paris this past week for business while I was stuck in Chicago with the pleasant ZERO degree weather… And I thought to myself; if I can’t be in Paris eating croissants and drinking espresso, then I should probably spend an entire day slaving over homemade croissants…
Let me tell you, croissants are tricky little things! I spent three days reviewing and comparing recipes in hopes to uncover the secret of the perfect, flaky, and layered croissant and it took me two days to actually finish the recipe! I dare not admit how quickly I shoved them in my mouth, which is a big downside of cooking at home alone; no one is there to eat homemade croissants straight out of the oven with you… and no one is there to stop you from eating that second… and third… serving.
I was slightly disappointed with my first batch of croissants, as the exterior was a little darker than I was hoping for. Although I kind of enjoyed the extra crispy exterior and soft and flaky interior, I wanted more of a golden brown crust, if only for aesthetic purposes. After adjusting the oven temperature and cooking time I was able to make a successful second and third batch with a golden brown crust… However, one of the blogs I referred to, Home Cooking in Montana, suggests to place a piece of aluminum foil lightly over the croissants halfway through baking to insure the crust isn’t overly browned.
If you do find your first batch of croissants is getting overly crispy in the oven, simply reduce the temperature and/or place a piece of aluminum foil to avoid excess browning. Oooor you can just sprinkle powdered sugar over the final product, because no one will ever know the difference! Powdered sugar is kind of the answer to all of my kitchen mishaps. If you suddenly start seeing all my desserts dusted in powdered sugar its most likely because I got impatient and messed something up in the kitchen.
Look at all those flaky layers! Totally worth the 24+ hour process and $20 worth of European-style butter…
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can drizzle chocolate over your croissants… or just break open a hot croissant and place a square of chocolate in the middle… You can just gobble them all up!
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 ¾ cups whole milk
4 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
4 ¼ cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 ½ cups unsalted European-style-butter, very cold
1 large egg
1 teaspoon cold milk
Pinch of salt
- For the dough, melt the 3 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Remove pan from heat and immediately stir in milk.
- When the temperature is lower than 90 degrees F, whisk in yeast and transfer milk mixture to bowl of a stand mixer.
- Using the dough hook attachment, add the flour, sugar, and salt to the bowl with milk mixture on low speed for 2-3 minutes until a soft and cohesive dough forms.
- Increase speed to medium-low and continue to mix for 1 minute.
- Remove the bowl from mixer and cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit in room temperate (68-70 degrees F) for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, transfer the dough to the refrigerator and let dough rest for 2 hours.
- For the butter block, fold a 24-inch length of wax paper in half and then fold the sides to form an 8-inch square. Crease folds firmly.
- Place 1 ½ cups of cold butter on a clean counter and beat with rolling pin until it is flatter and fold the butter on itself,
- Unfold the wax paper square and place the butter inside and refold the creases of the wax paper to enclose the butter. Use a rolling pin to gently roll the butter until it fills the entire 8-inch square.
10. Refrigerate the butter for at least 60 minutes.
11. To laminate the dough, remove the dough out of the refrigerator and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a 12-inch by 12-inch square.
12. Unwrap the chilled butter and place in the middle of the dough.
13. Fold the corners of the dough over the butter and gently roll seams together with a rolling pin to seal edges.
14. Roll the dough into a 12-inch by 18-inch rectangle. Fold the dough into thirds, like a letter and refrigerate for at least 60 minutes. (You will do this three times in total)
15. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll the dough into a 12-inch by 18-inch rectangle. Fold the dough into thirds, like a letter and refrigerate for at least 60 minutes.
16. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll the dough into a 12-inch by 18-inch rectangle. Fold the dough into thirds, like a letter, and cover tightly with plastic and refrigerate overnight.
17. The following day, place refrigerated dough into the freezer for 30 minutes.
18. Remove dough from freezer after 30 minutes and transfer to a lightly floured surface.
19. Roll the dough into a 20-inch by 30-inch rectangle and then fold the rectangle in half, into a 10-inch by 30-inch rectangle.
20. Using a ruler, mark dough with a knife every 5 inches. Using a knife, cut along marks to form 6 rectangles.
21. Cut diagonally across 6 rectangles to create triangles.
22. For crescent-shaped croissants, cut a ½-inch slit in the center of the short side of the triangle. Roll the triangle gently and curve into a crescent shape , if preferred. Repeat with other triangles.
23. Place the croissants on a parchment-lined baking sheet at least 3-inches apart and lightly cover with plastic wrap. Let stand at room temperature (68-70 degrees F) for 2-3 hours, until nearly doubled in size.
24. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. (Original recipe calls for 450 degrees F, but I found 375 degrees F worked best for my oven)
25. To make egg wash, whisk together egg, milk, and pinch of salt. Gently brush croissants with egg wash and sprinkle with raw sugar, if preferred.
26. Place croissants in oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, rotating pans halfway through. (If you find your croissants browning quickly, lightly place a piece of aluminum foil over croissants)
27. Transfer croissants to wire rack to cool then devour.