Croissants For A Home Baker

I lived in Europe for six years as a kid. My love for all baked goods started young at the neighborhood bakeries and small supermarkets that sold fresh-baked pastries and bread. Almost every Saturday morning we would head downtown to shop at the bigger grocery store in town. While there, we would stop at the bakery counter and take home 20-30 of the most delicious, fresh chocolate croissants. My mouth is watering just thinking about them. We always ate one right away and my mom would bring the rest of the croissants home and freeze them for breakfast to be eaten throughout the week…with a large family they didn’t last long.

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Adventures in Making Croissants

I’ve often thought fondly about those chocolate croissants, but the process of making croissants has seemed out of reach for a home baker like myself…until recently. I decided there’s no time like the present and threw caution to the wind which resulted in my elbows deep in croissant dough. My first time through an entire recipe was filled with many laughs, a few tears and lots of fun with my 10 year old as we scoured recipes and tried to figure out the exact timing of the art of preparing croissants. The process took a couple days longer than we’d originally planned thanks to not reading a recipe correctly. Oops! We sure enjoyed those croissants, though…piping hot out of the oven at 10 PM on a school night (thanks to our “timing”). Every time we’ve made croissants since then we’ve learned, refined and fixed the errors we had made before until we’ve been able to get a pretty darn perfect croissant.

The Best Croissants Take Time

As far as time goes, this is one of the more intense recipes on my site. Making croissants takes time and effort, and it is not necessarily easy. After making them for the third time, with comments of “These are the best croissants I’ve ever eaten” and “When are you making these again?” I decided to share the recipe with you and give you the opportunity for croissant rock-star status too! Just fair warning…read all these tips and the recipe beforehand and break it into pieces. The recipe itself is not hard, just time consuming. That being said, you are only a few days away from the most amazing croissants…ever!

I love seeing all those beautiful layers of hard work

Two Days-Minimum

This recipe is going to take you at a minimum two days. The first day is very hands off. The second day requires you to be home to work with the dough every hour or so for about half your day. Prepare for this! If you go on to bake your croissants the second day, you will have a wonderful dinner. If you want to take three days to make the croissants, you can refrigerate the dough overnight and shape in the morning OR shape the croissants and immediately freeze them. Allow them to rise the morning of the 3rd day for a rockstar-status breakfast. This gives you the flexibility to have croissants whatever morning you want.

Dough after its final turn and ready to rest overnight in the fridge

Start With a Poolish

Building the croissant dough begins with a poolish. Poolish is a french type of “preferment” (according to King Arthur Flour, “a preferment is a preparation of a portion of a bread dough that is made several hours or more in advance of mixing the final dough“). It is more liquid and not stiff. Using a poolish deepens the flavor of the croissants. The longer the dough develops, the more complex the flavor. A poolish also gives extensibility to dough which is especially important for croissants because you are constantly working the butter into the dough and handling the dough much more than you would for a traditional loaf of bread. A poolish-based dough will often have better oven-spring than a dough formed without a poolish, and it can slightly extend the shelf-life of a bread. You may be tempted to cut corners when working with a long and complicated recipe. The poolish is not one of those corners to cut.

What Does it Mean to Laminate Dough?

The process of laminating dough may be unfamiliar. It takes some getting used to. I’ve found it helpful to have a measuring tape readily available and out as I was laminating my croissant dough. The first step of the lamination process is creating a block of butter that you will be rolling out and folding between the layers of your dough. I found the best results for my butter block when I added a little bit of flour on top of the butter. This helps keep the butter from sticking to a rolling pin and makes the process more seamless. Once you add the butter to the dough and fold the dough on top of the butter, you are turning the dough. Every time you roll out the dough and fold it over is considered a turn and creates beautiful layers of butter throughout the dough. This is called lamination. Laminating the dough is what gives croissants a unique, flaky, buttery goodness. This recipe calls for laminating the dough three times. You could do more or less if you want to try that, but I personally like the amount of layers that three turns provide.

Favorite Croissant Fillings

If you like plain croissants, these will not disappoint. If you like filled croissants, these are amazing. I especially love the savory combination of gruyere cheese and smoked ham. It is the best croissant I have ever eaten. I also love almond flavor, so adding a little bit of almond paste to my croissant dough and rolling it up is also heavenly. And there’s nothing like the perfect chocolate croissant. I take a few pieces of dark chocolate and add them to the croissant dough and it brings me right back to my childhood croissants…except maybe better. No matter what you fill them with, these are sure to knock your socks off and bring you to rockstar croissant status! Enjoy!

Jump to Croissants for the Home Baker Printable Recipe

Step By Step Directions With Pictures:

Day 1

Poolish (2-3 hours)

  1. In a microwave safe, medium-sized bowl, warm the milk in the microwave or on the stove until warm to the touch. It should feel like baby’s bathwater (not too hot as this can kill the yeast).
  2. Add the yeast (look for the yeasty smell to make sure your yeast is active…this happens within a minute or so of adding instant yeast).
  3. Mix the flour into the milk/yeast mixture, forming a thick batter. 
  4. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and set in a warm place. Let poolish rise until doubled in size, at least 2 hours.

Dough (20 minute mix, refrigerate the dough overnight)

  1. Add the poolish to the stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add room temperature milk, yeast and sugar. Mix with dough hook. Add the salt and melted butter.
  2. Add flour a cup at a time and mix with dough hook. After the flour is incorporated, pick up a chunk of dough and roll it into a ball. If it rolls into a ball and isn’t super sticky, you can stop adding flour. If it is overly sticky and doesn’t form a ball, continue adding flour a bit at time and mixing. This helps to avoid over-flouring the dough. 
  3. Knead the dough with the stand mixer for 10 minutes. I like to set a timer and let it mix. A long kneading period helps the gluten develop. You can check this post for more information on how to test for readiness of dough.
  4. After the dough is kneaded, place in a large, lightly oiled bowl. Refrigerate the dough overnight.

Day 2

Butter Block (10 minutes)

  1. Pull 5 sticks of butter out of the fridge. 
  2. Line the sticks of butter in the center of a row on a piece of parchment paper. Sprinkle ¼ cup of flour over the butter.
  3. Pull one side of the parchment paper over the butter. Using a rolling pin, hit the butter to flatten it and meld it together to form a butter block. Continue hitting the butter until it flattens. 
  4. Roll the butter into an 8 by 12 inch rectangle (I use a measuring tape to help guide me). Wrap in parchment paper and refrigerate until ready to use.

Lamination (30 minutes active time, 3 hours refrigeration/freeze)

  1. Prepare a sheet of parchment paper with a light dusting of flour. Use a measuring tape to guide you and set it to 18 inches at the top of your parchment paper. Take the dough out of the fridge.
  2. Roll the dough into a 12 by 18 inch rectangle. Place the butter block in the middle of the rolled out dough so that the butter block aligns with the top and bottom of the dough.
  3. Fold the left side of the dough over, covering the butter block. Repeat with the right side of the dough, folding over on top of the left side. Pinch together any seams so the butter is fully encased in the dough.
  4. Rotate the dough 90 degrees or a quarter turn and roll out the dough to a 28 by 12 inch rectangle. 
  5. Fold the dough in the same manner as above, folding from the left side ⅓ and then the right side ⅓, resulting in about a 9 by 12 rectangle. This is your first fold.
  6. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 1 hour.
  7. Second fold: After 1 hour, pull the dough out of the fridge and on a lightly floured surface, repeat the process of rolling the dough out to a 28 by 12 rectangle and folding the dough over. Wrap again and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
  8. Third fold: Repeat the same process as the first and second fold. FREEZE for 1 hour. At this point you can continue freezing the dough for up to 1 week. When you are ready to use the frozen dough, pull it out the night before you intend to use it and put it in the fridge before shaping. After 1 hour, pull the croissant dough out of the freezer and proceed with shaping.

Shaping Croissants (20 minute shaping, 2-3 hours proofing) 

  1. Line a couple baking sheets (my favorite baking sheets found here, affiliate link) with parchment paper.
  2. Prepare any fillings you plan on using (sliced cheese, sliced ham, almond paste or chocolate, etc...) by cutting or breaking them into small pieces or slices.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 30 by 10 inch rectangle. 
  4. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough in half so you have two sections 30 by 5 inches.
  5. Cut each 30 by 5 inch section into 6 pieces, resulting in six 5 by 5 inch sections.
  6. Slice each 5 by 5 inch section from corner to corner, resulting in a small triangle. Starting at the base, roll the triangle up to form a croissant. Place on a baking sheet.
  7. If you want to add a filling, place the filing at the base of the triangle and roll up, forming the croissant shape. You can also roll the 5 by 5 inch square up (cinnamon-roll-style) with a filling inside (ie: chocolate, almond paste) if you want a larger croissant. Continue with this process until all the croissants have been shaped.

Egg Wash/Rising/Baking

  1. Let the croissants rise, covered for 2 to 3 hours until puffed up and almost doubled in size.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Whisk together the egg, heavy cream and a pinch of salt. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the tops of the croissants with the egg wash.
  4. Bake croissants for 10 minutes without opening the oven door. After ten minutes, rotate the pan 180 degrees in the oven for an even bake and continue baking another 8-10 minutes. 
  5. Allow croissants to cool slightly before digging in. Enjoy all your hard work!

Croissants for the Home Baker

Buttery, flaky and downright delicious, these croissants are amazing. The entire process takes 2-3 days, so plan accordingly. This is the printable recipe, but I highly recommend reading through the blog post and pictures to give you an overview if you are new to croissants, before beginning.
Prep Time 2 d 12 hrs
Cook Time 20 mins
Course Bread
Cuisine French
Servings 24

Ingredients
  

Poolish

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour

Croissant Dough

  • 1 3/4 cups milk room temperature or lightly warmed
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons salt
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter melted
  • 6 cups all purpose flour may need an extra 1/2 cup
  • all of the poolish

Butter Block

  • 2 1/2 cups unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 sheet parchment paper

Egg Wash

  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tablespoon heavy cream

Croissant Fillings (optional, depending on the fillings you choose)

  • 24 slices Gruyere cheese and Smoked Ham
  • 1 bar chocolate
  • 1 block almond paste

Instructions
 

Day 1

    Poolish (2-3 hours)

    • In a microwave safe, medium-sized bowl, warm the milk in the microwave or on the stove until warm to the touch. It should feel like baby’s bathwater (not too hot as this can kill the yeast).
    • Add the yeast to the bowl (notice the yeasty smell to make sure your yeast is active…this happens within a minute or so of adding instant yeast).
    • Mix the flour into the milk/yeast mixture, forming a thick batter. 
    • Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and set in a warm place. Let poolish rise until doubled in size, at least 2 hours.

    Dough (20 minute mix, refrigerate overnight)

    • Add the risen poolish to the stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add room temperature milk, yeast and sugar. Mix with dough hook. Add the salt and melted butter.
    • Add flour a cup at a time and mix with dough hook. After the flour is incorporated, pick up a chunk of dough and roll it into a ball. If it rolls into a ball and isn’t super sticky, you can stop adding flour. If it is overly sticky and doesn’t form a ball, continue adding flour a bit at time and mixing. This helps to avoid over-flouring the dough. 
    • Knead the dough with the stand mixer for 10 minutes. I like to set a timer and let it mix. A long kneading period helps the gluten develop. You can check this post for more information on how to test for readiness of dough.
    • After the dough is kneaded, place in a large, lightly oiled bowl. Refrigerate the dough overnight.

    Day 2

      Butter Block (10 minutes)

      • Pull 5 sticks of butter out of the fridge. 
      • Line the sticks of butter in the center of a row on a piece of parchment paper. Sprinkle ¼ cup of flour over the butter.
      • Pull one side of the parchment paper over the butter. Using a rolling pin, hit the butter to flatten it and meld it together to form a butter block. Continue hitting the butter until it flattens. 
      • Roll the butter into an 8 by 12 inch rectangle (I use a measuring tape to help guide me). Wrap in parchment paper and refrigerate until ready to use. See photos in blog post for step-by-step guide.

      Lamination (30 minutes active time, 3 hours refrigeration/freeze)

      • Prepare a sheet of parchment paper with a light dusting of flour. Use a measuring tape to guide you and set it to 18 inches at the top of your parchment paper. Take the dough out of the fridge.
      • Roll the dough into a 12 by 18 inch rectangle. Place the butter block in the middle of the rolled out dough so that the butter block aligns with the top and bottom of the dough.
      • Fold the left side of the dough over, covering the butter block. Repeat with the right side of the dough, folding over on top of the left side. Pinch together any seams so the butter is fully encased in the dough.
      • Rotate the dough 90 degrees or a quarter turn and roll out the dough to a 28 by 12 inch rectangle. 
      • Fold the dough in the same manner as above, folding from the left side ⅓ and then the right side ⅓, resulting in about a 9 by 12 rectangle. This is your first fold.
      • Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 1 hour.
      • Second fold: After 1 hour, pull the dough out of the fridge and on a lightly floured surface, repeat the process of rolling the dough out to a 28 by 12 rectangle and folding the dough over. Wrap again and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
      • Third fold: Repeat the same process as the first and second fold. FREEZE for 1 hour. At this point you can continue freezing the dough for up to 1 week. When you are ready to use the frozen dough, pull it out the night before you intend to use it and put it in the fridge before shaping. After 1 hour, pull the croissant dough out of the freezer and proceed with shaping.

      Shaping Croissants (20 minute shaping, 2-3 hours proofing) 

      • Line a couple baking sheets (my favorite here, affiliate link) with parchment paper.
      • Prepare any fillings you plan on using (sliced cheese, sliced ham, almond paste or chocolate, etc..) by cutting or breaking them into small pieces or slices.
      • On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 30 by 10 inch rectangle. 
      • Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough in half so you have two sections 30 by 5 inches.
      • Cut each 30 by 5 inch section into 6 pieces, resulting in six 5 by 5 inch sections.
      • Slice each 5 by 5 inch section from corner to corner, resulting in a small triangle. Starting at the base, roll the triangle up to form a croissant. Place on a baking sheet.
      • If you want to add a filling, place the filing at the base of the triangle and roll up, forming the croissant shape. You can also roll the 5 by 5 inch square up (cinnamon-roll-style) with a filling inside (ie: chocolate, almond paste) if you want a larger croissant. Continue with this process until all the croissants have been shaped.

      Egg Wash/Rising/Baking

      • Let the croissants rise, covered for 2 to 3 hours until puffed up and almost doubled in size.
      • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
      • Whisk together the egg, heavy cream and a pinch of salt. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the tops of the croissants with the egg wash.
      • Bake croissants for 10 minutes without opening the oven door. After ten minutes, rotate the pan 180 degrees in the oven for an even bake and continue baking another 8-10 minutes. 
      • Allow croissants to cool slightly before digging in. Enjoy all your hard work!

      Notes

      This recipe takes 2-3 days to complete. Plan accordingly. I highly recommend reading through my blog post and looking at the pictures before beginning if you have never made croissants before. This will help you get an overall feel for the process before starting.
      Keyword croissant

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      Amy

      Only posting the best recipes to make you a rockstar in the kitchen.

      One thought on “Croissants For A Home Baker

      1. These croissants are sooo amazing! I love the flaky, buttery layers of deliciousness…thanks for sharing the detailed process, and thanks for loving to make them! 🥐🥐🥐😋

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