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How to Make Croissants--homemade & delicious! (recipe w/pictures)

Updated on November 28, 2011
I prefer them piping hot and plain. They're plenty buttery on their own.
I prefer them piping hot and plain. They're plenty buttery on their own.

Long-time HubBuddy jimmythejock asked me how I made some croissants, the pictures of which I had posted on Facebook. I can not claim the recipe—that goes to a Canadian baker named Sarah living in Poland—but I can attest, from personal experience, that this recipe and technique do indeed yield some pretty amazing croissants: flaky, buttery, delicate on the outside, and fluffy on the inside. Just take a look at the picture to the right, and tell me your stomach isn't growling!

The recipe is definitely time-consuming, but it is not very difficult, if you follow the instructions below carefully. I learned that each of the steps really exists for a reason. Yes, there are a lot of steps involved, but none of them are particularly difficult. You'll thank me for taking the time for each step when you bring out some golden brown croissants for your loved ones to scarf down.

Ingredients

For 12 medium-sized croissants (smaller than the huge ones you typically see in cafes):

  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp oil (I used olive, but something not terribly strong-tasting)
  • 1/2 cup milk (or any "milk" - I used rice milk and it turned out fine)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 packet active dry yeast (or 1 1/4 tsp)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1 egg

Click on each picture for full-size

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Start with flour in a bowl.Add oil.Mix the oil well into the flour.Add sugar and yeast to warm (but not hot) water.Mix in the yeast liquid, and milk with salt, and develop into a dough.Knead well, including several slams onto your countertop. Yields a soft, tender ball of dough.Cover twice and allow to rise for 3 hours (first rise).Punch down dough.Roll out into a large square.Fold like a letter you're putting into an envelope (thirds).Cover twice with plastic wrap, and allow to rise (second rise).(After second rise).
Start with flour in a bowl.
Start with flour in a bowl.
Add oil.
Add oil.
Mix the oil well into the flour.
Mix the oil well into the flour.
Add sugar and yeast to warm (but not hot) water.
Add sugar and yeast to warm (but not hot) water.
Mix in the yeast liquid, and milk with salt, and develop into a dough.
Mix in the yeast liquid, and milk with salt, and develop into a dough.
Knead well, including several slams onto your countertop. Yields a soft, tender ball of dough.
Knead well, including several slams onto your countertop. Yields a soft, tender ball of dough.
Cover twice and allow to rise for 3 hours (first rise).
Cover twice and allow to rise for 3 hours (first rise).
Punch down dough.
Punch down dough.
Roll out into a large square.
Roll out into a large square.
Fold like a letter you're putting into an envelope (thirds).
Fold like a letter you're putting into an envelope (thirds).
Cover twice with plastic wrap, and allow to rise (second rise).
Cover twice with plastic wrap, and allow to rise (second rise).
(After second rise).
(After second rise).
Keep your eyes on the prize...
Keep your eyes on the prize...

Make the dough

Croissant dough is a yeasted dough, meaning you have to let it rise a couple of times.

  1. Put the yeast, 1 tsp of the sugar, and 3 tbsp of warm (105F/40C or cooler) water in a small cup. Mix together and set aside.
  2. Put the flour in a large bowl.
  3. Warm up the milk in a small bowl or cup, either using the microwave or on your stovetop. It just needs to be warm, not hot.
  4. Add the salt to the milk and dissolve.
  5. Add the oil to the flour and mix well.
  6. Check the yeast mixture. It should have started foaming up a bit. Add it to the flour & oil mixture.
  7. Add the milk & salt.
  8. Mix it all together with a spoon or spatula until you have dough that holds together.
  9. Take the dough out of the bowl, and begin kneading it. Knead it with the heels of your hands until the dough is uniform and sticky. Then, slap the dough hard against your counter about 8-10 times, until the dough is not sticky and has softened.
  10. Clean out your bowl, and place the dough back in the bowl, Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap, and then cover the bowl with another piece of plastic wrap.
  11. Set in a warm place (about 75F/24C) for about 3 hours, until it triples in size.

    ----3 hours later----
  12. Pull out the dough and place it on your counter. Either using a rolling pin or your hands, roll/press it out into a square or rectangle, about 8-10 inches (20-30 cm) per side.
  13. Fold the square into thirds, like you're folding a letter to put in an envelope.
  14. Place this folded dough back in the bowl, cover it loosely, cover the bowl, and allow it to rise for another 1 1/2 hours or so, or until it has doubled in size.

    ----1 1/2 hours later----
  15. Remove the dough from the bowl, place on a cold plate, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the freezer (only for about 10-15 minutes, max).

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Roll out the dough into a square or rectangle.Smash out the butter but don't let it melt.Place the smashed-out butter in the top two-thirds of the dough square.Fold the bottom third up, and then the top third down.Make sure the dough is sealed along all the open edges, so butter doesn't squirt out.Roll out the "folded letter" into another square. Fold into a "folded letter" again. Rinse & repeat!You'll see faint blobs of yellow butter underneath the dough surface. There are many alternating layers of dough and butter now.Fold into thirds again.Double-cover and put in the refrigerator to cool down.
Roll out the dough into a square or rectangle.
Roll out the dough into a square or rectangle.
Smash out the butter but don't let it melt.
Smash out the butter but don't let it melt.
Place the smashed-out butter in the top two-thirds of the dough square.
Place the smashed-out butter in the top two-thirds of the dough square.
Fold the bottom third up, and then the top third down.
Fold the bottom third up, and then the top third down.
Make sure the dough is sealed along all the open edges, so butter doesn't squirt out.
Make sure the dough is sealed along all the open edges, so butter doesn't squirt out.
Roll out the "folded letter" into another square. Fold into a "folded letter" again. Rinse & repeat!
Roll out the "folded letter" into another square. Fold into a "folded letter" again. Rinse & repeat!
You'll see faint blobs of yellow butter underneath the dough surface. There are many alternating layers of dough and butter now.
You'll see faint blobs of yellow butter underneath the dough surface. There are many alternating layers of dough and butter now.
Fold into thirds again.
Fold into thirds again.
Double-cover and put in the refrigerator to cool down.
Double-cover and put in the refrigerator to cool down.

Incorporate the butter and start folding

  1. Place the butter on your counter, and beat it with a rolling pin (yes, smack it). The goal is to beat it into a "sheet" of cold, but pliable, butter. It doesn't have to be a perfect sheet at all, just without huge lumps. Make sure it doesn't get so warm that it melts - it should stay a solid. (Pro tip! Place the stick of butter between two sheets of wax paper, and use your rolling pin to spread it out into a thin layer of cold butter. Avoids a lot of mess!)
  2. Take the dough out of the freezer, and using your rolling pin, roll the folded-into-thirds dough into a square of similar size as last time.
  3. Spread the butter into the top two-thirds of the dough square. Then fold the top third of the dough (with the butter) down, and then the bottom third up (just as you did before, but this time, you're encasing the butter in it). Ideally, both the butter and the dough should be the same temperature (cold but not freezing) and same texture (firm but pliable). Pinch the sides so the butter is full encased inside the dough.
  4. Turn this "folded letter with butter in it" around 90 degrees. Flour your counter and the dough a little, and then using your rolling pin, very carefully roll out the dough into another square. You have to do this carefully to avoid liquefying the butter and having it squirt out! Take it slow and make sure your countertop is not warm!
  5. Fold this square into thirds again, and, if the butter is still clearly firm inside the dough, roll it out again. If the butter has softened, cover up the "folded letter" and place it in the freezer for about 20 minutes so it firms up again.
  6. Repeat this process 2 more times, cooling the dough in the freezer if you need to, to make sure the butter doesn't melt. After putting the butter in the dough, you should fold it into thirds and roll it out into a square four times. Naturally, the colder your kitchen and countertop, the less time you'll need to do this, since you'll need to toss your dough in the freezer less often.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Cut the rolled-out dough into thirds.Notice the "bloom" of butter right beneath the surface! This is why it needs to stay cool.Cut each third in half, and then each of those halves into triangles.Flour each triangle and roll it out into a large, long isosceles triangle. (The original above for comparison).Roll from the short end to the tip.Curve into a crescent and place on the parchment paper.Cover and let it rise for 1-3 hours.(After rising)Apply beaten egg wash with a brush.(Egg washed applied)Into the oven they go......and pull out 15 minutes later when golden brown!
Cut the rolled-out dough into thirds.
Cut the rolled-out dough into thirds.
Notice the "bloom" of butter right beneath the surface! This is why it needs to stay cool.
Notice the "bloom" of butter right beneath the surface! This is why it needs to stay cool.
Cut each third in half, and then each of those halves into triangles.
Cut each third in half, and then each of those halves into triangles.
Flour each triangle and roll it out into a large, long isosceles triangle. (The original above for comparison).
Flour each triangle and roll it out into a large, long isosceles triangle. (The original above for comparison).
Roll from the short end to the tip.
Roll from the short end to the tip.
Curve into a crescent and place on the parchment paper.
Curve into a crescent and place on the parchment paper.
Cover and let it rise for 1-3 hours.
Cover and let it rise for 1-3 hours.
(After rising)
(After rising)
Apply beaten egg wash with a brush.
Apply beaten egg wash with a brush.
(Egg washed applied)
(Egg washed applied)
Into the oven they go...
Into the oven they go...
...and pull out 15 minutes later when golden brown!
...and pull out 15 minutes later when golden brown!

Final rollout, cutting, and twisting

  1. Refrigerate your dough a final time (30 minutes in the freezer, or 2 hours in the refrigerator).
  2. Roll it out into a larger rectangle: 10x15 inches (25x40 cm)
  3. Cut it into 3 rectangles of approx 5x10 inches (12x25 cm) each.
  4. Place 2 of the rectangles on a plate and into the refrigerator.
  5. Flour your counter, and roll the 5x10 rectangle into a larger rectangle of about 8x15 inches (20x40cm)
  6. Cut that rectangle into half, and then each half into two triangles.
  7. Roll each triangle into an isosceles triangle (two long equidistant sides, and a short third side)
  8. Starting on the short side, roll up your dough triangle until you hit the tip.
  9. Curl into a crescent shape.

Fresh out of the oven!
Fresh out of the oven!

Final rise, egg wash, bake & cool

  1. Allow your shaped crescents to rise for 1-3 hours (or overnight in the refrigerator).
  2. Preheat your oven to 475F (245C) - yes, pretty hot!
  3. Place your crescents onto a greased cookie sheet or parchment paper.
  4. Beat the egg with 1 tbsp of water.
  5. Brush your crescents with the egg wash.
  6. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the croissants have taken on a nice golden color.
  7. Allow to cool on a rack for about 10 minutes.
  8. ENJOY! I personally love them plain, but some like them with a pat of butter, some jam/jelly, or even Nutella.

Nutritional information on croissants

 
 
per batch
per croissant
calories
 
1980
170
protein
g
32
3
fat
g
123
10
carbs
g
181
15
sodium
mg
3600
300

Assuming: lowfat milk, olive oil, medium egg

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