As I was wandering around the supermarket the other day, I came to the bakery section, which had this huge table full of boxes of croissants. I looked at those poor tasteless bread products jammed tightly into those small plastic containers and thought about the unfortunates who consider this a croissant.
While although these generic flavorless rolls are indeed ‘technically’ classified as a croissant, they are nothing compared to the buttery, flaky goodness achieved by making them at home. For those who have never had a fresh baked-from-scratch croissant, once you try this recipe, you will never again look at the store-bought croissant as desirable.
Making croissants at home is not as difficult as most people initially think. The most common assumption is that croissants are extremely labor intensive. This isn’t true at all. It is true, however, that there is no shortcut in baking croissants. There is a lot of inactive sitting and waiting for the dough with very small bursts of action, followed by more sitting and waiting. But when everything is done, it is unbelievable what you can accomplish with a little butter, flour and patience. Follow these instructions exactly, and I promise – you will have perfect croissants every time.
The Perfect Croissant Recipe
- 1 ¼ cup water
- ⅓ cup powdered milk
- 2 ¼ teaspoons yeast
- 4 cups flour
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon salt
- ¼ whole butter
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- Soften yeast in 1/4 cup warm water. Mix together 1/3 cup powdered milk with 1 cup water.
- In a bowl, mix your flour, sugar, and salt. Place 1/4 cup cold butter into the bowl of dry ingredients and mix with a hand until the butter is fully incorporated into the dry ingredients. There should be no detectable lumps of butter in the flour mixture.
- Add dry ingredients and powdered milk mixture to the yeast. Mix everything using a dough hook in a stand mixer until all elements are incorporated together. Continue mixing for approximately 30 seconds until the dough sticks together but is still crumbly. Comparable to a sugar cookie or shortbread dough. Do not over-knead. If you over-knead the dough, the dough will be too elastic and impossible to roll out. If you do this by hand, mix milk into the flour mixture until incorporated, then knead on a floured surface for about one minute.
- Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, or place it into a gallon-sized Ziploc bag that is left one-third open. Place dough into the fridge for 6 hours or overnight.
- After 6 hours, place cold butter on the countertop with the wrapper still on, take a rolling pin and smash butter until it is about 1/2 inch thick. Make sure the butter remains cold; if it warms up, return it to the fridge for 15 minutes.
- Take out the dough from the fridge and roll it out into a 12-inch by 6-inch rectangle. Place smashed butter cubes onto one half of the dough rectangle and fold over the other side of the dough. With folded edge on the side, roll out the dough into a 22-inch by 10-inch rectangle. Fold the rectangle into thirds. Place the dough back into the baggy and in the fridge for 45 minutes.
- Remove dough from the fridge and roll out the dough into a 22-inch by 10-inch rectangle and fold it into thirds. This completes the first turn. Return to fridge for 45 minutes. Repeat this step twice for a total of three turns. There must be three turns, not including the initial rollout. I mark with my finger after each turn, so I can keep track of how many turns I have done. After you have completed the three turns, return the dough to the fridge for 6 hours; again, I just leave it in overnight.
- The following day, roll out the dough into 25-inch by 14-inch rectangle. Cut the rectangle lengthwise using a pizza cutter, pastry cutter, or sharp knife. Then zigzag cut each half into long triangles. Be sure the dough stays cold. So if this process is taking a bit longer than expected, longer than about 10 minutes, return one of the halves to the fridge.
- Once triangles are cut, roll from fat end to short end. Before you roll, however, gently pull the dough to elongate or roll very lightly with a rolling pin to elongate. This will give a more pleasing croissant shape. Once rolled, attach the two ends to provide a crescent shape.
- Make an egg wash by mixing the egg with 1 tablespoon of water. Place rolls onto a parchment-lined baking sheets and brush with egg wash. Let rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until rolls have doubled in size. Brush on another coat of eggwash.
- Bake croissants at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 to 23 minutes or until a very deep golden brown hue is achieved.
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- I have tried other croissant recipes without much success, but with this recipe you can’t fail. They come out absolutely perfect. A quick note: You can always use salted butter instead of unsalted, if you do just reduce the amount of salt in the recipe by 1/2. Also, you can substitute regular milk for powdered milk, although if at all possible you really should use powdered milk. Powdered milk adds depth to the flavor of these croissants.