Croissants – Flaky, Buttery and Delicious

2013-05-04
croissants
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  • Yield : 20 croissants
  • Servings : 20
  • Prep Time : 4:000 h
  • Cook Time : 10m
  • Ready In : 0m
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Have you ever yearned to know how to make those buttery, rich and flaky croissants from the best bakeries?

Well this croissant recipe will show you how to make them light and perfect each time.

Note: You will need both a broiler pan and a baking stone for this recipe.

How to Make Croissants

 

Ingredients

  • Sweet Yeast Croissant Dough

  • 2 1/2 cups (625 mL) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup (75 mL) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) instant or bread machine yeast
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) milk (whole or 2%)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup (50 mL) freshly squeezed orange juice

Buerrage (Butter Layer)

  • 1 cup (250 mL) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (250 mL) cold unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces

Method

Step 1

To Make The Sweet Dough

Step 2

1. Measure. Spoon the flour into a measuring cup, level with a knife or your finger, then dump the flour into the mixing bowl.

Step 3

2. Mix. Add the sugar, yeast and salt to the flour. Stir together with a wooden spoon or Danish dough whisk. Pour in the milk. Whisk the eggs with the juice, then stir into the flour mixture just until moistened. Beat 40 strokes, scraping the bottom and the sides of the bowl, until the dough forms a lumpy, sticky mass.

Step 4

3. Rise. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature (72°F/22°C) in a draft-free place for 2 hours or until the dough has risen nearly to the top of the bowl and has a sponge-like appearance.

Step 5

4. Refrigerate. Place the dough, covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days before baking. (For the best flavor, refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.)

Step 6

5. Prepare the buerrage. Place the flour in a bowl. Using the pastry blender, cut in butter until the butter is the size of small peas or smaller. (Or place the flour and butter in the food processor and pulse until the butter is the size of small peas or smaller.) Do not overwork; you want the butter to stay cold and solid.

Step 7

Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or for up to 1 day.

Step 8

6. Laminate the dough. Place the dough on a floured surface and dust very lightly with flour. Flour your hands and the rolling pin. Working the dough as little as possible and adding flour as necessary, roll out the dough into an 18- by 12-inch (45 by 30 cm) rectangle, using a dough scraper and your hands to lift and help form the dough into an even rectangle with the long sides on your right and left.

Step 9

Sprinkle half the buerrage on the top two-thirds of the dough, leaving a 11/2-inch (4 cm) border on the right and left sides. With your hands, lightly press the buerrage into the dough so it will stick.

Step 10

Fold the bottom third of the dough up and over some of the filling, like you’re folding a business letter. Fold the top third of the dough down so the filling is completely covered and you have a 12- by 6-inch (30 by 15 cm) rectangle. Use your hands to scoop up stray buerrage and tuck it back under the dough, and to help form the dough into an even rectangle.

Step 11

Turn the dough a quarter turn, lightly flouring under and on top of the dough as necessary, and roll out into an 18- by 12-inch (45 by 30 cm) rectangle with the long sides on your right and left. Repeat the process with the remaining buerrage.

Step 12

Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Step 13

Roll out the dough into a rectangle and fold like a business letter two more times. Use your hands to help form the dough into an even 12- by 6-inch (30 by 15 cm) rectangle of laminated dough. Lightly flour any sticky places on the dough. The dough should feel firm all over, with flattened pieces of butter visible within the dough, but not at all sticky.

Step 14

7. Rest and chill. Wrap the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or for up to 24 hours before using for croissants or galettes.

Step 15

Makes enough dough for pastries, braids and galettes to serve 16 to 24. Follow the directions below for croissants.

Step 16

Making Croissants From the Dough

You will need:
  • Unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon (15 mL) water
  • 2 cups (500 mL) hot water

Step 17

1. Form. Remove the dough rectangle from the refrigerator and cut in half. Rewrap one half and return to the refrigerator. Transfer the other half to a generously floured surface and dust very lightly with flour. Flour your hands and the rolling pin.

Step 18

Roll out the dough to a 15- by 6-inch (38 by 15 cm) rectangle with the long sides horizontal. The dough should feel cold, firm and smooth all over, but not at all sticky. With a paring knife or pizza wheel, starting at a short side, mark the top and bottom of the dough at 3-inch (7.5 cm) intervals.

Step 19

From the left-hand edge of the bottom, make a diagonal cut up to the first 3-inch (7.5 cm) mark to form a long triangle with a 3-inch (7.5 cm) base at the top. Make another diagonal cut down to reach the next 3-inch (7.5 cm) mark at the bottom, creating another triangle. Repeat the process until you have 10 triangles.

Step 20

Lift each triangle and gently press and pull the top and down along the length of the triangle to stretch the base to 4 to 5 inches (10 to 12.5 cm) wide. Starting at the base, tightly roll each triangle into a crescent, stretching and pulling it as you go.

Step 21

Repeat the process with the remaining dough.

Step 22

2. Chill or rise. Place croissants 2 inches (5 cm) apart on the prepared baking sheets, arranging them so that the pointed tip is visible. Cover the baking sheets with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours, or let rise in a warm (72°F/22°C) place for 2 hours or until about doubled in size. (If chilling first, let the croissants come to room temperature, then let rise.)

Step 23

3. Prepare oven for artisan baking. About 30 minutes before baking, place a broiler pan on the lower shelf and a baking stone on the middle shelf of the oven.

Step 24

Preheat to 400°F (200°C).

Step 25

4. Brush the croissants with egg wash.

Step 26

5. Place a baking sheet on the baking stone and add water to the broiler pan. Using an oven mitt, carefully pull the middle rack of the oven out several inches. Place one of the baking sheets on the hot stone. Push the middle rack back in place. Pull the lower rack out, pour the hot water into the broiler pan and push the lower rack back in place. Close the oven door immediately so the steam will envelop the oven.

Step 27

6. Bake. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool on pan. Repeat the baking process with the remaining croissants.

Enjoy right away or let cool, wrap and freeze for up to 3 months.

Makes 20 croissants.

Tips:

  • It’s very important to keep laminated doughs cold, so the butter layers stay intact. Use a marble pastry work surface, if possible, and work in a cool room.
  • The dough should be at a warm room temperature only during the final rise.
  • You can wrap and freeze formed but unbaked croissants for up to 3 months. Simply thaw and let rise before baking.

Variations:

  • Almond Croissants: Place a generous teaspoon (5 mL) of almond filling in the center of each triangle and roll up, then proceed with the recipe.
  • Chocolate Croissants: Place 2 teaspoons (10 mL) chopped bittersweet or dark chocolate in the center of each triangle and roll up, then proceed with the recipe.
  • Ham and Cheese Croissants: Place a generous teaspoon (5 mL) each chopped ham and shredded Gruyère or Cheddar cheese in the center of each triangle and roll up, then proceed with the recipe.
  • Danish Pastry Dough: Add 1 1/2 teaspoons (7 mL) vanilla extract to the milk. (You can also add 1/2 tsp (2 mL) each ground cardamom and grated orange zest to the flour mixture, if you wish.)

Did You Know?…

This recipe for French croissants is from a wonderful cookbook called 200 Fast and Easy Artisan Breads: No-Knead, One Bowl by Judith Fertig. You can find our review of the cookbook here.

This dough starts with what’s known as the detrempe (a sweet yeast dough), to which you add a butter layer, or buerrage, to create a laminated dough, or one in which layers of butter create rich flakiness during baking.

Traditional recipes have you pound cold butter into rectangles, a tricky proposition. This streamlined method cuts the butter in with some of the flour, as you would do for a pie crust.

The buerrage is then rolled into the dough. A little orange juice in the dough adds a flavor note and helps cut some of the richness.

Because the structure of this dough does best rolled into linear shapes, we’ll stick to rectangles and avoid circles.

If you’ve ever watched an artisan baker make croissants, you know it looks easy. Cut the dough into triangles, stretch them at the top and down the length and roll into a crescent — there you go.

Once you practice doing this, it will be easy and you can go on to filled croissants, either sweet or savory (see Variations above).

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apricot_galettes

 

This croissants dough is also perfect for galettes. See our recipe for almond and apricot galettes here.

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