I have to be honest here and tell you that until recently I have been scared of making croissants. I thought they would be hard to make and that it’s something that it better be left to the french since they are the experts in this field. However, curiosity won in this case. As they say, curiosity leads us to the path of risk, but then what is life without risk.
So the perfect opportunity presented itself to me. It just so happened that it was my sister’s birthday and she was coming over with her family. My sister loves croissants, it’s what she has for breakfast almost every morning. What better way than to try my baking skills, at what I thought would be the most difficult baking challenge, at making these croissants. I’d impress them for sure with these croissants. You made the dough yourself? I could already hear my sister saying in awe. So here I was, embarking on this great challenge hoping to overcome anything that’d be thrown at me.
So what did I do? I did what I always do when I’m curious about something. I googled it. Honestly, I can’t remember life before google, but I digress again. So I googled croissants which led me to a bunch of youtube videos which showed me how croissants are made. Long live technology!
To my disbelief, it did not seem like a big deal. After all it’s just another dough. And dough does not scare me! I watched those videos as they prepared the dough, and added the butter and they’d pound and roll, and roll, fold and chill, and roll, fold and chill and I thought to myself, that does not look hard at all. I can manage that, I mean after all I consider myself a person who loves to bake and is not afraid to try the most difficult baking recipes. I’m not a creative person that would do great at decorating cakes and that kind of thing, but I can bake, and will bake almost anything. Although I can’t decorate a cake so that it’s all artsy fartsy, but I can bake a pretty darn delicious cake.
So without further ado, here is how you make croissants.
To make the dough was actually pretty basic. Like any dough, we need to proof the yeast, so in the bowl of a mixer, add the warm milk, brown sugar and yeast and stir it with a fork slightly. Let it stand for about 5 minutes. If the yeast is good, the mixture will get all foamy, otherwise throw it out and start all over again. Next, add the flour and salt. Using the dough hook, mix on low speed for about 5 to 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and very soft. I used about 3 1/2 cups of flour, but if you need more than just add more. You might want to start with 3 cups and add as needed. Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and knead for a couple more minutes on your working surface. The dough needs to be soft and slightly sticky. Form the dough into a rectangle that’s about 1 1/2 inch in thickness, wrap it up in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for about an hour.
Before you take out the dough, we need to prepare the butter. I know it will seem like a lot of butter, but you need 3 sticks of butter here. Butter is the secret to flaky croissants, and this will make quite a bit of dough. Anyway, arrange the sticks of butter horizontally on a piece of plastic wrap. Cover the butter with another piece of plastic wrap. Pound and roll out on both sides until the butter forms a nice 8 by 5 inch rectangle. Take the dough from the fridge and unwrap it from the plastic wrap. Keep the plastic wrap because you will reuse it over and over again. You may need to dust some flour over your work surface. Roll out the dough into a big rectangle that’s about 16 by 10 inches. Place the butter directly in the center of the dough and fold the dough as you would a letter, bottom third of dough over butter, then top third down over the dough. If you have any excess flour, make sure you brush that off.
Next turn the dough so that the short side is nearest you and start rolling it another 16 by 10 inch rectangle. Fold in thirds like a letter again. This was the first fold. Wrap it up again in plastic wrap and chill it for another hour.
After another hour, repeat as above. With the short side near you, start rolling until you get another 16 by 10 inch rectangle. Fold it in thirds again, wrap and chill for another hour. Repeat this 3 more times so that it will make a total of 5 folds. After the last fold, refrigerate it over night or at least for 8 hours. You will end up with nice piece of dough looking like the picture below.
If you were to slice this dough down the middle you would see all the layers of all the folds you made. As I said before this will make quite a bit of dough, it will make 2 dozen croissants. What I did was I cut the dough in half, used half of it for a dozen croissants and the other half for a couple interesting pies, I will post later.
So the easiest way to proceed is to cut the dough in half, freeze half if you’re only going to use half of it. Roll out each piece of dough into a long rectangle, so that it’s about 1/4 of an inch in thickness. I found it easier if I cut the piece into 3 pieces, so that I work with 3 squares. Using a pizza cutter, cut each square into 4 triangles.
Now if you want to turn these into chocolate croissants, now is the time to place a stick of chocolate on each piece, or if you’re like me, a teaspoon of nutella in the center right in the top of the triangle. Using one triangle at a time, start rolling from the wide side, at the same time, stretching the end of the triangle. Don’t worry, the dough will not break, and it should allow for you to stretch it quite a bit.
Continue rolling the croissant, and as you’ll notice because you stretched into a long piece, you’ll be able to roll the croissant a few times, giving it that beautiful and familiar croissant look. Fold the ends in a bit if you prefer.
And that my dear readers is a perfect croissant. And I made it!! Repeat this with remaining dough and place the croissants on an ungreased baking sheet, with about 1 to 2 inches in between them.
Let the croissants sit for another hour, you’ll notice they’ll rise a bit, and brush them with egg wash. You can make the croissants ahead of time and refrigerate them for up to 18 hours before baking. To bake them, you need to preheat your oven to 400 F degrees. Bake the croissants for 8 to 12 minutes at 400 F degrees then turn down the heat to 375 F degrees and bake them for another 8 to 12 minutes. You want to make sure they are nice and golden brown. And now it’s finally the moment you’ve all been waiting for. Delicious, buttery and flaky croissants. There truly is nothing better.
So I have done it!!
I confronted my fears and I won.
I baked the unthinkable, well at least in my mind.
And it was all worth it. My husband loved these croissants, heck I loved these croissants, they were amazing. They really did turn out great and they were just as flaky if not flakier than the croissants you buy at a bakery.
Oh yes, my sister and her family also loved the croissants, and she was actually amazed that I made the croissants myself, especially when I told her it was an almost 24 hour process to make these babies.