For all the butter you are about to see: please, please forgive me. I know this supposed to be a healthy dessert blog but today we are talking about homemade croissants.
When I paint these buttery, fluffy pastry clouds on your computer screen I hope these things let you quickly forgive me.
I wanted to make perfectly french homemade croissants. Not a puff pastry version or an adventurous butter free version (probably not possible). The French have it right. Butter is where it’s at, so I was going to follow suit. Each lighter than air, buttery bite proved one thing: these are completely worth it.
This croissant recipe is totally traditional but I did try my hardest to make them as healthy as they were ever going be. I used natural flour, healthy salt, powdered honey and closed my eyes when I used a pound of organic butter. The small “natural” changes were a complete success!
Croissant making isn’t hard- it’s actually pretty easy! You don’t have to feel intimated by the concept of them (nor by this long post!). I tried to write important steps very clearly so everyone would succeed! You’ve also probably heard croissants are time consuming. That is partly true. Luckily – most the time is just waiting and resting and waiting. While the dough rests, you can rest! If at any point you don’t have time to finish a step at the moment, pop it in the fridge. No big deal. The process can be broken up between 2 or 3 days if you like, which splits up the work very nicely and makes the process seem that much more easy going. But maybe I was just excited that I was making croissants!
2 1/2 teaspoons Instant Yeast
2 teaspoons Pink or Sea Salt
1/3 cup Powdered Honey
1 cup Milk*
1 pound Cold, Unsalted Butter, cubed**
2 Tablespoons Organic Unbleached White Flour
1 Egg White
1 teaspoon Milk or Water (I used almond milk)
*The original recipe uses whole milk, but I never have that on hand, so I used about 3/4 cup 2% and the rest almond milk.
**I reduced the butter amount called for by 2 oz. For beginners, this is a wise decision as it will help you keep the butter inside the dough when rolling. It also saves a couple calories. :)
In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the hook attachment, add the flour, yeast, salt and powdered honey and mix to combine. Immediately add the milk and mix. If still a little dry, add more milk. I live in a dry climate, and I added about an extra 1 1/2 tablespoons. When the dough is picking up most the flour at the bottom of the bowl, take out of the dough and hold in your hands. Turn the mixer back on with empty bowl and tear off a piece of dough at a time and add it back into the bowl until all the dough is back in the bowl and forms a large ball. Take the dough ball out, pat into a smooth ball and cover in plastic wrap. Place the wrapped ball in a large plastic bag and let sit on the counter for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, begin on your butter. With the paddle attachment, add your chilled butter cubes and 2 tablespoons of flour. Beat on high until it’s whipped, but not oily. Remove it, pat it with your hands to remove any air and form a butter ball. Wrap it in plastic wrap and place it in the fridge. Place the butter ball and dough ball in the fridge for 8 hours minimum, or over night.
Remove the butter and dough from the fridge. Lightly flour your work surface and roll out dough evenly. Be sure to roll in both directions. Rolled out dough should be about 17″ by 14″. Next, place your butter ball in the center of the rolled out dough. Fold right side of dough over butter, gently stretch and seal the sides, then fold the left side over so the butter ball is completely wrapped and covered by dough. Gently pound the top of your dough with your rolling pin, starting in the center and working to the sides to smooth out the butter inside your dough. Then gently roll with rolling pin to even butter and dough. Gently transfer to a lightly floured parchment lined baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest in the fridge for 2 hours (or longer if you need).
After 2 hours, lightly re-flour your work surface. Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out dough to be about 24″ by 14″. Sprinkle a bit of flour on top of dough so that the rolling pin does not stick. Roll dough again, trying to keep it in an even rectangle. Then fold the dough like a letter, (left side in, then right side on top of that fold). Brush off any excess flour. Gently roll over it to smooth out and to measure about 15″ by 9″. Place covered on lightly floured parchment lined baking sheet to rest for 1 hour in the fridge.
After 1 hour, re-flour your work surface, remove the dough from the fridge and repeat the rolling and folding steps above. Once you are done, place back in the fridge to rest for 1 hour.
After 1 hour, remove from the fridge. Re-flour your work surface. Roll out the dough to by about 24″ by 14″. At this point, you will definitely see butter spreading out, if you haven’t seen a little butter thus far. That’s okay! Just flour as needed so the dough doesn’t stick to anything. Fold the 14″ sides of the dough to the center, while leaving a little space for another fold. Then, fold over one side like you would a book. This is what they call a double turn/fold.
Place the dough on your baking sheet and let rest in the fridge for 1 hour OR you can leave it in the fridge overnight if you need/want.
Remove dough from fridge and cut in half to make 2 squares. Wrap up one square and place it back in the fridge while you work with the other. Roll out the dough to about 20″ by 15″. Work quickly if you can so the dough doesn’t warm (a marble slab or granite counter top will help dough stay cooler longer). If you feel it is starting to get warm, place in the freezer for a few minutes. Fold in half long ways (think of a hot dog), and remove any excess flour. Cut dough with a pizza cutter into triangles with bases about 4” wide. You can do larger cuts, if you want bigger croissants. Trim the sides, so all of your croissants are perfect triangle shapes and set the scraps aside. Then peal the triangles apart to have single layer triangles. Make a large cut down the middle to separate the two sections. Now it’s time to roll out your croissants!
Moisten your hands slightly. Hold a triangle at the base with one hand and gently lengthen with the other. Carefully pull it downward a few times until it gets nice and long. Tear a little piece of dough from left over scraps and roll it into a ball and place on the base of the croissant (this will give the croissant a nice shape and fullness). Cover the piece of dough by folding the base over it and seal it in. Then continue with the palms of your hands to roll the base to the point. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet, facing you with end of the point facing down. Gently curl the ends in to create that croissant look. Cover and chill the rolled croissants while you cut and assemble your other dough square, OR freeze the left over dough square for later. In a small bowl, mix together your egg white and milk or water. When all are rolled out and assembled, lightly brush with egg wash. Place in an OFF oven with a pot of a LITTLE bit of boiling water (you only need 1/2 cup of water or so (do not make the mistake I did and add a ton of water or else all your butter will melt out of the croissants)). This step is proofing the croissants, and it is very important! Allow them to sit uncovered in the oven to proof for 3 hours. This will make them light, airy and delicious!
After 3 hours, remove the croissants from the oven. Turn on your oven to 350 degrees. Lightly brush with the remaining egg wash again and make sure each croissant is fully coated. Bake the croissants for 14-16 for 4 inch base triangles (smaller croissants) or 18- 22 minutes for 5 inch or so triangles (larger croissants) The tops should be golden brown and glisten.
Yields: 25 smallish croissants from 4 inch bases, 15-18 medium sized croissants from 5 inch bases.
And…. In case this post isn’t long enough already (are you still with me?!), here are my cliff notes of the steps for your reference as you watch the video and/or make them. I wanted a quick reference of the recipe at a glance to see the whole picture.
Mix up dough ingredients, form ball, cover and sit out for 30 minutes.
Mix up butter ingredients, form ball, cover and refrigerate butter and dough balls overnight.
Roll out dough to be 17″ by 14″
Fold butter ball in dough and whack to smooth butter inside dough. Chill for 2 hours.
Roll out to be about 24″ by 14″.
First fold- like a letter, chill for 1 hour in fridge (when folded, should be about 15″ by 9″)
Remove and roll out again to 24″ by 14″.
Second Fold- like a letter and chill for 1 hour in fridge (should be about 15″ by 9″)
Remove and roll out to about 24″ by 14″ again
Fold Double Fold- bring edges into center, then fold like a book. Rest in fridge for 1 hour.
Cut in half. Chill the other half while you work. Roll out to a rectangle to about 20″ by15″
Fold in half lengthwise, cut triangles. Stretch out each triangle and roll into croissant shape.
Egg wash and place them in off oven with boiling water uncovered for 3 hours.
Egg wash again and bake at 350 degrees for 14-22 minutes.
(The entire process will take about 18-24 hours.)
- The times mentioned for resting in the fridge are the minimum- if you need to leave them in the fridge for longer, it’s no big deal.
- Make sure to always work on well floured surface, however brush off excess flour after each folding for the dough.
- The measurements for the dough do not have to be exact.
- Write on your parchment paper what stage fold you are on so you don’t forget!
- Don’t skip the egg wash! This really enhances the golden and glisten-y appearance.
You did it! After all the folding and rolling, enjoy your homemade croissants! Indulge in their light, buttery and blissful texture. You can run on the treadmill later…