Start to Finish: Up to 6 hours
Level of Difficulty: Beginner to intermediate
Although croissants are fairly simple to make, they can be quite time consuming. In the classic method of making this rich pastry, layers of dough and sheets of butter are folded upon one another several times, refrigerated after each fold, and then finally baked. By incorporating pieces of cold butter into the dough, then folding and chilling it once, you can have buttery, flaky croissants in a lot less time.
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
- ½ cup whole milk, warmed to 100 degrees Fahrenheit
- 2-2½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ sticks (6 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 ½ tablespoons whole milk
Directions for Making the Dough
Pour the yeast and the sugar into a small bowl. Sir in the warm milk to dissolve the dry ingredients. Let the mixture rest for 7 minutes, until it starts to foam.
In a large bowl, combine the flour and the butter, breaking up the butter into smaller pieces until the mixture is crumbly with still-formed chunks of butter.
Add the salt and the yeast to the flour mixture and combine well while making sure the butter pieces are still solid.
Turn the dough out onto a flour surface and knead gently, about 1 minute. Place the dough back into the bowl and cover it tightly with plastic wrap. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for 3 hours.
Folding the Dough to Create Layers
Place the chilled dough onto a floured surface and knead for 1 minute. Using a rolling pin, shape the dough into a rectangle, adding additional flour to keep the dough from sticking to the pin or the surface.
Fold the bottom third of the dough up towards the middle. Then fold the top third downwards towards the middle, in a similar manner to folding a letter in thirds.
Then fold the left third towards the middle, then the right third over the left, to create a square shape. Wrap this square of dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Shaping and Baking
Roll the chilled dough out to roughly 10-inches by 15-inches. Using a pizza cutter cut the dough into 8 triangles that will be about 13-inches long at the point by 3-inches wide at the base.
Starting at the base, roll the dough triangle onto itself towards the point. Place the rolled dough, seam side down onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Turn in the edges of the dough, forming a crescent shape.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
When all the triangles have been formed and placed onto the cookie sheet, cover the croissants with a lightly floured cloth and allow to rise for 30 minutes.
Blend the egg yolk and the milk to create the egg wash. Brush each croissant with the wash.
Bake the croissants for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool the croissants on a wire rack slightly before serving.
Freezing the Pastry
Croissants are best when consumed the day they are baked. But, you can freeze the unbaked croissants that have risen, for later use.
Place the croissants onto a cookie sheet and then place the pan into the freezer. Freeze the pastry thoroughly, about 4 hours. Then place the frozen croissants into a freezer-safe, zippered plastic bag and store in the freezer.
When you are ready to use, thaw the croissants overnight. Before baking, allow them to rest, covered with a cloth until they have risen, about 1½ hours.
References and ResourcesFine Living: Baking Light and Flaky Croissants
Serious Eats: Bread Baking: Easy(er) Croissants