The ultimate croissant recipe! Buttery, flaky and out of this world!
- Prep Time: 16 hours
- Cook Time: 18 mins
- Total Time: 16 hours 18 mins
- Yield: 10 large croissants 1x
- Category: Bread
- Method: Mixing, Kneading, Folding
- Cuisine: French
- 1 ounce compressed fresh yeast ( I used 4½ teaspoons active dry yeast (I use Red Star Yeast)-I let it dissolve in the milk for about 5-10 minutes and added it with the milk.)
- 3¾ cups unbleached all purpose flour
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1+ cup milk, warm it slightly to proof the yeast, about 110 degrees
For the butter square:
- 4½ sticks (1 pound 2 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour
For the egg wash:
- 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water
For the dough:
- Put the yeast, flour sugar, salt and 1 cup of milk into the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook. (If using dry active yeast see proofing instructions in ingredient list). With the machine on its lowest speed, mix for 1 to 2 minutes, until a soft, moist dough forms on the hook. If the dough is too dry, add more milk, 1 tablespoon at a time (I added almost 6 T). You want all the flour to be moistened. The hook should pick up all the flour from the bowl.
- Set the mixer to its highest speed your manufacturer allows for dough (2 on my KitchenAid) and work the dough until it is smooth and elastic, no longer sticky and close to the consistency of soft butter.
- Remove the dough from the mixer and put it in a plastic bag, leaving a bit of space for the dough to expand. Keep the dough at room temperature for a half hour, then refrigerate the dough for 8 hours or overnight.
For the butter:
- Attach the paddle to your mixer and beat the butter and flour on the highest speed until smooth and the same consistency as the croissant dough, about 2 minutes. Put the beaten butter onto a large piece of plastic wrap, give it a few slaps to remove any air, then shape into an oval 5 to 6 inches long and 1 inch thick. Wrap it tightly and refrigerate until needed.
Incorporating the butter:
- Put the croissant dough on a floured large work surface and dust the top of the dough lightly with flour. Using a long rolling pin, roll the dough into an oval approximately 10 inches wide and 17 inches long. Center the oval of chilled butter across the oval of dough and fold the top and bottom of the dough over the butter to make a package. Gently stretch the folded layers of dough out to the sides and press the edges firmly to seal.
- Using a rolling pin, start whacking the dough to distribute the butter.Rotate the dough and pound it again in the other direction….you should see the butter moving towards the edges. After pounding you should have a 1 inch thick rectangle about about 14 inches long and 6 inches wide.
- Keeping the work surface and the top of the dough well floured, roll the dough into a rectangle 24 to 26 inches long and about 14 inches wide, with the long side facing you. (If your dough and butter has become warm, you may want to refrigerate for an hour or two before this first rolling stage). Brush off the excess flour and, working from the left and right sides, fold the dough inward into thirds (like a brochure), so that you have a package that’s about 8 inches wide by 14 inches long.
- Move the dough to a parchment- lined baking sheet, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. You may want to make the parchment “Turn 1” to keep track of your turns.
- Place the dough so that the 14 inch side runs left to right. Making sure the work surface is well floured at all times, roll the dough as you did before into a rectangle 24 to 26 inches long by about 14 inches wide. Note that it’s OK if the dough cracks a little with the next couple turns.
- As before, fold the dough in thirds. Place it on the parchment, mark the paper “turn 2”, cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
- Start again with a 14 inch side running from your left side to your right. Roll the dough into a rectangle 24 by 14 inches wide. Fold the left and right sides of the dough into the center, leaving a little space in the center, and then fold one side over the other as though you were closing a book.
Chilling the dough:
- Brush off the flour, wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours (I refrigerated overnight).
Rolling the dough:
- Flour a work surface. Place the dough so that it resembles a book, with the spine to your left and the opening to your right. Then cut the dough in half horizontally…for easier handling. so that you have two pieces about 7 inches long and about 6½ inches wide. Wrap and chill one half while you roll and cut the other. Extra dough may also be frozen to use at another time if desired.
- Flour the dough and roll it into a rectangle that’s 24 to 26 inches long and 15 to 18 inches wide. Keep the work surface and the dough well floured. This will give your muscles a work out! If necessary turn the dough so that the long side runs from left to right along the counter. Carefully fold the top half of the dough down to the bottom.
Cutting the dough:
- Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
- When the dough is ready to be cut, measure off 3 to 4-inch-wide pieces, and simply cut the dough from bottom to top in straight lines; unfold each strip and cut crosswise in half. If making almond croissants, place a rolled piece of almond paste at the top (I would use more than I did!) of each strip of dough and roll the dough into a coil, finishing seam side down. Shape the rest of the croissants and allow to rise.
Glazing and rising:
- Brush the croissants with egg wash, garnish with almond slices if making almond croissants, and allow them to rise, uncovered, at room temperature for 3 to 4 hours, until tripled in size and spongy. (Reserve egg wash, covered in the refrigerator.) The ideal place for rising is a turned off oven containing a pan of hot steamy water.
Baking the croissants:
- Preheat the oven to 350º. Brush the croissants once again with egg wash and bake for 12 minutes. Rotate front to back and bake another 4 to 6 minutes, until the croissants are deeply golden. Cool on racks before eating.
- The croissants are best eaten the day they are made. Freeze in airtight container. Thaw the croissants overnight in the refrigerator or at room temperature and reheat in a 350 degree oven for about 8 minutes.
Source: Baking with Julia: Savor the Joys of Baking with America’s Best Bakers, Esther McManus