A croissant is a flaky buttery pastry named after its well known crescent shape. It is made of a yeast leavened dough with layers of butter and rolled into a sheet through a process called lamination. It has a texture which is very similar to puff pastry dough. In Paris, croissant is a very common pastry which is usually eaten for breakfast. Now you can enjoy this flaky pastry in the comfort of your own home. Croissants are made with a type of pastry called Viennoiserie Pastry which are enriched pastries formed by laminating pastry dough with butter. Though the process for making this pastry is a bit long, it is really quite easy to follow. The good news is that you can use this Viennoiserie pastry dough for a lot of other pastries like Pain au Chocolat, Pain aux Raisin, Palmier Cookie, etc. It is thus worth mastering.
Makes 12 Large Croissants
(1) 500 Grams Bread Flour (A little under 4 cups)
(2) 12 Grams Salt (2 Teaspoons)
(3) 14 Grams Active Dry Yeast (2 Teaspoons)
(4) 50 Grams Granulated White Sugar (1/4 Cup or 4 Tablespoons)
(5) 1 Cup Warm Water (Water from the tap is fine)
(6) 100 Grams Unsalted Butter (Soft) (See Note 1)
Tourage (Butter Layer):
(1) 250 Grams Unsalted Butter (See Note 1)
(1) Butter is an important ingredient when making croissant as the pastry gets most of its flavor and Texture from the butter. Do not substitute butter for margarine or any other fat. If using salted butter, leave out the salt from the recipe.
(1) Place all the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix with your hands to combine them.
(2) Create a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in the water. Mix with your hand until a shaggy dough is formed.
(3) Turn the dough onto your work surface, add the soft butter and knead until a soft dough forms. About 10 minutes.
TIP: This process can be done with a stand mixer. Place all the dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix at medium speed to combine. Add the water and mix until a shaggy dough forms. Switch to the hook attachment and knead at medium speed while adding the butter in chunks. Knead until a smooth dough forms, about 8 minutes.
(4) Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with cling film and allow it to double in size. This takes about 2 hours.
(5) While the dough is rising, prepare the tourage. Put your butter into a ziploc bag and roll it out so it fills all the corners of the bag. Alternatively, fold parchment paper into a square, place the butter in it and roll it out to fill the square. Keep the rolled out butter in the fridge.
(6) After the dough has doubled in size, deflate it, fold it into a rectangle, wrap it with cling film and keep it in the fridge overnight or for 8 hours. This allows the dough to rise slowly without fermenting.
(7) 30 minutes before taking the dough out of the fridge, remove the tourage from the fridge so it softens a little bit.
(8) Remove the dough from the fridge and roll it into a rectangle double the size of the tourage.
(9) Place the tourage on one half of the dough, fold the other half over it and seal it inside the dough.
(10) Now begins the process of lamination which involves creating sheets of butter in the middle of the dough. To start the process, tap the dough at several points with your rolling pin to loosen the butter and make the dough more pliable.
(11) Roll the dough into a rectangle about 10 x 20 inches wide. Fold one third of the rectangle inwards and overlap it with the other third to form a smaller rectangle. This is called the 3 fold method. Flip the dough so the seams are underneath and repeat the whole rolling and folding process two more times, placing the dough vertically on your work surface each time.
At the end of the lamination process using the 3 fold method, you would end up with 27 layers of butter embedded in the dough. Pretty neat!
NOTE: For better understanding and tips on how to laminate dough, look at my notes on Lamination under my Puff Pastry post which can be found here.
(12) Wrap the dough with cling film and return it to the fridge for an hour. This helps the dough relax. Tired? Don’t worry, you are almost done.
(13) Take the dough out of the fridge and divide it in half. Place the other half back in the fridge and work with one half at a time. Each half will give you 6 croissants. Alternatively, you can make Pain au Chocolat with the other half.
(14) Roll the dough into a 18 x 9 inch rectangle.
(15) Using a sharp knife or pizza wheel, divide the dough into 6 triangles.
(16) Working with 1 triangle at a time, roll the dough into a log starting with the base end of the triangle, stretching the dough as you roll it. Tuck the seam under the croissant. Repeat this process with all the other triangles and the other half of your dough.
(17) Place the croissants on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cover lightly with cling film and allow it to rise for 2 hours. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees 20 minutes before the end of this rise.
(18) After 2 hours, brush the dough with egg wash (one egg beaten lightly). To get darker croissants, brush the dough with only the egg yolk.
(19) Bake the croissants in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, reduce the temperature to 375 degrees and bake for another 15 minutes.
(20) Allow the croissants to cool down for about 10 minutes (if you can) before serving.
I know this looks like a lot of work. But trust me, it is worth it!