Big Weekend Project: Croissants

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It all started when I wanted to learn how to make morning buns.  I didn't know about the morning buns at San Francisco's famed Tartine bakery; I knew about the morning bun at Starbucks.  I tried it one morning when they didn't have a pumpkin muffin on hand, and I fell hard.  At some point, though, paying $2.50 or so for 1 item is not sustainable.

That's why I make a lot of what I make- to save money.  Anyway, so as I researched morning buns, I realized they were made from laminated dough, much like croissants.  Most of the bloggers who had tried recipes commented that they would next time use their favorite croissant dough, so why not just kill two birds with one stone and make the croissant dough?  Then I can make some of the dough into croissants and some into morning buns.

I will still buy croissants from the store, because these babies are labor and time intensive!  I will prefer the homemade ones to store bought, though.  There's just something incredibly satisfying and gratifying about eating something like that you made yourself.  Major kitchen cred points.  

The reason I titled this a big weekend project is that the labor and time will take a full, long day or it may take a decent portion of two days.  There are a lot of steps, and it's hard work rolling out the dough.  There is a lot of rest time and a lot of rise time that goes into the dough.  Just keep in mind your kitchen cred.

If you are comfortable enough to work with yeasts doughs, then this one is very soft for a bread, and richer than most of the breads I've made.  The process is still very similar.  The one caveat is that the dough must be kept cold.  Don't venture to make this when it's 78 degrees in your house.

I used the recipe from America's Test Kitchen, which I found through a web search.  I trust them and their extensive recipe development process, and heck, even if their recipe development process just involved a slot machine with the normal symbols replaced by ingredient names and measurements, I'd still be happy because the recipes of theirs I have tried are good.

From America's Test Kitchen

3 tablespoons unsalted butter plus 24 tablespoons (3 sticks) unsalted European-style-butter, very cold
1-3/4 cups whole milk
4teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
4-1/4 cups (21-1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (1-3/4 ounces) sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon cold water


Melt 3 tablespoons butter in medium saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat and immediately stir in milk (temperature should be lower than 90 degrees). Whisk in yeast; transfer milk mixture to bowl of stand mixer. Add flour, sugar, and 2 teaspoons salt. Using dough hook, knead on low speed until cohesive dough forms, 2 to 3 minutes. Increase speed to medium-low and knead for 1 minute. Remove bowl from mixer and cover with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at room temperature 30 minutes.

Transfer dough to parchment paper–lined rimmed baking sheet and shape into 10 by 7-inch rectangle about 1 inch thick. Wrap tightly with plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Butter Block
While dough chills, fold 24-inch length of parchment in half to create 12-inch rectangle. Fold over 3 open sides of rectangle to form 8-inch square with enclosed sides. Crease folds firmly. Place 24 tablespoons cold butter directly on counter and beat with rolling pin for about 60 seconds until butter is just pliable but not warm, then fold butter in on itself using bench scraper. Beat into rough 6-inch square. Unfold parchment envelope. Using bench scraper, transfer butter to center of parchment, refolding at creases to enclose.

Turn packet over so that flaps are underneath and gently roll until butter fills parchment square, taking care to achieve even thickness. Refrigerate at least 45 minutes.

Transfer dough to freezer. After 30 minutes, transfer to lightly floured counter and roll into 17 by 8-inch rectangle with long side parallel to edge of counter. Unwrap butter and place in center of dough. Fold sides of dough over butter so they meet in center. Press seam together with fingertips. With rolling pin, press firmly on each open end of packet. Roll out lengthwise into 24 by 8-inch rectangle. Starting at bottom of dough, fold into thirds like business letter into 8-inch square. Turn dough 90 degrees counterclockwise. Roll out lengthwise again into 24 by 8-inch rectangle and fold into thirds. Place dough on sheet, wrap tightly with plastic, and return to freezer for 30 minutes.

Transfer dough to lightly floured counter so that top flap opens on right. Roll out dough lengthwise into 24 by 8-inch rectangle and fold into thirds. Place dough on sheet, wrap tightly with plastic, and refrigerate for 2 hours or up to 24 hours.

Shaping Croissants
Transfer dough to freezer. After 30 minutes, transfer to lightly floured counter and roll into 18 by 16-inch rectangle with long side of rectangle parallel to edge of counter. Fold upper half of dough over lower half. Using ruler, mark dough at 3-inch intervals along bottom edge with bench scraper (you should have 5 marks). Move ruler to top edge of dough, measure in 1 ½ inches from left, then use this mark to measure out 3-inch intervals (you should have 6 marks). Starting at lower left corner, use sharp pizza wheel or knife to cut dough from mark to mark. You will have 12 triangles and 5 diamonds; discard scraps. Unfold diamonds and cut into 10 triangles (making 22 equal-size triangles in total).

Position 1 triangle on counter. (Keep remaining triangles covered with plastic.) Cut 1/2-inch slit in center of short side of triangle. Grasp triangle by 2 corners on either side of slit and stretch gently, then stretch bottom point. Place triangle on counter so point is facing you. Fold down both sides of slit. Roll top of triangle partway toward point. Gently grasp point with 1 hand and stretch again. Resume rolling, tucking point underneath. Curve ends gently toward each other to create crescent. Repeat with remaining triangles.
Place 12 croissants on 2 parchment-lined rimmed baking sheets at least 2 ½ inches apart. Lightly wrap with plastic. Let stand at room temperature until nearly doubled in size, 2 ½ to 3 hours. (Shaped croissants can be refrigerated for up to 18 hours. Remove from refrigerator to rise and add at least 30 minutes to rising time.)

After croissants have been rising for 2 hours, adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 425 degrees. In small bowl, whisk together egg, water, and pinch salt. Brush croissants with egg wash. Place croissants in oven and reduce temperature to 400 degrees. Bake for 12 minutes, then switch and rotate baking sheets. Continue to bake until deep golden brown, 8 to 12 minutes longer. Transfer to wire rack and cool about 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

To Make Ahead
After shaping, place 10 croissants 1 inch apart on parchment-lined sheet. Wrap with plastic and freeze until solid, about 2 hours. Transfer to zipper-lock bag and freeze for up to 2 months. Bake frozen croissants as directed from step 8, increasing rising time by to 2 hours.


  • You need to make sure that you do this on a cooler day, or that the A/C in your house is on.  If you don't you'll have a melty mess
  • If your house is on the warmer side (upwards of 73ish), you may want to allow the dough to hang out in the fridge or freezer between laminations or shaping.  I actually let my dough chill in the freezer between the first rollout after pinching the dough and the second after the first folding....confused enough, yet?
  • If when rolling out the dough during the lamination phase the dough starts to retract, give it a time out for about 15 minutes in the freezer.
  • When I first tried the end result croissant, they were a little greasy when hot, but when they cooled, they were great.  The crust softens as they cool.

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