Bake up these buttery goodies for your next weekend project!
Croissants were – and still are – rare indulgences in my life (but I guess that’s goes the same for everyone else, right? Unless you have the metabolism of a hummingbird. They eat 1.5 – 3 times their body weight every day!)
The unimaginable amount of butter in croissants is probably the main reason that many people avoid them, but I’ve learned that a little yumminess here and there is good for the soul, and so today I present to you my first attempt at baking these soft, buttery, flaky goodness.
Croissants are definitely NOT something quick you can whip up at the last minute so be prepared to set aside at least 3 days from beginning to end. They take lots of time resting overnight in the fridge, patience, and most importantly love.
I’ve done quite a bit of research on baking croissants. It’s essentially a butter layer wrapped inside a square layer, and folded letter-style and rolled 4 times to create multiple flour-butter layers. The good thing is that they don’t need any exotic, hard-to-find ingredients that I would only use once. Butter, flour, sugar, milk, yeast, and a simple egg wash – that’s all you need! You can get fancy and buy the gourmet high-quality butter but I’m good with Whole Foods 365 store-brand butter – works the same for me!
I started the process when I had a couple of free hours on last Sunday. I activated the yeast with some milk and flour, and mixed it up with the flour, sugar, and salt. Then I let this dough layer rest in the fridge overnight. I forgot to get a picture of the dough after it’s slow rise in the fridge, but it looked pretty cool. (Another reason I love baking with yeast – magic happens!)
The next day I started the butter layer by pounding it into a square into a size big enough for the flour layer to encase. After wrapping the butter layer in flour layer, I rolled it gently into a rectangle and folded the top down 1/3 of the way and the bottom third over it – like a letter. Let it rest in the fridge at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. You want the butter to stay cold. Repeat the roll and fold a total of 4 times.
After one more rest in the fridge overnight, you’re ready to bake them. (Finally, right? 3 days the charm!) Roll the dough roughly into a 10″ x 10″ square and cut them into even triangles. I can never roll it out evenly so I trimmed the edges off and just baked them as scraps. Cut a slit at the wide end of the triangle and starting from that end, roll it to the pointy end. Shape and curl it in a way for the two ends to meet, like the traditional croissant shape. Before rolling, you can also add other flavors to your croissants – chocolate, pumpkin, ham and cheese, spinach – the possibilities are endless!
Brush some milk over the croissants, and let them rise on a baking sheet for about 1 hour or until they double in size. Once doubled, pre-heat the oven to 400F and brush the croissants with an egg. Bake for about 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.
Let them cool about 20 minutes before eating – or you can dig right in!
I followed the recipe below for a small batch of croissant – I really don’t need 15 croissants lying about the house. They turned out flaky and soft but a little too buttery for my taste. Maybe I’ll cut back on the butter next time. Feel free to learn more about croissants from these blogs too: Brown Eyed Baker, Weekend Bakery, Laura in the Kitchen
Happy baking 🙂
Small Batch Croissants, adapted from Dessert for Two
about 4 or 6 small
1/2 cup 2% milk, divided
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup + 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour, divided use
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons high-quality butter (European style)
1 tablespoon 2% milk
1 large egg yolk, beaten
Heat 1/2 cup of the milk (about 115-degrees Fahrenheit), and stir in the yeast until dissolved. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the flour. Let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes.
Mix the sugar, remaining 1 cup + 1 tablespoon of the flour, and salt. Add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture and knead until smooth with a wooden spoon, about 3-4 minutes. It’s okay if the dough is sticky. Croissants are pastries and overkneading will cause a tough, dense dough from gluten formation. will be sticky. Refrigerate overnight.
Slice the butter lengthwise and layer it into a square on a piece of parchment paper. Use a rolling pin to shape it into a distinct square shape. Place in the fridge to firm up.
Remove the dough from the fridge. It will have risen and look bubbly. Liberally flour a surface, and roll the dough out into a 10″ x 10″ rectangle. The 6″ side should be closest to you.
Take out the butter square from the fridge and place it on the flour layer with one of the corner pieces facing you. Take one corner of the flour layer and fold it over the butter layer so that the point ends up in the center. Do the same with the other 3 corners.
Roll the square out into a 6″ x 10″ rectangle. Fold the dough like a letter: fold the top one-third to the middle. Fold the bottom third up to the middle also. Roll the dough back into a 6 x 10″ rectangle. Cover and refrigerate the rectangle of dough for 30 minutes – 2 hours.
Remove the dough from the fridge after 2 hours, fold it like a letter again, and then roll back out to a 6 x 10″ rectangle. Place it back in the fridge for 2 hours.
Repeat this two more times for a total of 4 folds, refrigerating for 2 hours between each fold and roll. After the last roll out, refrigerate the dough overnight.
Remove the dough from the fridge, and roll it on a floured surface into a 10 x 10″ square.
Using a knife, cut the rectangle into 4 evenly-sized triangles. Cut a slit at the wide end to create “flaps”. If you desire, spread some chocolate, nutella, cheese, or peanut butter onto the triangle. Roll the them up, starting at the wide end up towards the skinny tip.
Place the rolls on a baking sheet lined with a nonstick mat, and brush with the remaining tablespoon of milk.
Let the rolls rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. A little longer is okay, as long as it’s double in size.
Preheat the oven to 400-degrees.
Brush the egg yolk generously over the croissants.
Bake for 10-15 minutes, until very golden brown. Start checking on the rolls at 10 minutes, and shield them with foil if the edges look like they are about to burn.
Let cool 20 minutes, and serve.