Croissants generally take up to two days of preparation because of the type of pastry from which they are made, puff pastry. The beautiful lamination in this special pastry is created from layers of fat, usually butter, and pastry. When it bakes, the pastry puffs from the steam that is created by the lamination. In order to prevent the fat from dissolving into the dough, it has to be kept very cold so the layers stay separate. The pastry takes a long time to make because it requires you to roll and fold many times to create all the thin layers, but you have to refrigerate in between each fold.
There is an alternative to puff pastry: rough puff. This is basically a condensed version of the above description. Instead of having fat in between the layers of pastry, it is in the dough itself, like many other pastries. The dough still has to be kept cold, and there will be less lamination, but layers will still develop. The key is to work QUICKLY and make sure you chill the dough for a while before and after laminating. If you have time chill the dough between lamination steps, even ten minutes will improve the layering.
This recipe also uses a little bit of yeast because of the lack of puff from the rough puff. Croissant recipes vary between bakers, but every recipe has some form of puff pastry with added ingredients, like yeast or eggs, to enrich it.
Okay, time to make some croissants!
Yields: 8 large or 16 mini
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 12 tablespoons butter, cubed and in the freezer
- 1/2 cup warm milk (105 degrees)
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 25 grams fresh yeast OR 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry/instant yeast
- For the egg wash
- 1 egg
- For fresh yeast: Place the yeast in a bowl and sprinkle the sugar over it. Once the yeast liquifies, add the lukewarm milk and stir to combine. Set aside to cool.
- For dry yeast: Sprinkle the sugar over the milk and dissolve it. Then sprinkle the yeast over the milk and stir to combine. Set aside to cool.
- Combine the flour, and salt in a bowl and add the cubed butter. Using a fork or a pastry cutter, “cut” the butter into the flour until large crumbs form.
Add the yeast mixture and gently combine until a dough forms. Do not work the dough because the butter needs to remain in pieces. The dough will be very shaggy, but don’t worry. Wrap the dough in plastic and shape it into a rough square. Freeze for 30 minutes or refrigerate for two hours to chill completely.
- On a floured surface, roll the dough into a rectangle with a length about three times its width. The dough make crack because it is cold, but keep working it because it will warm up.
- Fold the short sides to the middle. This is called a “book fold.” Roll the dough lengthwise, then give it a 90 degree turn and book fold again. Flip the dough and repeat this process four or five times, the more layers the better. If the dough begins to warm up and becomes sticky, immediately place it in the freezer for five minutes. Then continue with the lamination process.
- If you don’t have much time, wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate it for two and a half hours. It can be in the fridge for up to twelve hours, overnight.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a rectangle about 12 by 8 inches. At this point, you can choose to make small or large croissants.
- Mini: Cut the large rectangle into four 3-by-8 inch rectangles. Then, cut four isosceles triangles with a base of 4 inches and height of 3 inches from each rectangle.
- Large: Cut eight isosceles triangles with a base of 3 inches and height of 8 inches from the large rectangle.
- Gently roll each triangle a little longer to stretch it.
- Cut a small slit in the base of each triangle, then gently stretch the corners out and roll tightly. Squash the tip of the triangle and dab a little water on it to stick to the croissant.
- Place the croissants seam-side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Cover and them for another 2-3 hours, until doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Whisk an egg or egg yolk with a little water to thin it, then brush the exposed faces of the croissants. Do no brush the sides that expose the lamination as the egg could seal the layer shut.
- Bake the croissants for 7 minutes at 450, then reduce the temperature to 375 and bake until golden brown, 13-16 minutes.
Thank you Home Cooking Adventure for the recipe.