How to Make French Croissants Recipe with Step by Step Picture Instructions. An easy classic recipe with butter to create flaky layers. Perfect for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter.
In a bowl, whisk together the lukewarm water and yeast. Stir in 1 cup of the flour, until it is well incorporated. The dough will be thick and hard to mix.
Cover and let rest for at least 30 minutes. The dough will expand, at least tripling or quadrupling in size. The mixture should have bubbles forming on top at the end of the resting time.
Next, in a large mixing bowl, stir together the remaining 3 cups of flour, sugar, and salt.
Add in the yeast mixture and milk. Stir to combine.
Add the butter, 1 Tablespoon at a time, stirring until the butter is well incorporated.
Knead the dough until smooth, but still slightly sticky. About 5 minutes total. Adding a little flour if needed. DO NOT over-knead. If you do, the dough will become too elastic and be a bear to roll out on Day #2 and Day #3!
Shape the dough into a flat disc. Place disc of dough onto a plate and cover with plastic wrap.
Cut each stick of butter into 1/2 inch thick slices lengthwise.
Arrange the pieces of butter on a piece of waxed paper (or parchment paper) to form a square (about 5 inches x 5 inches).
Cover the butter with another sheet of waxed paper.
With a rolling pin, pound butter until it is a 6.5 inch by 6.5 inch square.
Note: You may need to trim/straighten the edges of the butter to keep the shape. Place trimmings on top of the square and then keep forming until you reach the desired size.
Hint: Instead of pounding the butter into the correct size and shape. I start with softened butter and then "smoosh" and form the butter to the correct size. Makes things easier on your countertop. ;)
Once the dough is to the correct size and shape, wrap in paper or plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until needed.
Note: The key to the laminating process is working quickly and keeping the butter and dough as cool as possible.
Hint: One way I keep my working surface cool is by placing a couple Ziploc bags of ice on the counter for a few minutes before I start working the dough. Then I place it back in the freezer until I start the next lamination.
Hint: Another way I keep everything cool is by investing in a stainless steel rolling pin. I put the rolling pin in the freezer for a few minutes before using it. Once done with a lamination layer, I wipe it off and place back in the freezer to cool for the next lamination.
Lay out the butter slab from the fridge to soften SLIGHTLY. You want it to be "workable", but still cold!
Grab yourself a yardstick or ruler..... you're going to need it.
Lightly flour the work surface where you will roll out the dough. Use just enough flour to prevent the dough from sticking. Keep the amount to a minimum, otherwise too much flour will be incorporated between the layers and show with the final results.
Take the dough out of the fridge. Place on your lightly floured work surface.
Roll the dough into a 12 inch by 12 inch square. Make sure it is even thickness across.
Place the dough square so one of the sides of the square is facing you and place the butter slab on the dough at a 45° angle to the dough, so a point of the butter square is facing you. Fold a flap of the dough over the butter, so that the point of the dough reaches the center of the butter.
Do the same with the three other "flaps". The edges of the dough should slightly overlap to fully enclose the butter. With the palm of your hand lightly press the edges to seal the seams.
With a lightly floured (or chilled) rolling pin, roll out the dough to a 8x24 inch rectangle. Start rolling from the center of the dough towards the edges, and not from one side of the dough all the way to the other side. This technique helps you keep the dough at an even thickness.
Hint: You can rotate the dough 180°, ever so often, to keep it more even. You tend to use more pressure when rolling away from you than towards yourself. Aim at lengthening the dough instead of making it wider and try to keep the edges as straight as possible. Use your hands to lightly press the edges to keep the dough to 8 inches wide.
Hint: Sometimes the dough will start to resist getting any longer or because of inexperience the process takes a long time and the butter starts to soften. Stop rolling. Fold up the dough like a letter (as outlined below), cover in plastic wrap, and then refrigerate for 10-20 minutes. This will help the gluten relax and/or the butter to harden. After the chill time, unfold the dough and continue to roll out. Not stopping, will warm the butter and hurt your layers in the final product. It is important the butter stays solid!
Once the dough has reached its intended size (8x24 inches), fold the dough "letter style". Folding the top 1/3 of the dough down.
Then fold the bottom 1/3 of the dough up over the top. Creating a "letter".
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Remove the dough from the fridge.
Rotate the dough 90°. The open "end" of the dough should be towards you. (See photo).
Repeat the rolling, folding, and chilling process outlined above in "Lamination #1".
Remove the dough from the fridge.
Rotate the dough 90°. The open "end" of the dough should be towards you.
Repeat the rolling and folding process outlined above in "Lamination #1".
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until Day #3.
On Day #3, take the dough out of the fridge and place it onto your chilled working surface. Make sure the "open side" is again facing you. Roll the dough out to 8 inches by 43.3 inches (or 110 cm).
Hint: The dough will most likely start to resist or shrink back during the rolling out process (which it usually does on this rolling), fold the dough into thirds and give it a rest in the fridge for 10-20 minutes before continuing.
When the dough has reached its intended size, carefully lift it a few inches on each end to allow the dough to naturally shrink back from both sides. This way it will not shrink back when you cut it. If it shrinks back too much (so the dough is less than 40 inches long), roll it out a little more.
Working along one of the long sides of the dough (top side), make small cuts in the dough at 5 inch intervals along its length. For cutting the dough I use a small pizza cutter/wheel.
Now, lay your ruler along the other long side of the dough (bottom side). Make a small cut 2.5 inches from the (short) edge of the dough.
Then from that notch, make small cuts in the dough at 5 inch intervals along the rest of the length of dough.
Now make diagonal cuts starting from the top corner cutting down to the first bottom mark. Keeping this angle make diagonal cuts along the entire length of the dough, from top notch to bottom notch set 2.5 inch over.
Then change the angle and make cuts from the other top corner to the bottom marks to create triangles. Repeat along the length of the dough. You should end up with about 15 croissants, plus some "odd ball" end pieces.
Working with one croissant at a time, shape the croissants.
Elongate each triangle using your rolling pin. Very carefully, almost without putting pressure on the dough triangle, roll the pin down the length of the triangle. Start at the wide side and roll to the tip. The triangle should lengthen easily with the weight of the rolling pin. The triangle should be close to 10 inches after elongating.
Using your pizza cutter/wheel, make a 1/2 inch notch/cut in the center of the wide side of each triangle.
Next, using the palm of your hand, roll up the triangle from the wide (notched) side of the dough to the tip. Try to roll very firmly and put enough pressure on the dough to make the layers stick together (but not too much as to damage the layers).
Continue the process until all the triangles have been rolled.
Note: I keep the end "odd-ball" pieces of dough. I just roll them up and place them on the baking sheet with the rest of the croissants. They may not be the prettiest, but they still taste delicious and are usually my "test bites".
Arrange the shaped croissants onto two parchment lined baking sheets. Keep enough space between them so they will not touch when proofing.
In a small bowl, combine the beaten egg with 1 tsp of whole milk. Whisk until smooth.
Gently brush a thin coat of the egg wash onto the tops of the croissants.
Proof the croissants in a draft free, warm spot (between 75-79°F) for about 2 hours. You should be able to tell when the croissants are ready by carefully shaking the baking sheet and see if the croissants slightly wiggle. You should also be ale to see the layers of dough when looking at the croissants from the side.
Pre-heat your oven to 375°F.
While the oven is pre-heating, gently brush the croissants with their second coat of the egg wash.
Once the oven has pre-heated, bake for 15-17 minutes. (My ideal time is 16 minutes). If you placed your croissants on two separate baking sheets, it is best to bake one at a time.
Note: EVERY OVEN IS DIFFERENT OR HOLDS THEIR TEMPERATURE DIFFERENTLY. It may take you a few batches to find your oven's ideal temperature and timing (it did for me). Watch your first batch closely. If the croissants seem to be browning too quickly (or your butter is oozing out everywhere), turn the oven down a notch or remove a little sooner. This is really the only step that you have to learn from experience and by baking a few batches to determine what works for your personal oven.
Once golden brown, remove from the oven and let rest on the baking sheet for a couple minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
Even if your first batch didn't turn out "perfect", you attempting to make croissants is a feat in itself. Here is me giving you a virtual high-five or hug!
Croissants are best eaten warm and fresh.
If the croissants need warmed, I just place a few on a baking sheet and heat them in a 350°F oven for 3-5 minutes.
Note: You Can Freeze Croissants! You heard me right. IF for some crazy reason, you do not eat all your croissants in one sitting, they can easily be frozen after being baked. When ready to eat, just take straight from the freezer and place on a baking sheet in a 350°F oven for about 8 minutes.
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