Making croissants can be scary. It can seem to be ridiculously hard. The first time I looked at a recipe and saw how long it was I FREAKED OUT. Said no way, I’m not making croissants, they take forever! Well they do take forever, but then one week when I knew I would have some time, I just relaxed and made them step by step.
Croissants aren’t that difficult necessarily. Just a long and physical process.The chilling time for the pastry is actually much longer than the time spent actually making and rolling it. The hardest part is probably laminating the dough, rolling it out and folding it so many times. My arms usually hurt the next day. But if you’re about to eat all those freshly baked croissants, a bit of exercise won’t kill you.
So don’t be afraid! I have taken lots and lots of photos of each process to make it simple. And you haven’t tried croissants until you have had one fresh out of the oven, buttery, warm and flaky. They are beyond delicious. At the time of writing, my croissant dough is resting in the fridge, in the middle of the laminating process. I can’t wait to eat one!
Adapted from Bourke Street Bakery, which is a brilliant book.
You can make these croissants over two or three days, depending on whether you want to rush or take more time.
You will need to make a ferment before making your actual dough. A ferment is a small amount of dough that rests overnight before being added into your actual dough. It is basically a starter, and helps the dough develop.
Make this the day before you want to make your croissants.
100g plain flour (3 1/2 oz)
55ml milk (1 3/4 fl oz)
5g brown sugar (1 tsp)
2 1/2g salt (1/2 tsp)
5g (1/8 oz) fresh yeast
20g unsalted butter, softened (3/4 oz)
Put all of the ingredients into the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Process on a low speed for 3-5 minutes, until you have a smooth, elastic dough that doesn’t break when stretched gently. You may need to help it out by hand as there isn’t much dough for the hook to grab onto.
If you want to do it by hand, squeeze all the ingredients together until they begin to resemble a crumbly dough. Turn it out onto a clean surface and knead for about 10 minutes, until a smooth, elastic dough forms.
Form the dough into a ball and leave at room temperature for 2 hours. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or for up to 3 days.
Make sure all your ingredients for your croissants are chilled before making your dough.
935g plain flour (2 lb 1 oz)
550ml milk (19 fl oz)
60g brown sugar (1/3 cup)
15g salt (3 tsp)
35g fresh yeast (1 1/4 oz)
500g unsalted butter, extra for laminating (1 lb 2 oz)
If using an electric mixer, put the flour, milk, sugar, salt, yeast and ferment in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook. Process on a low speed for 3-4 minutes, then increase the speed to high and mix for a further 2 minutes. My mixture failed me here, couldn’t handle the large amount of dough. If you need to, take it out and finish kneading by hand.
If you want to make the whole thing by hand, put all the ingredients into a bowl and squeeze together until the mixture resembles a crumbly dough. Turn it out onto a clean surface and knead for about 10-15 minutes, until smooth and elastic.
When you are ready to laminate (roll and fold) the dough, remove the extra 500g of butter from the fridge. It should be cold but malleable. Put the butter between two sheets of baking paper and use a rolling pin to gently pound the butter into a 20cm (8 inch) flat square about 1cm (1/2 inch) thick.
Fold the two sides of pastry over the top of the butter, squeezing any seams together to completely enclose the butter. The butter being in between all the layers of pastry is what is going to give your croissants that deliciously flaky texture.
Carefully roll the dough into a rectangle about 20 x 90 cm (8 x 35 inches). Fold one end of the rectangle in by one third, then fold the other long end over the top so the dough is now 20 x 30 cm (8 x 12 inches).
Put the dough into a plastic bag or cover with plastic wrap, place it on a tray and refrigerate for 20 minutes (this allows the gluten to relax). Repeat this folding and resting process (called turns) two more times.
Once the dough has had its final 20 minute rest in the fridge, it is ready to be shaped into croissants.
Take the dough out of the fridge and roll it into a 25 x 120cm (10 x 35 inch) rectangle. This may take quite a lot of energy as the dough will tend to spring back to its original size and resist being rolled out. If this happens, fold up the dough and rest it in the fridge for a few minutes before rolling again. Use a light dusting of flour to patch up any areas where there may be holes or butter poking out while you roll.
Get out a ruler. Along the bottom long side of your rectangle, use a knife to make a small cut every 9cm (4 inches). Accross the top long side of your rectangle, first make a small incision at 4.5cm (2 inches) and then at every 9cm (4 inches) after that, so that the top incisions are directly in the middle of the ones accross the bottom.
Remove from the fridge and working one triangle at a time, make a small incision at the base of each one.
Press the tip into the croissant to secure, and place them tip side-down back onto the tray lined with baking paper. Repeat with remaining triangles, leaving well-spaced intervals between them on the trays.
The Egg Wash
100ml milk (3 1/2 fl oz)
Whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl until well combined.
Brush the egg wash lightly over the top of your croissants.
Place the trays into the oven and reduce the temperature to 190 C. Bake for 15-20 minutes until they are a deep, golden colour. Cool slightly on trays before serving. Makes 24 croissants.