Earlier this week I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a 4-day online bread baking class hosted by the King Arthur Baking School and learned how to make several different kinds of breads, many of which I will be making again and adding to my repertoire. One or two I doubt I will ever try again.
But croissants? And pain au chocolat? Oh yeah, just learning that one recipe (they are the exact same dough) was well worth the cost of the class, and now I have a wonderful go-to recipe any time I need to impress friends and family, or just make someone feel warm and loved, it’s that good!
Their crackers and baguette recipes were also pretty awesome!
I don’t know enough about baking to mess with their recipe, plus I was pretty pumped with the results, so this is one recipe that I really haven’t fiddled with too much.
My one thought might be to go from enough dough to make eight croissants to 12, needing to go with a 1.5 times bigger recipe. The biggest concern here is making sure you have enough counter space to roll out a larger recipe.
During the class we were allowed to make one decision on how much water to use in the initial dough as well as how much milk, and what kind, to use, and I have recorded my choices below in the recipe.
I have to admit, and I am not the first to say this, that the entire project was much more manageable than I had feared, or had been led to believe. Yes, it takes a long time, as in you can’t start a few hours before you want to eat a fresh croissant.
But no, the actual amount of time that your hands are in deep into croissant dough is pretty limited, not nearly the time commitment some people make it out to be.
There are a billion recipes online for croissants and there are zero reasons why anyone would want to take their French pastry advice from me, so that is not what this post is about.
But I really wanted to write this recipe down before I lost the worksheet King Arthur gave us as part of the class so that I can continue to use it for years and years.
Again, the list of directions, and maybe what you have heard from others, make this recipe seem impossibly long and difficult, but it is not and can be mentally broken down into just a few steps, or more accurately, three sets of activities.
The first step is to make the dough, easy enough. Add the ingredients to bowl and stir to combine.
Second, and the most time intensive of all the steps, is to create the laminated dough, to wrap the butter inside the dough and fold and fold and fold to create all of those layers that have made croissants famous for well over a century.
There is a whole lot of refrigerator wait time in this step.
The third major step, as I think about it, is to shape and bake the croissants and pain au chocolat if you choose to make a few of those as well.
After shaping, you just wait for them to proof and bulk up and then it is time to slide them into a pre-heated oven!
I am hopeful that the next time I make this croissant recipe, which will be next week when my son visits, that I can wait a few minutes longer after taking them out of the oven before starting to eat them so that the insides aren’t just a hair underdone as indicated in the picture above! Letting them sit for just a few more minutes allowed them to finish cooking on the rack and they were delightful!
- 255 grams all purpose flour
- 25 grams sugar
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
- 28 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature equals 2 tablespoons
- 90 grams whole milk
- 58 grams water
- 113 grams unsalted butter, cold equals 1 stick – high fat, European-style
- 1 large egg
- 15 grams water
- 1/8 tsp salt
- To make the croissant dough, start by combining flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in a medium bowl. Next, cut in the butter using a bowl scraper or your fingers. Add milk and water, and mix until a shaggy dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently until cohesive, but not completely smooth. Place the dough in a plastic bag and refrigerate for at least 5 hours or overnight.
- To make the butter block, place butter on an unfloured surface and pound it with a rolling pin until it has the consistency of modeling clay. Mold the butter into a 5" square of even thickness.
- Gently degas the croissant dough on a lightly floured surface and roll it into a 6” square. Place the butter block offset like a diamond in the center of the dough square. Fold the corners of the dough over the butter toward the center to resemble an envelope, then pinch the dough to seal and fully enclose the butter.
- To create the layers in the croissants, roll the dough into a 6" x 16" rectangle with the seam up. Fold the bottom third up and the top third down, as you would fold a letter. You have completed the first of three turns. Refrigerate the dough for at least 20 minutes. Remove the dough from the refrigerator, roll it out to a 6" x 16" rectangle, and fold it in thirds. Cover and refrigerate the dough for 45 minutes. Repeat this process one more time, then allow the dough to rest for at least 5 hours or overnight in the refrigerator before rolling out and forming the croissants.
Cutting and Shaping
- Roll the dough out into a rectangle that is approximately 1/4" thick, and trim it to measure 8" x 16". Mark the dough at 4" intervals along the long edge, then cut the dough into 8" x 4" strips. Cut each strip in half diagonally to form triangles, then cut a 1" notch in the base of each triangle. Gently stretch the dough by pulling from the bottom of the triangle to the tip, as this will result in more rolls and a more layered croissant. Starting with the base of one triangle, fold 1/4" of the dough over onto itself, then continue rolling the triangle up to the point. Repeat this process with the remaining triangles. Arrange the croissants on a baking sheet, leaving plenty of room for them to expand, and cover them gently with plastic wrap.
- Allow the croissants to rise until they have almost doubled in bulk. Rising times vary depending on temperature and humidity, so observe them for puffiness. They should feel spongy and marshmallow-like. In some cases, it may take closer to four hours to bulk up.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Whisk together an egg, water, and salt, and brush the croissants gently with the egg wash just before baking. Bake the croissants for about 20 minutes, or until deep golden brown.
As much as I wanted to avoid this information, I thought it was important enough to try to track down a nutritional panel for these croissants. This panel was pretty easy as almost everything is measured out in grams, we know exactly how much of each ingredient we’re working with.
This panel is for the croissants and not pain au chocolat, which is basically just croissant dough rolled differently to include a bit of chocolate and maybe just a sprinkling of powdered sugar over the top. That is to say, probably not a huge difference, but the pain au chocolate option would definitely include a few more calories than the plain croissants. But probably be worth it, they are pretty divine.