I can't think of anything better than waking up to flaky-buttery-crispy fresh-from-the-oven croissants served on my kitchen table. One or two of those, plus a cup of steaming joe, and I'm ready to tackle my day.
But making my own croissants, it's a different story. There are so many recipes and so many methods available through cookbooks and internet postings, it's so difficult to find out which one would work for me. And I have tried a few of the recipes to justify me saying that some produced better result than the others.
After spending the last coupe of months tweaking and adjusting the recipes, I think I can finally say that I have come up with my ultimate foolproof croissant recipe.
Ingredients for the detrempe (dough):
- 1 1/4 cup milk, warmed to 105-110 degrees F
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups pastry flour, sifted*, plus more for dusting
* Pastry flour is preferred, but if it's difficult to obtain, all-porpose flour works OK.
Ingredients for the beurrage (butter block):
- 1 cup/2 sticks butter, chilled and cut into smaller pieces*
- 2 tablespoons pastry flour
* I prefer to use european butter, like Plugra (and occasionally Kerrygold), because I think it gives better and more distinctive flavor to the pastry.
- 1 egg, beaten, for egg wash
- Make the detrempe: Sprinkle yeast and sugar onto warm milk, give a little stir with a spoon, and let it rest for about 10 minutes until the yeast becomes foamy. In a large mixing bowl, mix flour and salt, then add yeast mixture into the bowl. Mix all of the ingredients together with your hand until well mixed. Please do not over handling the dough, just give it enough mixing until all of the ingredients are well blended. Transfer the dough to a floured surface, knead a little bit more and shape it into a ball. The dough will be sticky and spread out a little bit. Place the dough ball on a floured parchment paper, and refrigerate while you're making the beurrage.
- Make the beurrage: Using a mixer, mix butter and flour until smooth. Transfer butter mixture onto a plastic wrap, shaping it into a flat square. Wrap the butter and refrigerate until the butter is firmer, about 20 minutes.
- On a floured surface, roll out the dough into a thin circle. Place the butter block in the center of the dough. Stretching the dough with your hand, pull the top part of the dough, and fold it to cover the butter. Repeat the process with the bottom, left and right part of the dough, until you get a square envelope. Flip the square over, so that the flaps are facing down.
- Using a rolling pin, flatten and roll out the dough into a large rectangle, sprinkle more flour if necessary. Fold the dough into thirds, by folding left and right side to the center. Transfer dough onto a lined baking sheet, and refrigerate for about 20 minutes.
- Repeat the process of rolling the dough into rectangle, letter fold, and refrigerate for 20 minutes in between foldings. In total, do 4 letter folds before final rolling and cutting.
- Roll out the dough into a thin large rectangle, about 16 x 12. Trim the edges using pizza cutter or knife. Cut the rectangle in half vertically, then using the pizza cutter, cut the dough into triangles with 3-inch base. Take one triangle, stretch it slightly with your hand. Roll up the triangle, starting from the base, place it on a line baking sheet with the tip tucked underneath the croissant. Repeat the process with the remaining triangle, placing them about 2 inches apart on lined baking sheet.
- Place the baking sheets in a warm spot in the kitchen. Let the croissants to rise (but don't let them double in size), for about 1 to 2 hours*. Brush the tops with beaten egg.
- Bake the croissants in a 375 degrees F oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until they turn crispy and golden brown on the outside.
* I found that if I prepare and shape the croissants in the evening, I can store my croissants in the refrigerator overnight to slow proof them. In the morning, I take them out of the fridge and oven proof them at 85 degrees for about 30 minutes to 1 hour before baking (I know that butter will melt at 85 degrees, but since the croissants are very cold, 85 degrees work just fine). If your oven doesn't have this feature, you can place a medium bowl of very hot/nearly boiling water in the oven along with the croissants, close the door and let them rise for about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Make about 20 croissants
Make about 20 croissants
And of course, while we're at it, why don't we also make some Pain au Chocolate?
Cut the dough in small rectangles, place a piece of chocolate bar on one end of the rectangle, roll it up, tuck the other end underneath the croissant, place on lined baking sheet, brush with egg, let them rise, and bake at 375 degrees until done.
Now, don't you want to just grab one of these puppies? :)