When I decided to attempt making croissants for the first time I thought, “how hard can this be? I’ve seen bakers and pastry chefs make croissants before, I feel like I know the tricks, I understand the concept behind it… let’s go!” I was absolutely wrong! My first croissant looked like crap, embarrassing! How can that be? What did I mess up? I feel like I did everything right!
After a couple more tries, along with the support of some pastry friends, my croissants started looking beautiful! Light and flakey, honeycombed structured inside, crunchy and delicious!
However, I didn’t want to follow other chefs recipes, I wanted it to be my croissant, I wanted to give it my identity.
That was the moment that I became obsessed with croissants!
I started trying infinite combinations of ratios and flours.
I tried butter in the dough, and then without.
I experimented with percentages of milk and water.
I observed how different folding techniques yielded different results, not to mention proofing.
I tried endless combinations of time, temperature and humidity.
Then came baking… What temperature? What percentage of humidity? Should there be humidity at all? And for how long? Fan or no fan? And the egg wash?
Yeah! Good luck…
I believe that in a complex process like croissant making, there will never be enough details in a recipe to make sure you get it right the first time. In order to understand this process, and anything related to baking for that matter, you need to fail a few times. You need to learn what your dough feels like, what went wrong and what you will have to do differently next time in order to succeed.
Now, I don’t mean to discourage you. I’m absolutely fascinated by the variables that go into baking and that’s my obsession.
That's why I came up with a formula that involves very few tools and to me is the most consistently successful.
So… here’s what you need to know before you get started:
To make croissants you have to consider two main preparations, the main dough (called Détrempe) and the butter sheet for lamination.
Lamination is the process that integrates the butter into the dough by rolling and folding in order to form alternate layers.
The goal when making laminated dough is to keep the butter and the dough cold at all times. This allows the dough to be stretched thin, with the butter functioning as a "divider" between the layers, which facilities to create a light open crumb while baking.
When laminating by hand keep this in mind:
If the butter is too warm the sheet will be too soft and it will melt into the dough as you roll it. The result? Your croissant crumb will most likely end up looking like a brioche.
If the butter is too cold and the sheet is solid, it will be very challenging to roll it and it will easily tend to break and not distribute evenly throughout the dough. Which will give a very uneven crumb.
The butter sheet should be pliable, soft enough that you can bend it without breaking it, and hard enough that when you handle it, it won't melt in you hands.
450g AP Flour
450g Bread Flour (use a high protein flour, 13-15%)
240g 2% Fat Milk
20g Baker's Yeast
500g Butter for laminating
As I previously mentioned, there are many variables when making croissants.
One thing to consider is the quality of the ingredients you choose. Different flours and butter will yield different result. Get curious and try various combinations.
I always make sure to buy organic and from local farms.
Another thing to consider is the butter used for lamination. Professional bakers use "dry" butter sheets that are specifically made for laminated dough. This is a butter that contains less moisture and a higher percentage of fat than commercial butter and these qualities help bakers with the process of lamination.
I strongly suggest you source a butter with those characteristics or research and try different brands until you find the one that works for you.
Here is a list of tools you need:
-Chef Knife or Pizza Cutter
Begin making the dough (détrempe) using a stand mixer with the hook attachment.
-Mix all the ingredients together on the lowest speed setting for 15min. Let the dough relax for 10min in the machine before taking it out.
-Transfer the dough on a non floured surface and give it a round shape.
-Roll parchment or wax paper around the dough to protect it from drying out while proofing. Then place it in a container big enough (it will double in size) covered with plastic wrap.
-Place the dough in the fridge overnight and proof for no more than 12 hours.
-Leave the butter for laminating at room temperature overnight to soften up so that it’ll be easy to mold into a thin sheet to facilitate lamination.
-Next day make your butter sheet as shown in the video tutorial and place onto a sheet tray and in the freezer while you start rolling the dough.
-With the help of a rolling pin make sure to roll the dough into a rectangular shape and the same thickness as the butter sheet (it’s helpful to measure your butter sheet length and width and roll the dough accordingly).
-Start laminating the dough as shown in the video tutorial (brush off any excessive flour before folding) and place in the refrigerator for 45min in between folds.
-Cut the croissants with a knife or a pizza cutter into 5x9inches (12x22cm) triangles.
-After shaping the croissants you have two options:
Freeze for future use.
Proof and bake the same day.
-If you decide to freeze the croissants, place them in a sealed plastic container lined with parchment paper and defrost them overnight in the refrigerator before proofing.
-To proof: place the croissants onto a sheet tray lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat and proof at 73°F (23°C) covered loosely with plastic wrap for 3.5 hours or in a proofer without plastic wrap and with the humidity set to 75%. (should double in size when fully proofed)
-Gently brush the croissants with an egg wash made with one whole egg, one yolk and 10g of milk.
Deck oven: Set the temperature to 392°F (200°C) and drop it to 347°F (175°C) as soon as you put the croissants in the oven. Bake for 17-20min
Convention oven: Set the temperature to 375°F (190°C), bake for 5min then drop the temperature to 350°F (175°C) and keep baking for 12-15min
Combi oven: 375°F (190°C) fan 3, 15% humidity for 5min then drop to 350°F (175°C) fan 2, humidity 0% for 12-15min