I hope you’re ready to see a billion underexposed photos of the same exact dough over and over and over again.

Please say yes, because you will be rewarded with this.

This was a… project. To say the least.

I have been dying to try homemade croissants for ages, but after mention of them when I made almond joy scones, I could hardly wait.

I have a very nostalgic reason for loving croissants: since I was young, each summer my grandma would always pick up a croissant from the Bread Box Bakery in Boyne City. It was such a treat and we ate them plain – simple, delicious and buttery. No eggs, no jam, nothing to take away from their fabulous flavor. Croissants always make me think of her.

But I also have a superficial reason for loving croissants: It’s Complicated. I wish I could live inside that movie. I’m in love with Steve Martin, I want to own Meryl Streep’s bakery and Alec Baldwin has some super weird sex appeal that creeps me out and makes me crazy about him at the same time. It is not a stretch to say I’ve probably seen the movie 100 times. I’m easily entertained.

 

Too bad they don’t mention that it takes like 14 hours to really make croissants. I wish I was joking… but I’m not. I was able to narrow down the recipe I made to about 10 hours, but only because I’m wildly impatient and was sick of pacing back and forth in my kitchen all day. Not to mention… there was flour EVERYWHERE.

I’m not about to tell you “oh! croissants are SO easy! you can totally do it!” because seriously… they are not. However, I think it is similar to roasting a chicken – the first time sucks the life out of you but it gets easier and more enjoyable time after time after time. At least that’s what I’m hoping. Plus, the end result is totally worth it and you know I’m not just saying that. I have never had a croissant so fresh that I burnt my tongue on it… until now.

Oh… and I made four flavors of croissants: traditional, chocolate, cinnamon sugar and pumpkin spice. Hop on for the ride. Yes, I’m insane.

 

Easy enough… it all starts with some yeast and flour.

I know you have all of the ingredients in your kitchen, which means you should probably start right now.

The dough feels a bit sticky after mixing at this point, but remove it from the bowl anyway and knead it with some flour. I love that feeling on my hands.

Form the dough into a soft, little pillow-like lump and then wrap it in plastic wrap and let it chill in the fridge for about an hour. Start being impatient now.

After the hour is up, you can start beating the crap out of this butter. I had no clue this was how croissants were made, and up until now was completely naive on why croissants are packed with calories. I thought, “umm… isn’t is just all flour and like, pastry stuff?”

No. Apparently not.

All of this butter goes into the croissants. I.freaking.love.it. Don’t you even try to reduce the amount. I mean… these are CROISSANTS.

Using a rolling pin and cold, but not hard-as-a-rock butter, you press it in between two sheets of plastic wrap (or towels – the recipe called for towels, but uh… mine weren’t clean) and mash it into a square. Then use a dirty tape measure from the garage to make sure it’s a rectangle. <– dirty tape measure optional. [P.S. for someone who loathes following a recipe, making these croissants and actually measuring them our to a T was a challenge... pretty sure I have multiple personalities considering I fought with myself about four different times.]

 

After rolling out the refrigerated dough, you place the butter slab in the middle, like the bottom right photo above.

Then you fold it up like a letter. Top comes down, bottom comes up. This amused me. Mainly because I was starting to lose it and was only two hours in.

Using a rolling pin and having the short end of the new dough rectangle face you, press down with the pin to help roll out the dough.

You roll it out to a super skinny rectangle, fold it like a letter again, then stick it in the fridge. This is considered the first fold.

You have to do FOUR FOLDS. With 1-2 hours of refrigeration in between. Totally doable, but not when you want to do it all in natural daylight to photograph for your invisible internet friends. My recommendation would be to make the dough and do the four folds in the late afternoon/evening, refrigerate overnight then wake up and make the actual croissants.

You have to do this for someone realllllly important. Like yourself.

 

Sidebar: I should mention that I could totally be doing this wrong, and if you’re a pastry chef you most likely are cringing right now. But… it worked.

This is what my dough looked like after four folds and refrigeration, right before I rolled it out for the last time. See all those little butter crumbles in the dough? Yeah. I’m pretty sure it’s not supposed to be like that at all. I was nervous and almost threw in the towel, but I had come so far. Moral of the story: if this happens to your dough, continue anyway.

 

I rolled the dough into a final skinny rectangle, then sliced triangles with a pizza cutter.

Then it’s time to cut a little slit in the straight end, and roll that baby up. It reminded me of… an elephant. My rolling skills clearly are lacking.

 

After rolling, brush the croissants with a little beaten egg wash, and into the oven they go.

Man… I was so nervous. I thought for sure they were not going to turn out.

 

Before we get to the finish line, here are the rest of the flavors.

I stuffed the traditional croissants with a chunk of chocolate, other traditional ones with a pumpkin spice cream + a good roll of pumpkin spice sugar, and the final in layers and layers of cinnamon sugar.

I almost cried when these were in my oven. They smelled so amazingly good. The minute they came out, I tore into one and was stunned by the layers and layers of flakes, as I was sure I had done something wrong in the process. Maybe these are a bit foolproof?

I could have cared less about plating. Who cares about flakey crumbs? Not I.

 

While photographing, I ended up eating another whole one + a few bites to taste test the others. Within minutes, I was feeling not so hot. I packed them up and drove them over to my mom, because she and my dad also love croissants. I knew this was a better choice than eating croissants for every meal the next four days.

But that didn’t work.

Because the day after, I drove over to their house solely to eat one.

Then the next day, I drove over again. I ate the last one since they plowed through them pretty quickly. The bane of my existence is stale pastries, but these were still pretty delicious on day 3. The trauma is wearing off, so hopefully it won’t take me 10 years to make another batch.

Croissants

[dough from epicurious, method from cooks.com]

makes about 20-24 croissants, depending on triangle size

1 1/2 cups warm whole milk (about 105 degrees F)

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 tablespoons + 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast

3 3/4 – 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon salt

3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) cold, unsalted butter

1 egg + 1 teaspoon whole milk, beaten for brushing

1. To make dough, combined milk, sugar and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer attached with a dough hook, and let sit until foamy – about 5-10 minutes. If it doesn’t foam, start over. Once foamy, add 3 3/4 cups flour and the salt, and mix on low speed until dough comes together and is soft, about 7 minutes. Transfer dough to your workspace and knead by hand for a minute or 2, using more flour to make it silky and not sticky. Form dough into a 1 1/2 inch thick rectangle, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for one hour.

2. Once dough has chilled, set butter sticks next to each other with their sides touching. Pound it down with a rolling pin to soften it a bit, then set it between two towels or two sheets of plastic wrap. I found this to be the most challenging part. Using the rolling pin, continue to press down on it with the rolling pin and roll. I also used my hands to press it down and form it into 8 x 5 inch rectangle. Once done, wrap in plastic wrap and chill while rolling dough.

3. Remove dough from plastic wrap and sit on a lightly floured surface. Using your hands, stretch the dough (especially the corners) into the 16 x 10 inch rectangle. I was wary of this but it actually works pretty easily – just be sure to measure! Place dough with a short end near you. Set butter slab in the middle of the dough, then fold the ends up like a letter: top half down and bottom half up. Turn dough again so the short side is facing you, and use the rolling pin to press down equally on the dough to help flatten it. Roll dough into a 15 x 10 inch rectangle, rolling out to the ends but not actually over the ends. Again, fold the dough like a letter: top have down and bottom half up, and stretch so the corners are square. This should form a 10 x 5 inch rectangle (roughly). Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for one hour.

4. Repeat step 3 THREE more times, for a total of four folds, chilling the dough for one hour after each fold. After the fourth and final fold, wrap dough tightly with plastic wrap and chill for 8-12 hours, no longer. I chilled mine for 6 and it was fine.

5. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. When dough is ready, roll out to a very long and skinny rectangle, about 20 x 32. (If your counter is small, you can break the dough in half and do this in 2 sections). Using a pizza slicer (or sharp knife) cut the dough into triangles. Cut a small vertical slit right into the middle of the straight end, and using both hands, roll croissant up pushing the sides out to either side. Place on a baking sheet about 2-3 inches apart, cover with a towel and set in a warm place to rice for 1-2 hours. I did not see a great change, but they rose a bit. Brush with beaten egg then, bake for 12-14 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool before removing from baking sheet.

 

For chocolate croissants: in step 5, place a 1/2 – 1 ounce of chocolate in the middle of the dough before rolling up.

For cinnamon sugar croissants: you have two options. If you’d like every croissant to be cinnamon sugar, layer each fold of dough with a cinnamon sugar mixture (about 2 parts sugar to 1 part cinnamon). If you just want to make a few cinnamon sugar croissants, completely coat the triangle in cinnamon sugar before rolling up. Brush with beaten egg, then coat with cinnamon sugar again. Be sure to use a non-stick baking sheet, as sugar will caramelize a bit and croissants may stick. Make sure they cool completely before trying to remove.

For pumpkin spice croissants: in step 5, drop 1-2 teaspoons of pumpkin spice cream into the middle of the dough before rolling. For cream, combine 1 part cream cheese with 1/2 part pureed pumpkin, 1/2 part sugar, and a heavy sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice. Either layer each fold or roll each triangle through a pumpkin spice sugar mixture (2 parts sugar to 1 part pumpkin pie spice), then brush with beaten egg and coat with pumpkin spice sugar. Be sure to use a non-stick baking sheet, as sugar will caramelize a bit and croissants may stick. Make sure they cool completely before trying to remove.

[Note: these additional flavors can definitely be decorated in cuter ways, I was just totally done at this point. ]

Whew. That was intense.

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292 Responses to “How To Make Croissants. [and lose your mind while doing it]”

  1. #
    101
    Liz — September 28, 2011 @ 12:04 pm

    This stresses me out… but KUDOS on making an awesome croissant! They look AMAZING. I’m in Awe!

    Reply

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    Shannon — September 28, 2011 @ 12:12 pm

    Wow! I’m totally tired from just reading your post. You’re so awesome for doing this. I would have totally given up somewhere in the flattening of the butter stage. :) However, I could go for a pumpkin spice one ASAP!

    Reply

  3. #
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    Liz — September 28, 2011 @ 12:13 pm

    Whoa impressive…considering your (incredible) oatmeal snack bars were an achievement for me to make (I’m a kitchen newbie-little victories right?) these are out of my league, but I have sent the link to my mom AND grandma in hopes that they’ll take a hint and make these for thanksgiving. Screw the turkey. :)

    Reply

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    Erin — September 28, 2011 @ 12:14 pm

    I love the stuffing of pumpkin spice!

    Reply

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    jordan @ thedancingdonut — September 28, 2011 @ 12:20 pm

    i’m going to be honest with you – i will probably never ever make these because i don’t have the patience nor skills…but major props to you for tackling such a challenging pastry!! and those pumpkin filled ones? oh. my. god.

    Reply

    • Erica Cooper — September 28th, 2011 @ 4:34 pm

      YES, this exactly. I will probably never tackle the task but awesome job!

      Reply

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    Adrianna from A Cozy Kitchen — September 28, 2011 @ 12:45 pm

    OMG! You’re insane. My dad makes puff pastry ALL the time. It’s like his peaceful morning routine thing. He’s weird. But the best part is that he keeps it in the freezer, thaws it and boom…we have fresh croissants. There’s nothing better. And these with the chocolate situation in the center look incredible.

    Reply

    • Jessica — September 28th, 2011 @ 12:47 pm

      After this comment and everything you told me about your dad this weekend, I think I want him to be my dad.

      Reply

  7. #
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    Jess@atasteofconfidence — September 28, 2011 @ 12:51 pm

    Wow those look delicious, but maybe just a tad too much work! But well worth it.

    Reply

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    Stephanie — September 28, 2011 @ 12:52 pm

    Pumpkin Spice Cream Filled Croissants? I heart you. Major props to making these. I’ve been seeing a lot of posts on the interwebz this past week for them and I don’t think I have the patience!!

    Reply

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    Melissa — September 28, 2011 @ 12:56 pm

    You are a soldier! Nice perseverance! I’ve never been a huge croissant fan, but you actually sold me with the cinnamon sugar and pumpkin spice varieties. It’s one of those baking projects I’d like to take on just to see if I could do it. I’m completely insane and feel the need for a challenge, ya know?

    Reply

  10. #
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    Kim C. — September 28, 2011 @ 12:57 pm

    These look AMAZINGLY DELICIOUS!!!…especially the Pumpkin Spice Croissants.

    I remember making these in Pastry School and even though they were A LOT of work, it was completely worth every second. I actually enjoyed making them because of all the pounding and beating that we had to do with the rolling pin to make the butter package and then after each fold and turn of the dough. The more folds and turns equals more flaky layers.

    We only made the plain and the Pain au Chocolat. I think your idea for the Pumpkin Spice Croissants is Brilliant!!! You did a terrific job making these and I have told you once before that I think you would make a Phenomenal Pastry Chef because you definitely think like one. :D

    Reply

  11. #
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    Darci — September 28, 2011 @ 12:59 pm

    I make croissants from Artisan Breads Every Day and they seem a bit less tie consuming than yours. Check it out. http://www.amazon.com/Peter-Reinharts-Artisan-Breads-Every/dp/1580089984

    Reply

  12. #
    112
    lisa — September 28, 2011 @ 1:01 pm

    Wow!

    Reply

  13. #
    113
    Ladiz — September 28, 2011 @ 1:17 pm

    Wow!! I gotta get going on those hahaha. They look so good!!! You are a natural!!! :D

    Reply

  14. #
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    prathiba — September 28, 2011 @ 1:17 pm

    omg. these look beautiful!!! So very impressive. Also, that bakery in Its Complicated is so dreamy. Love it.

    Reply

  15. #
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    Miriam — September 28, 2011 @ 1:26 pm

    I have to try these!! The chocolate ones look AMAZING!!

    Reply

  16. #
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    Lori @ RecipeGirl — September 28, 2011 @ 1:37 pm

    I’d say this post qualifies for a week’s worth of posts, lol! They look super yummy!

    Reply

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    Elina (Healthy and Sane) — September 28, 2011 @ 1:37 pm

    This reminds me of the time I made bagels. I seriously feel like I gave birth by the end (although I’ve never actually given birth and I’m pretty sure it’s not even close…but whatever, it took forever and I was definitely over it by the end). :)
    Croissants are on my 30-by-30 list. I really need to get on it. Thanks for the warning. I’ll need to make sure to invite lots of peeps over for brunch the next day or something. So they can gush about how amazing I am ;)

    Reply

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    Katie — September 28, 2011 @ 1:38 pm

    I had no idea that croissants were such a labor of love! Really, no idea. I need to hire a babysitter because I want to spend all day in the kitchen throwing flour and dough everywhere and making these masterpieces.

    Reply

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    Kierston — September 28, 2011 @ 2:17 pm

    I’ve made croissants before so I know exactly what you are talking about! I find it only worth the trouble if you are having someone over for brunch…croissants, yogurt and berries, and belinis- makes it all worth it :)

    Reply

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    Jen @ keepitsimplefoods — September 28, 2011 @ 2:17 pm

    Great job! They look delish!

    Reply

  21. #
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    Nicki — September 28, 2011 @ 2:18 pm

    I can’t believe how much time that took. I can’t stand those croissants out of a can, so I would love to attempt making them, but it seems pretty overwhelming!

    Reply

  22. #
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    Terri A. — September 28, 2011 @ 2:19 pm

    Those butter flakes are definitely supposed to be there – they melt in the oven and create the air pockets and make them flakey. Yum! Also, a trick, instead of using the tape measure, roll it out to 1 length of the rolling pin by 1/2 width of the rolling pin. They look so yummy and I love your idea for the fillings.

    Reply

    • Jessica — September 28th, 2011 @ 2:56 pm

      Thanks for the tips Terri!

      Reply

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    Matt — September 28, 2011 @ 2:23 pm

    Nice writeup – enjoyed reading it – nicely done I think.

    Reply

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    samantha — September 28, 2011 @ 2:31 pm

    Wow no way jose. I disliked that in culinary school with the big industrial roller, I don’t think I would attempt it at home. My hat off to you! lol They look amazing though! Awesome job!

    Reply

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    Kenni — September 28, 2011 @ 2:48 pm

    I made puff pastry from scratch in culinary school. We had to roll it out by hand and after each turn we stuck them in the freezer to speed up the process a little since we didn’t have that much time. I swore I would never make my own puff pastry again after that.

    Reply

    • Jessica — September 28th, 2011 @ 2:55 pm

      I didn’t even think of sticking it in the freezer… if I ever do this again I’m definitely doing that!

      Reply

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    Ciara — September 28, 2011 @ 3:12 pm

    At the risk of looking like an idiot, I am going to ask this anyway…why cut a vertical slit in the straight edge?

    Reply

    • Jessica — September 28th, 2011 @ 3:23 pm

      It helps when you roll up the croissant to “pull” the ends out to opposite sides and get that croissant look. Not a dumb question. :)

      Reply

      • Ciara — September 28th, 2011 @ 9:03 pm

        Now I know! Thanks! :)

  27. #
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    Kathy — September 28, 2011 @ 3:13 pm

    Thank you for sharing this. They look amazing and I will never, ever attempt to make them. Firstly, because you can buy them in a tube that you can open by smacking the tube on the edge of your table and who doesn’t love doing that?? Then you can fill each croissant with Chipits and ….voila! You’re done.
    And secondly, if I can’t make it look as effortless as Merle Streep does in It’s Complicated, I don’t wanna.
    LOVE that movie.

    Reply

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    janetha — September 28, 2011 @ 3:45 pm

    two things:

    1. i am seriously SO IMPRESSED that you made these. seriously.
    2. i will never make croissants.

    love you!

    Reply

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    Marcella @ Sweet Marcella — September 28, 2011 @ 3:56 pm

    The minute I read the title I thought of It’s Complicated. Love love love that movie and I’ve wanted to make chocolate croissants since the first time I saw it! Maybe I will now!

    Reply

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    sweetmaddy — September 28, 2011 @ 4:04 pm

    Congrats! I just made croissants for the second time a few weeks ago in honor of my move to France, where I am now. I still haven’t posted about it on my blog yet, but maybe you can check back in a few weeks to see my recipe. Yours look beautiful!

    Reply

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    Lynne @ 365 Days of Baking — September 28, 2011 @ 4:11 pm

    Jessica, my dear, you’ve outdone yourself both with the croissants and the fact you had me literally LOLing AGAIN at that dirty tape measure comment and driving over to your parents just to have one. Too freakin hysterical, girl!
    They look AMAZING and I ‘ve been dying to try them or rather make them, but if they’re that involved maybe I’ll just wait for you to make them again and live vicariously through you as I do now anyway. ;-)

    Reply

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    Jean — September 28, 2011 @ 4:15 pm

    OMG I love It’s Complicated too!!!!!!! Especially that part when they are baking!! I love reading your blogs – you are fun and just what I need during a very long work day!! I NEVER realized the process of croissants until now…..thanks for sharing – they turned out great! I wish I had the time/patience – maybe in retirement!!

    Reply

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    Miriam @ Overtime Cook — September 28, 2011 @ 4:26 pm

    Puff pastry and croissants terrify the living daylights out of me, but I’m still dying to try making them. Especially after reading this post…they look amazing!!

    -Miriam

    Reply

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    toya — September 28, 2011 @ 4:28 pm

    Wow Jessica! You Rock! I’m too intimidated to try this, but the pumpkin spice cream is calling my name. If you hear a scream from Californina it’s just me trapped in the dough :O)

    Reply

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    Lynette — September 28, 2011 @ 4:35 pm

    so i read your blog religiously – but rarely have time to comment. but i HAD to commend you for successfully making croissants! i’ve attempted. and in the process literally had flames shooting out of my oven…melty dripping butter burning on bottom…you get the picture…so while mine looked awesome and were SUPER flaky they tasted smoked. and last time i checked smokey buttery goodness is not what the average joe wants in their croissant. if you know someone that likes that kind of thing let me know – i’ve got it down.

    Reply

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    Eleni — September 28, 2011 @ 4:46 pm

    These look amazing! Btw, i got a little teary eyed reading this post – croissants make me think of my grandma too. Every Sat. I would bring over fresh baked croissants from a local bakery and we would devour them with our coffee while chit chatting about random stuff. Neither one of us should’ve been eating croissants but it was our little secret. :-)

    Reply

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    Elaine — September 28, 2011 @ 4:51 pm

    wow, those look amazing! i love plain ol’ croissants, but i remember the first time i tried one with chocolate inside. i was in love all over again.
    the thought of making these myself, is already testing my patience! don’t know if i could do it…

    Reply

  38. #
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    Sara Pompeo — September 28, 2011 @ 5:01 pm

    I’ve been waiting for this post since you first mentioned your attempt. Congratulations! They look absolutely wonderful! The thought of attempting this stresses me out to no end, not only all of the time involved, but the fact that for me, yeast = disaster.
    Your wine filled weekend was very well-deserved after making homemade crossaints.

    Reply

  39. #
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    Kristen @ notsodomesticated — September 28, 2011 @ 5:13 pm

    They look amazing. But I can honestly say that I will NEVER attempt this one at home! ;)

    My mom told me that she once made croissants for my dad before I was born. After that one experience, she came to the conclusion that some things are just meant to be bought in a store. ;)

    Reply

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    Alexis @ Eat.Write.Love. — September 28, 2011 @ 5:30 pm

    I think I’m going to have to sacrifice a Saturday morning to make these! I love the pumpkin one! Perfect for fall!

    Reply

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    Amy Rene — September 28, 2011 @ 5:35 pm

    Oh my, so amazing!

    Reply

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    Laura (Blogging Over Thyme) — September 28, 2011 @ 6:32 pm

    OH MY GOD–I must make homemade croissants one of these days! I might have to wait until I don’t have an apartment sized kitchen, because sometimes even just making simple things become so hard in the space. Yes, I think for my sanity, I should wait.

    Awesome job! You are probably the first one to ever make a pumpkin spice croissant. Never seen one before in my life!

    Reply

  43. #
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    Laura — September 28, 2011 @ 6:56 pm

    Wow!! totally impressed!! I would never have that kind of patience to make these…but they look amazing (like they’re straight from a french bakery!!).

    Reply

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    Emily — September 28, 2011 @ 7:06 pm

    Amazing!
    I wish I had your patience. :)

    Reply

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    Shea — September 28, 2011 @ 7:24 pm

    Those look fabulous! Flaky, buttery, and delicious. I am so not a bread person (do croissants count as bread?) but these I would scarf down in a second. I am storing this away for one of those “rainy day” time fillers.

    Reply

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    Allison — September 28, 2011 @ 8:51 pm

    I assume you mean that you could NOT care less about plating

    Reply

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    Cookbook Queen — September 28, 2011 @ 9:09 pm

    Man these are a lot of work but darn it they look FABULOUS!! I’m thinking we should have the kind of friendship where you make croissants and I eat them. It works, yes?

    Also…I loooove It’s Complicated. John Krazinsky is a doll and I adore Meryl’s bakery.

    I’m also obsessed with Because I Said So. Mandy Moore. Polka Dot dress. LOVE.

    Reply

  48. #
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    Ashley — September 28, 2011 @ 9:24 pm

    I give you so much credit — I couldn’t even READ all of the instructions, let alone follow them. But those look amazing.

    Reply

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    Shari @ The Daily Dish — September 28, 2011 @ 9:30 pm

    You make it look easy! Yum!

    Reply

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    Taylor — September 28, 2011 @ 9:48 pm

    I always thought that there were eggs IN the dough! Now that I know that there aren’t any…I’M GOING TO MAKE VEGAN CROISSANTS!!! OH MY GOODNESS, YOU HAVE MADE MY DAY! Earth balance butter and soy creamer, here I come!

    Reply

    • Jessica — September 28th, 2011 @ 11:46 pm

      I think some recipes do call for eggs, but luckily this one does not! :)

      Reply

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