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

  1. #
    201
    Eleonora — October 28, 2011 @ 4:05 pm

    Yay! I just made them, it was easier than I thought! Just one question: before cutting the triangles, you say “roll out to a very long and skinny rectangle, about 20 x 32″ but your pictures don’t look 20×32, and I had to keep the short end of the rectangler smaller than 20″. Is that a typo, or should I be able to roll it out to those dimensions? Thanks for explaining everything so clearly!

    Reply

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    Kelly @ Free Spirit Food — November 17, 2011 @ 3:58 pm

    Wow, I’m not sure how I missed this before but you have seriously inspired me. I love crossiants but always assumed they were too hard to make. I’ve been sticking to the frozen chocolate ones at Trader Joe’s. I can’t wait to try this weekend!

    Reply

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    paulina — December 18, 2011 @ 11:24 am

    I was thinking of making these for Christmas morning, what would you recommend? I was thinking of doing everything but forming and baking on Christmas morning. Thanks!!

    Reply

    • Jessica — December 19th, 2011 @ 8:03 am

      I think you can probably do that, however I haven’t done anything except make + bake the same day so I can’t be positive.

      Reply

    • carol lopes — December 19th, 2011 @ 9:58 pm

      Paulina I will also make these Christmas morning. Do everything on Christmas eve day.Shape into triangles, cover with plastic wrap and put them in the fridge. In the morninr take them out of the fridge, put them on your baking sheet and bring them to room temperture.(about a hour) Bake as directed. Between folds I bake cookies!!! Happy holidays

      Reply

      • paulina — December 20th, 2011 @ 8:18 am

        Thank you so much for your help!!

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    Jess — December 28, 2011 @ 1:46 am

    I made these for Christmas morning (popular choice I notice :) and they came out wonderfully! I tried stuffing half of mine with chocolate and the other half with a nice munster – which came out phenomenally. Croissants fresh from the oven with hot gooey cheese? Yeah I ate four of those suckers….Thanks for the great recipe!

    Reply

    • Esmer — November 11th, 2012 @ 11:03 am

      How did you do it? Did you shape them on Christmas morning or shape them the night before? I was thinking of shaping them the night before and allowing them to rise in the fridge overnight.

      Reply

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    amy — January 1, 2012 @ 8:57 am

    Hey Jess… they are formed and rising and it is going to be a long hour to wait before cooking them! I did have the same question as someone else…. Are you really supposed to roll them to 20×32? My dough started splitting and butter was coming through and making it stick to the counter.

    Reply

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    amy — January 1, 2012 @ 10:39 am

    I also only got 14 croissants

    Reply

    • amy — January 3rd, 2012 @ 8:32 pm

      Next time I am thinking of rolling them out 20×32 and then cutting them length wise down the middle to make 2 long rectangles… I think that would look much more like the picture in the blog?

      Reply

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    Krista — January 18, 2012 @ 3:42 pm

    Any thoughts on how theses would hold up in the freezer? I was thinking about either freezing them after they were baked or after they rise in step 5 but before they are baked.

    Reply

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    Susie — January 25, 2012 @ 4:39 pm

    i have tried several croissant recipes. I am looking for one that is not just flaky on the outside but has a lot of soft bread in the middle. Do these turn out like that? Thank-you.

    Reply

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    Susie — January 25, 2012 @ 4:41 pm

    Oh, and I forgot to ask: I am at a high altitude (7000 ft.). It seems to take a really long time for them to rise. I am always tempted to find too warm of a rising place and some have leaked out butter. Any suggestions?

    Reply

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    Jade — April 8, 2012 @ 2:25 pm

    I agree, these were a project. Easter brunch and well received. I need to work on the math for that final rolla nd cut and roll, I’m sure that mine would be prettier if I’d actually thought about it BEFORE hacking into the rectangle with a pizza cutter…

    Reply

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    Ashley/Happy Penguin Press — April 30, 2012 @ 12:18 pm

    These turned out great! For those having trouble with butter seepage, try letting them rise somewhere a little cooler. My first batch rose near the oven and seeped, while the others rose away from the oven, and though they took longer to rise, did not seep at all. Thanks for the recipe!

    Reply

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    CJ — June 21, 2012 @ 11:07 am

    In the midst of making these, however wanted to share a tip. I read across several recipe methods before beginning (but super glad to have found your recipe as the pictures are fabulous assistance and you use Active vs. Instant yeast, which is what I have). However, one of the methods sliced the butter lengthwise “into 1/2″ in pieces” first. I sliced mine in 1/3rds length wise and arranged in a rectangle roughly the size you called for. Then only had to pound and roll a bit to get the 8X5 shape.

    Now it’s almost time to start the laminating. Onward!!
    Thanks a bunch for the article.
    CJ

    Reply

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    CJ — June 22, 2012 @ 9:54 am

    Made the croissants in one day, yesterday! They were glorious. I still can’t quite believe I made them.
    I think I’m making more today. I’m now obsessed.
    CJ

    Reply

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    Authentic BJJ — September 7, 2012 @ 10:58 am

    Mmmm, croissants. Now I just need some yummy hot choccy to dip it in!

    Reply

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    katyweddle — October 10, 2012 @ 3:54 am

    looks delicious

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    ATasteOfMadness — November 10, 2012 @ 6:45 pm

    This looks fantastic! I made croissants once, and I lost my mind on the 2nd day. But they were definitely worth it. They were just the plain croissants: I think I want to make chocolate ones next, great recipe!

    Reply

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    Chris Sorensen — November 10, 2012 @ 8:58 pm

    Not doing it too wrong, the fold that is. It’s called a “book fold”. It’s fold the top down then the bottom up. Then you fold left to right, then right to left. But it isn’t totally necessary. Mainly what you are going for is a layer of starch and fat folded in so it flakes better. And the reason to go up/down and left/right is because as dough the glucose forms “chains”, that way they Cris-cross.
    Beyond that, I want to try your recipe. Those look yummy..

    Reply

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    Danielle — November 12, 2012 @ 12:18 am

    I have only one more loving fold to do and then I’m letting them sleep overnight. They’ll need their rest because tomorrow morning, they will be devoured.

    Can’t wait to try flavours……and Christmas morning is a sound plan!

    Reply

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    Abdul — November 27, 2012 @ 11:24 am

    These look fantastic! What an awesome idea I can’t wait to try this!

    Reply

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    Ally — December 9, 2012 @ 9:51 pm

    I would recommend using this recipe, with some of the tricks from this site…
    http://www.mamaliga.com/desserts/croissants-a-la-julia-child as it would help you perfect the art of croissant making with the advice it gives. :) It looks like a very tasty recipe however and I’ve tried two different ones so far. I suspect this one may be next. :D

    Reply

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    Ally — December 9, 2012 @ 9:52 pm

    I also forgot to add that if you shape the rolls, then do your final rise and egg wash them you can then put them directly into the freezer and bake straight from the freezer as soon as you’re ready for them. It works perfectly and then you have no waiting when you are ready for them.

    Reply

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    theultimatefoodaddict — January 2, 2013 @ 1:33 am

    this looks so good! i’m drooling right now. waaah. i hope i can make this too!

    Reply

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    AliYuccaValley — February 14, 2013 @ 2:34 pm

    I just made croissants at 3200 above sea level. I found your website because Susie (on Jan 25, 2012) said she is at high altitude (7000 ft). I found some enlightenment regarding rising time being faster the higher in altitude you are and that Croissants in particular should not over-rise. Susie may have had a cold room or oven below 70 degrees, or didn’t put a 1″ deep tray of hot steaming water in the oven. While cutting and rolling up the croissants (spacing them 2 inches apart) on trays, heat the oven to its lowest temp and turn it off, then put a steaming pan of water in the bottom to add humidity, before putting the croissants in to rise. It should take about 45 minutes to 1.5 hours to rise. Take the water pan and the croissants out of the oven and pre-heat it to 425 degrees. Once at 425 turn the oven down to 400, spray the oven with a water spritzer, pop the trays in and mist with water again. After 10 minutes, turn the trays around to brown evenly and turn the oven down to 350 to bake for another 8-10 minutes (or until deep golden brown). The higher the altitude the shorter the rise time, need for 1 Tbls. flour, NOT more water in the dough for croissants, but humid rise, spritzing oven before and after trays are put in, and the higher the altitude the shorter the bake time.

    Esther McManus has a video that shows how much easier the butter step can be: http://video.pbs.org/video/2250835454/ Butter, should be cut in 1/2 inch cubes while cool and sprinkled with 1-2 Tbls. flour, blended with a mixer and wrapped in plastic and refridgerated just like the dough for 2 hours, before putting the dough and butter together – because it is easier to roll them out when they are both exactly the same temperature. This step is much easier than the butter bashing that we see in most croissant recipes and you will not have lumpy chunks of butter like in your pics (I made a lumpy batch and found this advice to remedy my lumpy-butter problem).

    I hope these two additions to your Croissant comments help my fellow bakers, both at sea-level and high altitudes.

    Reply

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    brittany k — June 25, 2013 @ 7:35 pm

    I’m in the process of making these now, one more fold left to do then I’m refrigerating them overnight! About rolling them into the 20×34 rectangle…do you cut it widthwise into like 12 pieces then cut those pieces diagonally to make triangles? I was just a tad confused on that. Thanks!

    Reply

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    Annie — November 25, 2013 @ 8:23 am

    I made these for my family Thanksgiving get together this weekend…they were so awesome! Everything I was hoping for and WAY more than anyone expected :) Thanks for the recipe, I will definitely be keeping it!

    Reply

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    Leah — December 18, 2013 @ 6:40 am

    Hi there, I have followed this recipe twice and the croissants came out looking decent but the insides smelled a tad “yeasty” and were more bread-like than light and flaky. I followed the instructions exactly, the only thing I did different was by using Instant yeast as that is the only kind I have on hand. Could that be the problem to my “bread-y” croissants? Would love to have some of your insights! Thank you :)

    Reply

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    Rosemarie Malin — February 12, 2014 @ 11:36 pm

    When my husband & I were in the South Pacific (a French territory) I fell in love with Croissants. This is the first recipe I have found. You are very brave, and if I ever get as brave as you, I’ll be make these.

    Reply

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    Chels — September 9, 2014 @ 2:46 pm

    oh.my.agony. these were amurrzing!! :)
    question: Freezing! i would love to make a couple batches of the dough to pop out of the freezer and into the oven… any tips? can i roll and freeze the dough? or do i have to bake them all up and freeze them after they re cooled? anny tips would be greatly appreciated:) thanks for the great recipe jesss!!

    Reply

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    Snafooo — November 6, 2014 @ 11:26 am

    I love to make croissants! It’s amazing how therapeutic making them is. It starts out slowly… making the dough. Just mixing it together, knowing what else is about to happen leaves me impatient to get my hands on it. Finally, I get to knead it, but I have to contain myself and not overdo it too much. I put it aside to rest and now I get to do the best part!!! I pull out my VERY COLD sticks of butter, stick them in a plastic produce bag, and begin to pound the heck out of them! I imagine all of life’s little annoyances; the stoplights, the idiot who saw me with my blinker on waiting for that parking space, but he took it anyway, the mail that didn’t get delivered until 6:30 pm the other day, my cat who has decided that I am his personal door opener and wants to go in, no – out, no – in, no – out fifty times a day… I think of all these things as I’m pounding the snot out of that butter and I can feel all the aggravations melting away. Just doing that makes all the other worth it. I then can roll out the dough, fold in the butter, and every time I make my final fold, I can give the dough a little love slap, just like it’s my lover’s butt. And after I’ve made them, I take them to my neighbors because who the heck can eat that many? And my neighbors love me for it. Yeah. I love to make croissants.

    Reply

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