French Croissants
Inspired by Esther McManus’ appearance on Julia Child’s “Baking with Julia”.
Servings Prep Time
24croissants 1hour
Cook Time Passive Time
20minutes 16hours
Servings Prep Time
24croissants 1hour
Cook Time Passive Time
20minutes 16hours
Ingredients
Pastry Dough Ball
Butter Ball
Additional
Instructions
Pastry Dough
  1. In a mixer with dough attachment, mix at a low speed 3 3/4 cups flour, the yeast, salt, sugar and 1 cup whole milk (reserve 1/2 if needed – dough is too dry). Mix until the bowl looks clean and all of the flour is incorporated. If the dough is too dry, you may add a little of milk at a time.
  2. Once the pastry dough is in a ball, remove from the mixer, wrap in plastic wrap and then place in a plastic bag. First, set it aside on the counter to rest for 30 minutes, and then place in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight. I have left it in for 12-14 hours and that is just find. This part of the recipe should be done at least a day before you want the croissants.
  3. While the pastry dough is resting on the counter, take the one pound of chilled butter, cut into large, rough pieces and place into the mixing bow with the mixer paddle (the traditional paddle) attachment. Add the two tablespoons of flour to soak up any extra water that is in the butter. Whip at a high speed until incorporated, but not creaming. It should still feel cool to the touch. Remove from the mixter, roll into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator along with the pastry dough – overnight or at least 8 hours.
Combining the pastry dough and the butter.
  1. Roll out the pastry dough on a floured surface to approximately 18 inches in length and 10 inches in width. Place the butter ball into the middle and fold length-wise, the dough over the butter ball. You will have two layers of dough on top of the butter – a tri-fold.
  2. Place the butter ball into the middle and fold length-wise, the dough over the butter ball. You will have two layers of dough on top of the butter – a tri-fold.
  3. Take out a sturdy rolling pin, and beat the dough to flatten the butter ball equally into both sides of the dough. When the butter ball is flattened, roll the dough a bit more to make sure the butter reaches near the end of the dough edges.
  4. Place the dough (with the butter now incorporated) onto parchment paper on a sheet pan, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for two hours.
  5. Remove from the refrigerator and roll out the dough to a large rectangle – approximately 24 inches by 18 inches. Then fold into thirds – one third on top of the other – similar to a letter folded so that it can fit in a business envelope. Place back onto the parchment which is on the sheet pan, wrap with plastic wrap and set aside for one hour.
  6. After one hour, roll out the dough again (floured surface), fold the tri-fold again. Wrap again as before, and set aside again for 1 hour.
  7. After the hour has passed, roll out the dough again and this time make a double fold: four layers. Find the center like and fold both edges to that center line and then fold one side on top of the other. Place the dough on the parchment, cover with plastic wrap and set aside for one hour.
  8. Now to make the croissants! Cut the dough into half (you don’t have to, but it makes it easier to roll out).
  9. On a floured, preferrably cool surface, roll out the dough – 24 x 20 inches approximately. Fold in half length-wise. Using a pizza cutter or knife, cut triangles. Open up the fold and separate the necessary triangles that are attached.
  10. Take each triangle, one at a time, and holding with all fingers the top of the triangle with a firm grip, slide your fingers from the middle to the end to stretch the dough. Be gentle, but firm. The triangle should double in length.
  11. Place the triangle on the flat surface, place a small ball of extra dough at the top of the triangle to add bulk, then begin to roll the triangle to create the crescent. Finish rolling and create an arch with the narrowest point facing you and rolled down inside the crescent. Complete this for each of the traditional croissants. (If you would like to add any preferred filling, instead of the extra dough mentioned above, you can place the almond filling, etc. there.)
  12. For Pain au Chocolat, take the second half of the dough and instead of triangles, make rectangles. Place the doculate – about 2 ounces on the end where you will begin rolling. Roll up to the end and keep the end underneath, to rest on the bottom of the croissant.
  13. Note: If you will be freezing some or all of the croissants, now is when you would place them into a freezer bag: After roll ping the croissants, before proofing them, I place them in a freezer bag, separating each (so they don’t stick together) with parchment.
  14. For the croissants you will be baking: If you have a proofing oven, you will use this now. If you do not have a proofing oven (I do not), while you are rolling the croissants, heat up the oven as you would to bake (350 degrees). As soon as it reaches the temperature, turn off the stove. Place a bowl of boiling water into the oven. Place the croissants on a baking sheet lined with parchment, wash each croissant with egg wash. Place in the oven (the oven is off, but warm) for three hours.
  15. Remove from the oven, wash again with egg wash. Preheat the oven to 350 and then bake for 20 minutes.
  16. Eating them warm out of the oven is a true luxury. Bon appétit!