I started making croissants over the past few years. I absolutely love them, as does my husband. They can be very time consuming and a lot of recipes I've found make them very intimidating. This recipe is based off of the recipe from Sarabeth's Bakery in New York and can be found at Leites Culinaria . The recipe is fantastic as is, though I've been experimenting with whole wheat and vegan ways of making it (I am not vegan, but my husband is).
Step 1: Ingredients
-2 3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
-1/4 cup granulated sugar
-1 1/4 cups whole milk
-1 3/4 cups bread flour (will use more for rolling out)
-1 1/4 cups pastry or unbleached cake flour
-1 teaspoon sea salt
-2 sticks of butter
-2 or 3 tablespoons of flour
Egg Wash (1 egg white mixed with a little water, gives the crust a nice shine)
1/8 tsp Vital Wheat Gluten
I've made "vegan" and semi-whole wheat versions of this recipe.
To make it vegan, simple replace the butter with your favorite vegan butter. I've used Earth Balance for my husband, and he said they were good. Also replace the milk with your favorite milk substitute. I have made this recipe using Califia Farms almond milk, also to good reviews from my husband. I also omit the egg wash, but you could probably get the same or similar results from a vegan butter wash or some type of egg replacer.
To make it semi-whole wheat, replace the bread flour with whole wheat bread flour and add 1/8 tsp of Vital Wheat Gluten (VWG makes wheat dough easier to work with). Add the VWG to the dry flours when you mix them together.
I have also left the bread flour as is and replaced the cake flour with whole wheat pastry flour.
I'm still experimenting with whole wheat versions, but so far it's going well.
Step 2: The Dough
Sprinkle your yeast over 1/4 of warmed milk and let sit for approximately 2-4 minutes or until it starts foaming. Once the yeast softens, whip it until dissolved.
In your stand mixer or regular bowl, add the yeast and then mix in the sugar. Once the sugar is dissolved add the remaining cup of milk and mix.
In a smaller bowl, add your flours, salt, and Vital Wheat Gluten (if you are using wheat flours). Stir up and then add 2 cups of your flour mixture to the bowl with your milk and yeast. Stir/mix up until everything is combined, add flour as needed to get a soft but sticky dough.
When your dough is mixed, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times. Shape the dough into a ball and either add a 1" X on the top or don't and put in the fridge for 15-20 minutes.
Step 3: The Buttery Inside
In a bowl, I usually use the same one I made the dough in because it creates less dishes, add your 2 sticks of butter and 2-3 tablespoons of flour.
Some recipes say to make sure the butter is very cold and to cut it into 1" slices. I usually let it warm up a bit and then throw it in and mix it with either a spoon, fork, or if you have one, a stand mixer.
When the butter and flour is all mixed up (usually better mixed than the job I did here) you want to put it on a piece of plastic wrap, mold the butter into a square-ish shape and stick it in the fridge for 15-20 minutes. This is done so the butter filling and the dough are the same the same temperature when you start working with them together.
Step 4: Putting it together...
After your dough and butter square have been in the fridge for a bit, pull them out and unwrap.
First, on a lightly floured surface, begin rolling each side of your square out. You want it to be big enough for the butter square to sit on. Once you've pressed out your sides, place the butter square in the center and begin wrapping each side/flap around it until it is covered. Use your rolling pin to tap it gently.
Next, flip the dough over and begin rolling it out. I use a French rolling pin, works pretty great. You want to end up with a long rectangular shape (like 9x17 says the original recipe). Once you have this, then you start folding. Take one end and fold it halfway to the middle of your dough, then fold the other end on top. This gives you an "envelope" and is what creates the flaky layers of the croissant. If your dough is still cool, go ahead and roll it out again. Once you have a long rectangular shape, take one end and fold it half way, then take the other end and fold on top. Then stick in the fridge for 15-20 minutes.
Step 5: More Folds
After the fridge, you can go ahead and repeat the above steps for 2-3 more turns. All of the turns and folds create the flaky layers of your croissant.
Roll your dough out one final time, as in picture #3 and then using a knife, pastry blade, or a pizza cutter (which is what I used) slice your dough in half, vertically.
You can either wrap up each half and freeze, or you can freeze one half and use the other to work with immediately. Typically I follow the original instructions and freeze the dough for a minimum of 24 hours, then thaw before using. The dough will stay good in the freezer for a couple of days.
What I did with this batch, because I wanted to make my husband croissants right away, was to freeze one half for like 20 minutes before I began working with it.
Step 6: Shaping
Take your thawed dough and roll it out into a long rectangle again. Using something sharp, I used a pizza cutter, I began making diagonal cuts into the dough to make my triangular shapes.
When you have your shapes cut out, you can see all the layers you've made as in pictures #6 & 7.
Next, take one of your triangles and gently roll it out. With softer dough you can use your hands to stretch out the piece. Then take the wide end of your triangle in your hands and flip the bottom point around until the croissant is rolled up. Repeat this until all of your croissants are shaped. I even do this with the ends that aren't quite triangular, but are still tasty.
Here are some short clips for different croissant shaping methods
Step 7: Proofing
After all of your croissants are shaped, you either want to stick your baking trap in a proof box or wrap it tightly with plastic wrap (I've also heard plastic bags work too). Before sealing the plastic, place a cup with boiling hot water in the center and seal quickly. This helps the dough rise. I usually cover it with a towel and then leave it for 60-90 minutes or until the croissants have doubled in size.
Step 8: Baking
Towards the end of your proofing time, preheat your oven to 375. When your croissants are done rising, remove the plastic wrap and add the egg (or butter etc.) wash. Stick the tray in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 350 and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until the croissants are a nice golden brown.
Once they are done cooking, you can either wait til they cool off or dive right in! I'm a fan of croissants with Nutella.