A couple of weeks ago, when Vera and I were planning the brunch menu, the last thing I needed was a baking challenge. The menu was already ambitious and required two full days of proofing dough and baking, but I just couldn’t resist… Flaky, buttery croissants that crackle as you bite into them… Even more butter on top with homemade plum jam… Chocolate dripping from half of the batch… you see where I’m going with this? Once I start dreaming of a baked good, there’s no turning back.
As luck would have it, on one of those nights filled with croissant dreams, I came across Jacques Torres’ cooking show. He was baking croissants! It was then that I seriously started thinking this was a sign from the universe. The universe was clearly telling me to start beating that pound of butter right away. Plus, Jacques made it look as easy and effortless as baking a batch of cookies. So I stopped worrying and started reading the croissant recipe from Dorie Greenspan‘s award-winning book “Baking with Julia”.
You can see the result above. Considering this was my first time, don’t they look great? What can I say – I’ve learned from the best.
Needless to say, I owe much of the success to Dorie’s clear instructions. No one tells it as good as Dorie. With a teacher like her holding your hand, every first trial is a hit. So were these croissants.
The first step of the recipe constitutes preparing the butter and the dough the night before. And that is the easiest part. You just beat a pound of butter with 2 tablespoons of flour and wrap it in plastic. Done! Then the dough comes together. Wrap it up and put them into sleep. Sounds easy, but I came across the first hurdle after beating a pound of butter at the highest speed of my KitchenAid mixer. The bowl got stuck.
Talk about signs from the universe… How I wished Dorie was there helping me release the bowl as well. But I guess I shouldn’t be that demanding. And she was busy decorating her new kitchen anyways…
After a few blows with the hammer (at 2 AM I must add), the bowl was back in the game. A quick wash, and then the dough came together in 10 minutes flat.
Everything was packed and ready, but I was left with so many questions. Why not just use an already chilled pound of butter? Why cut into cubes and beat with two tbsp of flour?
I got the answers after I watched the videos of the original show “Julia Child: Lessons with Master Chefs” with Esther McManus and Julia Child. It turns out, the flour added to the butter absorbs some of the water and cutting it into cubes helps the paddle work faster and this way the butter stays chilled even after beating.
If you’re planning to take on the croissant challenge, I recommend that you first read the recipe from start to finish and then watch these videos before you start beating that butter.
Here’s the dough after its first turn the next day:
And here it is after the last turn, also known as “the wallet”. The dough cracked a little, but Dorie says not to worry.
And here they are shaped and ready to rise:
It goes without saying that the result was well worth the time and energy I’ve put into this challenge. The croissants were so tender and flaky.
I had a bit of difficulty rolling the dough after the second turn. Wish I watched the videos beforehand. Esther advises not to force the dough if it’s being a little stubborn. Me? I fought with it.
So, another dream realized. I wonder what’s next…
Recipe from “Baking with Julia: Savor the Joys of Baking with America’s Best Bakers”
For 20-24 croissants
For the dough:
- 1 ounce compressed fresh yeast
- 3 3/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 cup milk
For the butter:
- 4 1/2 sticks (1 pound 2 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 2 tbsp unbleached all purpose flour
For the egg wash:
- 1 large egg beaten with 1 tbsp cold water
Preparing the dough:
Put the yeast, flour sugar, salt and 1 cup of milk into the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook. With the machine on its lowest speed, mix for 1 to 2 minutes, until a soft, moist dough forms on the hook. If the dough is to dry, add more milk, 1 tablespoon at a time. In most cases if the dough does need more liquid, it won’t need more than about 3 tablespoons, but check carefully as you want all the flour to be moistened. Stop the mixer and look into the bowl. If the hook has not picked up all the flour from the bottom of the bowl, add a few more drops of milk.
Set the mixer to its highest speed and work the dough until it is smooth and elastic, no longer sticky and close to the consistency of soft butter, about 4 minutes. To make certain that all the ingredients are perfectly blended you can remove the dough from the mixer after 3 minutes, and then with the mixer on high speed, return plum size pieces to the bowl. The pieces will remain separate for a short while, then come together, at which time the dough is ready.
Remove the dough from the mixer, wrap it in plastic and put it in a plastic bag, leaving a little room for expansion. Keep the dough at room temperature for 30 minutes to give the gluten time to relax; then refrigerate the dough for 8 hours or overnight.
Preparing the butter:
Attach the paddle to your mixer and beat the butter and flour on the highest speed until smooth and the same consistency as the croissant dough, about 2 minutes. Reach into the bowl and poke around in the butter to make sure that its evenly blended – if you find any lumps, just squeeze them between your fingers. Scrape the butter onto a large piece of plastic wrap and give it a few slaps to knock the air out of it. Mold it into an oval 5 to 6 inches long and 1 inch thick. Wrap it tightly and refrigerate until needed. At this point the dough and the butter can be frozen; defrost overnight in the refrigerator before proceeding with the recipe.
Incorporating the butter:
Place the croissant dough on a generously floured large work surface (marble is ideal) and sprinkle the top of the dough lightly with flour. Using a long rolling pin, roll the dough into an oval approximately 10 inches wide and 17 inches long. Brush the excess flour from the dough. Center the oval of chilled butter across the oval of dough and fold the top and bottom of the dough over the butter to make a tidy package. Gently and evenly stretch the folded layers of dough out to the sides and press the edges down firmly with your fingertips to create a neatly sealed rectangle.
If you own a French rolling pin (one without handles) now is the time to use it. Hold one side of the dough steady with your hand and strike the other side gently but firmly with the rolling pin to distribute the butter evenly. As you hit the dough you will see the butter moving out into the crevices. Strike the other side of the dough the same way. After pounding you should have a 1 inch thick rectangle about about 14 inches long and 6 inches wide.
Keeping the work surface and the top of the dough well floured, roll out the dough. If this your first time working with croissant dough, you may want to roll out the dough just a little to distribute the butter, put it on a baking sheet lined with flour-dusted parchment paper, cover it with plastic and chill it for 1 to 2 hours first; this way you wont risk having the dough go soft or the butter seep out. (Each time you wrap the dough, make sure its well covered – even a little air will cause the dough to form an unwanted skin.) If you are experienced, feeling courageous or have dough that is still well chilled, go on to make your first turn.
Rolling and folding:
Roll the dough into a rectangle 24 to 26 inches long and about 14 inches wide, with the long side facing you. (You may feel as though your rolling the dough sideways-and you are.) Brush off the excess flour and, working from the left and right sides, fold the dough inward into thirds, as you would a brochure, so that you have a package thats about 8 inches wide by 14 inches long.
Carefully transfer the dough to a parchment- lined baking sheet, mark the parchment “1 turn” so you’ll know what you’ve done, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. You can freeze the dough after this or any other turn. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before proceeding.
Place the dough so that the 14 inch side runs left to right. (The dough needs 2 more turns; you’ve given it one quarter-turn already.) Making sure the work surface is well floured at all times, roll the dough as you did before into a rectangle 24 to 26 inches long by about 14 inches wide . (When doing the second and third turns, you may find that the dough has cracked a little. That’s natural; its a result of the yeast. Don’t worry, just flour the dough and work surface and keep going.)
As you did before, fold the dough in thirds. Place it on the parchment, mark the paper “2 turns”, cover and refrigerate continued in part 2 for at least 2 hours.
Start again with a 14 inch side running from your left side to your right. Roll the dough into a rectangle 24 to 26 inches long by 14 inches wide. Fold the left and right sides of the dough into the center, leaving a little space in the center, and then fold one side over the other as though you were closing a book. This is the famous double turn, also known as “the wallet”.
Chilling the dough:
Brush off the flour, wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours. At this point the dough is ready to be rolled, cut and shaped into croissants. Storing: The dough can be frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw overnight, still wrapped, in the refrigerator.
Rolling the dough:
Generously flour a work surface. Position the dough so that it resembles a book, with the spine to your left and the opening to your right. For easy handling, cut the dough in half horizontally so that you have two pieces about 7 inches long and about 6 1/2 inches wide: wrap and chill one half while you work with the other half.
Flour the dough and roll it into a rectangle thats 24 to 26 inches long and 15 to 18 inches wide. This takes a lot of rolling. Keep the work surface and the dough well floured and have patience. If necessary turn the dough so that the long side runs from left to right along the counter. Carefully fold the top half of the dough down to the bottom. The dough is now ready for cutting.
Cutting the dough:
Working with a pizza cutter or a large, very sharp knife, cut triangles from the dough. This is done most easily by making a diagonal cut on the left hand side to get the pattern started; save the uneven piece of dough. Measure off a 3 to 4 inch base and begin cutting the triangles, always cutting from bottom to top. You’ll have another scrap when you reach the other end-you’ll use these scraps when you shape the croissants. Unfold each pair of triangles and cut them in half to separate. You should have 10 to 12 maybe 14 triangles; set them aside while you clear the work surface of all flour. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
Shaping the croissants:
Moisten your hands with a wet towel. Working with one triangle at a time, gently stretch the base to widen it slightly, then, holding the base of the triangle in one hand, run the fingers of the other hand down to the point of the triangle. Use your thumb to pull and stretch the dough until its almost twice the original length-have courage and tug; the extra length is what allows you to make a large croissant with sufficient rolls to show off its layers of dough.
Place the triangle, point toward you, at arm distance on the work table this will give enough space to roll the croissant into shape with-out having to lift it in mid-roll) Pull off a little piece of the reserved scrap dough, mold it into a small football shape and center it on the wide top part of the triangle-this will help make the “belly” of the croissant plump. Fold about 1/2 inch of this wide end over itself and press the ends down once to secure. With you palms and fingers positioned over the flattened ends of the croissant and the heels of your hands on the flat work surface, roll the croissant toward you-try to keep your hands moving down and out to the sides as you roll- ending with the point of the triangle tucked under the croissant. A well shaped croissant-and it takes practice to achieve one-will sport at least six clearly accountable sections, or ridges, from rolling. Place the croissants on one of the baking sheets, leaving room for them to triple in size without touching one another. Repeat with the other half of the dough.
Glazing and rising:
Give the croissants a last gentle plumping, carefully turning the ends down and toward the center to produce the classic croissant shape. Brush the croissants with egg wash and allow them to rise, uncovered, at room temperature for 3 to 4 hours, until tripled in size and spongy. (Reserve egg wash, covered in the refrigerator.) The ideal place for rising is a turned off oven (one with a pilot light is fine) containing a pan of hot steamy water. To test that they are properly risen, wet your fingers and squeeze the end of a croissant:It should offer no resistance and feel almost hollow.
Baking the croissants:
Arrange the oven racks to divide the oven into thirds, and preheat the oven to 350 f. Brush the croissants once again with egg wash and bake for 12 minutes. Rotate front to back and bake another 4 to 6 minutes, until the croissants are deeply bronzed. Cool on racks. As tempting as they are croissants should not be eaten as soon as they come from the oven. The dough-and the layers within need time to set.
The croissants are best eaten the day they are made. If you must keep them, freeze them, wrapped airtight. Thaw the croissants overnight in the refrigerator or at room temperature and reheat in a 350F oven for about 8 minutes.
My Sweet & Saucy
What luscious looking croissants! So buttery and delicious!
I was waiting for this recipe. They really looks flaky and delicious. I must try this recipe , it must be the 4th that I try, in my quest of the perfect croissant odyssey
Start selling prints of your photos. Those croissants are gorgeous. Is there a particular time of day (morning, midday) when you do your shooting to get the best light?
We were just in Provence for our honeymoon and have been dreaming of the croissants ever since. I had been meaning to bake some (though, I have to admit we ran into some at Carrefour and decided on the quick fix)… I’ll be making these for sure!
My Sweet & Saucy – Thanks for the comment!
Sylvia – Hope you find what you’re looking for in this recipe.
Drew – Thank you! At home, perfect timing is midday when the living room is the brightest. Most of the above was taken outdoors actually. I guess the 50mm lens does the heavy lifting. It is the perfect lens even with low light conditions.
Jen – Hope you like them!
Susan from Food Blogga
They are utterly perfect, as if Julia rolled them herself!
Ama nefis bunlar! Ellerine saglik. Keske, keske…
Oh, the joys of croissants. I have yet to test out these labor intensive recipes since I am still a novice. With Dorie and videos of Julia Child, I shouldn’t be as nervous when tackling these guys, but the idea of baking croissants at home freaks me out…. I did danish pastries and those were good, but not stellar.
Wow! Kudos to you guys for even attempting this. Croissants _ definitely not the easiest thing to make. But you proved it was all worth the effort with these mouth-watering photos.
Heidi from SavoryTv
Delicious photos! Thanks for the detailed recipe!
Wow, they look magnificent! Perfect and even better than at the bakery!
I’ve been following your blog for quite a while now, but this is my first comment. I simply couldn’t resist after seeing these nice pictures and great post.
And now I understand why good croissants are much more expensive than the average bread-roll!
Wow! Wow! And Wow again! Congratulations – the croissants look perfect and, as always, your photographs are extraordinary.
Reading your post brought back so many good memories of working with Julia and Esther McManus. Before I left New York to go shoot the videos for Baking with Julia, Esther came to my house to make croissants with me. She is a phenomenal teacher and I was so lucky to have a preview of the lesson she’d give on camera. When she got to Julia’s house for her shoot, Esther arrived with a basket full of croissants that had been baked that morning. Julia took one bite and you could see that the flavor transported her instantly to France, the country of her heart. It was a lovely moment.
Susan, Carolyn, Heidi, Rosa, Max – Thanks a lot.
mz – Cok tesekkur ederim!
Amanda – Do give it a try. I am very happy with the results.
Dorie – Hi!!! Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing the story. And another thank you for the great recipe. You’re the best teacher a food blogger can have.
Wow, you never seize to amaze me, Cenk! These croissants are just perfect, and the photos – stunning as always!
Absolutely loved reading this post. At this point i feel so guilty, as at 4 this morning we started our fast( Ramadan) with store bought croissants n lime marmalade. Hmm should’ve seen this 2 days ago 🙂
They definitely look divine !!
i would need divine intervention for me to attempt croissants! i so wish i could bake…
Those are beautiful!
I’ve made croissants once before, they took three days and were amazing but I have yet to tackle them again.
They are excellent!
Mmm…they look lovely! Looks like I’ve got to do some baking this weekend…
Look absolutely delectable, I can’t believe that this is your first time making making it. Btw, I also refer to this book a lot when I am baking. Dorie is indeed a good writer!
wow ! these croissant look fantastic..:-P and yummy!
Very good job indeed! have a nice day!
wow……they look absoulotly dilicious and perfect from the first attempt.
you are encoroging me to bake mines!
Oh wow, I never knew how croissants were made. Thanks for this! Nice drool-worthy job. 🙂
This is my first time at your lovely food palace. And, of course, I am a huge fan of croissants. Hard to find good ones, even harder to make them. But I cannot believe how wonderful those look. I’ve often thought that well-made croissants should be a little more on the well done side for the nice crispiness.
How good those must be with a hot latte. :::sigh:::
good day mister cenk!
croissant+nutella= the perfect match for me. yum yum! love the pictures
Oh Cenk! I wish I had your skill and finesse! I don’t know if I’ll ever get the gumption to attempt croissants! At least not in my hot kitchen…Your’s look absolutely perfect 🙂
my word!!! those are gorgeous.
you are now OFFICIALLY added to my list of dream dinner companions–
this post sealed it.
Those are perfect. Who could ever resist flaky, fresh from the oven croissants? Not me.
I can’t remember the last time I made croissants, and I couldn’t remember why I quit making them.
But after seeing your pictures, it all began to come back to me . . . it’s a heck of a lot of work! But certainly worth it.
Ooh, how brave you are. I watched my friend’s mom make croissants once, but I never wanted to do it because I saw how much work it was. After working with food a lot, I realize it’s not the effort that is so bad, but rather my sense of entitlement that would drive me to eat THE ENTIRE batch of croissants because I had worked so hard on them. Sure, they would sit on my counter, and I would half-heartedly call friends to see if they would want me to share some, but I would never press, and eventually, I would eat them all. When I have more will power, or more friends who aren’t on diets, I’ll give these a try. Thank you for all the pictures!
Merhaba Cenk! ehhhhhh… Can I have some for my breakfast??? Can you bake some almond croissants or f?nd?k croissants??? Dorie’s sure proud of you… I’d been looking for that same book at my local bookshop but they don’t have it. Comes to worst I have to order online. I knew croissant is one of the toughest pastry a baker has to endure. Bakers may succeed in other pastries but when comes to croissant, I think it’s one of the ultimate challenge that shows how patience and love for baking! You made it dude! Bravo!
Miri, Kate, Cynthia, SleeplessinKL, Elra, Slyvia, Latifa, Hillary, Sara, Bee – Thanks!
Jaden – You’re a great cook. I am sure they’ll turn out beautifully if you try your hand at it. Just needs some patience.
Brilynn – I’ll be definitely baking these again and I am sure it will be as challenging as the first time. But that first bite is well worth the effort, isn’t it?
Dawn – Croissants with hot Latte. Oh my… It is 22:24 in ?stanbul right now. Maybe I should start beating some butter again?
joey – Come on! I am sure you’ll do great. Can’t wait to see yours!
greengoo – Really? Thanks! I am flattered.
Marysol – Glad you liked them!
Jamie – I hear you! It’s a good thing the whole batch yields 24 croissants. Lots to share.
pixen – Thank you! Hope you find the book soon; it is certainly one of my favorite baking books.
Due to eating restrictions, I don’t eat egg. I have yet to learn of anything that can substitute the egg in desserts, etc. Do you know any substances (besides the egg substitute packets) that can allow me to cook without using eggs?
I just recently made a laminated dough for the first time and I was happy I attempted it, now, I hope I have the same tenacity to attempt these beautiful croissants! Thank you for posting the recipe and your perfect results!
TK – Only 1 egg is needed for the recipe above and that is for the egg wash. Not a very big part of it really. I guess you can brush the dough with milk instead. It may not look as tasty but I am sure it will be equally delicious.
Laurie – Thanks. Glad you liked it.
Baking croissants is so satisfying, and once you’ve made your own it’s hard to go back to buying them. Yours are beautiful! Have you tried Daniel Leader’s croissant recipe? He uses a liquid levain that lends a slight sourdough taste, which I think balances the richness of the buttery dough.
Thank you Andrea! No, I haven’t heard of Daniel Leader’s recipe (this was my first time baking croissants). Liquid levain sounds really interesting. I’ll look into it.
Well, after reading all the comments, I must first watch the Julia Child video and then use your recipe. Yesterday I made some from the first ‘perfect croissant’ recipe that popped up on Google. They turned out like pancakes. At least we got a good laugh about them. Taste wasn’t bad and they were very easy to reheat in toaster this morning. I shall try again for the weekend and get back to you with my results.
What a crisp flaky set of croissants! Thanks for the recipe. This goes on my must try list!
Good for you for trying these. And it will definitely be easier the next time around. I love doing laminated doughs, but have not had the time to fit any into my schedule lately. I will have to check out the method and see how it differs from mine. Always willing to learn something new.
These look great! We tried a new croissant method this weekend and shot a little video of it:
It looks like you did the folds a differently and rolled up longer triangles. Very tasty lokoing stuff!
Thanks for the link Mark! Great video.
Does the dough degrade in quality if you freeze it overnight after the folds?
John W – I’ve never done that, but as far as I know it does not.
The only reason I drag myself to Carrefour in Istanbul is to buy the butter croissants. If I can make these successfully, I won’t have to anymore. Will certainly try them (might wait til a rainy Sunday). Thanks for the lovely clear instructions.
Rebecca – Hope this helps. Thanks for stopping by. Looking forward to your blog post.
My husband loves croissants– he douses them in syrup and eats as many as I make.. I love this recipe! I like to sprinkle mine with sugar and a little cinnamon.. YUM!
hi! saw your pictures while browsing for some good croissants! i have a question though, can i substitute dry active yeast for the compresses yeast?
Rizza – Here’s the substitution formula: 100% fresh yeast = 40-50% active dry yeast = 33% instant yeast
hi! just tried making my first croissant! i have a question though did you had a hard time rolling the dough with the butter inside?coz when i made mine, i had to put it in the fridge so the butter woudnt melt. and when i cooked it today, i noticed that yours were so diffrent than mine! haha mine were harder but tasted good 😐
Rizza – Yes, I had a hard time rolling it. Next time, give it a longer rest – makes it easier to roll afterwards.
they look a bit over done and like they didn’t quite rise properly?
perhaps the oven was a bit high?
(no 350 is spot on)
puff is a finicky thing it could be something as simple as your hands were too warm when working it perhaps?
in my french cooking class we let it rest overnight not just two hours you indicate but that was a while back (like 1976!) proper puff has 512 layers when you are ready to shape it, and it is awesome stuff well worth the effort!
but if you like them and they taste good, then it’s all good well done
Rick – I like them a bit overdone actually. They didn’t rise too much because I forgot to add that little piece of the reserved scrap dough shaped as a small ball in the center (the “belly” of the croissant plump). I still think of them as a success, considering it was my first time 🙂
Awesome job my friend they look great thank you got both replying and posting these tasty looking jewels for us to list after 😛
I saw Julia’s croissant video a few weeks ago on local Public Television, which got my juices going to execute this fabulous recipe. I am so grateful for your blog post not only for the recipe but all of the back-and-forth with your readers on their experience with it. Isn’t it wonderful that after two years a blog post is still attracting new readers? Just goes to show, good content really is king. Can’t wait to fire up the oven, thanks to your great post.
Merrill – Thanks for writing. It is indeed wonderful! Hope your croissants turn out beautiful.
Adriana @ Bittersweet Baker
Thank you so much for this post! I’ve been wanting to try this recipe ever since I saw Esther Mcmanus bake them with Julia Child on a PBS show. We have just finished devouring them for dinner, and they were so, so good.
just used this rainy weekend to finally make these croissants after having had the recipe on my to do list for 3 years! started on friday night, had brunch on sunday. they turned out well though the timing is tricky – nice idea for a sunday brunch but getting up at 6 to roll, shape and rise them is not my idea of a lazy sunday 😉 I rolled and shaped them on saturday night, ready to pop in the oven on sunday morning, but they had sunk a wee bit and tasted a lot like yeast (obviously the yeast had had a field day being left to do it’s thing for so long!). Layering and texture was superb though. do you think you could bake them for 10 mins the night before and finish them on sunday?
also, just have to say i love you blog and i keep coming back to the very original recipes and sexy photography. have to learn turkish to be able to read your book though… but might buy it for the pictures!
chocolate chantilly is up next! cheers and good luck with the book,
anne – I don’t think that’s an option. Try freezing them right after the final rise (begin on a Thursday to eat on Sunday). No need to thaw. After the egg wash, pop them in the oven and bake 2-3 minutes longer than mentioned in the recipe. Thanks a lot for your kind comment. And good luck with the chocolate chantilly.
ps julia’s videos are no longer online (but i managed anyway)
my friend fell asleep as i was reading her the recipe at the stage where i told her how to shape ’em. She is a patisserie connaisseure
-it is a very arduous recipe though. We will try it , provided either of us don’t doze off 🙂
Could you cut this recipe in half, you think? Thanks!
meredith – Probably, but then it’ll be too much work for too little.