Butter Croissants as Flaky as an OSU Football Commit

At some point in the last two years I had the misguided thought that making my own pastry would be a good idea.  Then I had the even more misguided thought to follow through on that idea.  While it certainly was a challenge, I think much like baking bread I was anticipating something far messier and beyond my skill level.

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I really enjoyed making these, and fresh out of the oven they are so incredibly light and flaky that you will need to strongly resist the urge to eat all of them.  I knew this recipe would be lots of fun when I noticed that the first thing you make is a ‘butter block’.  Kneading butter is not something I had thought I would ever do.

Again, because I made these (twice actually) before I had the idea to start up a blog, there are not as many pictures as I would have preferred.  I have linked below to a few videos that I watched in order to get the laminating technique down since it is a bit difficult to easily describe.  This is the process by which you create dozens and dozens of layers of flour and butter.  I’d watch (or at least skim) them before trying the recipe out just to get a good idea of what to expect.  This recipe is adapted from Peter Reinhart’s recipe in Artisan Breads Every Day.

Feeling French? Ok, let’s go!

Butter Block 

The night before you plan to make your croissants, cut your cold butter into slices and using the paddle attachment of your stand mixer combine it with the flour.  You will probably need to scrape the sides occasionally to make sure everything is incorporated.  Don’t let it go too long, since you want the butter to remain cold.

Take a large piece of plastic wrap and transfer the butter onto it.  You want to shape it into a 6 inch square. I would encase the butter in plastic wrap and use pressure from your hands/rolling pin to get it into the shape.  Of course it won’t be perfect, but do your best to make sure it is even thickness and close to that 6 inch length.

Making the Dough

Just like the butter block, the night (or two) before you plan to make your croissants, mix together your flour, salt, yeast, and sugar in a stand mixer.  Gradually add in your butter, water, and milk.  Mix it on low speeds until everything is incorporated, and then increase the speed briefly until a solid dough has formed.

Form the dough into a ball and place it in a lightly oiled bowl.  Cover with plastic and place it in the refrigerator overnight.

Encasement  – Incorporating the Butter Block into the Dough

The following morning remove your dough from the refrigerator and on a lightly floured surface roll it out to a rectangular shape.  It should be about 12″x7″ which should allow for you to place the butter block on it and still have dough on either side.  Do your best to create neat and straight edges on the dough and maintain them while rolling and shaping.

Place your butter block in the center of the rolled out dough.  It should have 3 or so inches of dough above and below it, and roughly 1/2 inch on either side.  Fold in the longer edges to completely cover the butter and then seal it in the dough by pinching each side.  Now you’ve created the first of many layers of butter and dough (dough, butter, dough to be more specific).

Laminating the Dough

Now here comes the trickier part of making these croissants.  We’ve created a layer of dough and butter, but that won’t give us the type of croissant we want.  So now we’ve got to spend the time folding the dough onto itself and creating layer after layer.  It’s important to also keep the dough lightly floured during this process.  Definitely refer to the videos posted above for a great demonstration of the process.

Using your rolling pin, start from the center of your newly encased dough and roll it into a 9″x16″ rectangle.  I found it easiest to simply press it out using the rolling pin first before using a rolling motion.  Just like creating the butter block, do your best to ensure an even thickness throughout.

Once you’ve rolled out the dough, fold it in thirds (letter style).  You want to make sure the edges line up nicely and are as straight as possible.  Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 30 minutes.

After allowing the butter to cool back down, remove it and roll it out once more to 9″x16″ and fold letter style again.  Place in the refrigerator for 30 more minutes, and after repeat this process once more.  In total you will have laminated the dough three times.  Because you are folding each existing layer three times with each lamination, you will have 81 layers of dough and butter at this point.  If you have the time and patience for more layers, I’d say laminating five times (243 layers created) is a good point to stop at.  The picture below is from my second time making them when I laminated 5 times (can you count all 243 layers?)

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Roll, Shape, and Bake!

OK, so we’ve got our laminated dough. Now what?  Get ready to roll. A lot.  Roll your dough out to 28″x9″.  If your kitchen is as small as mine, this might mean it hangs off your table briefly our you have to use multiple surfaces for rolling.  I personally was also never able to roll it out the whole 29 inches.  Mine usually reached a point at about 22 or 23 where it would not roll anymore.  Allowing it to rest a bit does help some, but don’t feel as if you need to work endlessly to get to that point.  The butter will also start to warm up more at this point, so make sure to keep your surface floured.

To shape the croissants you want to make lots of isosceles triangles (who remembers their HS geometry?)  Using a ruler, make small notches with a knife at 4 inch intervals along an edge of the dough.  Repeat this along the other edge, but start two inches to the left (you will see how this creates the triangle shapes).  Using a knife or pizza cutter, cut from one notch to another to create your triangles of dough.

Once you’ve got those cut and separated,  cut 1 inch into the center of the base of the triangle.  Spread the dough flaps your create widely, and begin to roll the dough.  By spreading those out you will be able to create those thinner curled edges you recognize on croissants.  If you’re feeling adventurous, roll up a piece of chocolate in them!

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Place your shaped croissants on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or tin foil if you don’t have it).  Cover loosely and let them rise for about 3 hours.  Towards the end of this time preheat your over to 450°.  Just before baking apply your egg wash, and upon placing them in the oven lower the temperature to 375°.  In total they will need to bake for 15-20 minutes.  Rotate them about 10 minutes through to ensure even baking, and keep a close eye to make sure they do not burn.

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I would like to believe I had the control to let these cool after baking, but let’s be honest here, I had eaten one before taking the rest off the baking sheet.  They will need about an hour to cool entirely should you want to wait (but why would you?).

Butter Croissants

Ingredients

Dough

  • 4 2/3 cups bread or AP flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup water (cool)
  • 3/4 cup cold milk

Butter Block

  • 1 1/2 cups cold unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons AP flour

Optional

  • Chocolate for rolling into croissants
  • 1 egg for egg wash

Butter Block 

The night before you plan to make your croissants, cut your cold butter into slices and using the paddle attachment of your stand mixer combine it with the flour.  You will probably need to scrape the sides occasionally to make sure everything is incorporated.

Take a large piece of plastic wrap and transfer the butter onto it.  Shape it into a 6 inch square.  To do this encase the butter in plastic wrap and use pressure from your hands/rolling pin to get it into the shape.

Making the Dough

Just like the butter block, the night (or two) before you plan to make your croissants, mix together your flour, salt, yeast, and sugar in a stand mixer.  Gradually add in your butter, water, and milk.  Mix it on low speeds until everything is incorporated, and then increase the speed briefly until a solid dough has formed.

Form the dough into a ball and place it in a lightly oiled bowl.  Cover with plastic and place it in the refrigerator overnight.

Encasement  – Incorporating the Butter Block into the Dough

The following morning remove your dough from the refrigerator and on a lightly floured surface roll it out to a rectangular shape.  It should be about 12″x7″ which should allow for you to place the butter block on it and still have dough on either side. Create neat and straight edges on the dough and maintain them while rolling and shaping.

Place your butter block in the center of the rolled out dough.  It should have 3 or so inches of dough above and below it, and roughly 1/2 inch on either side.  Fold in the longer edges to completely cover the butter and then seal it in the dough by pinching each side.

Laminating the Dough

Using your rolling pin, start from the center of your newly encased dough and roll it into a 9″x16″ rectangle.  I found it easiest to simply press it out using the rolling pin first before using a rolling motion.  Just like creating the butter block, do your best to ensure an even thickness throughout.

Once you’ve rolled out the dough, fold it in thirds (letter style).  You want to make sure the edges line up nicely and are as straight as possible.  Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 30 minutes.

After allowing the butter to cool back down, remove it and roll it out once more to 9″x16″ and fold letter style again.  Place in the refrigerator for 30 more minutes, and after repeat this process once more.  In total you will have laminated the dough three times.  Because you are folding each existing layer three times with each lamination, you will have 81 layers of dough and butter at this point.

Roll, Shape, and Bake!

Roll your dough out to 28″x9″.  If your kitchen is as small as mine, this might mean it hangs off your table briefly our you have to use multiple surfaces for rolling.  Allowing it to rest a bit does help some, but don’t feel as if you need to work endlessly to get to that 29 inch point.  Make sure to keep your surface floured.

To shape the croissants using a ruler, make small notches with a knife at 4 inch intervals along an edge of the dough.  Repeat this along the other edge, but start two inches to the left (you will see how this creates the triangle shapes).  Using a knife or pizza cutter, cut from one notch to another to create your triangles of dough.

Once you’ve got those cut and separated,  cut 1 inch into the center of the base of the triangle.  Spread the dough flaps your create widely, and begin to roll the dough.  By spreading those out you will be able to create those thinner curled edges you recognize on croissants.

Place your shaped croissants on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or tin foil if you don’t have it).  Cover loosely and let them rise for about 3 hours.  Towards the end of this time preheat your over to 450°.  Just before baking apply your egg wash, and upon placing them in the oven lower the temperature to 375°.  In total they will need to bake for 15-20 minutes.  Rotate them about 10 minutes through to ensure even baking, and keep a close eye to make sure they do not burn.

Recipe adapted from Peter Reinhart’s Artistan Breads Every Day via Oggi

10 thoughts on “Butter Croissants as Flaky as an OSU Football Commit

  1. Big question is, is it worth making croissants when butter is so expensive? In the uk it costs the same to buy 4 good supermarket croissants as 250g of butter. I’m not sure croissants are that much better than nice fresh bread in the morning? Have to say that your homemade croissants look very tasty

    • Oh wow, in that case it may not be worth the investment. Butter is definitely not that expensive here, although given ingredient price/time necessary it’s probably not something to make too often. There are very few things that beat fresh bread in the morning!

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  3. Actually, I’ve just accurately costed out all the ingredients of croissants (from the River Cottage Bread Handbook, not your excellent recipe) and it works out at 15p per home-made croissant and 50p per top quality supermarket croissant, 21p each for their most basic croissant and 25p per croissant if you buy one of those pre-rolled cans of pastry. So, all round it would be worth making them, provided we have friends round to eat some of them!

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