I’ve always had a “thing” for croissants, and it all stems from Mrs. Delaney’s French class back in my high school days. Every so often, she would bring in French treats for us; bon bons, crepes, and of course, croissants.
A warm croissant spread with Nutella and then dipped in hot chocolate- doesn’t get much better than that! Since the first time she brought those croissants into class, I’ve been a croissant fiend. But had I ever thought about making them myself? Nah. Seemed like a lot of work. But one day, Tim (one of Land O’Lakes great employees) was down in the Test Kitchen chatting with me. Tim is the Director of Marketing for Lifestyle Feed. Before he worked on the feed side of the business, he was the marketing manager on butter.
Tim is one of the few men I’ve met who enjoys baking. He told me he makes croissants at home, and I couldn’t believe it! After talking to him about croissants, I knew he wasn’t messing around. He even visited a bakery to learn the process of making croissants. I asked him how in the world he had time to do it at home. He admitted with a 3 and 5- year old at home he doesn’t have much extra time on his hands. I figured if he had time to make croissants occasionally, so could I. Once he explained to me how he made them, it seemed like a project I could tackle. But not without his help! He offered to come and show me the process. After learning how to make Cherries Jubilee from Chef Michael, I quickly realized having someone make the recipe with you is a great way to learn!
I read through the recipe, and figured I could handle the first part on my own. you make a rich dough and a sheet of butter. (I’ll explain this later.) Nothing too complicated here. So let's get started on these Flaky Butter Croissants!
First, make the “sheet of butter.” Do this by combining the flour and butter. I used a stand mixer, but you could definitely use a hand mixer, it will just be a little more work.
Scrape the sides down, and keep mixing until the flour and butter have come together completely.
Spread this mixture into a 12x6 inch rectangle on waxed paper. I found the easiest way to do this is to draw the rectangle on one-side of the paper, then flip it over so you don’t get any of the marking in your butter mixture.
Spread it out into the rectangle.
Cover with another piece of waxed paper, and refrigerate until it firms up, about an hour.
Meanwhile, combine the milk, sugar and salt in a small saucepan until the sugar dissolves. This takes about 4 minutes. Let the mixture cool to lukewarm. I checked the temperature periodically until it was cooled to 105-115°F. You want to make sure that it is cooled to a temperature within this range so the yeast isn’t killed when you combine it with the milk.
While the milk mixture is cooling, dissolve the yeast in warm water in a large mixer bowl.
Add the cooled milk mixture, 2 cups of flour and an egg.
Beat this mixture until it is well mixed.
Once the mixture has come together, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make the dough easy to handle. I used about 2 cups of flour, but it may vary for you. You don’t want the dough to be too stiff, but you want it firm enough to form into a ball without sticking to your hands.
Once the dough is ready, knead it on a lightly floured surface until it is smooth and elastic. This took about 5 minutes. It may seem like a long time to knead, but hey, this is a great opportunity to get a great upper-arm workout!
Let the dough rest for 10 minutes. While it is resting, grab your rolling pin and ruler.
Once the dough has had a chance to rest, roll it out to a 14-inch square. The measurements are pretty important in this recipe, so I used a ruler to make sure I had the measurements correct.
Grab the sheet of butter from the fridge, and place it on half of the 14-inch square.
Fold the other half over the butter sheet, and seal the edges.
Now, roll the dough into a 21x12 inch rectangle, pounding down slightly with the rolling pin to slightly soften the butter. This is the first step in making a butter layer in between the dough- this is what gives croissants their irresistible flaky texture.
Fold the rectangle into thirds. First, measure 7 inches (1/3 of the dough) from one narrow end…
…and fold over…
…then fold the remaining dough over the first fold.
Wrap the dough in plastic food wrap, and refrigerate for an hour. This will give the butter a chance to firm up again.
Now, you need to repeat this process 3 more times, starting with rolling the dough into the 21x12 inch rectangle, and then folding into thirds. We’re making some great buttery layers!
After the third roll out, refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight. Tim suggested refrigerating overnight because it really helps the dough come together and develop the buttery flavor. So if you have the time, refrigerate your dough overnight.
The next day, Tim joined me in the Test Kitchens, ready to help make the croissants. The dough rolls out beautifully after a night of refrigeration! Roll out the dough into a 24x14” rectangle.
Once the dough is rolled out, cut it in half lengthwise (a ruler can help you out here, too)…
…then into 6 sections. You will end up with 12- 7x4” squares.
Cut each square into two triangles.
I jumped in to help him at this point so I could really get the hang of how to roll them up. Cut a small notch at the base of each triangle. This will make it easier to roll up.
Pull the top of the triangle forward slightly to stretch it out.
Now fold the sides by the notch at the base upward at a slight angle.
Time to start rolling! Tim showed me how your hands should be angled outwards slightly to help it roll up correctly. Place the rolled up croissants on a lightly greased baking sheet. This is a good time to heat the oven to 375°F.
Becky, another avid croissant fan, stopped by to see how to shape the croissants. Fold the tips inward slightly. I think the croissants look a little bit like a crab, don’t you?
Tim showed me another variation you can make with the dough. Instead of cutting each rectangle into triangles, cut it in half…
…and place a small piece of good-quality chocolate in the middle, folding the tops over to meet in the middle. Seal the edge to make a pretty little chocolate package.
Let the croissants rise for about 30 minutes in a warm place until they have puffed up slightly.
Before putting them in the oven, beat an egg yolk and 1 tablespoon of water in a small bowl. Brush the croissants liberally with the egg wash, making sure to get in all the cracks and crevices- this is what will make your croissants have the beautiful, golden brown finish.
Bake the croissants for 13-16 minutes, or until they are golden brown.Aren’t they beautiful?! Thank you Tim for showing me how it’s done! I know I’ll definitely be making these again soon.
Don’t be scared, you too can make Flaky Butter Croissants at home! Try them out and let me know if you think they’re just as good as bakery croissants (or even better!).
Come back in a few days when Becky will share another classic Land O'Lakes dessert. Mallory is a consultant for the Test Kitchens at Land O'Lakes and writes for our Recipe Buzz® Blog.