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Homemade Croissants from In the French Kitchen with Kids

Homemade Croissants from In the French Kitchen with Kids

These fluffy homemade croissants are the lightest, butteriest breakfast treat. The detailed recipe includes clever tips, step-by-step photos, and helpful instructions, making the task approachable by any baker, even younger ones. {Skip to Recipe}

How to Make Homemade Croissants from Scratch // FoodNouveau.com

WIN A COPY OF MARDI MICHEL’S IN THE FRENCH KITCHEN WITH KIDS!
US and Canadian readers can enter on Instagram, giveaway ends on August 21st, 2018. Good luck!

VIDEO: See me make croissants from scratch!

Croissants are a treat many of us buy at the pastry shop without a second thought. I mean, why would you even consider making them at home? But homemade croissants had been on my to-do list for some time because I love finicky pastry projects. My plan was to make them once out of curiosity, just to learn more about how they’re created. Then I’d resume buying them at the shop. I’d been thinking about this croissant project for years, but had yet to act on it.

A new book recently pushed the idea back to the top of my pastry priorities: In the French Kitchen with Kids, by Mardi Michels. A cookbook for busy families and kids with a croissant recipe…? Homemade croissants must be doable then, right? I read the recipe several times to get a good grasp of the task ahead, then dove right in.

Turns out there are shortcuts to making homemade croissants, and Mardi provides them in her recipe. Of course, you won’t go through the tricky laminating process that’s usually done by machine in pastry shops, but you will roll, fold, and turn the dough eight times. Through the process, the dough goes from sticky and super soft to beautifully smooth and elastic. I have to say: there’s something in this rhythmic task that makes you feel like a pastry pro.

This folding and rolling technique “produces a fluffy, rather than super flaky, croissant,” says Mardi. She’s got it exactly right: these homemade croissants are the airiest, butteriest breakfast treat ever. Enjoyed minutes after they come out of the oven, they’re magical—basking in the sweet aroma of freshly baked homemade croissants while you eat one is pretty close to paradise—and they’re just as delightful slightly reheated for days after. My family and I have enjoyed them plain, dipped in jam, even sliced open and filled with PB&J or ham and cheese.

This homemade croissant recipe is just one of the many delights in Mardi Michel’s book, In the French Kitchen with Kids. Mardi is a school teacher and she’s been offering cooking classes to both kids and adults for years. I’ve long been in awe of the beautiful dishes, desserts, and treats made by the kids in her class: there’s something completely enchanting about seeing little hands making tartlets or rolling croissants. This book is the result of the experience and expertise she accumulated through the years: if children can make delightful French treats such as Profiteroles, Madeleines, and Crème Brûlée, everyone can.

In the French Kitchen with Kids, a cookbook by Mardi Michels // FoodNouveau.com

Mardi is indeed a great teacher, and she writes in an empathetic, helpful voice. She provides timetables to help with planning more ambitious projects, mentions visual cues to make sure you stay on the right track, and dots her pages with fun anecdotes that teach you more about French cuisine. Mardi strives to “break down any preconceived notion that French cuisine is too fancy or too difficult for kids to master,” makes a plea about the importance of teaching kids how to cook, and provides extremely helpful, yet simple, tips for cooking with kids.

Mardi reminded me that I should cook and bake with my son more often. Because of what I do for a living, cooking usually occurs during daytime, when he’s away at school. For the sake of efficiency, I also prep family meals during the day and simply assemble or reheat come dinnertime. This means my son knows I cook all time, but also that he seldom gets to do it with me. Using Mardi’s book for inspiration, I’ve started scheduling small baking projects on weekends, and we’ve been having lots of fun making them together. So far, we’ve made Mardi’s delicious financiers and jam tarts and we plan to try many more recipes from her book. Projects will get more complex as my son gets older and more experienced in the kitchen; for now, I’m just happy In the French Kitchen with Kids reminded me to share my passion for cooking and baking with my son.

How to Make Homemade Croissants from Scratch // FoodNouveau.com

Helpful Tips for Making Homemade Croissants

PLANNING

Your croissant-making schedule will look like this:

  • First mix of the dough: 15 minutes
  • 1st rest: 1 hour
  • Rolling, folding, and turning the dough: 30 to 45 minutes
  • 2nd rest: 3 hours (to overnight)
  • Rolling and shaping the croissants: 30 to 45 minutes
  • 3rd rest: 3 hours
  • Baking: 20 to 25 minutes

Altogether, making these homemade croissants is a 9-hour (mostly hands-off) process. While you could make this project in a single day, starting in the morning and baking the croissants in the late afternoon/early evening, I think it’s better to split the task over two days. You can either refrigerate the folded dough overnight for the 2nd rest, or shape the croissants and refrigerate them to do the 3rd rest overnight. My favorite option is the latter, because it’s the one that allows you to enjoy freshly baked croissants for breakfast!

How to Make Homemade Croissants from Scratch // FoodNouveau.com

EQUIPMENT

To make homemade croissants, you need the following equipment:

  • Thermometer (optional): This is useful to precisely monitor the temperature of the milk in the 1st step. The milk must be warm to allow the yeast to bloom. If the milk is too hot, it will “kill” the yeast, rendering it useless. If you don’t have a thermometer, try using the skin inside of your wrist as a guide—just as parents did to check the temperature of the milk they were giving to their baby, back in the old days. The milk should be slightly warmer than your skin. If you can feel the milk hot on your skin, it’s too hot for the yeast. You’ll know for sure whether the milk was at the right temperature after you let the milk and yeast mixture rest for 10 minutes: if the milk was just right, the top will be frothy. If the milk was too cold or too hot, you’ll still see the milk dotted with specks of unbloomed yeast. If it is the case, start over, or your croissants won’t rise at all.
  • Food processor: The food processor makes a super quick job of mixing the dough. If you don’t have a food processor, you can mix the dough using a pastry cutter.
  • Rolling pin: A rolling pin is necessary to roll the dough out to large rectangles with an even thickness. If you don’t have a rolling pin, you can use an empty wine bottle.
  • Pastry scraper or large icing spatula: When you first start rolling the dough for the folding and turning process, it will be super sticky and very difficult to manipulate without the help of a thin spatula to scrape it off your work surface. If you don’t have either of the tools, you could probably get away with using a turner.
  • Two baking sheets and parchment paper: You’ll need to rest the shaped croissants on two parchment paper-lined baking sheets. The best baking sheets to use are aluminum ones; dark baking sheets brown baked treats prematurely.
  • Ruler or tape measure, and pizza cutter: You’ll use these tools to precisely cut out rectangles. You can use a regular metal or plastic ruler, though make sure to wash it thoroughly with soap before setting it on the dough. If you don’t have a pizza cutter, you can use a very sharp knife.
  • Pastry brush: This tool is required to brush the croissants with the egg and cream mixture right before baking.

MAKING HOMEMADE CROISSANTS WITH KIDS

As Mardi herself says, this recipe for homemade croissants is one of the more advanced recipes in her book. It’s not especially technical or difficult, but the process takes a lot of time to complete, and you do need to be careful and patient, especially during the rolling, folding, and turning process. This is a recipe I’d recommend doing with older kids, especially ones with previous experience in the kitchen. Younger kids might be discouraged that the process takes so many hours—although it might be a good way for them to learn about delayed gratification!

In all honesty, croissants wouldn’t be so fun to make with a young kid repeatedly asking, “Are they done yet?” My son is only four years old, so here’s how I did it. On a Saturday afternoon, I started preparing the dough in the kitchen. As he often does, he got curious and joined me, asking what I was doing. I replied, “I’m making dough. Want to help me?” He added the ingredients to the food processor and then helped gather the dough into a ball. He went off to do his kid business, and after the dough had rested, I did the rolling, turning, and folding on my own because it’s a trickier part of the project that requires a bit of strength and precision.

I let the dough rest overnight, and the next morning, I rolled the dough out and cut it into triangles. I invited him back into the kitchen so he could help roll the croissants, which he loved doing. He was eager to taste the croissants, but I said they would ready after lunch. We enjoyed freshly baked croissants with jam for dessert—what a treat! My son was super impressed we’d baked croissants from scratch, and he was proud he participated in the process. I know what his experience and patience levels are, so I took him along for the fun parts. You can be sure he was a pro at eating the croissants, though!

You know your kids better than anyone. Divide the project into tasks and involve them in the ones you know they’ll enjoy doing. If they want to tag along for a while, let them. If they butterfly away, let them! Next time, they may stick around for longer, and fingers crossed, they’ll be making homemade croissants on their own before you know it!

How to Make Homemade Croissants from Scratch // FoodNouveau.com

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