These fluffy homemade croissants are the lightest, butteriest breakfast treat ever. The detailed recipe includes clever tips, step-by-step photos, and helpful instructions, making the task approachable by any baker, even younger ones.
Author Marie Asselin, FoodNouveau.com, adapted from a recipe by Mardi Michel from the book In the French Kitchen with Kids
1/2cup125 ml whole milk (3.25 % m.f.) or partly skimmed milk (2% m.f.)
Heat the milk to between 110˚F and 113˚F (approx. 45˚C) in a medium saucepan set over medium heat (use a digital thermometer to check the temperature). Alternatively, you can heat the milk in the microwave. Start by heating the milk for 30 seconds at high, then stir and test the temperature. Keep heating by 10-second bursts if needed.
Pour the milk into a large heatproof bowl and sprinkle the yeast over it. Let it sit for 10 minutes. It will be frothy on top after this time.
Meanwhile, place the flour, sugar, and butter in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse eight to ten times—you should still be able to see large chunks of butter.
Tip the flour and butter mixture over the warmed milk and use a wooden spoon to just incorporate the dry ingredients into the milk. The dough will be lumpy, shaggy, and quite dry at this point.
Use your hands to gather the dough into a ball. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for about 1 hour (don’t leave it much longer than this, because it will become too difficult to roll out).
Remove the dough from the fridge and lightly flour your countertop. Transfer the dough to the work surface. The dough will be very soft and sticky at this point, so you will likely need to sprinkle the top of the dough with flour as well. Shape it into a rough rectangle.
Lightly flour a rolling pin and roll out the dough until you have a very large rectangle (8 x 17 inches/20 x 40 cm). You should be able to see butter pieces in the dough. If the edges of the rectangle crack a little as you are rolling, simply push them together with your fingers and continue to roll until you have the correct size of rectangle.
With the largest side of the rectangle facing you, fold the dough about two-thirds of the way from left to right, then fold remaining third over the first fold. The dough will still be very soft and sticky at this point; use a pastry scraper or a large icing spatula to lift the dough more easily. The short side of the folded rectangle of dough should be facing you. Turn the dough clockwise so the long side of the rectangle now faces you. (You will most likely need to use the pastry scraper to help lift the folded dough.) This rolling and folding is known as a “turn.”
Lightly flour the working surface around the folded dough, and the top of the dough again, then lightly flour the rolling pin again. Repeat Steps 7 through 9 seven times for a total of eight “turns.” Sprinkle flour to prevent the dough from sticking, being careful to add only what you need. With each roll, fold, and turn, you will feel the dough become smoother and easier to handle.
Once you’re done with the 8 turns, fold the dough one last time and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for a minimum of 3 hours, but preferably overnight.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove the dough from the fridge and place a large piece of parchment paper (at least 48 inches-/60 cm-long) on your working surface. Let the chilled dough sit for about 15 minutes so it’s not completely cold when you start working with it. Roll the dough until you have a rectangle that is a little over 8 x 24 inches (20 x 60 cm). This may take a bit of patience, but if you take it slowly, the dough will definitely roll out this large. Trim the edges of the rectangle so they are neat and straight—a clean ruler or a tape measure and a pizza cutter work well to do this. Save the dough trimmings to make tiny sugared escargots. See note at the end of the recipe for instructions.
Working along the long sides of the rectangle, make a small cut in the dough on each side of the rectangle every 4 1/2 inches (12 cm). Place a ruler or a tape measure across the width of the dough at the first mark. Use a long sharp knife or a pizza cutter to cut a rectangle across the width of the dough. Repeat at each mark until you have five rectangles.
Cut each rectangle in two diagonally to make two triangles. Use a ruler or a tape measure (to make sure the triangles are even) and a pizza cutter to do this. You’ll have 10 triangles.
Gently stretch one of the triangles by pulling on the right-angle side so that both long sides of the triangle are angled towards the tip. Working from the wide end, roll up the dough until you have reached the pointed end. Voilà, you have a croissant!
Repeat with the remaining triangles. Place five croissants on each tray and cover each tray with a clean tea towel. Leave to rest in a warm place (such as a turned off oven with the light on) for 3 hours. The croissants will puff up slightly during this time.
When the croissants have been resting for 2 1/2 hours, preheat the oven to 375˚F (190˚C)—making sure to remove the raw croissants from the oven if that’s where you rested them. Whisk the egg and cream together and use a pastry brush to gently brush the tops of the croissants with this egg wash.
Place one tray in the top third of your oven and the other in the bottom third of the oven. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the croissants are golden brown on top. Switch the trays from top to bottom and turn them from front to back halfway through baking.
Remove the baking trays from the oven. Let the croissants sit on the baking trays for about 10 minutes, then place them on a wire rack to cool completely.
These croissants are at their very best enjoyed freshly baked. Store leftovers for 2 to 3 days in a resealable plastic bag. To reheat, place in a 300°F (150°C) oven for 8-10 minutes, or microwave for a few seconds.
Make crunchy sugared escargots with croissant dough trimmings: Roughly shape the dough trimmings into straight rods, then loosely roll to create a flat “snail” shape. Let rest along with the croissants, then brush with the egg and cream mixture and generously sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of the escargots. Let cool completely and enjoy.
Use croissant dough to make pains au chocolat: You can use this same dough to make pains au chocolat (chocolate croissants). You’ll find detailed instructions in Mardi’s cookbook, but here’s what you need to do, in a nutshell: instead of cutting the dough into triangles, cut it into 12 3 x 6 inches (8 x 15 cm) rectangles. Place one chocolate baking stick or some chocolate chips along the short side of one of the rectangles, then roll. Follow steps 15 to 18 above for the resting and baking process. Enjoy!
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