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How-To

Homemade Croissants

Step by step to the classic French pastry (tips, timelines, and tools included).

Fine Cooking Issue 97
Photos: Scott Phillips
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To tell how well a croissant is made, take a bite and look at your shirt: If it’s covered with flakes of golden pastry that shatter from each bite, you know it’s a good one. A crisp brown crust and airy insides, rich with buttery flavor and aroma—these are the hallmarks of a beautifully made croissant.

Making your own croissants is not difficult; there’s no special equipment or hard-to-find ingredients required. What is necessary is good technique—and that’s where this recipe from a master baker comes in. Once you understand the basics of creating multilayered dough like this, you’ll be well on your way to wowing friends and family with delicious croissants that make a mess of whatever they’re wearing.

Timeline: Making Croissants

The three-day method used in our classic croissant recipe gives the dough maximum fermentation time for flavor to develop. But if time is tight, you can use the shortcut two-day method instead. The active work time is exactly the same in both scenarios; choose whichever fits your schedule.

The 3-Day Method

Day 1

  • Mix the dough.
  • Refrigerate overnight.

Day 2

  • Laminate the dough.
  • Refrigerate overnight.

Day 3

  • Shape & bake the croissants.

The 2-Day Method

Day 1

  • Mix the dough.
  • Refrigerate for 3 hours.
  • Laminate the dough.
  • Refrigerate overnight.

Day 2

  • Shape & bake the croissants.

The Variations

Chocolate Croissants
Ham & Cheese Croissants

Flour Know-How

Protein content differs among types (and brands) of flour and is an important consideration in baking—the higher the protein, the stronger the gluten. Gluten translates into structural support, necessary to give croissants and other yeast-raised breads their loft and chew. But too much protein would lead to a tough croissant.

Most flours don’t list protein content on the package. Cake flour, made from soft wheat, has the lowest amount of protein, 6 to 8 percent, depending on brand. Bread flour has the highest, at 12 to 14 percent. All-purpose flour falls in the middle, with a protein content of 10 to 12 percent. That makes it ideal for this recipe, with just enough protein to encourage maximum volume in the croissants. Use the highest-quality flour you can.

Butter Matters

Quality. Use the highest-quality unsalted butter you can find. European-style butters have higher butterfat content (82 percent and up) than most supermarket brands have—the extra butterfat not only provides superior flavor but also encourages better lamination.

Temperature. The temperature of the butter is crucial when you laminate the dough. Too cold and hard, and the butter will break into small shards; too warm and soft, and the layers will not be distinct. To test, press a finger into the butter slab—it should feel pliable and cold.

A Baker’s Tool Kit



Kitchen scale (optional but highly recommended; weighing both liquid and dry ingredients will yield consistent results)


Stand mixer with a dough hook attachment


Rolling pin at least 10 inches long


Parchment


Yardstick or tape measure


Bench knife


Pizza wheel (optional)


Two large baking sheets


Pastry brush

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