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Croissants

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Yields 20 croissants.

A "laminated" pastry dough—with less butter than you'd expect—gives this classic pastry its irresistibly flaky texture.

For the pre-ferment:
  • 3/4 cup warm water (100°F)
  • 1/8 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 9 oz. (2 cups) all-purpose flour
For the dough:
  • 1/4 cup warm water (100°F)
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 6 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 2 packages active dry yeast (4-1/2 tsp. total)
  • 11-1/4 oz. (2-1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbs. salt
  • 1-3/4 oz. (3-1/2 Tbs.) unsalted butter, completely softened at room temperature
  • 10 oz. (20 Tbs.) unsalted butter, chilled
For the egg wash:
  • 1 large egg, a pinch each of sugar and salt added, beaten
Mix the pre-ferment:

In a mixing bowl, stir the warm water and yeast together. Wait for them to foam, about 2 minutes. Add the flour and mix on low speed for 3 minutes with a mixer (or for about 5 minutes by hand). The dough will be sticky and somewhat lumpy. Cover and let rest at room temperature (75°F) for 12 hours, until tripled in bulk.

Make the dough:

In a small pan or bowl, combine the water and milk. Pour the liquid into a large mixing bowl and add 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Sprinkle the yeast over the warm liquid, stir to dissolve, and let sit until it starts to foam, about 2 minutes.

Add the flour, the remaining sugar, the salt, and the softened butter, along with the pre-ferment, and mix. If using a stand mixer, knead with the dough hook, stopping to push the dough down the hook. Knead until the dough pulls into a translucent sheet without tearing, about 12 minutes. (If working by hand, knead for about 15 minutes.) The dough will be soft and supple.

Croissants Recipe

Transfer the dough to a large, lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic. Let rise at room temperature (avoid a drafty place) until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Roll out the dough:

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 12x14-inch rectangle that’s 1/2 inch thick.

Transfer the dough to a baking sheet, brushing off any excess flour. Cover it with plastic and put it in the freezer until it’s as firm as chilled butter, about 30 minutes.

Pound the butter to make it pliable:

Five minutes before the dough is finished chilling, lay the cold butter between layers of plastic wrap or freezer bags. With a rolling pin, pound the butter into a 12x7-inch rectangle that’s uniformly thick. Even out and square up the rectangle with your fingers and a dough scraper.

Croissants Recipe
Seal the butter in the dough:

On a lightly floured surface, position the pounded butter on one side of the dough rectangle, lining it up parallel with the edges and leaving about 1/4-inch margin. Fold the rest of the dough over the butter. Pinch the edges to seal in the butter. Fold the pinched edges over.

Croissants Recipe
Croissants Recipe

Position the dough rectangle with the folded edge away from you. Roll the dough into a 10x20-inch rectangle that’s 1/2 inch thick.

Croissants Recipe
Fold and roll to make flaky layers

Fold one-third of the dough toward the center, brushing off excess flour as you go. Fold the other third over the two layers, brushing off flour as needed. Press an indentation in the dough after each turn to remind you how many turns you’ve made (at this point, just one). Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to let the gluten relax and the butter firm up.

Croissants Recipe

Remove the dough from the refrigerator, position it horizontally, and roll it out to a 10x20-inch rectangle. Fold, rewrap, and chill as before. Repeat this sequence once more.

Croissants Recipe
Shape and bake the croissants:

Let the dough rest for 1/2 hour, then roll it into a 19x25-inch rectangle that’s 1/8 inch thick. Trim ragged edges and slice the dough in half horizontally, leaving both halves in place.

On the upper edge of the top strip, measuring from the left corner, cut small notches every 4-1/2 inches. On the lower edge of the bottom strip, do the same thing. With a pizza cutter and a ruler, connect the upper left corner of the top strip to the first notch on the bottom strip. Continue, making parallel diagonal lines. Now connect the lower left corner of the bottom strip to the first notch on the top strip to cut a triangle; continue until you end up with 20 triangles and some scraps.

Croissants Recipe

Cut a small notch in the middle of each triangle base and dab the three corners with egg wash. The notch helps the rolled croissant curl into a crescent. Starting at the base of the triangle, pull gently so the notch separates. Fold the base over twice, 1/2 inch each time, pinching as you go.

Croissants Recipe

Roll towards the tip with your dominant hand, pulling gently at the tip with your other hand. Finish the roll so that the tip is underneath the croissant. Turn it so that the lines of the roll converge toward you, and set the croissant on a parchment-lined baking sheet; leave at least 1 inch between croissants.

Croissants Recipe

Gently curve the ends of each croissant together toward you, pinch, and brush the croissants with egg wash. (If you’re freezing the croissants, do it now.) Let them rise uncovered at room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Heat the oven to 375°F. Bake the croissants in the hot oven for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. To check for doneness, push gently on the inner curve of the croissant. If it springs back, the croissant is thoroughly baked.

Croissants Recipe
Make Ahead Tips

Shaped, unbaked croissants can be frozen on a baking sheet, then wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen. To bake frozen croissants, take them out of the freezer the night before and defrost them, uncovered, in the refrigerator. The next morning, let them rise at room temperature until almost doubled in bulk (1 to 2 hours) before baking.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : per croissant; Calories (kcal): 250; Fat (g): fat g 14; Fat Calories (kcal): 130; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 9; Protein (g): protein g 4; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 4; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 26; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 370; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 50; Fiber (g): fiber g 1;

Photo: Daniel Proctor

I love this recipe and challenged my Dad to make them, and now, as the first reviewer's technical note commented on, he has sealed his fate to make these for Christmas morning every year. My notes--the recipe in the magazine is a little hard to follow but is laid out better in the online version. The recipe is not so much difficult as time consuming. The second reviewer notes she didn't follow the recipe strictly and this is not a good recipe to be loose with--I generally am *not* one to follow the recipe exactly, but until you have made these a few times, I wouldn't recommend straying from the recipe as written. You will need a good heavy duty stand mixer or a bread machine with a good dough setting. A hand mixer will not work well on this. READ CAREFULLY, because there are short comments like "repeat this step" when it's really several steps that you need to repeat. We would advise making this a three day event--pre-ferment the first evening; dough, folds and shaping on the second day; pull out and bake on the 3rd morning. Again--READ CAREFULLY and consider the time. You need to allow plenty of time to chill the dough between folding and rolling to get the flakiness in the final product. One year I didn't allow enough time for the butter layers to chill enough and the end product was a nice crescent roll. The other thing is that if you are like me and you keep your frig and freezer full, make sure you have enough room before you get started. You'll need enough room to chill the dough and butter and you'll be unhappy if you are trying to figure out how to make enough room with a tray of warming butter dough in hand. However, the end result is really amazing and you will find them well worth the effort!

This recipe is not for the faint of heart. But the results are fantastic! The downside: you will get many, many requests and not have the time or endurance to fill them all. This has become a "special request" with my family and friends. Note: This is not a quickie recipe. Plan this as a two day project. That way, the longest rest (for the dough - 12 hours) will be overnight. You have to love to bake for this recipe. The results are so, so good. Two technical notes: 1. One of my pre-ferments didn't foam well (may have been the yeast). Worked fine anyway, just missed that deep flavor. 2. Use the best butter. It's more malleable. Besides, when you put in this kind of work, you want to use the best ingredients.

Definitely not easy and not quick. It did not turn out for me but I did not follow the recipe exactly thinking that I have lots of yeast dough making experience. For the ferment I added more liquid as I thought the dough was way too thick. It was too much for my hand mixer to handle so next time I would use a food processor. This dough is different than any other yeast dough I have ever made. I had realized this some time in mid-recipe making so I wasn't surprised it did not turn out the way it should. But we ate it OK, actually my son loved it. I made one for him in a shape of a bun with chocolate chips inside. It tasted good when warm from the oven as the one left for later lost its crispiness and buttery flavor. I will try this recipe one more time just to try to correct mistakes I think I made and if doesn't turn the way it should, forget it, I'll buy ready croissants from a store. Oh, and next time I will make more chocolate filled either croissants or form them into buns.

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