07 August 2012

Perfect Flaky Croissants

It's official. I have baking street cred. On the 4th of July this year while everyone else was getting BBQ side dishes prepared (I did mine the night before), I was on a 10-hour mission toward a major baking feat...homemade croissants.

Growing up, we often got the Costco packages of croissants...this, of course, was after my mom's health kick finally cooled off. At the time, it seemed like such a carb-filled treat. After some time in Europe, I learned that croissants didn't have to be soft all around. They could be perfectly crispy and flaky on the outside (so much so that you leave a little trail from plate to mouth) and melt-in-your-mouth tender on the inside. There are few joys in life like pulling out that slightly stretchy bit of dough from the middle of a croissant and hearing the crunch as you have your first bite.

The process starts with a simple dough of flour, milk, yeast, sugar, and salt. I used the Cook's Illustrated method since this kind of baking requires detailed and easy-to-follow instructions and the kind of expertise in baking that they have. I wasn't about to start following some blogger's instructions (wait a minute...)

After bringing the dough together, you create a square of butter. Yep, that's right...a whole square of butter. And not just any butter, extra fatty European butter. I can't guarantee that no drool hit it. Kidding, of course I'm kidding...maybe.

The part of this process that really takes the most time is cooling down the dough. This is the part of baking that requires a lot of patience and planning--I am only good at one of those things, I'll let you guess which one.

Anyway, after about a million times cooling, then rolling it all out, you finally get to make something! As you can see from the picture below, I taped off my counter  to the size the sheet of dough needed to be so I didn't have to constantly measure since I just have my bench scraper to do that. It really came in handy, but you definitely need to be precise.
Little buttery flags
After cutting the pieces, you get to form them. Shawn eventually had to help me because, surprise surprise, summer in the NW often arrives on the 4th of July and it was actually hot and they were starting to melt a bit.

Hurrying your photographer makes for a blurry pictures
At the end of this long process, you end up with 22 croissants. I kind of lied when I said it was a 10-hour process. It is, however since it was warm and 8pm by the time I finished, I skipped the rising and baking time. You can freeze the croissants on the tray overnight, then stick into freezer bags for later use...which is exactly what I did and why we were able to have croissants for breakfast when my in-laws were in town this last week.
Takes lots of time, but at least you get a lot of them!
Since the rising time increases to 4-5 hours when they are frozen, I had to get up at 3:15am to have enough time to make them for breakfast. I got a little worried when after 4 1/2 hours, they didn't seem to be doubled in size, as the recipe says they should be. But since I couldn't wait all day, I just put them in the oven and crossed my fingers.

I'd say the result turned out just fine...
Daisies care of the rental house we stayed at in Pacific City
I am happy to email anyone with this recipe, but due to the need for the step-by-step photos and instructions, I really hesitate to try to put it up. If you have a Cook's Illustrated online membership or are interested in getting one, the recipe can be found here.


  1. Little buttery flags wave victoriously in the happy places in my belly!

  2. I think croissants should be a new (and somewhat ironic) July 4th tradition. They're so, so gratifying to make at home. Props to you for doing it in the summer! My kitchen is so hot, anything laminated is usually off limits in July and August.

    1. I was surprised it didn't just melt into the counter, but our house has been staying relatively cool despite the warm temps. Our kitchen is in the back of the house and doesn't get a lot of light, so I think that's why it worked.

  3. I am seriously so impressed! To me croissants are a magical fruit that just come into existence fully formed... I can't imagine ever trying to make them myself. People who can work with dough like this are my heroes!

    1. I have to admit, I was a little shocked at my success the first time around...especially when it came to the rising since it didn't look like they had doubled in size. I have to credit the incredible instruction from Cook's Illustrated AND watching Julie Collin Davison doing it on the show about 5 times...

  4. Oh wow! Congrats on the beautiful croissants. I love flaky, buttery croissants but I'm too intimidated to try making them myself yet. Maybe someday :) Yours look perfect.

    1. Thank you and welcome! It's not as hard as I anticipated, so I suggest giving it a try. Just time consuming. I think it would be a much more fun fall/winter recipe...like a good thing to do on a cold day outside while watching movies all day. Ok, now I'm feeling ready for fall and it's 90 degrees here.