Croissants

2019 Update: I’ve cleaned up the recipe to make it easier to understand, and added new photos.

2017 Update: I first published this recipe in 2009, at which time we’d been making croissants for three years, so it looks like it’s been a family tradition for more than a decade now.  It’s nice to see things you’ve come to know and love have longevity; I remember when we began creating the traditions that we wouldn’t do without, after years of sad, stressed, miserable Christmases. Now it’s a time of year we all look forward to, which is the best thing.

Original post 2009:  Croissants have started to become a Christmas tradition in my family – having fresh-from-the-oven croissants as part of our family’s Christmas brunch is something we all look forward to.

CroissantsBecause croissants take three days to make (but probably less than 2 hours over those three days, so the work is actually minimal) I start them on December 23 in order to have them in the oven on Christmas morning.  I rarely make them at other times of the year – I like to keep special treats separate from my normal baking – but they’re excellent, and you could make them every week and never tire of them.

One thing I’d recommend is to keep a weather eye on these as they bake – I’ve been making them for years, but this year is the first time the bottoms weren’t burnt, and that’s because I parked myself in front of the oven and pulled them out as soon as they looked cooked.

Served up with cherries and a selection of cheeses from our local cheese shop, Chasing the Cheese, these croissants are the perfect Christmas morning indulgence.

This recipe is part of my Shaw Family Christmas Recipes series; you can find the rest of our annual cooking and baking traditions there.

Croissants

Ingredients

You won’t use these all in the first evening – the daily steps are broken down below with the ingredients and tools you’ll need for each step.

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 2 ¼ cups flour
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt  
  • 3/4 cups butter at room temperature (170 g)
  • 3 Tbsp flour  

Special Tools

  • Whisk
  • Plastic Wrap
  • Parchment paper
  • Rolling Pin
  • Medium mixing bowl
  • baking tray
  • Small bowl (should hold at least 3 cups)
  • A very clean surface to work the croissants on
  • A basting brush (optional, sometimes I just use my fingers)

Day 1 Afternoon or Evening (December 23, Preve!)
Approx 20 minutes

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 2 ¼ cups flour
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Whisk
  • Medium Mixing bowl
  • Small bowl
  1. Warm 1/4 cup of milk to just warm – around body temperature.
  2. In a mixing bowl, dissolve yeast slowly in 1/4 cup of warm milk – it will probably not dissolve entirely. Try not to let it lump together (mine always lumps together, so y’know, do your best).
  3. Add 2 Tbsp of flour to the milk and yeast.
  4. Whisk until smooth, and then cover with plastic wrap.
  5. Set aside for about 20 minutes – it’s supposed to double in size, but it never really does for me and it always turns out anyway, so don’t stress over it.
  6. In a small separate bowl, combine the sugar and salt with the remaining 2 cups + 2 tablespoons of flour. Set aside.
  7. Warm the remaining ¾ cup of milk, to about body temperature, and add it to the yeast mixture.
  8. Gradually add the mixture of flour, sugar and salt, to the yeast mixture, stirring to combine  
  9. Mix until the dough is sticky and soft.
  10. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  11. Get the butter for tomorrow out now (3/4 cup), so that it’s room temperature in the morning (butter will keep unrefrigerated for about two weeks, so it’s safe overnight). 

Day 2, Morning (Dec 24, Christmas Eve)
Approx. 20 minutes

  • 3/4 cup  butter at room temperature
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • Extra flour to sprinkle on work surface
  • Small bowl
  • Rolling pin
  • Very clean work surface
  1. In a small bowl, using your hand to knead 3 tablespoons flour into the 3/4 cup softened butter until fully blended.
  2. Sprinkle your work surface and rolling pin with a layer of flour.
  3. Remove the dough from the fridge and begin to shape it into a 6 inch x 15 inch rectangle (it doesn’t have to be exact, or a perfect triangle!).
  4. Spread the butter on the top 2/3 of the rectangle of dough leaving a ½ inch border around the outside.
  5. Fold the dough like a letter, folding the bottom 1/3 up first and then the top 1/3 down.
  6. Turn the dough so the open flap is to the right.
  7. Roll it out to a 6 inch x 15 inch rectangle and fold again.
  8. Transfer to a baking pan, cover with plastic wrap and put back in the fridge for about 6 hours (a bit longer is fine – I’ve gone as long as ten hours).

Day 2, Afternoon (Dec 24, Christmas Eve)
Approx 10 minutes

  • Flour to sprinkle on work surface
  • Rolling Pin
  • Very clean work surface
  1. Remove the dough from the fridge, place on a floured work surface.
  2. Roll out the dough to a 6″ x 15″ rectangle, and fold just like during the morning.
  3. Do this twice, wrap it again and refrigerate it overnight.

Day 3, Morning (December 25, Christmas Day)
Approx 20 minutes

  • 2 Tbsp milk for a glaze
  • Flour to sprinkle on the work surface
  • parchment paper
  • baking tray
  • A basting brush (optional, sometimes I just use my fingers)

Start this process roughly 2 hours before you want to eat the croissants – I often push it a bit, but we have a pretty leisurely Christmas Morning, so not too much.

  1. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface.
  2. Roll it out to a 16 inch circle.
  3. Cut the dough into quarters and each quarter into 3 triangles.
  4. To make each croissant, roll the wide base of triangle toward the corner.
  5. Transfer each one to a baking sheet lined with parchment.
  6. Brush with milk – you can skip this step, as it is a little time consuming, but I find that I use the glaze to make sure my croissants stay in their ‘rolled’ position, as they sometimes come unrolled in the final rise.
  7. Let them stand for about 45 minutes for the final rise.

Day Three, approx. 45 minutes later 
Approx. 20 minutes baking time

  1. The croissants should approximately have doubled in size.
  2. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
  3. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Keep a sharp eye on them – I find the bottoms tend to burn quickly. If they brown too quickly lay a piece of foil over the top during baking.
  4. Let them cool 20 minutes before serving.

 

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