Well, here we go. To be honest, I don't know how any other food project can top this because these were a DOOZY.
Let's just get the obvious out of the way first: These did not turn out perfectly. They're kind of small, a little dense and I think there's still butter on my counter. True bakers probably wouldn't consider this a win, but I'm still standing and turns out croissants are delicious even if they are missing a few flaky layers.
Let's set the scene, shall we? Flour everywhere. Not enough counter space. SO MUCH BUTTER. You know that delightful part in It's Complicated when Meryl Streep and Steve Martin cap off the most adorable date in the world by making croissants together in her bakery? So cute, right?
THIS WAS NOT THAT.
The worst part was that I've read a bunch of other stories from people who made croissants, and they all said it was a ridiculous process. It's just that I actually thought I would be able to do it with no problem. I went through a bread baking phase in college, and I think I'm just now convinced I'm basically a professional?
Spoiler alert: Not a professional.
I've wanted to make homemade croissants for years, but it always just seemed like a ridiculous thing for me to actually do. Beautiful, buttery, flaky croissants are everywhere these days. Why ruin my tiny kitchen trying to make them myself?
Because I'm a little nutty. That's why.
Obviously this is like an 18 hour project, and while I would love to be able to say it's totally hands off we all know that's not true. A good chunk of it is hands off/rest time, but there is some actual work involved here. You're really singing for your breakfast with this one.
I'm sure you want to know if all that work is worth it. And here's the thing - my answer is yes AND no. Yes in that you get delicious croissants at the end. No because you could have probably walked down the street and gotten a delicious (and probably prettier) one in less than 10 minutes. It is fun to say you MADE croissants though, so definitely think about it.
I tackled this on a Friday night after work. The idea being that I would wake up to freshly baked croissants on Saturday morning. The idea was not that I would drink a bottle of wine in the process and lose my mind. But you know, it is what it is.
And let's be honest - there are worse ways to spend a Friday.
The GREAT news is that I'm pretty sure I messed up no less than 20 times and I still had tasty croissants at the end. They weren't the prettiest, and not really the flakiest either? But super enjoyable. So if you choose to embark on this adventure, please remember these words:
IT'S ALL GOING TO BE OKAY.
If you read the recipe below you'll notice it starts to go off the deep end, so like...welcome to my brain. All jokes aside though, this was a super fun thing to do (she says WEEKS later) and I might, MIGHT do it again.
I should also note I still have croissants in my freezer. Please come over.
Makes 20 (give or take a few depending on size)
- 1 ½ cups whole milk, warmed to about 105 degrees
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 TB + ½ tsp active dry yeast
- 3 ¾ flour + more for rolling
- 1 TB salt
- 3 sticks (1 ½ cups) butter, cold
To make dough:
Combine milk, sugar and yeast and let sit 5-10 minutes until foamy.
Add 3 ¾ cups flour and salt and mix until it all comes together. Knead for 8-10 minutes, adding more flour as needed to make it silky (so you don’t want it to be super sticky or anything).
(Of course, if you have a stand mixer you can let that do the work for you!)
Form dough into a 1 ½ inch thick rectangle, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for one hour.
Meanwhile, place the butter in a large ziplock bag. Pound and roll into a 8x5 inch rectangle. The bag made it less messy to roll, but it was harder to get the butter out so you can also do this between sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper if you prefer. To be honest, this was the hardest step so just pour yourself a drink and make it work, friends. Keep this butter block in the fridge until you’re ready for it.
After the hour is up, remove dough and place on a floured surface. Use your hands to stretch and pull the dough into a 16x10 inch rectangle. This was a little difficult, so maybe keep drinking. My dough tore a little but it ended up being okay. This was around the time the heavy breathing started.
Make sure the dough is on the counter with a short side facing you. Place the butter in the middle and fold the dough over it like a letter - top down, bottom up. Turn dough again so the short side is facing you and roll into a 15x10 inch rectangle. Fold it again like a letter, wrap in plastic and chill in the fridge for an hour. Meanwhile, keep drinking.
This is a good time to tell you that you’ll have to do this THREE more times. You will probably fight with the dough and question every life choice you made that lead up to this point. But honestly? You’ve come this far – just keep going. Roll it out into a 15x10 rectangle, drink, fold like a letter, cry, wrap in plastic, chill. THREE TIMES.
After the last time, let the dough rest in the fridge for 8-12 hours. They say you shouldn’t let it sit for longer than 12 hours because the dough won’t rise the way it is supposed to if it sits for too long, so just keep that in mind.
Make the croissants (FINALLY):
Preheat your oven to 425. Roll dough into a 20x32 inch rectangle (if you have tiny counters, split the dough in two and make smaller ones). Basically you want the dough super thin here.
Cut the dough into triangles. I severely failed at this and my triangles came out in crazy sizes, so I had some big croissants and some small. They all took the same amount of time to cook though so it’s okay!
Cut a small slit in the top of each triangle and roll it up, pushing the sides out a little. Place on a baking sheet and let sit, covered, for 1-2 hours. Mine didn’t rise or anything, but I’d still suggest letting them sit for at least 30 minutes.
Brush each croissant with egg wash (1 egg + a splash of milk) and then bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.
YOUR DONE! GOOD JOB! EAT ALL THE CROISSANTS!
Recipe and process adapted from Epicurious
Okay, so as mentioned above you might lose control of the process a bit. Don't let that stop you though - I think this is actually a pretty forgiving recipe. While my croissants weren't the most beautiful, flakiest of pastries they were totally delicious. What more could you ask for?
These freeze really well! I found they were best if I froze them after baking. Then I could grab whatever I needed and reheat them in the oven for 15-20 minutes OR throw them in the microwave for around 45 seconds (lazy, but effective). Alternatively, you could freeze the individual, unbaked croissants. Those you'll want to thaw overnight in the fridge and then bake off the next morning.