I didn’t think I’d ever get around to it, but I’m finally able to cross off “croissants” on my baking goals list (!!!) along with “a plated dessert“, “dad’s birthday cake” and “wedding cake“. All that’s left is a Brooks Headley dessert, but I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready for a chocolate eggplant dessert…
I had to wait until the opportune moment– one (relatively free) rainy day for me to not mind staying home to babysit my dough, and when I happened to have good quality butter on hand. I was lucky enough to get my hands on some Kerrygold unsalted butter, so all the stars aligned one rainy day for me to take the plunge.
I went with America’s Test Kitchen because their recipe and video seemed super promising. Of course it had to be matcha, because it’s an easy way of making it a little more special than just regular croissants, and if I had failed… hey, at least it’s matcha flavoured 😉
There’s two components to the croissant: the dough itself, and the butter block. For the majority of pastries/muffins/cakes and whatnot, the butter is incorporated into the dough or batter, but for laminated doughs, it’s a bit different…the butter is separated, and instead gets encased as a block in the dough and folded together many times, and before you know it, you have a few hundred alternating layers of dough and butter… and in the magical heat of the oven, the moisture in the butter turns into steam, creating those puffy flaky layers.
The folks at America’s Test Kitchen came up with an ingenious idea of pounding out the butter while it’s wrapped in an 8″x8″ square parchment paper, so it’s super easy to get it to the correct size and an even thickness… you just pound away, making sure the butter reaches all sides.
Watching this video a million times definitely helped me get over that initial intimidation of laminating the dough, and as you’re actually doing it, it’s not hard at all… like origami, but with dough.
It just requires a little arm work to roll out the chilled dough to the precise size of even thickness (okay, that part takes a little finesse I suppose).
Sorry for the seemingly weird colour changes of my dough… the photos above were taken with natural lighting, and then the sun went down pretty quickly and my incandescent lighting resulted in these photos…
The hardest part turned out to be shaping the croissant, which I would’ve never expected. I think I may have rolled mine a bit too thick, or maybe a bit too small, because I wasn’t able to roll as many layers as I wanted to (you can see the dough only wrapped around twice).
The second hardest part was having the patience to let it rise and then bake it off… I let it rose for 2.5 hours and I definitely think maybe an hour more would’ve helped it poof up that much more, considering how cold it is these days.
Most croissants I’ve had at bakeries are either too crunchy/overbaked (or “twice baked”, I should say), which I actually don’t like because it reminds me of something deep fried, or not crunchy enough on the outside (like Costco croissants). The perfect one must strike the perfect balance.
So, the verdict for this one?
Well, I couldn’t resist tearing into a croissant a few minutes after it came out of the oven, and omgsh, if you’ve never had a croissant fresh out of the oven… your own oven… it’s something unworldly. Razor thin layers of crispiness, shattering and giving way to a much softer, slightly chewy, melt-in-your-mouth, airy inside… mind-alteringly amazing.
The honeycomb texture could be improved, probably with longer rising time and better folding/rolling technique, but for my first go at it, I’m pretty happy.
Anyone out there made croissants before? Care to share your own tips? 🙂
Happy baking, I hope everyone’s making it through the week okay!
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter plus 24 tablespoons (3 sticks) unsalted European-style-butter, very cold
- 1 3/4 cups whole milk
- 4 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
- 4 1/4 cups (21 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 4 tbsp matcha powder
- 1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) sugar
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon cold water
- black sesame seeds
- filling of your choice (I used chocolate peanut butter and bite-sized snickers)
- icing sugar
- Melt 3 tablespoons butter in medium saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat and immediately stir in milk (temperature should be lower than 90 degrees). Whisk in yeast; transfer milk mixture to bowl of stand mixer. Add flour, matcha powder, sugar, and salt. Using dough hook, knead on low speed until cohesive dough forms, 2 to 3 minutes. Increase speed to medium-low and knead for 1 minute. Remove bowl from mixer and cover with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at room temperature 30 minutes.
- Transfer dough to parchment paper–lined baking sheet and shape into 10 by 7-inch rectangle about 1 inch thick. Wrap tightly with plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours.
- BUTTER BLOCK: While dough chills, fold 24-inch length of parchment in half to create 12-inch rectangle. Fold over 3 open sides of rectangle to form 8-inch square with enclosed sides. Crease folds firmly. Place 24 tablespoons cold butter directly on counter and beat with rolling pin for about 60 seconds until butter is just pliable but not warm, then fold butter in on itself using bench scraper. Beat into rough 6-inch square. Unfold parchment envelope. Using bench scraper, transfer butter to center of parchment, refolding at creases to enclose. Turn packet over so that flaps are underneath and gently roll until butter fills parchment square, taking care to achieve even thickness. Refrigerate at least 45 minutes.
- LAMINATE: Transfer dough to freezer. After 30 minutes, transfer to lightly floured counter and roll into 17 by 8-inch rectangle with long side parallel to edge of counter. Unwrap butter and place in center of dough. Fold sides of dough over butter so they meet in center. Press seam together with fingertips. With rolling pin, press firmly on each open end of packet. Roll out lengthwise into 24 by 8-inch rectangle. Starting at bottom of dough, fold into thirds like business letter into 8-inch square. Turn dough 90 degrees counterclockwise. Roll out lengthwise again into 24 by 8-inch rectangle and fold into thirds. Place dough on sheet, wrap tightly with plastic, and return to freezer for 30 minutes.
- Transfer dough to lightly floured counter so that top flap opens on right. Roll out dough lengthwise into 24 by 8-inch rectangle and fold into thirds. Place dough on sheet, wrap tightly with plastic, and refrigerate for 2 hours or up to 24 hours.
- SHAPE: Transfer dough to freezer. After 30 minutes, transfer to lightly floured counter and roll into 18 by 16-inch rectangle with long side of rectangle parallel to edge of counter. Fold upper half of dough over lower half. Using ruler, mark dough at 3-inch intervals along bottom edge with bench scraper (you should have 5 marks). Move ruler to top edge of dough, measure in 1 1/2 inches from left, then use this mark to measure out 3-inch intervals (you should have 6 marks). Starting at lower left corner, use sharp pizza wheel or knife to cut dough from mark to mark. You will have 12 triangles and 5 diamonds; discard scraps. Unfold diamonds and cut into 10 triangles (making 22 equal-size triangles in total).
- Position 1 triangle on counter. (Keep remaining triangles covered with plastic.) Cut 1/2-inch slit in center of short side of triangle. Place a dollop of peanut butter or bite-sized snickers (if using) in the center of the bottom of the short side. Grasp triangle by 2 corners on either side of slit and stretch gently, then stretch bottom point. Place triangle on counter so point is facing you. Fold down both sides of slit. Roll top of triangle partway toward point. Gently grasp point with 1 hand and stretch again. Resume rolling, tucking point underneath. Curve ends gently toward each other to create crescent. Repeat with remaining triangles.
- Place 12 croissants on 2 parchment-lined sheets at least 2 1/2 inches apart. Lightly wrap with plastic. Let stand at room temperature until nearly doubled in size, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. (Shaped croissants can be refrigerated for up to 18 hours. Remove from refrigerator to rise and add at least 30 minutes to rising time.)
- After croissants have been rising for 2 hours, adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 425 degrees. In small bowl, whisk together egg, water, and pinch salt. Brush croissants with egg wash. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds. Place croissants in oven and reduce temperature to 400 degrees. Bake for 12 minutes, then switch and rotate baking sheets. Continue to bake until deep golden brown, 8 to 12 minutes longer. Transfer to wire rack and cool about 15 minutes. Dust with matcha powder and icing sugar if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.
- TO MAKE AHEAD: After shaping, place 10 croissants 1 inch apart on parchment-lined sheet. Wrap with plastic and freeze until solid, about 2 hours. Transfer to zipper-lock bag and freeze for up to 2 months. Bake frozen croissants as directed from step 8, increasing rising time by to 2 hours.