A French Croissant is instantly
recognizable with its crescent shape that is golden brown and so buttery
crisp and flaky. When you cut into one you'll find the
dough has formed a beautiful honeycomb design with a texture that's
wonderfully soft. Yes, you can make them at home. While it's a
little time consuming, because of all the rest times, it's
worth every minute. And once you master the basic dough, you can make
plain Croissants, Chocolate Croissants (pain au chocolat), Danish
Pastries, as well as a host of other sweet and savory pastries. And
Croissants that are a few days old can be used to make Almond Croissants
(croissants aux amandes).
I learned how to make Croissants
when I took a two day hands-on class at the
San Francisco Baking
Institute (SFBI). Our wonderful instructor showed us all the ins and outs of
making a great Croissant and we were able to make batch after batch to learn the craft. The recipe I give you here is from the SFBI, although I
have modified it for the home baker. And if you're ever in the Bay Area I
highly recommend this baking school.
A Croissant dough is a laminated
dough. It's similar to puff pastry only it contains yeast. That means you have two layers of
slightly sweet dough with a layer of butter in
you may be aware, once the butter is encased in the dough it is rolled and
folded into thirds, three times, with resting times in the refrigerator
between the second and third fold. This does take several hours and it's
important not to rush the process.
are not that difficult to make. It's really all about precision and temperature. You must roll the dough to the required length and width and the
temperature of the dough needs to stay cool. You will find that if the
dough isn't rolled thin enough your Croissant won't have that
beautiful honeycomb interior. Instead you may have just a big hole in the
center surrounded by a thick layer of dough (looks more like a dinner
roll than a Croissant). Also, when rolling and/or shaping the dough, if it
gets too warm the butter will melt into the dough which again will affect
the texture of the baked Croissant. So if, at any time, you find your
dough is getting too soft or overly sticky when rolling, then return it to
the fridge until it firms up. If you're working in a very warm kitchen, I find it helpful to rub an ice pak over the
counter to cool it off before you roll the dough.
A few notes on ingredients. The type of butter used will
affect both the flavor and texture of your Croissant. For the butter layer
it's best to use a high fat unsalted butter (butter with 83% butterfat content)
as it makes a flakier croissant with a more pronounced butter flavor. In the
States this type of butter is normally labelled "European style"
While we used a low protein bread flour at the SFBI, it can be hard to
find so for this recipe I have used
all purpose flour to make the dough. There is also a little
(diastatic) powder which breaks down the starch and gives sugar for the
yeast to feed on. This is especially good for doughs, like this, that have a long
fermentation period. Malt powder also aids in browning and helps the Croissant have
a good rise. I have used
SAF Gold instant yeast
in this recipe. This type of yeast is normally used by professionals as it gives a
good rise, especially when making sweet breads with long fermentation
periods. An added bonus is that since the grain particles are so small, you don't have to
proof it first. What's great too, is that you can store it in the freezer
and then just scoop out the amount you need. However, you
can substitute with 10 grams (2 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast but I would
activate the yeast in the water, with a 1/2 teaspoon of sugar, before
making the dough.
Continue to the Homemade
Croissants recipe page.......
Let's get baking!