Ingredients for the Croissant Dough
500 g French Type 55 flour or unbleached all-purpose flour / plain flour (extra for dusting)
140 g water
140 g whole milk (you can take it straight from the fridge)
55 g sugar
40 g soft unsalted butter
11 g instant yeast
12 g salt
280 g cold unsalted butter for laminating
1 egg + 1 tsp water for the egg wash
First time croissant baker? Choose a cold day with a room temperature below 20 ºC / 68 ºF . This way you will have more time for the whole process and less chance of your precious butter being absorbed by the dough. The key is to keep the butter solid between the layers of dough, this is what gives the croissant its flaky layers.
Making the Croissant Dough
Combine the dough ingredients and knead for 3 minutes until the dough comes together and you’ve reached the stage of low to moderate gluten development. You do not want too much gluten development because you will struggle with the dough fighting back during laminating. Shape the dough like a disc, not a ball, before you refrigerate it, so it will be easier to roll it into a square shape the following day. Place the disc on a plate, cover with clingfilm and leave in the fridge overnight.
Laminating the Dough
Cut the cold butter (directly from the fridge) lengthwise into 1,25 cm thick slabs. Arrange the pieces of butter on waxed paper to form a square of about 15 cm x 15 cm. Cover the butter with another layer of waxed paper and with a rolling pin pound butter until it’s about 19 cm x 19 cm. Trim / straighten the edges of the butter and put the trimmings on top of the square. Now pound lightly until you have a final square of 17 cm x 17 cm. Wrap in paper and refrigerate the butter slab until needed.
Use just enough flour on your work surface to prevent the dough from sticking. However keep the amount to a minimum, otherwise too much flour will be incorporated between the layers and this will show in the end result.
Take the dough out of the fridge. With a rolling pin roll out the dough disc into a 26 cm x 26 cm square. Try to get the square as perfect as possible and with an even thickness. Get the slab of butter from the fridge. Place the dough square so one of the sides of the square is facing you and place the butter slab on it with a 45 degree angle to the dough so a point of the butter square is facing you. Fold a flap of dough over the butter, so the point of the dough reaches the center of the butter. Do the same with the three other flaps. The edges of the dough flaps should slightly overlap to fully enclose the butter. With the palm of your hand lightly press the edges to seal the seams.
Now the dough with the sealed in butter needs to be rolled out. With a lightly floured rolling pin start rolling out, on a lightly flour dusted surface, the dough to a rectangle of 20 x 60 cm. Start rolling from the center of the dough towards the edges, and not from one side of the dough all the way to the other side. This technique helps you to keep the dough at an even thickness. You can also rotate your dough 180 degrees to keep it more even, because you tend to use more pressure when rolling away from you than towards yourself. You can use these techniques during all the rolling steps of this recipe. Aim at lengthening the dough instead of making it wider and try to keep all edges as straight as possible.
Fold the dough letter style, cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes (fold one third of the dough on top of itself and then fold the other side over it). Repeat the rolling and folding two more times (ending up with 27 layers in total), each time rolling until the dough is about 20 cm x 60 cm. After each fold you should turn the dough 90 degrees before rolling again. The open ‘end’ of the dough should be towards you every time when rolling out the dough. After the second turn, again give it a 30 minute rest in the fridge. After the third turn you leave the dough in the fridge overnight until day 3, the actual croissant making day!
Roll out to 20 cm x 60 cmRefrigerate 30 minutesRotate 90 degreesRoll out to 20 cm x 60 cmRefrigerate 30 minutesRotate 90 degreesRoll out to 20 cm x 60 cmRefrigerate until day 3Rotate 90 degreesRoll out to 20 cm x 110 cm
Each laminating step should not take more than a few minutes. However if, due to initial inexperience for example, it should take you longer, you can fold your dough letter style, cover it and refrigerate it for 20 minutes and continue the rolling process after this rest. It is very important the butter stays solid.
Dividing the Dough
Take the dough from the fridge. Lightly flour your work surface. Now very gently roll the dough into a long and narrow strip of 20 cm x 110 cm. If the dough starts to resist too much or shrink back during this process you can fold it in thirds and give it a rest in the fridge for 10 to 20 minutes before continuing. Do not fight the dough, when the dough refuses to get any longer, rest it in the fridge! It is such a shame to ruin two days of work.
When your dough has reached its intended shape, carefully lift it a few centimeters to allow it to naturally shrink back from both sides. This way it will not shrink when you cut it. Your strip of dough should be long enough to allow you to trim the ends to make them straight and still be left with a length of about 100 cm.
Shaping the Croissants
For the next stage you will need a tape measure and a pizza wheel. Lay a tape measure along the top of the dough. With the wheel you mark the top of the dough at 12,5 cm intervals along the length (7 marks total). Now lay the tape measure along the bottom of the dough and make a mark at 6,25 cm. Then continue to make marks at 12,5 cm intervals from this point (8 marks total). So the bottom and the top marks do not align with each other and form the basis for your triangles.
Now make diagonal cuts starting from the top corner cutting down to the first bottom mark. Make diagonal cuts along the entire length of the dough. Then change the angle and make cuts from the other top corner to the bottom mark to create triangles. Again repeat this along the length of the dough. This way you will end up with 15 triangles and a few end pieces of dough.
Using your pizza wheel, make 1.5 cm long notches in the center of the short side of each dough triangle.
Now very gently elongate each triangle to about 25 cm. This is often done by hand, but we have found that elongating with a rolling pin, very carefully, almost without putting pressure on the dough triangle, works better for us. You can try both methods and see what you think gives the best result.
After you cut a notch in the middle of the short end of the triangle, try and roll the two wings by moving your hands outwards from the center, creating the desired shape with a thinner, longer point. Also try and roll the dough very tightly at the beginning and put enough pressure on the dough to make the layers stick together (but not so much as to damage the layers of course).
Proofing and Baking
Arrange the shaped croissants on baking sheets, making sure to keep enough space between them so they will not touch when proofing and baking. Combine the egg with a teaspoon of water and whisk until smooth. Give the croissants their first thin coating of egg wash.
Proof the croissants draft-free at an ideal
temperature of 24ºC to 26.5ºC (above that temperature there is a big chance butter will leak out!). We use our small Rofco B20 stone oven as a croissant proofing cabinet by preheating it for a minute to 25ºC / 77ºF. It retains this temperature for a long time because of the oven stones and isolation. The proofing should take about 2 hours. You should be able to tell if they are ready by carefully shaking the baking sheet and see if the croissants slightly wiggle. You should also be able to see the layers of dough when looking at your croissants from the side.