How to Make Perfect, Buttery Croissants at Home

September  7, 2017

All this month, our Baking Club is sifting its way through Chad Robertson and Liz Prueitt’s first book, Tartine. One week into the book and, as you can see in our members' photos below, croissants are rising to the top of everyone's must-make list.

Croissants are time- and labor-intensive, but those buttery, flaky layers are worth it. Weekend project, anyone?

Photo by Michele White‎
Photo by Stephanie B

Robertson and Prueitt's detailed directions are enough to set you up for croissant-making success, but one of the benefits of belonging to the Baking Club is learning from everyone else. We benefit from hearing about our fellow members successes (and occasionally, failures). Sometimes, it even feels like we have a friend in the kitchen with us, as was the case when club member Laura Ratliff walked us through what her process looked like, step-by-step:

For my first bake from Tartine, I decided to "go big or go home" and give the croissants a go. This is a behemoth of a recipe and well worth reading its entirety before even beginning the process, as you'll need to time out the steps so that you don't end up laminating dough at 11:30 pm as I did.

First, you make the preferment, which was quite simple. Then, you actually begin to make the dough. The dough has quite a long rest before lamination—5 1/2 hours, at a minimum—so these are best started early in the morning, with a plan to bake them the following morning.

I've never had much success with laminated doughs in the past, but right from the start, this dough was silky smooth and rolled out beautifully. It was soft and pliable but still felt solid and not fragile.

For the butter block, I love the step of mixing the butter in the stand mixer, although it wasn't exactly clear how to repackage the butter when you refrigerate it once more. For ease, I spread the butter over plastic wrap, roughly in the shape of the dough, and this worked perfectly for lamination. The butter was just pliable enough and perfectly shaped for the multiple "turns."

After making the plaque, the dough spent all night in the fridge, and when I woke up this morning, I shaped the actual croissants. Once again, it rolled out flawlessly and the instructions for measuring and shaping the pastries are perfectly clear. I went for a run while these did their thing in the cold oven and came back to beautiful trays of poofy croissants waiting to be baked! One discrepancy in the recipe here: He calls for the croissants to be shaped and placed on a half-sheet pan, well-spaced, but there was no way I was going to be able to put all of them, with room to rise, on just one pan—so I used two. No matter, since I rotated and swapped them during the bake, but worth pointing out since they do have a great rise!

Before baking, they get a wash of egg, cream, and a bit of salt, which you then let dry to get that beautiful lacquered look. I rotated my pans after about 10 minutes and they were ready 8 minutes later, so 18 minutes total, and well within the book's range of 15 to 20 minutes.

And after all of that, was it worth it? Ratliff has us convinced that it was:

Some neighbors swung by to have a few and they received rave [reviews]...Even with my hilariously novice pastry skills, they still have all of the staples of a good croissant: very tender, fluffy, distinct layers, plenty of crumbs down your shirt. If I can make these, so can you! Very glad I tackled them and will repeat them again when I want a project.

Don't have your own copy of Tartine yet? We've got plenty of other croissant content for you, whether you want to make your own or just doctor-up a day-old one from the local bakery.

Psst: Didn’t know about our Baking Club? Head here to get up to speed on how to participate.

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I like esoteric facts about vegetables. Author of the IACP Award-nominated cookbook, Cooking with Scraps.