Croissants may feel like an impossible baking project—and while making them is time consuming, I can attest it’s an incredibly rewarding (and even—empowering!) experience. One of the best things about this recipe is that it’s possible to freeze the croissants after shaping. Frozen croissants thaw and start to slowly rise in the refrigerator overnight—meaning you can put in all that baking effort one weekend, then benefit with freshly baked pastries for months! My biggest piece of advice for croissants is that they will take longer to rise than you think. If you rush the proofing, you won’t have the coveted “honeycomb” texture on the inside of the croissants. Allow plenty of time, and remember, the cooler the room, the longer rising will take! —Erin Jeanne McDowell
Test Kitchen Notes
Bake It Up a Notch is a column by Resident Baking BFF Erin Jeanne McDowell. Each month, she'll help take our baking game to the next level, teaching us all the need-to-know tips and techniques and showing us all the mistakes we might make along the way. Today, a crash course in yeasted puff pastry—the labor-of-love dough for crispy-tender croissants, danish, kouign amann, and more. —The Editors
- Prep time 15 hours
- makes 20 croissants
recipe yeasted puff pastry (https://food52.com/recipes...)
Egg wash, as needed for finishing
- Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces and work with one at a time, wrapping and refrigerating the other pieces while you work. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a 9 by 12-inch rectangle. Use a knife or pastry wheel to cut the dough into 5 triangles with a 4-inch base (they’ll be 9 inches long—see reference image). In addition to the 5 pieces, you’ll end up with two half triangles, too—these can be made into a sixth (albeit slightly wonky) croissant, if desired.
- Cut a ½-inch slit in the center of the base of each triangle. Working with one piece at a time, lift up the dough and gently stretch the triangle to elongate it. Lay the dough back on your work surface with the base of the triangle facing you. Start to roll up the croissant by separating the dough at the center cut you made, stretching the two pieces of dough on either side of the cut to the outside edges of the triangle, then rolling up the dough into a crescent shape.
- Place the shaped croissant on a parchment lined baking sheet with the seam side down. If you’re planning to bake the pastries right now, place them at least 2 inches apart from one another on the baking sheet. If you’re freezing the croissants for later, you can place them close together, with just about a quarter of an inch between them.
- Repeat steps 1 through 3 with the remaining pieces of dough. If you’re freezing the croissants for later, cover the tray and put in the freezer until the croissants are fully frozen—at this point they can be transferred to an airtight storage container (like a zip-top freezer bag or reusable storage container of choice). If you’re baking the croissants now, proceed to the next step.
- Cover your tray of croissants loosely with greased plastic wrap and let rise until nearly double in size. The amount of time this will take can vary drastically—as little as 30 minutes in a warm environment, and over an hour where it’s colder. To see if the dough is properly proofed, gently press a finger into the surface. It should leave an imprint that slowly starts to spring back. If it won’t hold an imprint when gently touched, it’s still underproofed and needs more time. If it holds the impression and doesn’t spring back at all, it’s likely overproofed.
- Towards the end of rise time, preheat the oven to 400°F. Brush the croissants all over with egg wash and bake until evenly golden brown, 17 to 20 minutes; they should have an internal temperature of at least 200°F in the thickest portion. If the croissants have sufficiently browned but the correct internal temperature hasn’t been reached, you can tent the pastries with foil and/or lower the bake temperature to 375°F for the remainder of baking. Cool for at least 5 minutes before serving.
- To bake frozen croissants: Remove the frozen croissants from the freezer and arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet with at least 2 inches between each croissant. Cover loosely with greased plastic wrap and let thaw in the refrigerator overnight (8 to 12 hours). When the croissants are fully thawed, allow to rise as directed in step 5, and bake as directed in step 6.
Makes 16 croissants
In step 1, divide the dough into 2 even pieces. Working with one piece of dough at a time and refrigerating the other while you work, roll the dough into a rectangle 8 by 20 inches in size. Cut the rectangle into 8 even pieces. Working with one piece at a time, gently stretch each piece of dough to elongate slightly. Place the dough on the work surface, and place 2 chocolate batons towards one of the shorter ends of the dough. Roll up the dough to cover the batons, then continue to roll it up into a fat log. Transfer to parchment lined baking sheets with at least 2 inches between each croissant. Proof and bake as directed.
Ham & Cheese Croissants:
Makes 16 croissants
Have ready about 1/2 ounce of thinly sliced Gruyère cheese and 1 slice of ham per croissant (about 8 ounces or 226g) of cheese and 16 slices of ham total). Following step 1 above, divide the dough into 2 even pieces. Working with one piece of dough at a time and refrigerating the other while you work, roll the dough into a rectangle 8 by 20 inches in size. Cut the rectangle into 8 even pieces. Working with one piece at a time, gently stretch each piece of dough to elongate slightly. Spread 2 teaspoons (10g) whole grain mustard towards one of the shorter ends of the dough, and place one slice each of the ham and cheese on top. Roll up the dough to cover the ham and cheese, then continue to roll up the croissant into a fat log. Transfer to parchment lined baking sheets with at least 2 inches between each croissant. Proof and bake as directed.