We're usually all about making down-home classic recipes, but croissants are a classic that may feel a bit intimidating. Are we right? With many people still spending so much time at home these days, we thought we'd bring you something to help challenge yourself. At the same time, we wanted to share a full tutorial so it wasn't totally out of reach. Are you ready to try your hand at a more advanced dough? Croissants are made from a laminated dough.
Lamination is the process wherein a lean yeasted dough is wrapped around a block of butter or fat in a package. This package is rolled and folded repeatedly in a systematic way to create paper-thin layers of dough separated by thin layers of butter. The dough becomes more difficult to roll with each fold and turn as the gluten formation is increased. In this recipe, we use three turns to yield the light, delicate layers. Our all-purpose flour is just the right protein content to support all the butter, but not make it a struggle to create this dough.
Using the right fat is crucial. The high-water content of conventional butter sometimes causes the butter to break up in the dough, which means that the dough layers stick together and don't rise as they should. We use a butter and shortening combination to boost the fat content and give a more consistent finished product without compromising the mouthfeel. Using a higher-fat European butter works for all the fat, but it might not be much better for the expense. Lastly, giving the dough layers a few 20-minute chills in the freezer brought the fat and dough components to a more comparable consistency, ensuring distinct layers.
Classic croissants usually require at least 8 hours start-to-finish, but most of that time is with the dough resting in the fridge. Don't let this time commitment discourage you from trying to make them. The process can be spread out over two days. If the dough becomes hard to work with or gets too soft, fold it into thirds, wrap and freeze it for 10-15 minutes. We also don't recommend making these in a sweltering kitchen, as the butter will melt quickly.
Texas Pure Classic Croissants
3 Tbsps. unsalted butter, melted
1¾ cups whole milk, lukewarm (90°F)
1 cup butter, very cold (2 sticks)
½ cup butter-flavor shortening
2 packets (4 ½ tsp) Red Star instant or rapid-rise yeast
4¼ cups (21¼ ounces) Texas Pure Milling all-purpose flour
½ cup (3 ½ ounces) sugar
2 tsp salt
1 large egg
1 tsp. cold water
Combine melted butter, lukewarm milk, yeast, flour, sugar, and salt in a 4-quart stand mixer. With a dough hook, knead on low for 2-3 minutes. Increase speed to medium for 1 minute more. Remove the dough hook, cover the bowl, and allow the dough to rest for 15 minutes.
Line a half-sheet baking pan with a rim with parchment paper. Lightly flour the parchment. Transfer the dough to the pan and shape it into a 10 by 7-inch rectangle about 1 inch thick. Wrap tightly with plastic and refrigerate for 1 ½ hour.
Butter Layer: While dough chills, fold a 24-inch length of parchment in half to create a 12-inch rectangle. Fold over three open sides of the rectangle to form an 8-inch square with enclosed sides. Crease folds firmly. Place butter and shortening in a mixer with the paddle attachment and beat, just until smooth and cohesive, about 2 minutes.
Unfold parchment envelope. Using a firm spatula, transfer the butter mixture to the parchment center, refolding at creases to enclose. Turn packet over so that flaps are underneath and gently roll until butter mixture fills the parchment square, taking care to achieve even thickness. Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes.
Laminating: Transfer dough on the sheet pan to the freezer. After 30 minutes, transfer to a lightly floured counter and roll into a 17 by 8-inch rectangle with the long side parallel to the counter's edge. Unwrap the chilled butter layer and place it in the center of the dough.
Fold sides of dough over the butter, so they meet in the center.
Press seam together with fingertips. With a rolling pin, press firmly on each open end of the packet. Roll out lengthwise into a 24 by 8-inch rectangle. Starting at the dough's bottom, fold into thirds like a business letter into an 8-inch square.
Turn dough 90 degrees counterclockwise. Roll out lengthwise again into a 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 the lightly floured counter so that the top flap opens on the right. Roll out dough lengthwise into a 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.
If you are spreading out the croissant process over two days, this is the point to stop until the following day.
Shape: Transfer dough to the freezer. After 30 minutes, transfer to lightly floured counter and roll into 18 by 16-inch rectangle with the long side of rectangle parallel to edge of the counter. Fold the upper half of the dough over the lower half.
Using a ruler, mark dough at 3-inch intervals along the bottom edge with a bench scraper (you should have five marks). Move ruler to the dough's top edge, measure in 1½ inches from left, then use this mark to measure out 3-inch intervals (you should have six marks).
Starting at the lower-left corner, use a sharp pizza wheel or knife to cut dough from mark to mark. You will have 12 triangles and five diamonds. Discard scraps. Unfold diamonds and cut into ten triangles (making 22 equal-size triangles in total).
Position 1 triangle on the counter. (Keep remaining triangles covered with plastic.) Cut a ½-inch slit in the center of the short side of the triangle. Grasp triangle by two corners on either side of slit and stretch gently, then stretch bottom point. Place the triangle on the counter, so the point is facing you. Fold-down both sides of the slit. Roll-top of triangle partway toward the point. Gently grasp point with one hand and stretch again. Resume rolling, tucking point underneath. Curve ends gently toward each other to create a crescent. Repeat with remaining triangles.
Place 12 croissants on two parchment-lined rimmed baking sheets at least 2½ inches apart. Lightly wrap with plastic. Let stand at room temperature until nearly doubled in size, 2½ 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°F.
In a small bowl, whisk together egg, water, and a pinch of salt. Brush croissants with egg wash. Place croissants in the oven and reduce the temperature to 400°F.
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 for about 15 minutes.