Monday, 18 June 2012

The Croissant Recipe

Be warned: This is a very long recipe. Recipe by Hamelman.

Makes 24 croissants

A)     Detrempe:

12 g dried/instant yeast
140ml cold whole milk
140ml cold water
42g melted unsalted butter, cooled to room temperature
504g plain/ all purpose flour
12g salt
80g caster sugar

B)      Butter block  - 280g

C)      Egg wash – One large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of milk

Halve all the ingredients if you wish to make fewer croissants but remember to roll out the dough to the different dimensions that I have provided below. ‘Halved’ recipe is good for those who are just starting to make croissants as it reduces any potential waste of ingredients. It’s also suitable for students like myself whose kitchen work surface is so small that 1/3rd of the dough would be hanging by the edge of the table (despite already maximising the surface area by placing it diagonally) when I roll the dough out for the last time.

Ideally you should work in a cool environment that is less than 24C in temperature, that’s easily achievable if you’re in the UK (mind you I made my last few batches of croissants in the the middle of Great British Summer). If you live in the tropics I cannot think of another way other than to do the rolling etc in an air-conditioned room and perhaps chilling your dough for 30 minutes more between each turn.

Here are the instructions split into two days.

Day 1:

Prepare the detrempe.

Measure all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add the liquid and knead until well combined and a ball of dough has formed. 

1.     It should feel just slightly sticky. Don't be tempted to add more liquid until you have kneaded the dough for a while as the moisture in the middle of the dough will seep through as you knead it. If it does feel too dry, simply wet your fingers and knead the dough again until it comes together as a ball and feels just slightly sticky to touch.

2.      Shape it into a rough square, wrapped in cling film and leave in the fridge overnight.  I tend to triple wrap the detrempe as I don’t want to risk it drying out in the fridge. An easy way to shape the detrempe into a square is by putting it in the middle of a piece of cling film, bring the edges of the cling film towards the centre, as if you’re trying to fold a square out of a piece of paper. Once the detrempe is enclosed, turn it over so that the loose ends of the folded cling film are trapped underneath. With the palm of your hand, gently press the detrempe and it will magically assume the shape of the square that you’ve just created by folding the cling film. It’s difficult to explain in words but imagine you’re trying to fold a piece of paper into a square with a ball of dough in the middle. If all else fails, just shape it roughly, the initial shaping just makes it easier for you to roll it out on the next day into a nice square, unlike if you were to leave it as a ball of dough.

3.       At this stage, you can weigh out the amount of butter you need, which is 280g and leave it in the fridge, wrapped in cling film.

4.       You may also prepare a square template measuring 19cm x 19cm, or 13cm x 13cm for  halved recipe using a parchment paper by folding it, creating a square pocket in the middle. This will help you roll out the butter block to the required size and shape later.

Day 2:

1.       Retrieve the butter from the fridge and, using a rolling pin, pound it on all sides to render it pliable and not hard. Do this with the butter wrapped in the cling film or else the butter block may stick to the rolling pin and you may end up sending it flying across the kitchen when you lift up your rolling pin for the next pound. Place the butter block in the parchment template pocket that you have made yesterday and roll it out to form a square of 19cm x 19cm. This is when the parchment template comes in handy as it’d be difficult to get the sharp edges without using one. Chances are the rolled out square of butter will be a bit larger than you need, simply trim the sides and scatter the trimmings on the main butter block and gently pound them so they amalgate with the rest of the butter.  Remember, you’d rather have a butter block a bit smaller in size than stated  in the recipe but not bigger, as it’s easier to seal the former but not the latter. Chill the square in the fridge. If you’re using half the ingredients, simply do as described above but roll out the butter into a square measuring 13cm x 13cm instead).

2.       Meanwhile, flour the surface and roll out the chilled detrempe from the day earlier into a 27cm square (or 19cm square if you use half the ingredients). Place the block of butter in the middle of the detrempe but it should look like a diamond. The pointed ends should be aligned to the mid-point of the detrempe’s edges.

3.       Seal the butter block. As you bring the pointed edges of the detrempe to the middle you may gently pinch them so they form a better seal. Gently press on the dough a few times to seal it further and also to get the rolling process going.

4.       Roll the dough out into a 60cm x 20cm rectangle, or 30cm x 20cm if you’re using a halved recipe. You should flour the worktop underneath your dough as you go along but brush off excess flour on the surface that you’re rolling on. Insufficient flouring can result in your dough sticking to the worktop and tear, this is detrimental to the layers especially at the later stages.

5.       Shape the dough as necessary with your hands to ensure you get as much of a rectangle as you can. Do a single turn. This is done by bringing the narrow end up to 2/3rd the length of the dough and fold the remaining 1/3rd over it, brushing off excess flour all the time as you fold to ensure better amalgation of the different folds later. Turn the dough 90 degrees.

6.       At this stage, if you’re quick you can do the second single turn by first rolling the dough out to the same dimensions as before and folding it. If you’re just starting out, I’d recommend doing the second single turn after chilling your dough in the fridge for an hour. Chill the dough again for an hour after the second turn and carry out the third single turn. Three single turns in total.

7.       After the third turn, chill your dough for 2 hours at least. You can even chill it overnight if you have the patience to do so. Roll out the dough to a 110cm x 20cm rectangle, or 55cm x 20cm for halved recipe. The dough will be more difficult to be rolled out this time as all the previous rolling and folding has developed the gluten in the dough and you’d have to also roll it out into a larger rectangle than before. If the dough springs back after you’ve rolled it, leave it to chill in the fridge for another 20 minutes or up to an hour. You’d rather do this than to forcefully roll it as that will just tear the layers as you’d inevitably be squashing it. And end up with a sore neck like me. 

8.       Once the rectangle has been rolled out nicely, trim the two narrow ends if they’re curved, you should aim for a very clean and even rectangle. Fold the dough into two so the width measures 20cm.  Using a tape measure or ruler, measure 12.5 cm across the top of the broad edge and make a mark with a knife. Repeat the same process but off set it by 6.3cm at the bottom edge. Using a pizza cuter or knife, cut the dough from point to point to form triangles. You will also get diamonds of dough but just cut them in half and you’ll get some pretty triangles. If you’re using a halved recipe, do the same as above but skip the first step of folding the dough in half.

9.       Brush off excess flour on your triangles. Using a rolling pin, GENTLY roll the triangles to as thin as it can go but NEVER squash it. For my wooden rolling pin, I’d just push it along the triangles and use only the weight of the rolling pin itself to elongate the triangle. Aim for 25.5cm in height if you can. Make a slit at the broad edge of the triangle and roll the triangles tightly into croissants. You should aim for at least 7 'steps' on the final rolled croissant.

10.   Place the rolled croissants on a parchment paper on a baking sheet and brush them with the egg wash. Leave the croissants in a warm and humid area to proof. For a student like myself the only way I could think of was to leave the croissants on a shelf near to my radiator with a cup of hot water beside to increase the humidity. The temperature must not be too warm or else the butter will melt. I measure the temperature by placing my candy thermometer on the shelf I wish to use to make sure it doesn’t go above 29C. If in doubt go low but never over. It normally takes 2 hours for me. You know it’s done when the layers start to split as you look at your croissants from the side. I noticed that the croissants were a lot lighter and more pleasant to eat when I have proofed them long enough, i.e; seeing the split layers. I may even proof them longer next time to see if it will be even better, though 2 hours worth of proofing already gave me really light croissants with flaky exterior but soft and airy inside. Some recipes even ask for proofing between 3 to 4 hours so I think it may be better to leave them longer if in doubt, but don’t over-do it obviously. I noticed that the layers tend to rise better with a strong heat source from the bottom of the oven, in my case, I have to place my baking sheet literally just above the oven stone. This is to ensure I can bake my croissant long enough for all layers to rise while not burning the outermost layers. In terms of egg wash, depending on your oven, you can increase the amount of milk to decrease the amount of browning, which allows longer baking time and a crisper exterior.

11.   Once proofed, apply egg wash for a second time and bake the croissants at 190C conventional oven/170C fan for at least 20 minutes. Turn the baking sheets half way through to ensure all sides are baked evenly, especially if you are using a standard student flat oven like me which has a zillion hotspots. The croissants should feel firm to touch and does not deflate as you press on it and this takes time. If they start to brown too much you may need to either lower the oven temperature or put a foil over the top shelf. The best way to check your croissants are perfectly baked is to slice through the middle and you should see all the layers nicely separated and not sticking together(a sign of under-baking, or poor lamination).

12.   Leave the baked croissants to cool for 10 minutes before you dig in! Baked croissants can be frozen or can keep in the fridge for a good few days. Simply reheat at 200C for 4 minutes(from frozen).

Rolled croissants are said to freeze well. I’ve frozen quite a few of them and will try to proof and bake them tomorrow to see if there’s a difference. Place your rolled but not egg-washed croissants on a parchment paper on a baking sheet, ensuring they’re spaced so they don’t stick to each other. Freeze them until hard and place them all in a freezable bag. It’s important not to put them in the bag and freeze in one go as they will end up like a mass of croissants and there’s no way you can take out the specific number of frozen croissants at a later date without severing the layers.

Simply thaw the frozen croissants overnight in the fridge, egg wash and proof them for 2 to 3 hours the next day prior to baking.

After some experimentation I have come to the conclusion that the extra croissants taste better if baked on the day (so you'd have to thaw the frozen UNBAKED croissant and proof them on the day of consumption) compared to reheated frozen BAKED croissant. The former being flakier and  have a better texture. That said if you're feeling lazy just bake them all at once and reheat them at a later date, the texture may be slightly compromised but the flavour isn't going to change.

Apparently week-old croissants can also be turned into something else called pain aux amandes, basically old croissants filled with almond cream that are baked again. I’m yet to try that recipe but I doubt I’d anytime soon, croissants are quite buttery on their own I don’t think there’s a need to inject it with even more butter and egg yolks.

Croissant dough can also be used to make pain au chocolat and pain aux raisin, and a variety of other viennoiseries. I’ve so far only made one or two pain au chocolat using the trimmed croissant dough but have not baked them yet. I just started making croissants a week ago after all!

Phew! That was the longest recipe I’ve ever written since the start of my blog! It’s quite wordy but I prefer recipes written this way so I can share my experience and tips that I’ve picked up along the way with people who read it. Anyway, have a bite of this:

One of the most important things I’ve learned through making croissants is good old Patience. Do not rush the process of rolling and folding. Leave them to chill for long periods so that you know they won’t be as likely to melt while you roll the dough, on top of that the gluten would be more relaxed and makes the job so much easier to do and you don’t end up with torn layers.

It actually occurred to me that it could be a good idea to make croissants with my kids in the future as a way to teach them the importance of patience, provided they like mega buttery croissants or else there’d be no incentive for them to bake with me. What an ingenious idea don’t you think? :D


  1. After reading your detailed recipe, I'm now embarking and on New Year's Day morning, I have my dough with butter, having had its first first turn.

    You mention the problem that gluten development may bring....does that mean it is best to under knead the deptrempe, ie only knead it till the dough comes together, and not the usual 10 mins? Your numbering jumps from 2 to 5, is there something missed out?

    Haven't told hubby yet that he has to wait for several the meantime making some bread with Einkorn Flour.

    1. Hi Noelle! Glad to hear that you're trying out this croissant recipe.

      1. Yes you just want to knead the dough until it comes together and just about 'rollable'. This is because you will be rolling it out 4 more times later and those will help with the gluten development. Kneading the dough too much at this stage will make it near impossible to be rolled out later unless you've got arms of steel, like that of a commercial sheeter.

      2. The numbering is just a typo. There aren't any missed steps in between. I'll get that sorted. :)

      To be honest I think it's best to spread out the croissant making process into two (or three) days. It is possible to do it in one day but do make sure you give the detrempe plenty of time to rest and also in between the turns. Rushing it means not giving the gluten enough time to rest and will make rolling out very difficult. You will risk tearing the layers that way, in which case the lamination won't be as good, i.e; less distinct layers in the end product.

      I've certainly tried doing it in a day and frankly speaking if I were to spend so much time doing the repetitive rolling and folding I might as well give it that extra bit of time of resting to make the croissants even better.

      Do let me know how it turns out!

      Meanwhile I highly recommend reading this blog for everything related to bread and croissants. They have a fantastic video on croissant making too!


Comments and feedback are what keep me going! I'd always be happy to help you with questions you have regarding the recipes in my entries.