Croissants have long been staples of French bakeries and patisseries but home cooks can make them too. Anna gives a lesson on to how to bake them like a pastry chef.

CLASSIC CROISSANTS

A buttery handmade croissant, warm from the oven, is truly something special. Keep in mind that the dough takes time to be folded and to rise, so set aside the time in advance. Fortunately, croissants can be frozen once rolled and shaped.

Makes about 30 croissants

 

Détrempe:

3 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup water, room temperature

½ cup 2% milk, room temperature

5 Tbsp sugar

2 ¼ tsp (1 pkg) instant dry yeast

1 ¼ tsp salt

2 Tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature

 

Beurrage:

1 ¼ cups unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 egg whisked with 2 Tbsp of water, for brushing

  1. For the détrempe, fit a stand mixer with the hook attachment and stir the flour, water, milk, sugar, and yeast on low speed to blend, then add the salt. Increase to one speed higher and knead for about 4 minutes, adding the butter mid way through kneading – the dough should just clean the sides of the bowl. Shape the dough into a rectangle (it will be soft), place it on a parchment lined baking tray and cover with a tea towel and then plastic wrap. Let the dough sit out for 90 minutes, then chill for at least an hour, up to 8 hours.
  1. For the beurrage, shape the butter into an 8-inch square. Chill until ready to use if preparing in advance, but pull from the fridge to soften. Ensure that the butter offers the same resistance (is the same consistency) as the chilled dough – while the temperature of each may differ, the “give” should be the same.
  1. On a floured work surface, turn out the chilled détrempe and roll out to a square about 14-inches across. Place the beurrage in the centre of the square, but rotated so that the points of the butter square fall at the middle of each flat side of the dough. Bring the corners of the dough together, wrapping the butter like an envelope and gently pinch the edges. Roll the dough out into a rectangle about 20-inches long and fold the dough into thirds (this is called a single fold). Return the dough to the baking tray, cover with the towel and plastic and chill for at least an hour, up to 8 hours.
  1. Repeat rolling and folding the dough into singles folds 2 more times, rotating the dough 90° each time before rolling and chilling the dough for at least an hour and up to 8 hours before each fold. Let the dough rest for at least 4 hours and up to 12 hours after the final fold before using.
  1. For 12 plain croissants, measure out about 20 oz of dough and store the rest in the fridge. On a floured work surface, roll out the dough to a rectangle about 16-inches by 12-inches. Cut the dough in half horizontally and then cut 6 triangles from each.
  1. Make a 1-inch score on the short side of each triangle, and roll up the croissant from this side. Curve the croissant so that the point of the triangle is at the bottom and pointing the opposite direction as the curve in. If you wish, you can pinch the croissant ends together so they hold the curve shape.   Place these on a parchment –lined baking tray, leaving at least 3 inches between each other and cover these with a tea towel and then plastic. Let the croissants rise for 2 hours.
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 °F. Brush the croissants with the eggwash and then bake them for about 15 minutes until a rich golden brown.

The croissants are best enjoyed the day they are baked. If you wish to prepare ahead, you can make the dough, fold it and let it rise, and then cut and shape the croissants. Freeze the croissants on a baking tray, then pack in a container. The croissants should fully thaw and proof for about 3 hours before then baking.

 

ALMOND CROISSANTS

Makes 6 croissants

 

2 Tbsp  ground almonds

1 ½ Tbsp sugar

2 tsp unsalted butter, at room temperature

dash almond extract

8 oz croissant dough

1 egg whisked with 2 Tbsp water, for brushing

sliced almonds, for sprinkling

icing sugar, for dusting

  1. Stir the ground almonds, sugar, butter and extract in a small bowl until evenly blended and set aside.
  1. On a floured work surface, roll out the dough to a large square about 9-inches across. Cut the dough in half horizontally and then cut 3 triangles from each.
  1. Make a 1-inch score on the short side of each triangle, and drop a teaspoonful of the almond base at the base of the score mark. Roll up the croissant from this side. Place the croissant (do not curve it) so the point of the triangle is at the bottom. Gently pinch the ends of the croissant down (to hold the almond filling in). Place these on a parchment-lined baking tray, leaving at least 3 inches between each other and cover these with a tea towel and then plastic. Let the croissants rise for 2 hours.
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 °F. Brush the croissants with the eggwash, sprinkle with sliced almonds and then bake them for about 15 minutes until a rich golden brown. Allow them to cool, then dust with icing sugar before serving.

The croissants are best enjoyed the day they are baked. If you wish to prepare ahead, you can make the dough, fold it and let it rise, and then cut and shape the croissants. Freeze the filled and shaped croissants on a baking tray, then pack in a container. The croissants should fully thaw and proof for about 3 hours before baking.

 

CHEESE CROISSANTS

Makes 6 croissants

 

½ cup coarsely grated cheddar cheese, plus extra for sprinkling

1 ½ Tbsp all-purpose flour

8 oz croissant dough

1 egg whisked with 2 Tbsp water, for brushing

  1. Stir the cheese and flour together and set aside.
  1. On a floured work surface, roll out the dough to a large square about 9-inches across. Cut the dough in half horizontally and then cut 3 triangles from each.
  1. Make a 1-inch score on the short side of each triangle, and place a tablespoonful of cheese (reserving 2 Tbsp of cheese to sprinkle on top) at the base of the score mark. Roll up the croissant from this side. Place the croissant (do not curve it) so the point of the triangle is at the bottom. Gently pinch the ends of the croissant down (to hold the cheese filling in). Place these on a parchment-lined baking tray, leaving at least 3 inches between each other and cover these with a tea towel and then plastic. Let the croissants rise for 2 hours.
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 °F. Brush the croissants with the eggwash, sprinkle with the remaining cheese and then bake them for about 15 minutes until a rich golden brown. Allow them to cool a little before serving.

The croissants are best enjoyed the day they are baked. If you wish to prepare ahead, you can make the dough, fold it and let it rise, and then cut and shape the croissants. Freeze the filled and shaped croissants on a baking tray, then pack in a container. The croissants should fully thaw and proof for about 3 hours before then baking.

 

PAIN AU CHOCOLAT

Makes 6 pastries

 

8 oz croissant dough

1 ½ oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped or chocolate chips

1 egg whisked with 2 Tbsp of water, for brushing

Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

 

  1. On a floured work surface, roll out the dough to a large square about 9-inches across. Cut the dough in half horizontally and then cut 3 rectangles from each.
  1. Place a tablespoonful of chocolate at the base of each rectangle. Roll up the pain au chocolate from this side. Place these on a parchment-lined baking tray so that the seam of the pain au chocolate is on the bottom and press in the sides if needed to ensure it is a rectangle shape. Leave at least 3 inches between each pain and cover these with a tea towel and then plastic. Let the croissants rise for 2 hours.
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 °F. Brush the croissants with the eggwash, sprinkle with a little Turbinado sugar and then bake them for about 15 minutes until a rich golden brown. Allow them to cool a little before serving.

 

The croissants are best enjoyed the day they are baked. If you wish to prepare ahead, you can make the dough, fold it and let it rise, and then cut and shape the croissants. Freeze the filled and shaped croissants on a baking tray, then pack in a container. The croissants should fully thaw and proof for about 3 hours before then baking.

 

 

CHOCOLATE CROISSANT BREAD PUDDING

 

Makes 6 individual desserts

 

5 cups day-old plain croissants, cut into a 1-inch cubes

1 cup whipping cream

½ cup 2% milk

3 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1 large whole egg

2 large egg yolks

¼ cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

¼ cup Irish Cream liqueur

1/3 cup milk chocolate chips, optional

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Lightly grease 6 6-ounce ramekins and place these in a roasting pan.
  1. Spread the cubed croissant pieces onto a parchment-lined baking tray and toast for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring once halfway through toasting, then let them cool to room temperature.
  1. Bring the whipping cream and milk up to a simmer and pour this over the chopped chocolate. Let it sit for a minute, then whisk until the chocolate has fully melted.
  1. In a separate large bowl, whisk the egg, yolks, sugar and vanilla together. Slowly pour the hot cream into the egg mixture while whisking, then whisk in the Irish Cream. Stir in the croissant pieces to fully coat them, then let this mixture sit for 10 minutes.
  1. Stir in the milk and chocolate chips, if using, then spoon the pudding mixture into the prepared ramekins. Pour boiling water into the roasting pan so that it comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the pudding springs back when gently pressed. Carefully remove the ramekins from the roasting pan to cool for 10 minutes, then invert onto a serving plate and serve. Recommended to serve with a scoop of ice cream on top.

You can prepare and bake these puddings up to a day in advance and chill until ready to serve. Ideally they are best served warmed and most easily reheated in the microwave.

 

MINI CROISSANTS

 

Makes 12 minis of each

 

24 oz   croissant dough

1 egg whisked with 2 Tbsp water, for brushing

 

Peanut Butter Banana:

¼ cup peanut butter

½ banana, diced

 

Ham & Gruyere:

¼ cup Black Forest ham, diced

¼ cup finely grated Gruyere cheese

sesame seeds, for sprinkling

 

Salted Toffee Pecan:

¼ cup finely chopped pecans

¼ cup SKOR toffee bits

pinch sea salt

  1. Divide the dough into 3 pieces and roll each out into a rectangle 12-inches by 4-inches. Cut each into 12 triangles (for the salted caramel pecan, you can do pain au chocolate style cuts), and score and fill with each of the 3 combinations, rolling up into croissant shapes. Place these on a parchment-lined baking tray, leaving 2-inches between them and cover them with a tea towel and then plastic wrap. Let the croissants rise for 90 minutes.
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 °F. Brush the croissants with the eggwash, sprinkle the ham & cheese croissants with a little sesame seed and then bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until they are a rich golden brown.

The croissants are best enjoyed the day they are baked. If you wish to prepare ahead, you can make the dough, fold it and let it rise, and then cut and shape the croissants. Freeze the filled and shaped croissants on a baking tray (freezing not suggested for the peanut butter banana style), then pack in a container. The croissants should fully thaw and proof for about 3 hours before then baking.

Recipe Credit: Anna Olson