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Baker's Croissants

slightly adapted from King Arthur Flour
Servings 24

Ingredients
  

Dough

  • 2 large eggs plus enough warm water to make 2 cups of liquid
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 1/2-6 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 scant Tbsp fine sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter melted

Butter

  • 1 7/8 cups 14 Tbsp unsalted butter, cool to the touch
  • 3/4 tsp fine sea salt omit if using salted butter
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour

Eggwash

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 Tbsp water

Instructions
 

Dough

  • To make a sponge, crack eggs into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup and add to them enough warm water to equal 2 cups. Gently beat until blended, then pour into a large mixing bowl.
  • Add 1 Tbsp of the sugar, 3 cups of the flour, and the yeast, mixing until well blended. Cover and set aside.

Butter

  • While the yeast is starting, work on the butter. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the butter, salt, and flour until smooth. This may take some time. Don't turn up the speed; you don't want to incorporate air into the butter mixture.
  • Lightly flour a piece of parchment paper. Scrape the butter mixture onto the middle of it and, using a butter knife, spread into a square about 8"x8". Wrap and lay flat in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Dough

  • Wash and dry the bowl for your stand mixer and transfer the sponge to it. Add to that the melted butter, turning on your mixer for a few rotations to blend it in.
  • Whisk together the remaining 2 1/2 cups of flour, 3 Tbsp of granulated sugar, and salt. Using the paddle attachment, mix in the dry ingredients with the sponge until you have a soft, kneadable dough.
  • Using the dough hook, or your well-floured hands and counter, knead the dough, adding flour from the remaining half cup, 1 Tbsp at a time, if it is too sticky.
  • Once the dough is smooth and elastic, rip off a piece of parchment paper, put the dough ball on top, and pat it into a square. Wrap and put it into the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Rolling

  • Lightly flour your work surface and place the chilled dough on top. Roll it out into a square about 12"x12".
  • Unwrap the butter slab and place it in the middle of the dough square, off-set so it looks like a diamond inside.
  • Fold the dough flaps over the edges of the butter until they meet in the middle, then pinch and seal the edges. You can use a little water on your fingers if necessary to get the dough to stick together.
  • Dust with flour, flip the dough package over, and tap it gently with the rolling pin, forming it into a rectangular shape. Pick up the dough and check that it isn't sticking underneath; if it is, lightly flour the surface, then roll from the center out until you have a 10"x20" rectangle.
  • Take a dry brush and sweep off any excess flour. Fold the bottom third of the dough into the center, then the top third over it, like it's a business letter. Be sure to line up the edges. This is the first "turn."
  • Take the left side of the dough letter and fold it over to the right side, making a sort of book. This is the second "turn."
  • If the dough is still cool enough, you can repeat the above. You have to be careful it doesn't get too warm or the butter will all squeeze out.
  • Wrap the dough package and return to the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
  • Repeat the above for turns 3 and 4.
  • Wrap the dough well and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight. (I only lasted 1 hour.)

Shaping

  • Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Working with half the dough at a time, roll out to a 12"x18" rectangle.
  • Using a pizza cutter, trim the edges of the rectangle, so they're all nice and sharp.
  • Cut the dough in thirds lengthwise, then in half the other way, so you have 6 rectangles.
  • Cut diagonally across each rectangle, so you have 12 triangles.
  • On the short side of each triangle, cut a 1/2" notch in the center.
  • Roll from the short side to the point, making sure you keep the point underneath when you place the croissant onto the baking sheet. (Trust me, this is important! You may not think it'll happen, but they can unroll while baking.) It's okay if you have to stretch the dough a little to roll them up properly.
  • Bend the ends toward the middle to make crescent shapes.
  • Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. (You can also take the baking sheet and freeze them at this point. Once they're solid, transfer to a zip top freezer bag for longer storage.)

Baking

  • When ready to bake, preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Remove croissants from refrigerator.
  • Beat together 1 egg with 1 Tbsp water for an egg wash. Brush the tops of each croissant with this.
  • Bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees, then reduce temperature to 350 degrees. Depending on the size of your croissants, the second stage of baking can take anywhere from 8-12 minutes. Just make sure they're golden when you remove them--you don't want underbaked middles.
  • Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Notes

*To bake the frozen croissants, set your oven on warm (in my case, it's about 170 degrees Fahrenheit). Place the frozen croissants on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and proof them in the warm oven for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and proceed as usual for baking.
*I have to say, the croissants I baked off that were frozen were even better than the original ones I baked, which leads me to believe that the proofing made a huge difference in texture. Something to keep in mind if you're thinking of tweaking the recipe. Next time, if baking right away, I'd probably proof in the oven for 20-25 minutes before preheating the oven and proceeding with the rest of the baking procedure.