A buttery, flaky bread, a leavened variant of puff pastry, it is named for its distinctive crescent shape. Croissants have long been a staple of French bakeries and patisseries.
2 (0.25-ounce) packets active dry yeast or 4 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup lukewarm milk, more if needed
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 pound unsalted butter (1 (1-pound) stick of butter and not 1/4 pound sticks)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, for dusting
1 large egg
1 tablespoon milk
- Dissolve the yeast in the 1 cup lukewarm milk.
- In a mixer with a dough hook, place the flour, sugar, salt and the yeast/milk mixture and mix for 2 minutes until a soft moist dough forms on the hook. If needed, add more milk, a tablespoon at a time until dough is moistened and smooth. Turn mixer on high and mix for another 4 minutes until very smooth and elastic.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, cover with a damp tea towel and allow it to rest for 15 minutes to relax the gluten. Remove the towel and, using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 10 x 9-inch rectangle and 5/8-inch thick. Wrap in plastic then chill for at least 1 hour to overnight.
- Several minutes before removing the dough from the refrigerator, prepare the butter by beating it with a rolling pin on a floured surface to soften it and form a rectangle 6 x 8 1/2-inches. Place the butter between parchment paper or plastic wrap and set aside.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll it on a floured work surface into a 15x10x1-inch and 1/4-inch thick rectangle. Brush any excess flour off the dough. Place the shorter side of the dough parallel to you on the work surface. Place the butter in the middle, long-ways. Fold the bottom up over the butter and brush off any excess flour and then fold the top down over the butter to overlap and encase the butter. Press down lightly with the rolling pin to push all the layers together and make sure they have contact.
- Continue rolling the layered dough to form a new 15x10x1-inch rectangle, patching any holes with a dusting of flour where butter may have popped through. Fold into thirds, like a letter, brush off any excess flour. Wrap in plastic and chill for 1 hour. Repeat this procedure three more times.
- Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out to a 13 x 24-inch square that is a little less than 1/4-inch thick. Cut dough with a sharp large knife into 6-inch strips then cut the strips into triangles, 4-inches wide at the base of the triangle. Stretch these triangles again 9-inches long, then place on the work surface and put a piece of scrap dough in the center of the wide end to enclose, which will plump up the center. Roll the triangles up towards you starting at the wide end and place them 2-inches apart on a parchment lined sheet pan with the tip tucked under and the ends slightly curved in to make a crescent shape.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and milk and brush the croissants with the egg wash.
- Place the croissants in an warm oven, but not turned on, with a pan of hot water placed at the bottom of the oven for 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours until puffed up nicely. Remove from the oven.
- Spritz a preheated 425°F (220°C) oven with water, close the door. Place the croissants in the oven and spritz again, close the door and turn the oven down to 400°F (205°C). After 10 minutes, rotate the pan and turn the oven down to 375°F (190°C). Bake another 5 to 8 minutes until golden brown.
Makes 20 croissants.