Small Batch Croissants
Dream of making flaky French pastries in your home kitchen? Making croissants at home can be quite the undertaking, but this smaller-sized recipe is easier and more manageable for home bakers. Making croissants from scratch takes some patience and practice, so don’t fret if yours aren’t perfect at first– they will still taste delicious. Follow our step-by-step recipe below to make six beautiful buttery croissants from your own kitchen.
Making Croissants at Home
You will need two days for this method. On the first day, the dough is mixed in the evening and then chilled until the next day. The second day is when most of the work happens– the dough is laminated, shaped, proofed, and baked. If you want to spread some of the work to a third day, we include instructions for that as well.
This croissant recipe is formulated to fit our 12" Compact Dough Sheeter but can be made with a rolling pin following the same measurements provided. Using a sheeter, however, makes the process easier and ensures a more precise and consistent dough thickness. It also helps with managing the temperature of the dough and butter by lessening the time the dough is at room temperature—the sheeter quickens the process and reduces the amount of time you are handling the dough. Managing the dough temperature is important for maintaining the integrity of the layers. Distinct, even layers will help produce a pastry with open, flaky layers.
We also have a cruffin recipe that fits the 12” sheeter and a larger croissant recipe for the 15.5” Folding Dough Sheeter you may want to check out as well!
Laminating Croissant Dough
Lamination refers to the process of repeatedly rolling and folding butter and dough to create thin alternating layers of each. The lamination process begins with a block of butter and a block of dough. The dough is rolled, the butter block is then encased in the dough, and from this point forward, the two are rolled and folded as one, creating increasingly thinner and thinner alternating layers of butter and dough. When baked, water in the dough and in the butter layers converts to steam and separates each layer creating many distinct layers.
It is important to pay close attention to the dough and butter as you are working. Maintaining the right consistency of dough and butter will allow for a better rolling experience and will produce the flakiest layers. The dough and butter should be as close in texture as possible so that they remain separate layers when rolling out, without the butter melting into the dough or breaking apart and pushing through the dough. This does not necessarily mean that the butter block and dough block will be at the same temperature.
If, at any point in the process, the butter layer becomes too soft, take a pause and place the dough in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes. If at any point the butter seems too firm and breaks apart as it is rolled, leave it on the counter for a bit to soften the butter. If at any point the dough seems to resist rolling, allow it to rest (either at cool room temperature or in the refrigerator) for 15 minutes. Forcing the dough when it is resisting will damage the layers of butter and dough you are creating and result in a less flaky pastry.
Small Batch Croissant Recipe
Active: 2 ½ hours; Inactive: 17 hours; Total: 19 ½ hours/two days (with an option for 3 days)
For the dough:
|2 ½ cups
|1 ¼ tsp
|2 Tbsp + 1 tsp
|2 ½ tsp
|1 ½ Tbsp
* We recommend using King Arthur All-Purpose Flour, which is what this recipe was tested with, or another unbleached, unbromated all-purpose flour with a protein content of around 11–12%.
We also always recommend weighing flour for bread recipes. If you must measure by volume, dip the cup into a container of flour, then gently level off with a straight-edge such as the back of a butter knife without packing the flour.
For the butter block:
|½ cup + 2 ½ Tbsp
For the egg wash:
- Bench knife
- Thermometer (optional)
- Pastry brush
- Knife or pastry wheel
- Two ¼ sheet baking pans (9 x 13” / 23 x 33 cm)
- Brod & Taylor Folding Proofer
- Cooling rack
Mix the dough.
In the evening, mix the dough. Add all of the yeast, water, and milk to the bowl of the mixer and stir to combine. Add the remaining ingredients and mix on low speed for 5 minutes. The dough will feel elastic and smooth. (This dough can be kneaded by hand if desired. About 7 to 9 minutes of hand kneading should be sufficient to develop the gluten.) Press the dough into a 5” x 5” (13 x 13 cm) square and wrap tightly. Leave on the counter for 30 minutes and then move to the refrigerator overnight.
Degas the dough & freeze.
The next morning, remove the dough from the refrigerator. Unwrap and degas by pressing the dough into a roughly 6” x 7” (15 x 18 cm) rectangle to expel any gas bubbles. Rewrap the dough and place it in the freezer for about 15 minutes. This brief period in the freezer will help to ensure the dough and butter are at a similar texture when the butter is locked in. While the dough is chilling, make the butter block.
Degassing the dough
Make the butter block.
Remove the butter from the refrigerator. Mark a 5.5” x 6.5” (14 x 16 cm) rectangle in the middle of a piece of parchment paper or heavy plastic wrap and then flip over so the marked side is facedown. (This will prevent any transfer to the butter.) Place the butter in the center of the marked rectangle. Fold the parchment or plastic over to completely encase the butter.
Making the butter block
Using a rolling pin, gently tap the butter to begin to soften it. The butter should become pliable but not soft and melty. If the butter is too firm, allow it to sit at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes.
Once pliable, use the rolling pin to gently roll the butter to 5.5” x 6.5” (14 x 16 cm). Try to keep the block as straight and even as possible. If necessary, unwrap the butter and use a bench scraper to straighten and reshape the sides.
Roll out the dough, and lock-in the butter.
To achieve the best results, the dough and butter should be as close in texture as possible when performing the lock-in. Before proceeding with lock-in, check the butter texture. It should be malleable (like clay) but not soft and melty. If the butter seems too soft, place it in the refrigerator for a few minutes before continuing. If the butter seems too cold (it will crack if you attempt to bend it), leave it on the counter for a few minutes. While not required, you may find it helpful to use a thermometer to check the temperature. Your dough temperature will be cooler than your butter temperature.
The ideal working temperature will vary based on the recipe, the room temperature, and the brand of butter. In general, at the time of lock-in, the dough temperature should be around 36 to 41°F (2 to 5°C), and the butter block 53 to 59°F (12 to 15°C).
Remove the dough from the freezer. Place the dough on the sheeter board with the 6" (15 cm) edge running horizontally on the board and the 7" (18 cm) edge running vertically, facing the roller arm. Bring the roller arm up to just above the thickness of the dough and begin passing the dough through the sheeter, decreasing the thickness with each pass until the dough measures 6” x 12” (15 x 30 cm), 7.5 mm thick. Use your hands to straighten out any edges and to make the corners as sharp as possible. Brush off any excess flour from the surface of the dough.
Demonstrating proper butter texture and locking in the butter.
Unwrap the butter block and place it in the center of the dough with the 6.5” (16 cm) sides running vertically. Fold the left and right sides of the dough toward the center to encase the butter in the dough and pinch the edges together to seal. Use a rolling pin to tap along the length of the dough, applying enough pressure so that the rolling pin makes light indentations in the dough. (This will help the butter roll out more evenly.)
Laminate the dough.
Turn the dough 90 degrees so the seam where the dough meets is now running horizontally. Raise the sheeter roller arm to just above the thickness of the dough and begin passing the dough through the sheeter, decreasing the thickness one step with each pass. As you are rolling, try to use dusting flour sparingly. Use your hands to lift and flip the dough occasionally to help prevent it from sticking to the board. Stop rolling when the dough is 5mm thick and roughly 18” (46 cm) long. If necessary, trim the short ends of the dough just enough to create a straight edge. Brush off excess flour from the surface of the dough.
Turning the dough 90 degrees and rolling out before folding
Perform a double fold. To do so, starting from the left edge of the dough, measure 5” (13 cm) toward the center and make a light score just to mark. Take the left side of the dough and bring the edge to meet the mark just made. Brush off excess flour. Take the right side of the dough and fold it in to meet the left edge of the dough. You will now have an off-center seam where to dough edges meet. Next, fold the block of dough in half as if closing a book. Gently press to seal the dough fold together.
You have now completed the first fold and can directly proceed to the second fold.
Performing a double fold
If the dough seems like it is becoming warm, and the butter is becoming soft, wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator to rest for 20 to 30 minutes before proceeding with the next fold. After chilling, let it rest on the counter for 5 to 10 minutes. This will allow the butter to warm up just enough so that it doesn’t crack while rolling.
Turn the dough 90 degrees so that the folded edges of the dough are running horizontally on the board and one open side is facing the roller arm. Bring the roller arm up to just above the dough (if the dough block is too thick, gently roll over with a rolling pin until it is able to pass through), and begin to pass the dough through the sheeter, decreasing the thickness with each pass until the dough is 5mm thick and measures about 18" (46 cm) long. If necessary, trim the short ends of the dough just enough to create a straight edge. Brush off excess flour from the surface of the dough.
Perform a single fold. To do so, take the left third of the dough and fold it toward the center. Brush off excess flour that may have been on the underside of the dough. Take the right third and fold it to the center on top of the fold just made. (This is just like folding a letter.) The dough block should now measure roughly 5.5” x 6” (14 x 15 cm). Gently press to seal the dough fold together.
You have now completed the second fold. Wrap the dough and rest in the refrigerator for 60 to 90 minutes.
Performing a single fold
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place it on the sheeter board so that the folded edge faces the roller. Bring the roller arm up to just above the dough (if the dough block is too thick, gently roll over with a rolling pin until it is able to pass through), and begin to pass the dough through the sheeter. Continue rolling until the dough is 10mm thick and roughly 10” (25 cm) long. Turn the dough 90 degrees, and continue to pass the dough through the sheeter until it is 5mm thick and roughly 14” (35 cm) long.
If the dough resists or shrinks back after rolling, wrap it tightly, place it in the refrigerator, and let it rest for 15 minutes before continuing with rolling.
Final rolling of the croissant dough
OPTION FOR NEXT DAY BAKING:
At this point, the croissants can be finished the next day if desired. To do so, put the dough in the freezer instead of the refrigerator. Before going to bed, move it from the freezer to the refrigerator to thaw overnight. The next day, proceed with the recipe as written.
Cut the croissants.
Remove the dough from the sheeter and lay it on a counter so the long edge runs horizontally. Check the measurements again, and if it has shrunken some, using a rolling pin, gently reroll to 10” x 14” (25 x 35cm). Brush off any excess flour on the dough's top and underside. Trim the long side of the dough just enough to have a clean-cut edge. Starting at the bottom left side of the dough, make a small score mark every 3.5” (9cm). Along the top edge of the dough, measure 1.75” (4cm) in from the left side. Starting at this point just made, make a small score mark every 3.5” (9cm) along the top edge of the dough. Using a pastry wheel or knife, cut diagonal lines connecting the score marks made along the top and bottom edges, creating six triangles. Place the pieces on a sheet pan, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. While the pieces are resting, clean any excess flour off of the workspace and line two ¼ sheet pans with parchment paper.
Cutting the croissant dough
Shape the croissants.
Remove the cut triangles from the refrigerator. With the base of the triangle held in one hand, elongate the dough by gently stretching from the base and continuing all the way to the tip of the triangle. Starting at the base of the triangle, roll the dough up toward the tip—trying not to roll too tightly as you go. Repeat until all triangles are rolled.
Place three croissants per sheet pan. Make sure the tip of the rolled croissant stays tucked under as it is placed on the pan.
Proof the croissants.
Turn the Folding Proofer on, fill the water tray, and set to 76°F (24°C). Place one sheet of the croissants in the Proofer, place the accessory shelf in the Proofer, and then place the other sheet pan of the croissants on the shelf. Let the croissants rise for 2.5 to 3.5 hours. The croissants will be ready when they have noticeably increased in size, appear light and poofy with visible layers, and wobble when the pan is gently shaken. Check the water tray periodically and refill if needed. If at any point the croissants seem dry, cover with plastic to prevent a skin from forming or very lightly mist with water from a spray bottle. Do not raise the temperature in an attempt to speed up the process. If the temperature is too warm, the butter will begin to melt, affecting the lamination of the dough. Near the end of the proofing time, preheat the oven to 400°F (204°C).
Before and after proofing
Egg washing proofed croissants
Bake the croissants.
In a small bowl, mix the egg wash by whisking the egg, milk, and salt together. Gently brush the croissants with egg wash.
Place the croissants in the oven. After 10 minutes, rotate the trays, lower the oven temperature to 350°F (177°C), and bake for another 10 to 13 minutes. Remove the croissants from the oven and allow them to cool completely.
Croissants are best eaten the day they are baked. That said, they will still be good for a couple of days after baking. Store croissants in an airtight container at room temperature and reheat at 350°F for 8 to 10 minutes.
Overall Bread Formula:
|Butter (for butter block)