We have mornings around here that feel more like a poorly scripted sitcom than real life. Eleventy billion toys scattered in a path of hard plastic destruction across the living room and to the kitchen. The sharpest toy always seems to lie in wait at the center of the doorway to our bedroom. Pointy end up. The sound that follows the arch of your foot being impaled by a plastic land mine is almost enough to cover the screeches from the unhappy toddler upstairs. The idea of being able to eat a relaxing breakfast before 10? A dream.
And then there are mornings like today, that feel more like a cheesily scripted coffee commercial than real life. The sun shines through the windows and reflects off of the clean, shiny living room floor. All the toys are still orderly stored away in the toy bin except for one. And the child sitting in the living room floor, happily babbling away, is content playing with that one single toy. Breakfast is a simple, plain croissant and a cappuccino, slowly eaten and savored. The barely audible “mmmm” at the last bite sends a signal that hell can now break loose. [Cue mushroom cloud. Cue screaming toddler. And fade to black.]
I wouldn’t even know where to begin to estimate the number of croissants I rolled at my parents’ bakery when I was younger. But today, standing barefoot in my own kitchen rolling croissants with a toddler circling my legs, signing for “more” – just one “Muh Muh MUUUUH!!!!” little piece of dough – it’s a far cry from the old days, when the ever-present, critical eyes of the bakery owner could spot a sloppily rolled croissant from the other end of that cavernous kitchen. Moms aren’t the only ones with eyes in the back of their heads – dads have them, too!
Croissants are very easy as far as skill level goes and require very little specialized equipment: a mixer, plastic wrap, a rolling pin, some parchment paper, and a baking sheet. And while it might appear that it requires several hours of your time, the actual hands-on work is basic and the time is relatively short. Shaping croissants into fluffy, flakey, buttery little flexing muscle men takes some time, sure. But it sure is fun. If you’re required to wear shoes and be somewhere else other than your kitchen during business hours, these are the perfect weekend project.
At the bakery, we shaped the croissants the night before and let them rest overnight on a rack in the cooler before baking. I personally like this approach as it gives the dough it a little more time to develop flavor. But if fridge space is at a premium, just bake them after shaping. They’re still buttery, tender, and delicious.
And perfect for any morning, regardless of the size of the mushroom cloud hovering over your toddler’s head.
Flakey, buttery croissants perfect for breakfast or sandwiches.
- 3 sticks + 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, cold
- 1 Tbsp flour
- 1 1/4 cup milk, warmed to 110-120F
- 1 rounded Tbsp yeast (if using instant yeast, use 1 level Tbsp)
- 3 cups flour (I use 2 cups AP, 1 cup whole wheat)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 egg whisked with 1 Tbsp water
- Make the butter package: Place a piece of plastic wrap on your work surface (it should be ~16 inches long to hold the resulting 7x7-inch butter package) and sprinkle 1/2 Tbsp of flour in a ~3x4 area of the plastic wrap.
- Place the 3 sticks of butter side-by-side on top of the floured square and sprinkle the remaining 1/2 Tbsp flour over top.
- Very loosely cover the butter with the long side of the plastic wrap and holding your rolling pin level to the countertop, pound the butter to ~1/2 inch thickness.
- Uncover, fold the butter in half, cover and repeat twice, finally pounding the butter to a 7in square. Cover tightly and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Place warmed milk in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Sprinkle yeast over top and let sit 10 minutes.
- Add remaining flour, sugar, and salt and knead until a smooth dough ball forms, about 5 minutes
- Add the 2 Tbsp butter and knead until incorporated and dough is smooth, elastic, and slightly sticky, about 5 minutes more. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for an hour.
- Roll out the dough into an 11in square. Place the butter package in the middle and fold the dough around the butter, pinching the edges to seal.
- Using your rolling pin, pound the dough until the dough square becomes more malleable and then roll the dough into a 14in square.
- Fold the dough into thirds, like a letter, and then fold that into thirds to form a square. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for two hours.
- Repeat steps 9 & 10.
- Divide the dough in half and roll one half to a 10x20 rectangle.
- Use a knife or a pizza cutter to cut the dough into 3 equal rectangles ~6 1/2 inches wide, and then cut those rectangles along the diagonal - you will get 6 triangles.
- Repeat using the other half of the dough.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment
- Working with one triangle at a time, gently stretch the dough so that both long sides are of equal length - for the first time since 9th grade geometry, I get to use the words "isosceles triangle" - and cut a ~1 inch slit in the short side of the dough triangle.
- Beginning with the two edges of the slit, roll the triangle outward, away from you, lightly stretching the dough as you go.
- Tuck the point of the triangle under the croissant and fold the corners towards the center, pinching them together (they won't stay together when baked, but it helps them keep shape).
- Place on the baking sheet and repeat the rolling steps for the remaining triangles.
- Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for an hour - or overnight in the fridge, taking them out an hour before baking.
- Preheat oven to 400.
- Whisk the egg with 1 Tbsp of water, and lightly brush the croissants.
- Bake for 18-22 minutes, until dark golden brown.
- Leftovers can be stored in a zip-top bag or in the freezer.
Yields: 12 croissants
Estimated time: 7 hours