Published December 14, 2006.
Are flaky, buttery croissants too complicated and time-consuming to make at home?
Recipes for croissants are intimidating—with lengthy, complicated directions and fussy, time-consuming procedures.
We wanted a foolproof method for preparing authentic croissants at home.
Texturally speaking, croissants fall somewhere in between bread and pastry. Regular, all-purpose flour delivered the flakiest, most tender results—high-protein bread flour yielded dough that was too elastic and low-protein cake flour yielded dough that was too weak to roll and shape. For the liquid component, milk made the dough fuller tasting than dough made with water. Moderate amounts of sugar and salt brought out the best flavor, and a whopping tablespoon of yeast was necessary to provide lift. The real challenge was dealing with the traditional butter square. (This is a "laminated" dough, i.e. a dough composed of multiple layers formed by wrapping a sheet of dough around a sheet of butter, rolled into a thin rectangle, and folded into thirds. The dough is allowed to rest and then rolled and folded several more times.) Three sticks of butter yielded optimum butter flavor; mixing a little flour in the butter made it more malleable. We also discovered that the turning process could be easier than traditionally required. We reduced both the number of turns (from six to four) and the resting period between turns (by giving the dough two turns before chilling). Our final discovery involved shaping the croissants—a small cut in the shortest side of the triangle made the dough easier to stretch and coax the ends into the requisite crescent shape.list of recipes