Homemade Croissants

Sunday 1 November 2020

Croissants from Scratch

 I will be honest here and admit that twenty years ago when I first moved over here to the UK, I had never had a croissant. Oh, I had had Pillsbury Crescent Rolls to be sure, but never a freaking awesome buttery flaky French Croissant.

I first experienced them when I was working at the Manor in Kent, and then I tasted an actual French one on the ferry across to France.  I had gone over with my friend Julie and she said that one thing that we needed to do on the boat was have a coffee and a croissant.

Homemade Croissants

 I nixed the coffee (as I don't drink coffee) but I did take her suggestion on the croissant. I ordered an almond one because I love almonds. I died and went to heaven. 

If there is one thing that the French really know how to do it is bread, pastries and croissants. I am no suprised that they all go for Continental breakfasts. If I had that on tap every day I would too!

Homemade Croissants

 I have never made my own however.  I thought though that one of the last things I would like to make, while I still have beautiful butter and flour available to me, was to make my own croissants from scratch.  Why not! 

Why not indeed!  I went searching for a recipe. I looked first at the book Baking with Julia. This award winning book (and indeed chef) was known to be one of the world's best bakers. The recipe was very convulated and required the use of fresh compressed yeast.

Homemade Croissants

Scratch that. I have never known where to buy fresh yeast here in the UK, although I am certain that it is available. I kept searching for a recipe. 

Next I tried Dorie Greenspan. I have several of her books. No recipe for croissants in any of those, which was quite surprising as she used to be Julia Child's right hand assistant once upon a time, and actually wrote Baking with Julia.

Homemade Croissants

 Finally I decided to try David Leibovitz.  He lives in France and is known to be a great baker. I found this recipe for whole wheat croissants.  I didn't have any whole wheat flour however. 

I decided to wing it and just use a mix of white bread and all purpose flours.  I had nothing to lose. I went for it. 

Homemade Croissants

There is actually not anything all that difficult to making croissants.  They do require a lot of time and effort, but really they are not hard at all.

I broke my time up into three areas which made them all the easier to do. It was not as daunting that way.  The first day I made the dough which was simple enough. 

Homemade Croissants

 The second day I laminated the dough by adding butter. You roll the dough out into a diamond shape, with four corners.  Then you bash out a block of butter into a small rectangle and place it into the centre of the dough. 

A good rolling pin will be your friend in all of this. I have a lovely beechwood one, which is heavy and one of my favourite kitchen tools of all. I never want to be without it. 

Homemade Croissants

You will need to do the butter thing three times, leaving the dough to rest in the refrigerator in between each. Once you have done that you can shape them. 

Shaping the was really each actually. Just roll the dough, cut it into triangles and then roll the triangles into croissants.

Homemade Croissants

 My first few were a bit wonky, but once I got the hang of it the rest turned out fairly good I thought. I am showing you my best one. 

I chose to put the shaped croissants in the refrigerator and bake them the next day because I was a bit beat by the end of all that and in all honesty, I had lost the light.

Homemade Croissants

 Anyone who is a food blogger knows that light is everything when it comes to taking good photos. I am not the best photographer in the world. I lack the patience to set everything up in a fancy way.

Basically you see what you see. I do my best and sometimes I get it right, sometimes not so right. At the end of the day the food is the star, but I can't make it look like the star without good natural light.

Homemade Croissants

 Sometimes it is worth waiting overnight just to get that perfect light. Just let the shaped croissants come to room temperature before glazing and baking. 

Now, after all that work, here is where I just about really messed up.  I forgot to set the timer for the second part of the baking.

They bake for five minutes at a really high temperature.  Then you turn the oven temperature down and bake them for a bit longer until they are perfectly golden brown and crisp. 

I usually set my timer for everything that I bake and I had done so for the initial bake time. I forgot for the second time however and it wasn't until I wondered what smelled so good that I remembered them! DUH!

 So they ended up being a bit darker than they should have done. They were still delicious however.   

A few minutes longer and it would have all been for naught. They might have burnt! That would have been very disheartening to say the least, especially after all the time I had already put in.

Homemade Croissants

Nevermind, I caught them before they turned and I was eally pleased with the end results. These were fabulous served with some soft butter and Bonne Maman Peach Jam.

Even today the leftovers were really nice, just eaten plain and scarfed down with a diet coke as I write. I know, I am incorrigible, but at least I got them baked. Who knows when I will have the courage to bake these again!  

Croisssants from Scratch

Croisssants from Scratch

Yield: Makes 6
Author: Marie Rayner
Once you have tasted a homemade from scratch croissant, you will be forever spoiled by any ready made version from the shops. Not quick, not easy, but well worth the effort.


For the dough:
  • 1 1/4 (175g) cups bread flour (strong flour)
  • 3/4 cup (105g) all purpose flour (plain flour)
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 2 TBS granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup (160ml) whole fat milk, slightly warmed
  • 1 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 5 1/2 ounces (156g) of unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 1 large free range egg
  • pinch of salt


    First Day:
    1. Mix the flours together in a bowl. Place the yeast, milk and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer and mix together. Add about 1/3 of the flour mixure.  Let stand until the mixture begins to bubble.  This will take 10 to 15 minutes.
    2. Mix in the remaining flour and salt until totally incorporated.  Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times to bring everything together into a ball. Do NOT over knead.
    3. Place into a bowl, cover with plastic cling film and then put in the refrigerator to rest overnight. (At the very least 6 hours.)
    Second Day:
    1. Using the paddle attachment, put the cold butter into the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium high for about 15 seconds or so, until no lumps remain in the butter. Alternately you can bash it with a rolling pin, turning it several times until you have a cold paste. Place the butter into the centre of a piece of plastic cling film. Close it up and shape into a 4 inch by 3 inch rectangle. Place in the refrigerator to chill for 20 to 30 minutes.
    2. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll out on a lightly floured surface to a diamond shape. You will need four flaps, two on top, two on the bottom, with the dough being raised a bit in the center square.
    3. Remove the chilled butter from the refrigerator, unwrap and place into the centre of the doug. Fold the four flaps over top of the butter, sealing it in completely. Bash the dough with a rolling pin to flatten it out, then roll the dough into a 12- by 9-inch rectangle.
    4. Take one third of the dough, on the left side, and fold it over to the centre. Then lift the right side of the dough over the centre to create a rectangle. Using your rolling pill, press down on the dough several times to make an X across it. Make a note on a piece of paper to indicaate you have made one "turn". Wrap the dough in plastic cling film and chill in the refrigerator for 45 to 60 minutes.
    5. Repeat two more times, allowing the dough to rest in the refrigerator for 45 to 60 minutes in between, for a total of three "turns." After the last turn, leave it to rest in the refrigerator for at least an hour, or up to overnight. (You can also freeze it at this point if you wish.)
    6. When you are ready to shape the croissants, line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Unwrap the dough and roll it out, on a lightly floured surface, to a 12 by 9 inch rectangle.
    7. Trim any edges off with a sharp knife. Cut the dough into 3 rectangles. Cut each rectangle diagonally. You should have 6 triangles.
    8. Working with one triangle at a time, roll them out o a length of 11 inches. Starting at the wide end of each triangle, roll the dough up toward the point, not too-tightly. Set each onem point-side-up, on the prepared baking sheet.
    9. Enclose the baking sheet with a large plastic bag (such as a clean trash bag), seal, and let the croissants proof in a warm place until the croissants are nearly doubled and puffed up, which should take 1 1/2 to 2 hours. (You may also chill the rolled croissants overnight. When you are ready to bake, them out of the refrigerator and let them proof in a warm place.)
    When you are ready to bake:
    1. Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F/ gas mark 6. Beat the egg together with a pinch of salt to make a glaze. Brush each croissant with this mixture and then bake the croissants for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat of the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4 and bake for 20 to 25 minutes longer until browned. It is natural for some of the butter to leak out when they are baking.


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    Homemade Croissants

    I am not entirely sure I would have the patience to make these again, but you never know. Hope springs eternal and they are excellent. I think everyone or at least any keen baker should make croissants from scratch at least once in their lifetime! What better time than the present when we all most of us have plenty of time on our hands!

    This content (written and photography) is the sole property of The English Kitchen. Any reposting or misuse is not permitted. If you are reading this elsewhere, please know that it is stolen content and you may report it to me at: mariealicejoan at aol dot com Thanks so much for visiting. Do come again! 

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    1. Wow these look great. They look very professional.

      1. Thank you! I am showing you the best side, and I almost burnt them, but they were a lot easier to make than I thought they would be however labor intensive.The wonky ones are at the back, lol

    2. I take my hat off to you, Marie as they look fantastic. You must be chuffed with the result. I'd never have the patience to do these or the physical strength to do all that rolling. Once upon a time maybe, but arthritis in my right wrist and hand has sadly put paid to that. But I'd love to eat them!

      I'm really surprised that you've never been able to get fresh yeast in the UK. Even here there is no problem and they come in nifty, convenient 50g packs (two varieties - one for bread, one for sweet doughs). The same company also makes dried yeast. I generally keep both on hand. The fresh yeast can be frozen and simply defrosted on the day you need it. Here you find fresh yeast in the refrigerated section along with the butter and baking margarine. Maybe the Scandinavians bake more than the British as no home would ever be without fresh cinnamon buns :)

      1. I was very pleased with the results Marie and of course the strength of a good beechwood rolling pin helped a lot. They are not perfect, but near enough and I was quite happy with them. Oh, I think you can probably get fresh yeast here but I am not sure where you find it. Then again I haven't really looked. Thank goodness this recipe did not need any! I hope you will give them a go! xoxo PS - I am sure that Scandinavians probably do bake more breads than the British!

    3. These look amazing Marie, however don't think I will be making them, too much faff! Lol. One thing I would love to make but never have is crumpets. Don't have any rings. Husband always said he would make me some, but I'm still waiting!

      1. This is true. Making these is definitely a once in a lifetime kind of experience. I do have a great recipe for making crumpets. Here is the link: https://www.theenglishkitchen.co/2015/02/homemade-crumpets-and-tea-cake.html

        You can use any kind of ring to make crumpets. Even empty (but clean) tuna fish cans with both ends removed!

    4. I made puff pastry a few times..and gave up..lol..this is asomethng you do when you love baking and learning..kudos..that's you!The only place I found french yeast was at a commercial bakery Première Moisson here in QC..Maybe other shave it..but..secondly...your pics are wonderful!

    5. Also..you often complain about your hands.I find them so youthful!

      1. I am lucky I don’t have any veins or age spots yet! I think a good manicure also helps! ❤️

    6. I've never done puff pastry from sratch or croissants. Well done. I'm sure they are better than anything!

      1. Thanks very much Jeanie. They are fantastic! xoxo


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