Cheater's Croissants
Cheater's Croissants Meet the pastries of our dreams. Erin McDowell

The magical croissant: So flaky. So airy. So buttery. So not easy to make from scratch...until now. After testing, eating and more eating, we’re happy to report that homemade croissants are totally doable. This recipe may require more effort than, say, our one-bowl chocolate bread, but we’ve modified the traditional method with your sanity in mind. (It’s the perfect weekend project, and the results are worth it.) Plus, the crescent-shaped dough can be frozen for up to six months, so load your freezer in anticipation of the holidays. 

Makes about 2 1/2 dozen croissants
Start to Finish: 6 hours (includes rising and baking time)

Ingredients

Dough

4½ cups all-purpose flour

¼ cup sugar

1 tablespoon instant yeast

Pinch of salt

1½ cups whole milk

3 sticks (12 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cubed

Egg Wash

1 egg

1 tablespoon water

Pinch of salt

Directions

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a hook attachment, mix the flour with the sugar, yeast and salt on low speed to combine, about 30 seconds. Add the milk and mix on medium speed until the dough forms a loose ball, 3 to 4 minutes.

2. With the mixer running on medium speed, gradually add the cubed butter and continue to mix until the butter is evenly incorporated, about 3 minutes.

3. Transfer the dough to a parchment-lined baking sheet. With lightly floured hands, shape the dough into a 3-by-6-inch rectangle (no need for this measurement to be exact).

4. Cover the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until the dough is chilled but pliable, about 30 minutes.

5. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a 1-inch-thick rectangle (about 9 by 12 inches). Fold the left third of the dough in toward the center, then fold the right third over the left side (see Finishing Touches). Repeat the process again, rolling out the dough and folding in the outer thirds. (All this rolling and folding is what makes the interior of the croissants light and airy.) Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate another 30 minutes.

6. Once the dough has chilled again, repeat the rolling and folding process two more times. Chill one last time for 30 minutes.

7. To form the croissants, divide the dough in half, then roll out each half on a lightly floured surface to make two ¼-inch-thick rectangles (about 9 by 12 inches). Using a knife or pizza cutter, cut the dough into skinny triangles about 4 inches wide at the base. Cut a ½-inch vertical slit at the base of each triangle (see Finishing Touches).

8. To shape a croissant, roll both sides of the base of the triangle (on the sides of the slit), then continue rolling to the tip of the triangle, creating a crescent shape. Repeat with the remaining dough.

9. Transfer the croissants to a parchment-lined baking sheet, making sure the triangle tips face down and are tucked under so that the croissants keep their shape as they bake. (Note: You can freeze the croissants at this point. Once they are frozen, remove them from the baking sheet and store in plastic freezer bags. When ready to bake, place the croissants on a parchment-lined baking sheet to thaw, then proceed to bake as instructed.)

10. Let the croissants rise until they’re about double in size, 35 to 40 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425°F.

11. In a small bowl, whisk the egg with the water and salt to combine. Brush the egg wash evenly over each croissant, then bake until golden brown, 15 to 17 minutes. The croissants are best served the day they’re baked, alongside butter and jam.

Finishing Touches

It's the details that count! Try these tips

  • This is how the dough should look in step 5 after you've folded in the two outer thirds. It's as if you're folding a letter. (Photo credit: The Baker Chick)

  • Here's what you’re aiming for in step 7 before you begin rolling the croissant: a long, skinny triangle with a small slit at the middle of the base.

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