The mighty croissant dough, plus ideas for filling

Making a croissant dough is very similar to the process used for puff pastry. It’s about alternating layers of dough and trapping the butter in between. The yeast enriches the dough by giving that taste everybody loves in a croissant or a danish for that matter. 
You can use this dough to make savoury pastries. It’s a must have in the freezer. I’m posting here an illustrated post on how to make a croissant dough and also many ideas to use at any occcasion:  breakfast, snacks time, receiving guests..
Do not give up if it does not work the first time. It needs a couple of times to practise and you will become an Ace of making puff pastry, or a pâte levée feuilletée (a leavened puff pastry): flaky to perfection!
Photo updated on june 2013

This time, I started the 1st step of making my croissants by using a bread machine, the rest is of course done manually. Here is my first post about croissants and raisin rolls using almond cream (in French).

I aslo make almond croissants and apple turnovers, chaussons and “jalousie aux pommes” using the same dough.
My recipe is a blend between Christophe Felder (without that much butter in the detrempe), Gontran Cherrier (but with more proofing time), Jacques Torres (almost the same proofing time).

A danish-inspired versiom, with jam

Hot dogs sausage appetizers
Apple turnovers

I’m submitting this recipe in

Yiels about 10 croissants

Prep: 10 min- Proofing: 2h-Resting: 1h30– Proofing: 1h to 2h- Baking: 15 min
  • 130 ml of cold milk
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 2 tbsp of melted butter (optional)
  • 30 g of caster sugar
  • 250g bread flour (white)
  • 10g of fresh yeast or 1 tsp of dry yeast + 2tbsp water, lukewarm
For the « tourage » or “laminating”
  • 125g butter, cold but not too hard for “tourage”
Egg wash
  • 1egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp of milk
  • 1 tsp of sugar (optional)
Photo updated on june 2013
Dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water.
In the bread machine: place the ingredients in the order mentioned above, except for the butter.
Start program 8 “bread”. Collect the dough before the proofing phase starts.
Manually or with an electric mixer with dough hook: Put flour, salt and sugar in the bowl (or a work surface) and mix on low. Pour in the milk and the yeast. Knead just like you are planning to make bread.
Bread machine, or electric mixer, or manually: after the kneading process has ended and until the dough is well combined and no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. If the dough is too soft, add more flour 1 tablespoon at a time until it is firmer place dough in the fridge for about 20 min.
Spread butter in a square shaped (20*20 cm) form and chill it until use. 
Wrap the rectangle with a Clingfilm and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours. Remove the dough from the refrigerator, unwrap the rectangle, and place it with a long side facing you on a lightly floured work surface.
Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and roll it out to a 20*40 cm rectangle (or about) and about 6 mm thick. Place the square of butter.
Photos illustrating 2 tours
First Turn: fold the flaps over (in thirds) to completely enclose the butter. Seal the edges. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes to 1 h.
Second Turn: Give the chilled dough a quarter turn, roll out into the rectangle. Give it length by gently pressing and pushing with a rolling pin (this is how the dough absorbs the butter). Do not give it width. Wrap again in thirds and refrigerate 30 min to 1h.
Third Turn: Roll the dough in the opposite direction as before, into the rectangle, same process as 2nd turn.
I usually give 4 turns. The dough is now ready for use after that.
Shaping croissants
If you want to make croissants that look similar and with a standard size, cut a cardboard template, 9cm base, 16 cm height.
Lightly flour work surface and roll dough to a rectangle, make sure it’s not thick (for better results), I would say about 3 to 4 mm maximum.
After rolling the dough, aerate underneath by lifting it to make sure it’s not sticking to the work surface or shrinking.
Using the template, cut the triangles with a sharp knife.
Lay 1 triangle on the work surface. Make about 1cm cut in the middle of the base and slightly pull the 2 corners. Also, you need to pull the top corner slightly.
Roll the croissant from the bottom all the way to the top. Seal by placing that last corner at the bottom (I also dip my finger in egg yolk and seal it by gluing the last corner to the croissant).
Place on a baking sheet and turn the base points rowards you to form a crescent. Repeat with the rest of the triangles. Lightly brush with egg wash.
Shaping basic croissants
Place the croissants on a baking tray, in a warm place to let proof and rise for about 2 hours, or until puffed and almost doubled.  Brush again with egg wash and bake in a preheated oven 180 C for about 15 minutes until golden brown.
Twisters and rings using leftover dough and trimmings (with cheese, mustard, chili and herbs)

Za’atar mini-croissants made out of leftover dough (check here for recipe)

Notes and must-read
Some good baking books advice to let the dough proof for a long time it the fridge. MichelRoux’s “Pastry” says that the dough shouldn’t be elastic but will spend a long time in the fridge to develop flavour: the cold retards the rising process, allowing a slow fermentation to help develop the flavour of the dough.

The other way of making it is to let dough proof before placing it in the fridge. Then the “tourage” steps will take less time to proof.
Sometimes, I follow Michel Roux’s directions if I really have time. But if you want your croissants or any “viennoiserie” to be ready in a shorter time, you may follow this recipe. It’s the shortest way to a very good croissant dough.
Never over-flour the work surface; you just need a slight cloud every time you need to roll the dough.
The dough and the butter should have almost the same temperature or the same texture, so no damages happen during the process.. The Butter should be cold but not hard, too soft it will come off the edges, too cold, it will make holes in the dough. The butter has to be trapped at all times so the puffing process in the oven is successful.
Keep the dough frozen: shape croissants, Danish, raisin rolls (coming soon in English, but already here in French) and them freeze them. Thaw before baking.

6 thoughts on “The mighty croissant dough, plus ideas for filling

  1. Good job Nada! Looks really delicious, the feuilletée looks perfect, nice colour and the right texture. Thanks fot the helpful pictures.Here we see Michel Roux jr. as a judge on Masterchef the tv challenge for cooking.


  2. Thanks Eric…It's a post that is overdue actually.I'm more fan of Michel Roux Senior, I have some of his cookbooks. He's a perfectionist. I watched Masterchef with Roux family but only once, on youtube, unfortunately..I wish I had the channel to watch it!


  3. Wow – you make it sound so easy. I've always thought of croissant pastry as being my \”nemesis\”… Something I've always wanted to try but always been quite scared of failing miserably at so never did it. You do make it look do-able though… perhaps I should have a go… I gotta say though – \”WHOA, that's a lot of butter… :D\”Not that I'm complaining though… I love butter 😀


  4. Hi Charles, Puff pastry or this dough have the same wall that everybody needs to break: trap the butter properly..Or it gets seriously messy. Otherwise, the reste is easy.About the butter, since I started making croissants at home, I stopped eating the big ones (the tiny ones with coffee, less guilt :)..But it wouldn't be as deadly as a cake with frosting. at least it's not uxtra sweet and buttery as most of the cakes are. what do you think?


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