Croissant misery...

Help me bake croissants! Is there a tried and tested recipe you can recommend, or are there any tips you can share?
I’m a pretty good baker, things turn out well and taste good but I can’t get a handle on croissants. I’m determined to crack this!

I am of no help, but I will note that from what I remember famous chef and font of swearing Gordon Ramsey couldn’t quite get the hang of it himself.

One basic tip the professionals give is that you must not let the butter melt (during the preparation)

Croissants are difficult to make even for experienced bakers. Can you tell us exactly what is wrong with your croissants? Are they dense and not flaky? Do they the lack flavour? Are they not browning evenly?

The number one advice I can give when making croissants is not to skimp on butter, both in quality and quantity. If possible, use beurre sec because it has higher fat content (hence lower water content) which will result in flakier croissants that rise nice and high. Personally, I prefer baking with Echiré but if you can keep the water content to under 15%, any beurre sec will do. (Unsalted of course!) And make sure to work quickly. You don’t want the butter to warm up and soak up the flour. Laminate the dough so what you have are nice thin layers of butter encased in dough.

Another hint is to proof your croissants for at least two hours in a warm humid room. This will help them get puffy and you want them to be a bit wobbly. The proofing helps keep the butter in and won’t leak out when baking.

Croissants are definitely a challenge but oh so delicious when done right.
Good luck!

Christopher Kimball, of America’s Test Kitchen, and Chief Editor of Cook’s Illustrated says there are three things he will never try to make at home again: baguette, brioche and croissant. The work involved is just not worth it, particularly if it fails. As he says, “even the French don’t make their own; that’s why they have bakeries.”

It’s all about getting super thin layers of butter and dough. I used to work at a bakery and the machine we had for getting this done was a huge beast of a contraption. I have no idea how you’d get the same results by hand.

Yup. Though I don’t think Brioche is particularly difficult, good baguettes and croissants are just not worth the trouble. Baguettes, especially, are difficult to do without a commercial oven.

CI actually published a recipe for homemade baguettes that turn out pretty good, but it takes 24 hours from start to finish and the baguettes, though the best I’ve ever made at home, were not noteworthy when compared to commercial versions.

Croissants? No way. Not worth it.

They taste good, even browning, rise well. The problem is the texture, they are more bready than croissanty.
I wonder if grating frozen butter in would work better…

I know. However, I live in Italy and you cannot buy croissant here. Not for love nor money. They make their own version called cornetti, but they are sweet and I don’t care for them. Every now and then it would be nice to have proper croissants for breakfast.
I’m not ready to give up just yet. There must be a way…

Len Deighton, in his “ABC of French Cooking” notes that his (French) wife wasn’t able to make a proper croissant until she tried hard wheat flour instead of soft. I don’t know how helpful that is, but it’s my one bit of croissant trivia and I’m throwing it out there now that I finally have an opportunity to do so…

Sounds like you need a drive across the border. :wink:

For what it’s worth, back when I lived in a town with no good croissants, I ordered frozen ones from Williams-Sonoma. They are surprisingly good - not just for a frozen product, but for croissants in general. Perhaps you could find a similar brand if your baking doesn’t pan out?

If you are that determined, you can check this non-english video:

I love baking but I’ve only made croissants once, and even though they turned out well i was like “Damn, who would make these every day?” You know what’s nice? Biscuits! :slight_smile:

As **Chefguy **says, nobody does, even in France :). My grandmother, mother AND sister are all avid cooks and bakers, their cookbooks are stacked high… but I don’t think they’ve ever tried a homemade croissant.

Rather, what you do is you wake up at 6 AM, preferably without rousing your partner, quietly dress up; go out into the cold and damp of dawn to the only illuminated shop in the whole street from whence a warm glow and a heavenly smell seep into the grey, rainy street; and you buy your goddamn *croissants *and pains au chocolat, just baked, still warm and fresh.
Then you trudge back home, sneak back into the bedroom and present your buttery offering to your now half-awake but still sultrily lazing about partner.

It is a cruel custom of course, for their day can only go downhill from there. We are a heartless people.

America’s Test Kitchen did have an episode on croissant (even though they both agreed that it wasn’t worth it). You should be able to find it on You have to become a member, but I don’t think it costs anything.

As I remember it, it starts out with a big lump of super-chilled unsalted butter, which they pound down to be thin and then make it an exact size, and then it’s folded with the dough a certain number of times, and each time it gets beaten down to a certain thickness and size, and chilled in between. Once you have the final one, you just slice it into triangles and bake. It sure looked like the real thing, but it took a lot of time due to the chilling between steps.

This is pretty much what happens on Thursday mornings Chez Athena nowadays; the garbage must be brought out on Thursday and the driveway is long enough that bringing it out in the car is the only choice. Once Mr. Athena is up, dressed, and in the car, it makes sense just to keep going to the very excellent bakery downtown. By the time I’m done with my first cup of coffee and ready for breakfast, I have fresh croissants and a warm baguette, comparable to the best I found in Paris when I was there last month.

Yeah, life just sucks around here.

I made croissants thirty three years ago, the Saturday before Easter. They were to be for the family dinner next day.

That same night my father had a heart attack, and while we were waiting around at the hospital I went home, got the croissants, butter, plates, napkins, etc, and brought them back. At 2:00AM there wasn’t anything decent to eat in the hospital.

The key to croissants is not letting the butter get too soft. Use unsalted butter, no substitutes. Also, as another poster has said, hard flour(bread flour) is the best. When letting the croissants rise don’t let them get about 85 degrees Fahrenheit. If you do the butter may melt. It’s those many, many, ultra-thin layers of butter and dough that make the flaky texture. When baked the butter does melt, steams, and separates the layers of dough. There is yeast in the dough but it’s more to treat the dough, and not to make it rise.

You might check this out, a similar thread from a food board. It will give you places to look. I too like James Beard’s recipe, he was my favorite bread/rolls person.

As is mentioned in the link above, plan on making a lot. Croissants are labor-intensive little suckers.

If you can’t get hold of the James Beard recipe(I’ll bet the book is in most libraries) I’ll post it here.

Funny how food plays such a role in some of our most significant memories.
My earliest memory from childhood is the smell of my Sicilian grandmother frying garlic in good olive oil while I played on the kitchen floor.

It sounds like the butter is being incorporated into the dough instead of being “layered”. You’re basically making brioche instead of a croissant.

Like I mentioned, working quickly will help with managing the butter (I know, easier said than done), and work in a cool room. Also, make sure not to roll too hard during the laminating process. You don’t want to work the butter into the dough. Keeping separate even layers of dough/butter/dough is the key to flaky croissants. You can also proof between each fold when laminating to make the dough easier to work with. The entire process may take longer but less dough resistance means you get to work faster between each fold to mitigate butter degradation.

Nope, you want nice thin layers of butter, not specks of grated butter.