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Homemade croissants

Has anyone done this before? I received the Tartine cookbook as a gift, and since we had just returned from SF where we gorged on pastries and almond croissants, I thought I'd give the croissants a shot and see if it's worth all the effort (it almost always is). It's quite a process - preferment sits for a couple of hours, the dough sits for a couple of hours, then there's the laminating with butter with rests in the fridge for an hour at a time. Then, the rolling and shaping (I did this part this morning) and a 2-3 hour proof. But the, only 15 minutes in the oven!

I was a little wary when the first batch came out (half the dough is still in the freezer, waiting for another lazy weekend of baking) because a lot of butter had oozed onto the baking pan. But, man, after taking a bite, these things are flaky and good!

If you've made these before, do you find it's something you make often or save for special brunches or breakfasts? I can't see doing these every weekend (I'd have to buy bigger clothes, for one thing), but I'm impressed I could pull it off and now I want to give them to everyone, ha!

If you haven't made them before, but you love croissants, I have to say that it isn't as difficult as I thought, just time consuming.

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  1. I really love home made croissants. My dad's were the best. I wouldn't make them all the time, but well worth the trouble.

    1. First of all, congrats on your first croissants!

      I used to make them to sell to a local cafe and it was a royal pain to make them all the time. Once in a while, it's ok, but I began to really dread making them.

      Last batch I made, I had some extra dough to keep for myself, so I baked the batch up all at once and then wrapped them up individually in plastic wrap, then put them in a freezer bag Now, I just pop them in the toaster oven to warm and crisp and they are wonderful.

      I've had the butter leakage, too. It may have been that your oven wasn't hot enough and when they went in, the butter started to melt out before they had a chance to puff up. Or maybe you proofed them a bit too long or in a place too warm.

      I haven't had to make them in a while but for a special occasion or to do a big batch for the freezer, it would be worth it.

      2 Replies
      1. re: dukegirl

        Do you think it's better to bake them and then freeze, or just keep a batch of dough in the freezer to bake them "fresh"?

        It's possible that they were a bit too warm after proofing, as I know the oven was at least 425 when I put them in, since it had been at 450 for a trial loaf of no-knead bread.

        1. re: leanneabe

          Well, it's nice to just grab some already baked out of the freezer to eat with dinner on a moment's notice. It's not the same as fresh-baked, but it's convenient and they are still pretty darn good.

          One thing I did have happen to me once was that I froze half a batch of dough and a few months later, formed them and they just wouldn't proof. I asked around and several people told me that too long in the freezer can be detrimental to the yeast. That was pretty frustrating to say the least.

      2. I have made them and they are delicious however, I think this is one of those things that you can buy excellent ones and the process and time is not worth it.

        1. I used to have a friend who ran a B&B where she served freshly baked croissants every morning. She got them in a sort of brown'n'serve condition from a restaurant supply baker---actually I think they must have come frozen because I remember she had to get up quite early to set them up on cookie sheets, which sounds as if maybe they had to thaw for the second rising. Anyway, they were wonderful.

          1. I make croissants sometimes and while it certainly takes time and effort I do think the results are superior to anything you can buy. (Also, if you've mastered croissants, you also know how to do puff pastry and danish, so it's a useful skill.)

            One helpful time-shifting trick is to shape them at night, allow them to rest overnight in the fridge (in a sealed ziploc bag -- the huge 2.5 gallon bags can slip over a 1/4 sheet pan -- this keeps the dough from drying out and forming a skin), pulling the pans out in the morning to let them proof (still within the bags), then baking them. I find that the overnight rest improves both taste and texture (as it does with most yeast breads) and there's much less work in the AM when you're bleary-eyed and stumbling around the kitchen. I've actually got a batch of danish in my fridge right now, ready to go for tomorrow.

            I also do freeze them fully baked. It's awfully nice to know there are treats in the freezer ready to be reheated.

            1. Could one of you please give me the croissant recipe, I would love to make them for the morning???

              1. Williams Sonoma sells unbaked croissants ready to rise and bake and now they sell the dough flat, ready to be stuffed with filling and rolled- if you want the fresh baked croissant without all the trouble.

                1 Reply
                1. re: emilief

                  Yeah, but they're quite dear. I would rather find a local supplier and just buy them fresh in the morning compared with how much they're charging (if my goal is to not make them myself).

                2. I also have had problems with serious butter leakage using the Tartine recipe. They were proofed at less than 70 F, so I doubt that was the problem. I did two things that helped. First, I used decreasing amounts of butter in each the three turns. After you make the first turn you have 2 layers of butter 3 layers of dough. When you make the next two turns, those first two layers of butter become 6, then 18 layers. But the last 1/3 of butter is spread over just two layers. So if you used equal amounts of butter for each step you end up with drastically different amounts of butter *per layer* (9 times as much for the final turn vs the first). I figured most of the lost butter was coming from those two extra thick layers. So I used a bit more than half the butter for the first turn, then 2/3 of what was left for the second, and the rest for the third. For anyone checking the math, I know that theoretically you should use about 3/4 of the butter for the first turn, but I don't think that's physically possible.

                  Anyway, it worked. This time there were just a couple of small pools on the baking sheet.

                  I also tried reducing the total amount of butter. If I recall correctly, the recipe calls for about 22 ounces. I found 20 ounces is just as good, but 16 ounces is not enough butter.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Zeldog

                    Thanks for the notes! I just finished the last of the extra croissants I had stuck in the freezer, and it still made me happier than the ones I can buy around here, so I'm probably going to make another batch pretty soon. I've got a free weekend, which is usually when I get into baking, maybe that's a good time.

                    I'll definitely try cutting down the amount of total butter AND decreasing it with each turn. I never ever considered that's why I had butter leakage. Thanks!

                    1. re: Zeldog

                      I haven't tried the recipe, but I did find the croissants at the shop TOO buttery (and was surprised that there was such a concept). I love butter, but those seem to ooze fat as you eat them.

                      I wonder if the kind of butter you use is a factor? Maybe the high fat european style (Plugra) is a touch more stable?

                      1. re: babette feasts

                        Plugra is what I use, and it leaks all over if you follow the recipe. Also, I take back my comment that 16 oz is not enough. I used 16 oz last time, since that's all I had, and it was excellent. Not as buttery as what you get at Tartine, but maybe that's a good thing. It's still an ounce or more per croissant.