For a long time now, I’ve been wanting to try making homemade croissants. I recall one time, not long after visiting France, that my mom and I found ourselves curious about how we could make our own croissants. My mom searched for a recipe on her phone, and I remember my surprise when we found out that they took multiple days! Though they sounded delicious, this certainly turned us away from the recipe. “Maybe someday,” we said, and looked for another…less time-consuming recipe.
Well, it seems that “someday” has arrived! COVID-19 is keeping us all home, and I’m always in need of something to keep me busy. For some reason, croissants crossed my mind, so I looked for a recipe. I found that there are actually a lot of one-day recipes—but I had my mind set on making those three-day ones I had heard of. With so much time on my hands, there’s nothing keeping me from it!
As it turns out, when the recipes say 3 days, they don’t mean a full 72 hours like I thought. If you start in the evening, they can be ready two mornings later. Realizing this on a Friday night, I frantically began baking in order for them to be finished on Sunday morning.
On the first night, I made the dough. For croissants, you actually do this in two parts. There’s the poolish (a mix of yeast, flour, and water) which you leave to rise, and later add into your mixture of dry ingredients. I’ve never made poolish before, so this was certainly an interesting new thing to try.
I was a bit panicked when I finished the dough. The recipe told me that “the dough should be soft, smooth and slightly sticky.” Meanwhile, I had a rock-hard lump. I was worried that I had accidentally miscounted and put in an extra cup of flour—but this proved not to be the case. Actually, what made the dough so stiff remains a mystery to me. Luckily, (spoiler alert) everything turned out fine.
When making the dough, I was surprised to see that only 2¾ tablespoons of butter were used. Considering that buttery-ness is one of the main defining qualities of croissants, this seemed quite odd. That’s when I realized: the butter is in a separate layer! And you wouldn’t believe how much butter is in these things! To make twelve croissants, it needed two whole sticks. A lack of butter was no longer a concern!
After leaving the dough and butter to chill overnight, I continued working on them the next afternoon. Day two was for laminating the dough—the process that creates the layers of the croissant. This is done by rolling out the dough, wrapping the butter inside, and then rolling it out again and folding it over itself a number of times (chilling for 30 minutes in between). This specific recipe called for this to be done three times, creating a grand total of 81 layers.
Rolling out the dough the first time was incredibly difficult, because both the dough and butter had been in the fridge all night. The following times were easier, although near the end the butter started peeking through the layers. This is a really common occurrence when making croissants and puff pastry, and you have to be extra careful not to let all of the butter leak out. Not that I’ve ever done it before; I’m just a fan of the Great British Baking Show.
The biggest issue I came across when making these was the cutting. After laminating them for the last time, you divide them into triangles and cut them out. However, I somehow managed to miss the fact that on the final time you roll it out, it has to be in a 43×8 in rectangle rather than a 24×8 in rectangle (which was the measurement for the other steps). This meant that the croissant triangles I cut out were way too thick. Luckily, we were able to fix this by rolling them out individually. Maybe they weren’t as pretty as the photo, but you could hardly tell after we rolled them up.
I baked them the next morning, with surprisingly no mishaps! Despite a few bumps in the road, I think that the croissants turned out wonderfully. They were flaky and buttery with perfect layers, making a delightful Sunday morning brunch.
These croissants were so much fun to make, and absolutely worth the work and the wait. I’d highly recommend trying them out for yourself. Here’s a link to the recipe I used: https://www.pardonyourfrench.com/three-day-classic-french-croissants/
If you don’t have quite so much time on your hands (or maybe you can’t bear to wait three days), the website also has a one-day and a two-day recipe.
I hope that you’re all staying safe and healthy (and not too bored) during these trying times. Things may be difficult right now, but it’s important to remember that we’ll all get through this together. In the meantime, try to look on the bright side. If nothing else, this is a time to try something different, and perhaps discover a new hobby! All from the safety of your home, of course. If you’re struggling to find something to do, baking is one thing I’d suggest. Not only is it something to keep you busy–maybe take your mind off things for a while–it’s relaxing and fun to do (at least, in my opinion). Not to mention that afterward, you end up with a delicious treat!