Croissant dough sounds really scary, but as long as you have a good recipe, it’s relatively straightforward and surprisingly forgiving. King Arthur Flour’s blog has a great, step-by-step explanation. You can make croissant dough with a stand mixer and dough hook (my preference) or knead it by hand. I’m posting both sets of instructions because fresh croissants are amazing and definitely worth the time.
Croissant Dough (With Dough Hook)
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
Yield: 24 large croissants OR 36 mini croissants OR 18 rectangular filled croissants
- 2 large eggs plus enough warm water to make 2 cups of liquid
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 5 1/2 to 6 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast OR 3 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup nonfat dry milk (optional, makes the dough richer)
- 1 scant tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional, for sweet pastry)
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
For butter inlay:
- 1 7/8 cups unsalted butter, cool to the touch
- 3/4 teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Make the sponge:
- Crack eggs into a 2-cup measuring cup, and add enough warm water to make 2 cups of liquid. Place this in the bowl of your stand mixer.
- Add 1/4 cup of sugar. (If you plan to make only savory croissants, you can leave half or all of this out.)
- Add a scant tablespoon of salt and yeast. If you’re using active dry yeast, let it proof while you measure out the flour.
- Add 5 1/2 cups of flour and dry milk (if using). Measure out another 1/2 cup of flour and keep it ready, in case you need to adjust the consistency of the dough.
- Add vanilla and 2 tablespoons of butter, either very soft or melted and cooled. Leave the rest of a pound of butter out on the counter.
- Using the dough hook, mix the dough for 4-5 minutes. Use part or all of the additional 1/2 cup of flour to adjust the texture if the dough stays tacky after being kneaded for a few minutes. The dough should be soft and smooth, and it shouldn’t stick when you touch it.
- Pat dough into a square shape.
- Sprinkle dough with some flour. Wrap loosely with plastic wrap, or sprinkle a little flour into a large plastic bag and put the dough inside it.
- Place in refrigerator on a flat surface for 30 minutes.
Make the butter inlay:
- Using the paddle attachment on low speed or with a spoon by hand, mix the 1 7/8 cups butter and 1/2 cup flour just until the mixture is smooth and well blended (no hard lumps). Be careful not to incorporate any air.
- Lightly flour a piece of plastic wrap, place the butter mixture on it, and use a dough scraper to pat it into an 8-inch square.
- Wrap the butter inlay in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 20 minutes.
Make laminated dough:
- Flour a work surface and rolling pin.
- Remove chilled dough from refrigerator and gently roll it into a square about 12 inches across.
- Unwrap the butter inlay slab and place it in the center of the dough at a 45° angle, so it looks like a diamond in the square.
- Fold the flaps of the dough over the edges of the butter until they meet in the middle.
- Pinch and seal the edges of the dough together. Moisten your fingers with a little water, if necessary.
- Dust the top with flour, then turn the dough over and tap it gently with the rolling pin into a rectangular shape.
- Pick up the dough to make sure it isn’t sticking underneath, dusting underneath with more flour if necessary, then roll from the center out until you have a rectangle 20 inches long by 10 inches wide. Turn the dough over from time to time, dusting it, the work surface, and the rolling pin with more flour if necessary. (Don’t worry if the dough rips and the butter shows in places; just brush it lightly with flour.)
- Lightly brush off any excess flour, then fold the bottom third of the dough up to the center, and the top third over that (like a business letter). Line the edges up on top of each other, and even up the corners so they’re directly on top of each other. If necessary, use a dab of water to tack the corners together. You’ve now made your first “turn.”
- Wrap the dough and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
- Remove and orient the dough package so it looks like a book ready to be opened. Do a second rolling and turning the same way.
- Make a note of how many folds you’ve completed and the time, wrap the dough, and refrigerate for another 15 minutes. Repeat the above folding and turning process two more times, for a total of four turns.
- Wrap the dough well and refrigerate it for at least 4 hours, and preferably overnight before using. (You can divide the dough in half and freeze half of it. Before using, defrost in the refrigerator for about 8 hours.)