Two days or three days? It definitely takes more than one day to make a decent croissant. I found that there wasn’t too much difference between a 2 or 3 day croissant, but it made planning ahead easier.
For the 2 day croissant, I make, laminate and shape the dough the afternoon before. I then refrigerate them until just before I go to bed and place them in a cool place to proof overnight. Then I bake the croissant early in the morning.
For a 3 day croissant, I make the dough and refrigerate overnight. On the second day, I laminate and shape. I then proof overnight and on the third day, I bake.
If this is your first time making croissant, I would highly recommend watching a few videos or browsing through the myriad of other blog posts on technique, particularly of the lamination. I aim to laminate for a max of 2 minutes per turn to make sure the butter doesn’t melt. This recipe provides a guide on what worked for me.
And one more thing – make sure you’re using a good quality butter. The ones in Australia are generally pretty decent with at least 82% fat content. Then you’ve got a choice of cultured, grass-fed, organic, etc. My husband’s side of the family are dairy farmers and his cousin founded St David’s Dairy in Fitzroy so I may be biased when I say their butter is the best (and has won many awards!). But honestly, the main thing is the fat content and if you live in Australia, you will be fine with most unsalted butter you get off the shelf at the supermarket.
Prep time 2-3 days
Bake time 15-20 minutes
140ml water, lukewarm
140g plain flour
2 tsp instant yeast (approx. 7g)
360g plain flour
140ml full cream milk
40g butter, unsalted
2 tsp salt
250g butter, unsalted
1 egg, beaten
Firstly, make the poolish by mixing lukewarm water, 140g flour and yeast in a large bowl and letting it stand for 30 minutes or until it has doubled in size. If making in a thermomix, place water (doesn’t have to be lukewarm), 140g of flour and yeast into mixing bowl then heat 2 min/37C/speed 2. Scrape down the sides and repeat again for 2 min/37C/speed 2. Let it stand for 30 minutes until it doubles in size.
Mix in 360g flour, milk, butter, sugar and salt and knead for 5 minutes or until it isn’t too sticky. If using a thermomix, add the remaining flour, milk, butter, sugar and salt then knead 5 min. Roll into a ball and place in a greased bowl to proof overnight in the fridge for the 3-day method. For the 2-day method, just place in the fridge for an hour before proceeding with the lamination steps.
The next day, prepare the butter block for lamination by shaping it into a rough square (approx. 15cm). I oddly find whacking the cold butter into shape therapeutic and it gives me good feedback on how pliable the butter is getting.
Once you’re done, place the butter block in the fridge to firm up again. On cold days, I sometimes skip this step and just move quickly on to rolling the dough next so the butter is still pliable. If your butter is too cold, then it doesn’t roll well with the dough and ends up shattering. The basic principle is that the butter and dough are of the same consistency. So many recipes stress the importance of keeping your butter cold but I’m here to tell you that you don’t want it too cold either!
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a square (approx. 30cm). Place the butter block on a 45 degree angle and enclose it on all corners.
Working quickly, gently roll the dough out to a 20 x 60cm rectangle. I start from the centre and roll in one direction before rolling from the centre again to the other side. Then I flip the dough and and repeat. I do this gently a few times until I get to the desired length so the dough gets equal ‘love’ on all sides. Fold your rolled dough into thirds (like a letter into an envelope), wrap in cling wrap and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Take the folded dough out and roll into 20 x 60cm rectangle again by rolling back and forth on the long side. Fold over into thirds again, wrap in cling wrap and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. Repeat this another 2 times.
Line a container with some baking paper prior to commencing the next step.
Roll the dough out to about 3mm thick (approx. 100cm long). Concentrate on making the dough ‘long’ as it doesn’t quite matter how wide it is for now. Once you reach the right length, mark out 12cm intervals on one side. On the other side, mark out 12cm intervals at a 6cm offset and cut out your triangles. I used a pizza cutter for that.
Gently pull the ends of a triangle to stretch it out a little and roll it to form a croissant, starting from the base to the pointy top. The lengthier your triangle, the ‘fatter’ your croissant (my preference). Repeat for the other triangles, working as quickly as you can before the butter melts through the dough and gets a bit messy.
Place the shaped croissants into an airtight container lined with baking paper and refrigerate. Now there are two ways of proofing, based on your preference. On cold nights, I actually prefer leaving the croissants out (in the sealed container) to proof overnight on the kitchen counter just before I go to bed. But if it’s a warm summer night, just keep the croissants in the fridge overnight and proof the next day or you’d risk overproofing. Some recipes suggest freezing the croissants and letting it thaw and proof overnight – I’ve never done that but apparently it has worked for some.
If you are proofing the next morning, place the croissants onto a lined baking tray and proof with your method of choice. I’ve tried proofing the croissants in the oven with a bowl of just-boiled water. It works a treat – except the moisture level remains elevated in the oven during the baking as well which made the croissants a little ‘moist’ when they come out. Not necessarily a bad thing, but just something I noticed. I now proof my croissants in a large plastic container which I fill with approx. 2cm high of just-boiled water. I then place my tray of croissants in a rack that sits about 10cm above the water level. It takes about an hour to proof with the steam and I replace the water every 30 minutes. Some butter may melt slightly at the base (but shouldn’t be pooling!) which is completely fine. Your croissants should be nicely puffed up and a have a little wobble as you shake it.
Once they are proofed, take the trays out and brush the croissants with egg wash. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200C. Pop the croissants into the oven and immediately lower the temperature to 180C for 10 minutes or until the croissants start to brown at the top. Then lower again to 160C and cook for a further 5-10 minutes until golden brown all over. These temperatures and times work perfectly for croissants in the middle rack. My oven can be temperamental so I tend to just bake one tray at a time in the middle rack instead of baking two trays at once. It helps to control the temperatures exactly that way as well.
Let it cool for a few minutes on the tray before transferring to a rack. This also gives time for some of the melted butter to absorb back into the croissants if they had melted out during the baking process.