If there is an entremet that has stolen hearts and found popularity worldwide, it is those rich and buttery layers of the croissant. Those flaky, crescent-shaped wonders that grace bakery displays and breakfast tables live up to the hype, and there is never a bakery croissant that disappoints.
In this blog we will take you through the delectable world of croissants as we uncover their origins, share tips for making the perfect homemade croissants, and how to bake croissant.
A Whirlwind History: From Vienna to Paris
The tale of the croissant begins in Vienna, Austria, where its precursor, the Kipferl, was born. The Kipferl was a crescent-shaped pastry enjoyed with morning coffee, and it was in the 17th century that it made its way to France. Legend has it that Austrian bakers brought the Kipferl to Paris who later founded their bakeries in the city. The French renamed the Kipferl "croissant" due to its distinctive crescent shape, and thus, a star was born in the pastry world.
How to make a croissant from scratch?
The main attraction of a croissant lies in its unique texture—a delicate dance of flakiness and buttery goodness. Crafting croissant from scratch requires precision and patience. The core ingredients—flour, butter, yeast, and milk—blend to form a dough that's folded and rolled multiple times to create the croissant layers. Laminating the dough involves encasing butter within the dough and then rolling and folding it several times to create hundreds of buttery layers. As the croissants bake, the butter within these layers melts, creating the sought-after flaky texture.
Ingredients in a croissant
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 packet active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold
1 egg, beaten (for egg wash)
Homemade croissants recipe
1. Activate Yeast: Combine warm milk and a pinch of sugar in a small bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the milk and let it sit for 5-10 minutes until it becomes frothy.
2. Prepare The Dough: In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, remaining sugar, and salt. Pour in the activated yeast mixture. Mix until a dough forms. Knead the dough on a floured surface until it's smooth and elastic.
3. Make croissant with butter: Roll out the dough into a rectangle. Place the cold butter between two sheets of parchment paper and gently pound it with a rolling pin to soften it slightly. Place the butter in the center of the dough and fold the sides over it, like an envelope.
4. Fold and Chill: Roll out the dough again into a rectangle, then fold it into thirds like a letter. Then, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Repeat this folding process (laminating) twice, chilling the dough between each fold.
5. Shape Croissants: Roll out the dough one final time into a rectangle. Cut it into triangles. Roll each triangle from the wider end toward the tip, creating the croissant shape. Carefully keep the shaped croissants on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
6. Proofing: Cover the croissants with a kitchen towel and let them rise at room temperature for about 2 hours, or until they have doubled in size.
7. Baking: Remember to preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C). Brush the croissants with the beaten egg for a golden-brown finish. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until they are puffed up and beautifully golden.
8. Enjoy: Let the croissants cool on a wire rack for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy your homemade croissants warm and flaky!
Croissants baking tips:
Keeping the dough and butter cold is essential to achieving those coveted layers. Properly folding and rolling the dough ensures even distribution of butter, leading to uniform flakiness. And don't rush the process—patience is your best ally when crafting the perfect croissant.
The Art of Consumption: How to Savor a Croissant
While you could just bite into a croissant, enjoying it is an art. You need to break off small, delicate pieces to appreciate the layers and texture. Pair it with a beverage that complements its flavors—espresso for a robust kick or a latte for a creamy contrast. And remember, a croissant isn't just a pastry; it's an experience that should be savored and relished.
Croissant and Coffee Pairings
No discussion about croissants can be complete without diving into the delightful art of pairing them with the perfect coffee. Combining a freshly baked croissant with a carefully selected coffee can take the entire experience to new heights.
Espresso: For those who like bold and robust coffee, espresso is the answer. The intense flavors of espresso—rich, full-bodied, and slightly bitter—provide a harmonious contrast to the buttery, flaky layers of a croissant. The quick, concentrated shot of espresso cleanses the palate after each indulgent bite, ensuring that you enjoy every layer of the pastry without feeling overwhelmed.
Cappuccino: If you're seeking a balanced pairing that combines the strength of espresso with velvety milk foam, a cappuccino is the way to go. The creamy texture of a well-prepared cappuccino complements the croissant's delicate layers, creating a harmonious dance of flavors and sensations. The frothy milk mellows the coffee's intensity, allowing you to appreciate the nuances of both the croissant and the coffee.
Latte: Those who prefer a milder coffee experience will find solace in a latte. A latte's steamed milk creates a creamy canvas that harmonizes beautifully with the croissant's flakiness. The gentle notes of coffee in a latte enhance the pastry's sweetness, offering a well-rounded and soothing pairing that's perfect for a leisurely morning or afternoon treat.
Iced Coffee: You can also consider pairing your croissant with iced coffee. The chilled coffee's invigorating qualities counterbalance the richness of the pastry, creating a delightful contrast that's perfect for warm days. The ice-cold coffee awakens the senses and enhances the croissant's buttery layers, making for a rejuvenating combination.
French Press: If you're a fan of embracing the entire coffee experience, a French press offers a rewarding partnership with your croissant. The French press delivers a full-bodied coffee with aromatic oils that harmonize with the croissant's layers. This pairing provides a more immersive tasting journey, allowing you to savor the intricate flavors of both the coffee and the pastry.
Now that we know how to make homemade croissants, remember making croissants takes some practice, as achieving those perfect layers can be challenging. Don't be discouraged if your first batch isn't magazine-worthy – they'll still be delicious! And as you become more comfortable with the process, you can experiment with fillings.
While the classic plain croissant butter recipe is a timeless delight, the world of croissants offers a spectrum of flavors and fillings that cater to every palate. Almond croissants, generously filled with almond paste and slivered almonds, provide a delightful nutty crunch. Chocolate croissants, or pain au chocolat, surprise with gooey chocolate tucked within each layer. And let's not forget the savory options—ham and cheese, spinach and feta, and even smoked salmon, all wrapped in flaky goodness.
Don't forget to enjoy your homemade croissants with your favorite selection of MOKAFÉ specialty coffee.
More recipes from Alvaro Rosales Merida
About The Author: Alvaro Rosales Merida
From Law to Lattes, his childhood passion drove Alvaro, a former law student tethered to a desk for years, to embark on a journey of flavor and purpose. Hailing from Guatemala City, he traded the courtroom for a cozy corner by co-founding his Bistro Bar in 2013. Amidst the hustle of kitchen clinks and table talks, Alvaro's love affair with coffee deepened. He immersed himself in the world of beans, learning from baristas, friends, and local producers. In 2020, Alvaro brought a bakery to life in his hometown combining his two loves: coffee and community. A bold move to the dream city NYC in 2020 with his specialty coffee project, he champions the cause of transparency, fair trade, and support for his country's small coffee producers.