Croissants have been making an appearance in trends and social media recently, and it’s easy to see why – with their fluffy, light butteriness, flakey delicate outer layer and versatility.
The croissant has been around since about the 17th century, and not a lot about it has changed since then. More butter has gradually been added, and the crescent-shaped, puffy pastry has become flakier over the centuries. Even with the flavor variations and different methods of rolling and twisting the dough that have come and gone as trends change, overall, the essence of the croissant has remained intact.
We asked the Hormel Foods culinary team lead, Chef Barry Greenberg, to share his process and techniques for making perfectly flaky, buttery croissants from scratch. Whether you’re an experienced baker or just an aspiring one, Chef Barry’s easy-to-follow instructions and our illustrated tips will empower you to make these classic French pastries right in your own kitchen.
“Making croissants is not as difficult as it may look or sound,” Chef says. “As with most baking projects, you do need to pay attention to the details. Take your time and plan on enjoying excellent croissants on the second day.”
Follow along with us as Chef Barry walks us through each step of the process.
Original Butter Croissant
The light layers of buttery-ness and perfectly flaky outside are great for light summer lunches, brunch, dinner sides or even desserts. The neutral buttery flavor of the croissant makes it incredibly versatile and offers a delicious experience without overpowering the other flavors of your meal. Chef Barry walks through the steps of preparing the dough ball, building the butter block and finally, incorporating the butter block into the dough before rolling it out.
“There are only two (or three) components to making croissants:
With so few ingredients in the recipe, it’s important to pay attention to the details!” says Chef.
Chef Barry uses metric measurements in this recipe below. “I use metric to measure the ingredients, which promotes accuracy. Also, if you don’t have a digital scale, I highly recommend picking one up.”
For the dough:
300 grams flour, All Purpose
305 grams flour, bread
66 grams sugar, granulated
12 grams salt, kosher
7 grams yeast, dry active
214 milliliters water (room temp)
120 milliliters milk, whole (room temp)
57 grams butter, unsalted cold, diced small
For the butter block:
340 grams butter, unsalted cold
For the egg wash:
1 egg yolk
1 Tablespoon heavy cream
directions For Dough Ball
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a hook, place the flour(s), sugar, salt and yeast. Stir to combine the ingredients.
2. Once combined, add the water and milk and knead on a low speed until dough is formed. If necessary, dump the ingredients onto your work surface and knead by hand until the dough is formed.
3. Cover the dough ball for 30 minutes to let the dough relax.
4. Roll dough into a 12-inch square and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour or overnight.
To Make the Butter Block
1. While the dough is relaxing make the butter block by beating the butter inside parchment paper until soft but not melted. The butter block should be 8 inches x 8 inches. Place the block into the refrigerator to firm up.
Enclosing the Butter Block
1. Enclose the butter block in the dough square as seen in photos. Tap the dough and butter together and roll into an 8-to-10-inch-tall rectangle approximately ¼ inch thick using only enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to the surface.
2. Using a straight edge, trim the edges and brush off any excess flour. Complete the book fold as demonstrated in the photo, wrap and chill the dough for at least one hour.
3. Turn the dough 90 degrees onto the work surface and repeat the dough-tapping process, roll the dough into an 8-to-10-inch-tall rectangle, approximately ¼ inch thick. This time you are going to make a simple fold, or a letter fold by folding into thirds (as seen in the photos). Trim the edges again and wrap in plastic and chill in the refrigerator for another hour.
4. Repeat Step 3 and do another simple fold. Chill one more time and when dough is ready, it’s time to form the croissants.
Rolling Dough & Forming Croissants
1. Roll the dough into an 8-to-10-inch-tall rectangle for the final time and trim the edges. Mark off the croissant dimensions depending on how large a finished product is desired. For a large sandwich croissant, consider making the longest side of the unrolled croissant 3 inches. Mark the dough in 3-inch increments along the base of the dough rectangle. On the top surface, offset the same dimension by half of what you used for the bottom dimension (e.g., 1.5 inches if you’re making 3-inch croissants). Roll the croissants and place them on parchment-lined sheet pans.
2. Gently cover the croissants with plastic wrap or an inverted pan. The dough needs to proof, and this can take anywhere from 2-4 hours. The dough should double in size. Do not rush this process, this is where being patient will pay off.
3. Combine the egg-wash ingredients. When dough is proofed, gently apply it to the croissants, being careful not to bump the dough too hard.
4. Bake at 420°F for 5 minutes, rotate the pan and reduce the heat to 375°F until the croissants are thoroughly baked. Inspect for doneness by looking at the croissants, lifting them up and inspecting them.
The dough should double in size. Do not rush this process, this is where being patient will pay off.Chef Barry
“This is another part of baking croissants that is very important. An underbaked croissant will collapse on itself. The interior will be soft and doughy, so bake it all the way!”Chef Barry
A favorite way for many to enjoy croissants is with a classic chicken salad. Chef Barry has created his own delectable curried version of the dish, using Valley Fresh® Chicken. Chef’s Curried Chicken Salad recipe features the flavors of curry, coconut milk and chili crisp in addition to the classic ingredients of chicken salad.
Curried Chicken Salad
2 Cans Valley Fresh® 100% Natural Chicken Breast in water (10 oz.)
½ Cup Celery, chopped fine
½ Cup Red Onion, chopped fine
1 Cup Red Grapes, sliced in half
2 Tablespoon Cilantro, chopped
2 Tablespoon Chili Crisp
2 Tablespoon Curry Powder
¼ Cup Mayonnaise
¼ Cup Coconut Milk
2 Tablespoon Rice Wine Vinegar
Salt, pepper, hot sauce to taste
1. Drain chicken and crumble it into a mixing bowl.
2. Add remaining ingredients to the chicken, stir to combine.
3. Taste the chicken salad and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper and hot sauce.
Cut croissants in half, layer tomatoes, spinach and chicken salad on one half. Top with radish slices. Replace top and add skewers to hold croissant together if needed.
Now that we’ve covered the basics of making croissants, and a simple and delicious recipe to enjoy with your buttery croissants, let’s look at a couple other recipes that utilize the same dough. These recipes incorporate different techniques of rolling the croissant dough to make two different, deliciously flaky options.
Classic Ham & Cheese Croissants
For this recipe, follow the All-Butter Croissant recipe up until cutting the triangles from the dough. “Instead of cutting it into triangles, cut the dough into large rectangles. I cut mine approximately 3.5 x 7 inches,” says Chef Barry. Next, line a pan with parchment paper and set aside.
Place some ham and some shredded cheddar cheese along the short end of the dough rectangle. “I like to use Hormel Natural Choice® cherrywood premium ham and shred my own sharp cheddar cheese,” says our chef. Next, roll dough, meat and cheese into a cylinder and place on the lined sheet pan, with the seam side down.
Cover the filled croissants with plastic wrap and proof dough in a warm place in the kitchen. Let proof until almost doubled in size. Again, this is where patience is a must. Don’t rush this step.
Remove plastic wrap, and using kitchen scissors, decoratively snip three vent holes on each croissant. Gently egg wash the tops, garnish with your choice of seeds and bake at 420°F for 5 minutes. Rotate the pan and reduce the heat to 375°F until the croissant is totally cooked through.
Remove from oven when done and let cool slightly before serving.
If sweetness is more your taste, Cinnamon Sugar Cruffins are a delicious, delicate, fluffy treat you can make with your basic croissant dough and a variation to the step of rolling the dough. These tasty dessert cruffins can be embellished with your favorite topping and garnished with chopped nuts, chocolate, whipped cream or whatever you’re craving.
Cinnamon Sugar Cruffins
For this recipe, follow the All-Butter Croissant recipe through rolling and cutting into triangles. Instead of cutting it into triangles, cut the dough block into 1-inch strips. Spray muffin pans and set aside.
Depending on the size of your muffin-pan cups, take one or two strips, and roll them into a coil, overlapping the second piece with about half of the first remaining. (See photo for example.)
You should adjust the amount of dough you use for each cruffin. The base of the cup’s diameter should hold the coiled dough with a little room to spare. Don’t force it into the muffin pan.
Cover the filled muffin pan with plastic wrap and proof dough in a warm place in the kitchen. Let proof until almost doubled in size.
Remove plastic wrap, egg wash the tops and bake at 420°F for 5 minutes. Rotate the pan and reduce the heat to 375°F until the cruffin is totally cooked through.
Remove from oven when done and toss in a bowl of cinnamon sugar.
Mastering the art of making croissants at home opens a world of culinary possibilities of both sweet and savory creations. Whether you choose to enjoy them simply with butter, as a sandwich, or venture into creative fillings and toppings; the satisfaction of crafting these iconic French pastries yourself is unparalleled. So, roll up your sleeves, embrace the process, and let your kitchen be filled with the irresistible scent of freshly baked croissants as you practice and perfect making these timeless treats. Happy baking!