All you need to know about croissants
Question. What is croissant?
Answer. A croissant is one of the finished goods that is considered part of Viennoiserie, which refers to items that are eaten for breakfast. These are goods that are made from a yeast-leavened dough similar to bread. Once the yeast-leavened dough is layered with butter it is considered puff pastry dough.
With the addition of sugar, eggs, butter, milk, and/or cream a simple yeast-leavened dough is turned into many of the pastries you see in pastry shops; croissants, almond croissants, croissant chocolatine, danishes, hallah bread, apple turnovers, tsoureki, pitiviers, etc.
Puff pastry dough can be used to make sweet desserts like, apple turnovers, pithiviers, chocolate croissant, almond croissants, palmiers, etc. or savory dishes using croissant and filling them with ham and cheese quiches, chicken salad, tuna salad, spinach filling (spanakopita), etc.
Introduction to croissants
Making croissants at home from scratch is not difficult at all. Croissants require everyday ingredients. Although not difficult to make they are time-consuming. To give you an idea, you need to do the following to finish with the end product called croissant;
- Make the croissant dough.
- Prepare and shape the dough.
- Convert the dough into a multi-layered dough consisting of alternating layers of butter and dough, called laminating the dough.
Rest the dough.
- Refrigerate the laminated dough overnight.
- Shape the laminated dough into croissants.
- Proof the croissants.
- Bake the croissants.
- Let croissants cool and enjoy!
How to make single and double turns when making puff pastry dough
How to make a single turn
How to make a double turn
Laminated layers of croissant dough
In this lesson you will be introduced to the following terminologies and topics;
- Beurrage (French method)
- Beurrage (American method)
- Single turn
- Double turn
- Number or layers created per single turn
- Counting the layers
- Differences between the detrempe of Croissants, Danish, brioche and puff pastry
Useful tool when making croissants from scratch
Croissant roller cutter
Croissants - Their Origin and Variants
Croissants have long been French delicacies, probably since before the 13th century. At that point they may not have retained their famous crescent shape. Before the croissant, it was the kipferi that was the major French dish found in bakeries. Both croissants and kipferis could be wrapped around just about anything. Today, the varieties of croissants are many. In fact, you get anything from ham and cheese as the filling all the way to a sweeter variant if you so prefer.
It is said that croissants were what the French used to respond to the American ‘fast foods’ and fast food joints that came at the very beginning. In order to keep with the global competition, bakeries would keep frozen croissants ready in their cold storage. Any time a croissant was ordered, unskilled workers just had to operate the oven and serve it up as a hot-n-hot croissant.
Stories behind the origin of croissants
Not much data has been found on the subject. It is difficult to imagine that the origins of the food would be carefully documented by any scholar. However, there are stories of how the French defeated the Ottomans in battle and created the croissant to symbolize the crescent that was present on the Ottoman flags. For the same reason, quite a few radical Islamists have banned the food in their areas.
Variants of croissants
The variations present in croissants arise from the location in which they are made. The croissants made in Italy are different from the ones made in Argentina. Similarly, the Polish croissants are slightly different from those made in other countries. Most countries make croissants sweet. They fill them with chocolate syrup or glaze them with a layer of icing sugar. These have become very popular around the world.
More specific variants include the ones from Poland, Argentina and Italy. In Argentina they are made sweet when served with coffee. During other times, they could be filled with lard. This variant is salty, and not sweet. The Italian croissants are also generally sweet. However, while the French croissant is crispy, the Italian variant is soft.
Jam or chocolate are often used as fillers. They are also sugar coated, similar to the original croissants. The Polish croissants are famous due to their importance on St. Martin’s Day. The croissants are sometimes filled with dainties or white poppies, and coated with sugar.
Different Ways to Make Croissants
You can make croissants in many different ways. The difference can lie in the technique that you choose to incorporate, or even the way your croissants are going to taste. Making a difference in the taste aspect is the easiest to understand. You either make them sweet, or you make them salty. There are quite a few ingredients you could use as fillers. However, before you get into the details of what you are going to use inside the croissants, you should probably know that you will have to use a lot of butter and sugar to make this dish. If you are very health conscious, you may not be able to recreate the same with the substitutes for the same.
The sweet croissant
Making a sweet croissant can either be very easy, or very difficult. You could make a classic simple croissant by just glazing the top after the croissant is done. When the dough is baked and crunchy, you just have to layer the top generously with icing sugar. The middle section will have butter and sugar melted into it, creating a mouth-watering dish to serve up during tea.
If you really have a sweet tooth though, you will probably have to make a few additions. You could use chocolate syrup or cream as the filling in the center. When you take a bite out of it, you will taste the frosting on top, while the warm croissant brings with it a tasty bit of choco-cream with it. The dish works wonders at children’s birthday parties as snacks. Probably not so good at adult parties unless your guests do not mind a slightly heavy snack.
Salted croissants also taste great. You just have to choose the right filling. Today, a favorite in the States is the cheese and ham filled croissant. The warm buttery crunchy dough fits perfectly with the melted cheese and the wrapped in ham. A croissant like this is quite filling, so be careful to make them the right size.
In Poland, there is a special type of croissants which is filled with lard. Though this can be rather fattening, it tastes very good and makes for a great evening snack, in between meals. All-in-all, croissants are very easy to make once you learn how to spin the dough and get the right shape. There are many ways you can make the dish, so you should get started on learning as soon as possible.
Other topics learned from this lesson
- Differences between croissant and brioches doughs
- Number of turns required to make croissants
- How to handle elastic dough
- Dusting the dough while making the turns
- Croissant shape
- When to apply egg wash
- Temperature for proofing
- Results of over-proofing
- What to do with left over croissant dough
- Freezing croissants
- Baking croissants
- Freezing croissants
More info on mixing methods or techniques used in french pastry
About our recipe tables
Sample recipe table
All the recipes in our course are given by weight and percentages. The advantage of having a recipe in percentages is of extreme importance. You can alter the size of the recipe to any size you wish, and most importantly you can make recipe comparisons to notice the effects of ingredients between recipes.
What is your cost of making Croissants
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Please follow this link in order to view our recipe and step-by-step video instructions on how to make the perfect croissants every time. (members only)