Julia Child's Croissants (Daring Bakers' Challenge)

September 27, 2011

Top five mood boosters (baking is a given, it's like breathing):

1) Finding a book that's worthy of filling the void left by it's predecessor.
2) Watching Niles play with the empty boxes that his catnip-filled toys came in.
3) Any "Arrested Development" episode
4) Running, or a wonderfully sweaty hour of Bikram yoga
5) Butter (hence the need for #4)

I panic when I'm down to one stick of butter. Butter deserves to be at the top.

I'm trying to prioritize.

Daring Bakers go retro this month! Thanks to one of our very talented non-blogging members, Sarah, the Daring Bakers were challenged to make Croissants using a recipe from the Queen of French Cooking, none other than Julia Child!

This recipe was a lot easier than the cinnamon croissant rolls that I made last summer, and it's the third time that I've had the pleasure rolling smashed butter into satiny dough.

I'm still not on speaking terms with pie crusts, but give me a recipe that involves folding and rolling, followed by more rolling and folding, and I'm on cloud nine. I think it's the anticipation of knowing that the soft, pale form will eventually turn into something flaky, golden and buttery. Pie crusts melt on me 80% of the time. Croissants have never let me down. *knock on wood.*

If you're looking for a friendly introduction to the world of croissant and puff pastry dough, this one is for you. All you need is patience, a well-floured surface, and a no-fear attitude. And, if you're like me, a willingness to run several miles in order to balance out the amount of heaven that you'll likely you will inhale when you're finished.

Butter makes everything beautifully better.

Croissants (recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume Two. Julia Child and Simone Beck.) Print

*The steps are not as complicated as they appear (promise), but photos always help. You can visit the Daring Bakers forum for Sarah's helpful step-by-step pictures, as well as a slide show of more flaky croissants made by the talented DB members!*

1/4 oz (7 gm) of fresh yeast, or 1¼ teaspoon (6-1/4 ml/4 gm) of dry-active yeast (about 1/2 sachet)
3 tablespoons (45 ml) warm water (less than 100°F/38°C)
1 teaspoon (5 ml/4 1/2 gm) sugar
1 3/4 cups (225 gm/1/2 lb) of strong plain flour (I used Polish all-purpose flour, which is 13% protein)
2 teaspoons (10 ml/9 gm) sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon (7 1/2 ml/9 gm) salt
1/2 cup (120 ml/1/4 pint) milk (I am not sure if the fat content matters. I used 2%)
2 tablespoons (30 ml) tasteless oil (I used generic vegetable oil)
1/2 cup (120 ml/1 stick/115 gm/1/4 lb) chilled, unsalted butter
1 egg, for egg wash

1. Mix the yeast, warm water, and first teaspoon of sugar in a small bowl. Leave aside for the yeast and sugar to dissolve and the yeast to foam up a little.
2. Measure out the other ingredients
3. Heat the milk until tepid (either in the microwave or a saucepan), and dissolve in the salt and remaining sugar
4. Place the flour in a large bowl.
5. Add the oil, yeast mixture, and milk mixture to the flour
6. Mix all the ingredients together using the rubber spatula, just until all the flour is incorporated
7. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and let it rest a minute while you wash out the bowl
8. Knead the dough eight to ten times only. The best way is as Julia Child does it in the video (see below). It’s a little difficult to explain, but essentially involves smacking the dough on the counter (lots of fun if you are mad at someone) and removing it from the counter using the pastry scraper.
9. Place the dough back in the bowl, and place the bowl in the plastic bag
10. Leave the bowl at approximately 75°F/24°C for three hours, or until the dough has tripled in size.
11. After the dough has tripled in size, remove it gently from the bowl, pulling it away from the sides of the bowl with your fingertips.
12. Place the dough on a lightly floured board or counter-top, and use your hands to press it out into a rectangle about 8 by 12 inches (20cm by 30cm).
13. Fold the dough rectangle in three, like a letter (fold the top third down, and then the bottom third up)
14. Place the dough letter back in the bowl, and the bowl back in the plastic bag.
15. Leave the dough to rise for another 1.5 hours, or until it has doubled in size. This second rise can be done overnight in the fridge.
16. Place the double-risen dough onto a plate and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place the plate in the fridge while you prepare the butter.
17. Once the dough has doubled, it’s time to incorporate the butter
18. Place the block of chilled butter on a chopping board.
19. Using the rolling pin, beat the butter down a little, till it is quite flat.
20. Use the heel of your hand to continue to spread the butter until it is smooth. You want the butter to stay cool, but spread easily.
21. Remove the dough from the fridge and place it on a lightly floured board or counter. Let it rest for a minute or two.
22. Spread the dough using your hands into a rectangle about 14 by 8 inches (35 cm by 20 cm).
23. Remove the butter from the board, and place it on the top half of the dough rectangle.
24. Spread the butter all across the top two-thirds of the dough rectangle, but keep it 1/4 inch (6 mm) across from all the edges.
25. Fold the top third of the dough down, and the bottom third of the dough up.
26. Turn the dough package 90 degrees, so that the top flap is to your right (like a book).
27. Roll out the dough package (gently, so you don’t push the butter out of the dough) until it is again about 14 by 8 inches (35 cm by 20 cm).
28. Again, fold the top third down and the bottom third up.
29. Wrap the dough package in plastic wrap, and place it in the fridge for 2 hours.
30. After two hours have passed, take the dough out of the fridge and place it again on the lightly floured board or counter.
31. Tap the dough with the rolling pin, to deflate it a little
32. Let the dough rest for 8 to 10 minutes
33. Roll the dough package out till it is 14 by 8 inches.
34. Fold in three, as before
35. Turn 90 degrees, and roll out again to 14 by 8 inches (35 cm by 20 cm).
36. Fold in three for the last time, wrap in plastic, and return the dough package to the fridge for two more hours (or overnight, with something heavy on top to stop it from rising)
37. It’s now time to cut the dough and shape the croissants
38. First, lightly butter your baking sheet so that it is ready
39. Take the dough out of the fridge and let it rest for ten minutes on the lightly floured board or counter
40. Roll the dough out into a 20 by 5 inch rectangle (51 cm by 12 1/2 cm).
41. Cut the dough into two rectangles (each 10 by 5 inches (25 1/2 cm by 12 1/2 cm)
42. Place one of the rectangles in the fridge, to keep the butter cold
43. Roll the second rectangle out until it is 15 by 5 inches (38 cm by 12 1/2 cm).
44. Cut the rectangle into three squares (each 5 by 5 inches (12½ cm by 12 1/2 cm))
45. Place two of the squares in the fridge
46. The remaining square may have shrunk up a little bit in the meantime. Roll it out again till it is nearly square
47. Cut the square diagonally into two triangles.
48. Stretch the triangle out a little, so it is not a right-angle triangle, but more of an isosceles.
49. Starting at the wide end, roll the triangle up towards the point, and curve into a crescent shape.
50. Place the unbaked croissant on the baking sheet
51. Repeat the process with the remaining squares of dough, creating 12 croissants in total.
52. Leave the tray of croissants, covered lightly with plastic wrap, to rise for 1 hour
53. Preheat the oven to very hot 475°F/240°C/gas mark 9.
54. Mix the egg with a teaspoon of water
55. Spread the egg wash across the tops of the croissants.
56. Put the croissants in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until the tops are browned nicely
57. Take the croissants out of the oven, and place them on a rack to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Yields 12 croissants

Link Love: If you like the clip art that I used in the first photo, you can find it at the fabulous Pugly Pixel! (Don't you just love the name?)


  1. Beautiful croissants! Very well done.

    I have to try that recipe.



  2. Kudos for making this recipe! I have never been daring enough to try homemade croissants. Were they the best croissants ever?

  3. @Samantha Angela, Considering how easy they were to make, yes! :D

  4. These look awesome. I'm a bit worried about the 57 steps involved, but the finished product does look worth the effort. You truly are a daring baker!

  5. Your croissants look great! This was a fun challenge this month. Any excuse to eat croissants...

  6. I don't think there is anything better than croissants.

  7. Lovely croissants! I am going to have to try out the cinnamon filling you made before with this recipe, it sounds divine!

  8. Beautiful, light and flaky croissants. They almost look ethereal..angelic, perhaps? Not angelic on the hips, though..but totally worth every inch!

  9. I love these Julia croissants are amazing .. beautiful BLOG.. greetings Marimi

  10. I agree with every word you said :)
    Your croissants look fantastic and your photography is just stunning.

  11. Ha I love your list of mood boosters--so true! The croissants look delicious!

  12. Wow !!
    I don't know what i like better....your writing or your pictures..... :-))
    Love the croissants !!

    Do visit my humble space.
    Happy to follow you.


Thanks for visiting, and for taking the time to read through my ramblings!
If you have a recipe comment or question, I'd love to hear from you.

Happy Baking!
♥ Valerie


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