Croissants From Scratch

by Mara @ What's For Dinner? on January 21, 2012

in Baking, bread

In our house growing up, we spent many many many Saturday mornings watching episodes of cooking shows on PBS interspersed with bouts of cleaning. Sometimes, we’d forgo an episode here and there (a repeat of The Frugal Gourmet, for example) for something more interesting, but there was one chef that would never be turned off. That chef? None other than Julia Child.


We were thrilled every time a new series debuted. Julia Child with Master Chefs? Yes please! Cooking in Concert? Fantastic! But one show, for reasons we’d later figure out, was quite the favorite. Baking with Julia. It was like two worlds colliding, as pastry chefs we’d actually heard of joined Julia on the small screen to make amazing desserts and pastries.

But sometimes, someone I’d never heard of would bake something with Julia that was so amazing, so out of the ordinary, and looked so fun to make that it would stick in my mind for years to come. One such thing was deep-fried truffles, which I have yet to try. Another? Homemade croissants.

homemade croissants

I still remember, to this day, the visual of Julia and her sous chef for the episode pounding away on a brick of butter, then a brick of dough, then rolling and folding and rolling and folding… finally they baked the pastries after a remarkable amount of time, and they puffed like nothing I’d ever seen before. All that butter, all that time, all that work… and it made the most beautiful-looking croissants.

homemade croissants

So when I woke up this Saturday morning, and there was over 8″ of snow on the ground, a severe chill in the air, and bright sun shining, I decided “today is the day!” And I took out the reserved butter I had in the freezer.

homemade croissants

Googling the heck out of recipes led me to a truly wonderful tutorial, and I’m not even going to copy and paste the recipe. The only thing I changed was an addition of 2 teaspoons of sugar to the initial flour mixture, and I only used three sticks of butter (only!).

The process was an adventure. So much kneading, rolling, pounding, and waiting. And then more waiting. And then folding and rolling…

homemade croissants

Look at all those layers! Each one is dough-butter-dough, and the moisture in the butter is what causes the “puff”. I made relatively small croissants. The recipe called for a yield of 12, but I ended up with 21.

homemade croissants

Nearly 40 minutes in the oven, the house smelling of rich butter and pastry, and watching of the oven… and we had croissant success!


I gave the small test croissants to Adam and his mom to test out while I photographed the rest. The crackle from the breaking crust could be heard in the kitchen as I shot photos of the full-sized croissants. The other noise that could be heard? “MMMMMMM”


And there were so many layers. Oh so many layers.

homemade croissants

I have this insane feeling of accomplishment. It’s like I conquered this huge task, since making croissants was always this “untouchable” scary pastry thing. And I did it! And it was FUN! I wouldn’t say it was easy, but it certainly isn’t something that I’d avoid. Next time, I’m stuffing them with chocolate.



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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Melissa @TryingtoHeal January 21, 2012 at 10:43 PM

Wow…those croissants look AMAZING. You did accomplish something great; I don’t think I could ever do that!
Melissa @TryingtoHeal´s last blog post ..Comment on 20 Things by Katherine


Sara Lake January 22, 2012 at 2:27 AM

I think I drooled on my laptop! I have been wanting to make croissants since I read ‘French Women Don’t Get Fat’. There is a recipe in there, but it takes about three days. Also I’m going to have to try a gluten-free batch (as well as the regular ones), as there is a celiac in the house. That is making me a bit nervous. I think they need the gluten for pliability. mmmm.
Sara Lake´s last blog post ..Fitness Find and Foodcam


pancakepancake January 22, 2012 at 3:19 AM

hi i have question. i am also trying out south beach diet and i was wondering if u think it’s ok to eat these for the diet? looks tasty, but i am worried. thanx u!


Mara @ What's For Dinner? January 22, 2012 at 9:23 AM

These are not south beach diet friendly at all… But I’m well into phase 2 now and will indulge occasionally. If you are worried, don’t make them.


pancakepancake January 22, 2012 at 11:38 AM

I still think I want to make them but it looks like it takes 5 hours. Can you tell us all how long it took and how annoying it was? They look delicious and so tempting. The ones I buy from the store are horrible.


Mara @ What's For Dinner? January 22, 2012 at 11:45 AM

Totally not annoying. Just a lot of waiting but I was able to do other things while I waited!


Jenn@slim-shoppin January 22, 2012 at 1:08 PM

Great job Mara!!! Those look amazing!
Jenn@slim-shoppin´s last blog post ..Power Smoothie + Granola Bars


Biz January 22, 2012 at 3:19 PM

Those look amazing Mara!! Great job!
Biz´s last blog post ..We Are Getting Close!


Lauren @ From Everyday To Gourmet January 22, 2012 at 4:57 PM

These look AH-MAZE-ZING! You have given me the confidence (and hope, ha!) to attempt these soon myself!! Thanks for sharing!
Lauren @ From Everyday To Gourmet´s last blog post ..BST (Bacon, Spinach & Tomato) Baked Breakfast Sub


Mara @ What's For Dinner? January 22, 2012 at 5:30 PM

You can do it!!!!


Amanda January 22, 2012 at 8:30 PM

Holy crap. These look so professional, Mara! I bet the house smelled amazing while these were baking.
Amanda´s last blog post ..The quest to find a home


Mara @ What's For Dinner? January 22, 2012 at 8:33 PM

Yeah, it did…and let me tell you, it was hard to only have one! The rest are going to work :)


natalie (the sweets life) January 23, 2012 at 8:40 AM

what an accomplishment—these seriously look perfect!!
natalie (the sweets life)´s last blog post ..Roasted Tomato Basil Soup


Donna D @donna_de January 23, 2012 at 11:20 AM

Oh my goodness, must have been something in the transatlantic air because on Saturday evening, although we didn’t have snow, I had my first try at making puff pastry and settled for apple cinammon turnovers. You have so many layers in your croissants, I think I stopped at 10 turns due to time and hunger to taste the outcome! Yours look like 20 at least! Simply gorgeous! Fantastic, and now on my list to try to make from scratch :-)
Donna D @donna_de´s last blog post ..The Rubbish Diet


Mara @ What's For Dinner? January 23, 2012 at 11:24 AM

I only did 6 turns! I think the biggest difference between puff pastry and croissant dough is that croissant dough is yeasted so it has the added layers that yeast causes. Puff pastry is next on my list :)


Donna D @donna_de January 23, 2012 at 11:30 AM

I was just given the Art of French Baking (Phaidon are the publishers) so will be trying quite a few over the next months. I was super scared of puff pastry which was not too bad, if you had the patience for croissant dough you will find puff a breeze! And, by the way, seeing your beautiful photos makes me want to take out and relearn using my DSLR. Your site is so inspiring in so many ways :-)
Donna D @donna_de´s last blog post ..The Rubbish Diet


BethT January 23, 2012 at 6:58 PM

I am seriously impressed. Way to go!


Mara @ What's For Dinner? January 23, 2012 at 7:44 PM

Thanks Beth!!! They were almost as good as the ones we had at Tartine…those though, were something to strive for!


Dione January 23, 2012 at 8:33 PM

Those are the prettiest flakiest croissants I’ve ever seen. Do you mail overnight express to Canada?:)


brandi January 24, 2012 at 7:44 AM

they look so beautiful! the smell coming from our oven sunday morning when ours were baking was incredible. i can’t wait to make them again!


Beth @kitchen minions February 1, 2012 at 9:06 AM

croissants sounds like such a fun project! I made puff pastry before and that was so buttery delicious!
Beth @kitchen minions´s last blog post ..Clever Uses for Whey?


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