February 13, 2012

Croissants: A French classic, demystified

There was a time when I was intimidated by the idea of making my own croissants. Not just intimidated, but downright scared; croissants, with their impressive French pedigree and their multitudes of flakey, buttery layers coiled into neat crescent shapes, were the type of pastry I envisioned master chefs with years of formal training carefully preparing in vast stainless steel kitchens. Then there was me, the girl with no training at all and a minuscule apartment kitchen with less counter space than the average person’s coffee table. And I was going to attempt to bake my own croissants?

Well, yes, actually.

The first attempt was a certifiable disaster, complete with airborne chunks of butter and a mixer sacrificed to the gods of flour and butter. The things that emerged from the oven weren’t so much true pastries as they were logs of dense dough – hardly anything worth eating, let alone attempting to bake again. And yet, I tend to be somewhat stubborn. By my second attempt, the croissants were undeniably edible, and no kitchen equipment was damaged in the process. And on the third attempt, something happened, some kind of magical interaction between butter and flour, and when I opened the oven door after twelve nerve-wracking minutes, there they were: Croissants, true croissants, neatly coiled and deeply golden with the kind of tantalizing aroma that normally belongs inside a French patisserie and a flavour so good it nearly demanded that I reached for a second, and then a third…

As it turned out, croissants weren’t so difficult to master after all. They just required patience, some time, and a little attention to detail. And because I think you might enjoy baking croissants too – after all, the world’s tastiest pastry is all the more enjoyable when it’s just emerged from your own oven – I’ve put together a short video taking you through the croissant-making process.


(For the preparation method, see the video – in this case, it’s much easier to show than to tell)

  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flower (plus more for dusting)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 3 sticks cold unsalted butter

People Are Saying...

Ismael Burciaga

I really love this recipe and the video you created. You totally have inspired me to be a chef. However I will first finish photography then move onto culinary LOL


Well done! Well explained with the video. But still think it’s a lot of work ;) But now I feel more educated about croissants :). Love the picture also!


Wow, your croissants look really yummy! I’m saving this video to my favourites and I’m going to try your recipe the first chance I get :D

Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious

Wow, these look fabulous. The video was really helpful – well explained and clear-cut. You make this process look so easy but I’m still intimidated a little bit!

lauren @ the talking kitchen

I can’t wait to make these! Photos are beautiful and what a fun video to watch!


OMG! How friggin’ gorgeous was this?!
You. are. just. awesome.
Never mind the croissants (which look just heavenly in that last part) the whole video was adorable! Just perfect!


My croissants are in the refrigerator rising right now! Beautiful video. Thanks for the help!

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[...] Demystified French Croissants (from Verbalized) [...]


wow they look delicious.
i will definetely try the recipe!


Awesome. Butter would occasionally push through a layer of dough… Got a touch messy by the third time in and out of the fridge. But they really did turn out fantastic. Thanks!


Love this video! Really great, beautiful work. Hope you do more! :)


Hi Sara, thank you so much for this wonderful video! I hope it’s not too late to ask you (or anyone who’s tried this method) a question or two about the recipe. When you initially make and knead the dough, how long does it need to chill before you put the butter in? And secondly, how long will the dough stay in the fridge (or freezer?) if you only want to bake off a couple of croissants at a time? Thanks for your help!


this was great!! And so cute at the end when you baked just the two for yourself.


Hello Sara, I was on the search for a easy croissant tutorial on Pinterest and your’s is just perfect..! Thank you for this amazingly simple video. And hey, your house is beautiful.


Hi Sara,

Love this adorable video! I’ve always been too intimidated to try making homemade croissants until now. Thank you for the easy tutorial.

We enjoyed these for breakfast this morning straight from the oven. Delicious :-)


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Verbalized: Past participle, past tense of ver·bal·ize (Verb) 1. Express (ideas or feelings) in words, esp. by speaking out loud. 2. Speak, esp. at excessive length and with little real content.