The history of the croissant is shrouded in myth and legend, but it undeniably has its roots in Austria. The croissant’s precursor, known as the “kipferl,” was introduced to France in the early 19th century. It wasn’t until the mid-19th century that the croissant, as we know it today, emerged in its crescent shape, believed to be a homage to the crescent moon, symbolizing Vienna’s defeat of the Ottoman Turks in 1683.
1. Prepare the Dough
- In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt.
- Add the cold butter cubes and mix until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
- Gradually add the cold milk and knead the dough until it comes together.
- Form the dough into a square, wrap it in plastic wrap, and chill it in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
2. Create the Butter Layer
- While the dough is chilling, place the cold butter between two sheets of parchment paper.
- Use a rolling pin to flatten and shape the butter into a square of the same size as the dough.
- Refrigerate the butter layer for 30 minutes.
3. Laminate the Dough
- Roll out the chilled dough on a floured surface into a larger square.
- Place the chilled butter layer on one half of the dough and fold the other half over it.
- Seal the edges by pressing down with the rolling pin.
- Roll out the dough into a rectangle and fold it into thirds like a business letter.
- Chill the dough for 30 minutes, then repeat this folding process two more times.
- After the final fold, refrigerate the dough for an additional 30 minutes.
4. Shape the Croissants
- Roll out the laminated dough into a large rectangle, approximately 1/4 inch thick.
- Cut the dough into triangles, each with a base of about 4-5 inches.
- Starting at the wide end, roll each triangle towards the tip, creating the classic crescent shape.
- Place the shaped croissants on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, leaving space between each.
- Cover them loosely with plastic wrap and allow them to rise at room temperature for 1-2 hours until they double in size.
5. Bake the Croissants
- Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C).
- In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and milk to create the egg wash.
- Brush the egg wash over the risen croissants.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 15-18 minutes or until they turn golden brown and flaky.
- Remove from the oven and allow them to cool slightly on a wire rack.
Serve and Enjoy
Your homemade heavenly French croissants are now ready to be savored. Serve them warm with a side of your favorite jam, honey, or a hot cup of coffee. The delicate layers of buttery goodness will transport your taste buds to the streets of Paris, offering a little slice of heaven in each bite. Bon appétit!