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Recipe: How to make croissants

Always wanted to make this classic French pastry? Let the team at London bakery The Dusty Knuckle guide you

By House & Garden | May 7, 2022 | Recipes

Much like puff pastry, you start here with a base dough. This one needs to ferment overnight in the fridge – an important stage in the process, so don’t skip this. We have also found much better results when we fridge the pastries overnight after shaping. Get them out in the morning and then prove fully before baking. We are very lucky to have had the help of our bakery school master bakers Mahala and Tomek, who have worked on the recipe we use day to day and tweaked it for home baking.

Croissants and any viennoiserie really are a labour of love. It took me months to make ones that I was proud of, becoming completely obsessed with the process. There was a period of time when I was working mainly long, solo night shifts, when my diet was 90% pastry-based – testing, tasting and trying to perfect the technique; I remember feeling like I had butter running through my veins. Don’t be put off by the technical and multi-step process – if you break down the steps the actual work time is very little, with lots of waiting in between, so if you get organised it can be low maintenance and fit around your day.

The main tip we can give you (much like with bread) is be on top of your temperatures. You need everything to be and stay as cold as possible. If you have a big freezer, brilliant – use this for the rests. If you don’t, think about planning a bit ahead to make sure your fridge has enough room in it so your dough can get down to temperature. You don’t want it to start proving once you start the laminating process, and the cold fridge is your only weapon against this. If it’s summer, you can keep all your ingredients in the fridge before mixing. Another tip: when rolling between folds, always move in just one direction; confident and strong rolls are the key!

The steps here, with the variation, are for your classic mother and father of the pastry world: the croissant and the pain au chocolat. In the following pages you will find recipes that use this base dough and add different fillings to make various pastries we sell at the bakery – just take up the recipe from step 9 and follow whichever shaping and filling guidelines apply (see pages 102–111 for variations). There are few things that aren’t made more delicious by being wrapped or shaped around a milky dough that is made up mostly of butter.

This recipe is an extract from ‘The Dusty Knuckle Cookbook: Seriously Good Bread, Knockout Sandwiches and Everything In Between’ (Hardie Grant)



22g fresh yeast

140g cold full-fat milk

140g cold water

500g strong white bread flour

55g caster (superfine) sugar

12g salt

40g cold unsalted butter, cubed


280g cold unsalted butter


1 egg + 1 egg yolk

big pinch of salt


Step 1

The night before making the croissants, dissolve the yeast in the milk and water. Put the flour, sugar and salt in a separate bowl, add the butter and rub it in until it resembles breadcrumbs, then add the yeast mixture and mix until you have a coherent dough.

Step 2

Take the dough out of the bowl and give it a 2-minute knead (you really don’t want to overwork the dough here, so be restrained). Very lightly oil a rectangular Tupperware container that the dough will fill the whole base of, but will have room to double in size. Push the dough out so that it fills all corners, put the lid on it and put in the fridge overnight.

Step 3

The following day, take the butter block out of the fridge to soften a little – it’s very important that you never let it get greasy and pliable; cold is what you are looking for. Place it between 2 sheets of baking parchment and bash it with a rolling pin into a rectangle of A5 dimensions (15 x 21cm/6 x 8 inches), making sure it’s an even thickness. If it’s starting to shine and you feel like it’s offering little resistance when you’re working with it, fridge it for a bit to get it cold again.

Step 4

Turn your dough directly out onto a VERY lightly floured surface so you have a lovely, neat shape. Pat it to knock the air out and roll it into a rectangle of about A4 dimensions (21 x 30cm/8 x 12 inches). Take the bashed out butter from its baking parchment and place it on one half, then cut the other half of the dough and place this on top so you are making a sort of sandwich with the dough as the bread and the butter as the cheese.

Step 5

With a short edge closest to you, starting close to you and working away from you, gently press your rolling pin in ridges up along the dough. This helps to roll it out and works the gluten less than rolling does. Roll until it is about three times as long, keeping it as neat and straight as possible, but ridge for as long as you can, rolling only once it is nearly at the correct size, and in order to have a flat surface to your dough. Use as little flour as you can – you don’t want it to stick to your surface but you also don’t want to incorporate heaps of raw flour in your folds, so have a pastry brush close so you can keep the flour to a minimum. It’s important that you keep the shape as neat as possible, with straight edges and sharp corners; use your dough scraper to squash the edges in and keep them neat. Remember when rolling between folds to always move in just one direction.

Step 6

Fold the top third down, then the bottom third up and turn the dough 90 degrees to the right.

Step 7

Repeat the roll and fold as above (steps 5–6) then wrap in cling film (plastic wrap) and place in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Step 8

Repeat one more roll and fold (this will mean you have done 3 in total). Then ridge the dough out as much as possible to gain length and freeze for 30–40 minutes.

Step 9

Now roll the croissant dough out to 5mm (¼ inch) thickness; this is tough by hand, so if you need to rest the dough in the fridge for 10-minute breaks in rolling, you can. You can also flip the dough over at this point and roll in different directions. The final size should be around 44 x 21cm (17 x 8 inches). If you feel at any stage the dough is getting greasy or starting to get puffy, cover and fridge for 10 minutes.

Step 10

Cut the dough into 8 long, isosceles triangles. The easiest way to do this is to use a ruler to lightly mark one long edge of pastry at 11cm (4¼ inch) intervals, then the opposite side at 5.5cm (2¼ inch) intervals. Cut from one side to the opposite point on the other, so each triangle is 11cm (4¼ inch) at the base and about 22cm (8½ inches) down each side. You will have 2 on either end that are narrower and are right-angle triangles, but don’t worry about this; just shape them as for the other ones – they might look a little different from the others but will be as delicious.

Step 11

To shape the croissants, stretch each triangle a little then roll up from the short side until you reach the tip, squash this slightly and roll the croissant so that it sits on the tip; the weight of it will help to seal it so it won’t unravel in the oven.

Step 12

Mix the egg wash ingredients together, whisking well – salt helps break down the protein in the egg (and is tasty), making it easier to brush. Let it sit for 5 minutes before brushing over the shaped croissants using a pastry brush. Lightly cover with cling film (plastic wrap) unless you are using your oven to prove them (see next step), in which case there is no need to cover them. You can fridge these at this point overnight if you want to bake fresh in the morning – just bear in mind the proving time will be longer as they come up to temperature.

Step 13

Proving the pastries is the most important bit of the process. They need to be in a warm and moist environment. If you have an airing cupboard or particularly warm area of your kitchen, this should suffice – you are ideally aiming for 28°C (82°F). Alternatively, see page 72 for how to prove in your oven. Push the prove as much as you think you can – don’t be tempted to poke or touch them too much; they’re precious and need to be left alone at this stage. You want a good wobble when you shake the tray, for them to have at least doubled in size and you should start to see gaps appearing between the laminations. If your butter is starting to leak out a bit, you may just have them in a bit of a hot spot; it’s not a disaster and don’t bake them early; keep proving them but try to cool the area down slightly. This is likely to take around 1½ hours but will depend on your proving temperature.

Step 14

When ready to bake, heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F.

Step 15

Brush the pastries with egg wash one more time before baking – gentle, light feather fingers here (they may collapse if you are too hard) and bake for 5 minutes, before turning the oven temperature down to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F and baking for a further 15–20 minutes, until golden brown, puffy and smelling delicious.

This article orginally appeared on House & Garden UK