Even though you may not be a professional French pastry chef, who says you can’t make perfect croissants from scratch? Try your hand at our recipe for flaky, buttery croissants, and you’ll be well on your way. And while you may not be in the city of light, we’ll we’ll channel a little je ne sais quoi into your baking routine with our our step-by-step instructions for forming these classic pastries.
PREPARE THE BUTTER
1. Fold a 24-inch length of parchment paper in half to make a 12-inch rectangle. Fold over the 3 open sides to form an 8-inch square.
2. Using a rolling pin, beat the cold butter until it’s just pliable.
3. Fold the butter in on itself using a bench scraper. Beat it into a rough 6-inch square.
4. Unfold the parchment envelope and, using a bench scraper, transfer the butter to the parchment, refolding it at creases to enclose the butter.
5. Turn the packet over and gently roll it out so that the butter fills the parchment paper, making sure the thickness is even. Refrigerate.
LAMINATE THE DOUGH
1. After freezing the dough for 30 minutes, roll it into a 17- by 8-inch rectangle. Place the unwrapped butter in the center of the dough.
2. Fold the sides of the dough over the butter so they meet in the center. Press the seam together with your fingertips.
3. With a rolling pin, press firmly on each open end of the packet. Roll out the dough lengthwise into a 24 by 8-inch rectangle.
4. Starting at the bottom of the dough, fold it into thirds like a business letter. Turn the dough 90 degrees. Roll it out and and fold it into thirds again.
5. Place the dough on a sheet, wrap it in plastic, and return it to freezer for 30 minutes. Roll it and fold it into thirds, then rewrap and refrigerate it for 2 hours.
SHAPE THE CROISSANTS
1. After freezing the dough for 2 hours, roll it into an 18- by 16-inch rectangle. Fold the upper half of the dough over the lower half.
2. Using a ruler, mark the dough at 3-inch intervals along the bottom edge. Move the ruler to the top edge of the dough, measure in 1½ inches from the left, and then use this mark to measure out 3-inch intervals.
3. Using a pizza wheel or a knife, cut the dough from mark to mark. You should have 12 triangles and 5 diamonds. Discard the scraps.
4. Unfold the diamonds and cut them into 10 triangles (making 22 equal-size triangles in total).
5. Cut a 1/2-inch slit in the center of the short side of each triangle.
6. Grasp the triangle by 2 corners on either side of the slit and stretch it gently, then stretch the bottom point.
7. Place the triangle on the counter so the point is facing you. Fold down both sides of the slit.
8. Roll the top of triangle partway toward the point.
9. Gently grasp the point and stretch it again. Resume rolling, tucking the point underneath.
10. Curve the ends gently toward each other to create a crescent.
MAKE IT NOW: Our recipe for Croissants is free through March 21, 2013.