FACQ is still a work in progress, but we published it because it could hopefully already be useful…
A lot of (first time) croissant bakers ask pretty much the same questions when tackling this challenging pastry. We composed a list of the top questions with our answers. Pretty sure your question will be answered here. If not, just put your question in a comment below. Now lets get to the point of your very valid questions!
Why is your version a three day recipe?
The three day croissant recipe schedule is done for the right planning of the whole process so you can make your croissants on the third day in the morning, but of course you can take less time if this fits your timing better. Take a look at our one day version of this recipe too.
I am a first time croissant baker. What is your best advice?
Choose a cold day with a room temperature below 20 ºC / 68 ºF for your first attempt. This way you will have more time for the whole process and less chance of butter being absorbed by the dough. The key is to keep the butter solid between the layers of dough, this is what gives the croissant its flakiness.
My first attempt croissants look nothing like the ones in your pictures! What did I do wrong?
Do not expect to get perfect croissants the very first time you try to make croissants, most people need to make them 3 to 4 times to get the general feeling for the process. There is no substitute for practice and experience. There is no way to hide little mistakes in your technique when making croissants, so work very precise and follow the instructions to the letter. One small mistake is no problem but several small mistakes add up!
My croissants have a bread-like crumb and no layers. What did I do wrong?
Several factors can be the cause of this. Most likely it is an accumulation of things going sideways. It starts with pressing too hard on the dough to try and lengthen it while it is already fighting back. Keeping at this for a while means, next to the pressing on the dough, you are taking too long and the butter starts to get warm and is absorbed by the dough. So in this case, while still learning and getting better and faster, until you do make sure you build in extra fridge time to cool the dough and then continue. Handle the dough with care, gently elongate without pressing too much or putting your weight into it.
Can I turn your croissant recipe into a sourdough version?
We would recommend finding a recipe that is already a worked out version for sourdough croissants. We are not really a fan of the sour taste in pastry and for that reason we do not have enough experience to guide you to a good enough result.
Can you provide the measurements as ml, tsp, cups, instead of grams for all the ingredients?
We very much recommend weighing your ingredients. Professional bakers use scales (also in the US) and in Europe home bakers do too. A scale will give you the exact same weight every time. Which is absolutely needed if you consistently want to make good bread and especially good pastry. You can get a scale for the same price as a few sacks of good flour and less than a lot of baking tools you already own, so if possible, go and get one!
What are the measurements if I only want to make half of your recipe?
If you halve the recipe, the dough square should be 18.4 x 18.4 cm and the butter slab 12 x 12 cm. The same for the laminated dough, you must shorten only one side (otherwise you get a quarter of the original), so you end up with a 20 x 30 rectangle. The size of the final dough, right before cutting, should be 20 x 55 cm.
I want to bake croissants, but live in a tropical location. Can I still make them?
We have gotten tips from people who have successfully baked croissants in the tropics. The top tips:
Cool ingredients and even utensils in the fridge before use, and use the fridge a lot to cool your dough and cool for longer if needed.
Roll the dough at night, when it is cooler. Check the weather reports and choose the coolest period possible.
My butter breaks into pieces. What should I do?
We use organic butter with a high fat content and low water content (about 82% fat). A higher water content tends to make butter hard, which promotes tearing and breaking and ruins the layers. Your butter needs to be pliable and at the same time not too soft at the moment of usage.
Help, butter leaks out when baking!
Your croissants were probably under-proofed. Just let them proof a bit longer so they get wobbly and increase visually in size. When under-proofed the butter tends to leak out from in between the layers and you end up with a butter puddle.
There’s so much butter in these croissants! Can I use less?
We would suggest making the recipe with the amount of butter indicated, enjoy the croissants and just try to eat less instead of a less than buttery croissant.
Next day eat soup and a salad.
Can I use another type of flour than the French type 55 you use?
For a good croissant you need the right type of flour. We have tried at least 5 different types and brands before we found a winner. If you cannot get the type 55 French flour try to find a flour with around 11% protein (this can be an all purpose / plain flour) and make sure it is a good quality flour. Try different brands if needed or use a combination of flours. Using 100% bread flour can make your result ‘heavy’ so try a combination with all purpose for instance.
My dough was too moist and sticky to handle. What should I change?
First of all it seems your flour absorbs less moisture than the type 55 flour we are using and you need to make adjustments by using a little less moisture next time.
My dough resists and shrinks back when I try to roll it out. What can I do?
At any stage when the rolling of the dough gets harder you can cover the dough and let the gluten relax for 10 to 20 minutes in the fridge before continuing.
If you keep on pressing the dough, trying to roll it while it resists, you will damage the layers!
SHAPING, PROOFING & YEAST
Can I use fresh yeast instead of instant yeast?
Yes you can. Use three times the amount given (so for our recipe 33 grams of fresh yeast).
Can I use active dry yeast instead of instant yeast?
Yes you can. Use 1.2 times the amount given (so for our recipe 13.2 grams active dry yeast).
At what stage should I add filling to my croissants?
You add filling just before the shaping / rolling up stage. Be aware that any filling will affect the layers and you will need less filling than you probably think. With chocolate for instance you will need no more than 5 to 7 grams per croissant. Professional bakers use stick chocolate for this, but you can use your own good quality (dark) chocolate. Fillings like jams are often added (injected) after baking.
I want to shape my croissants like a crescent. Why are your croissant not crescent shaped?
According to Raymond Calvel croissants laminated with margarine are formed into the crescent shape, while croissants laminated with butter are left in the straight form. We say, use whichever shape you like best, but do use real (organic) butter!
My croissants do not puff up like yours. What should I do?
First check the ‘sell by’ date on your packet of yeast and see if it is still OK to use it. Also make sure the temperature of your dough and proofing environment are correct.
Ideally you should proof the croissants draft-free at a temperature of 24ºC to 26.5ºC / 76ºF to 79ºF
Why are my croissants under/over cooked?
Check the true temperature of your oven and see if any adjustments need to be made there. See our tips on the subject: Bread baking tips: Making the most of your oven.
I want to freeze my croissants and bake at a later stage. What is the best way to do this?
Check out our tips for retarding and freezing with the one day version of our croissant recipe.
You can always find a way to adjust the recipe to fit your schedule.
What do I do to keep baked croissants fresh?
We would advice to put the croissants you do not eat on baking day in the freezer, after they have cooled. For extra flakiness and ‘almost as good as freshly baked’ you can put them into an oven for about 8 minutes at 175°C / 345°F, straight from the freezer.