Introduction: Homemade Almond Croissants
Easy to follow step by step instructions for making your own fresh almond croissants at home.
I first fell in love with almond croissants on a post college trip to France. Each morning sweet buttery aromas seemed to fill the cobbled side streets of every small town we visited, encouraging our own pursuit of the flaky pastry to accompany our morning cup of coffee. Family owned bakeries seemed to overflowing with baguettes, eclairs, and croissants of all different flavors. Plain, chocolate, ham & cheese, and almond croissants lined the glass display cases. Almond soon became my favorite with the toasted almonds adorning the top of the flakey layers that hid the sugary almond paste. It wasn't until later that I learned that almond croissants begin their pastry life as a plain croissant and only gain the almond additions later once they have become stale. Redressing and re-baking the croissants with their new nutty compliments gives the croissants a second chance to be bought and devoured.
I set out to make my own croissants recently, determined to find a way to incorporate the almonds from the beginning. Here are the results so that you can enjoy them too!
Step 1: Things You'll Need
You'll need the following to make your croissants:
- 4 1/4 Cups High Protein Flour
- 1/4 Cup Sugar
- 1 3/4 Cup Whole Milk
- 27 Tablespoons Unsalted European Butter
- 3 Tablespoons Instant Yeast
- 1 Large Egg
- 2 Teaspoons of Salt
To Make Your Almond Filling:
- 1/2 Cup Sugar
- 1 Cup Almond Meal
- 1/8 Teaspoon of Salt
- 1 Stick of Butter
- 2 Eggs
And you'll need the following materials:
- Cookie Sheet
- Electric Mixer
- (3) Mixing Bowls
- Sharp Knife
- Rolling Pin
- Parchment or Wax Paper
- Plastic Wrap
NOTE: I found and adapted this recipe from Cook's Illustrated's Perfect Croissants recipe to create these almond croissants.
Step 2: Dairy and Yeast
Melt 3 Tablespoons of your butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Once all of your butter is melted, remove your saucepan from the heat and immediately pour in your whole milk. Stir briefly to incorporate. Add your 4 teaspoons of rapid-rise or instant yeast. Whisk until thoroughly mixed.
Transfer your milk, butter and yeast mixture to a mixing bowl if you are mixing by hand. Transfer the mixture to your stand mixer if you have one.
Step 3: Dry Ingredients
Add your dry ingredients (4 1/4 C Flour, 1/4 C Sugar, 2 t. Salt) to your dairy and yeast mixture. I used a combination of electric and hand mixing, but if you have a stand mixer I've included instructions for that as well.
Electric & Hand Mixing:
Mix with your electric mixer until the dough begins to form. The dough will be fairly sticky, once it begins to form, I've found that it's easiest to continue kneading with your hands. Remove the electric mixer and knead your dough for 4 minutes. Cover your bowl or dough in plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for half an hour.
Install a dough hook if you have one. Knead your dough on low speed for 3 minutes or until your dough begins to take shape and form. Increase your mixers speed to medium and continue to kneed your dough for 1 minute. Remove your bowl from your stand mixer and cover with plastic. Let your dough rest at room temperature for half an hour.
Step 4: Cool
While your dough is resting, line a cookie sheet with a piece of parchment paper.
After your dough has rested, place it on your lined cookie sheet. Reshape your dough into a rectangle 1 inch thick (should be roughly 10" x 7"). Cover your dough and cookie sheet in plastic wrap so that it is air tight. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Step 5: A Parchment Packet for Your Butter
Tear off a piece of parchment paper that is 24" long. Fold your parchment paper in half so it is only 12" long and run your fingers along the crease. Rotate your rectangle so that the closed side is on top away from you. Fold in your two sides until they meet in the middle, creasing your folds. Fold up the bottom side (last open side) until you have an 8" square. Make sure you have creased all of your sides nicely and firmly by going over them again.
Step 6: Butter, Butter, Butter
Croissants are known for their large amount of butter and the repetitive folding process that creates the croissants many layers. Don't skimp on this step, the buttery layers are what create the flaky layers in the final croissant.
While your dough is chilling, you can begin creating your butter block that will later get folded and incorporated into your dough. You'll be pounding butter for this step so you'll need a firm, strong surface on which to do so. Wipe down or rinse this surface so that it's clean for your butter.
Place your butter (all 24 Tablespoons or roughly 3 sticks) on your work surface. With a rolling pin, whack your butter together until it is roughly a 6" square. I've also found that a meat pounder works well if you are having trouble flattening the cold butter with the rolling pin.
Using a pastry cutter/scraper, fold your butter square in half.
Step 7: Butter Square
Unfold your parchment paper that you folded in step 5. Place your beaten and folded butter square in the middle of your parchment paper. Refold your parchment paper as you did in step 5 around your butter block. Flip your parchment paper over so that the open flaps are face down on your hard surface.
Using your rolling pin, roll your butter until it is flat and uniform filling the entire 8" square inside the parchment paper. Transfer your finished butter block to your refrigerator and cool for 30 minutes.
Step 8: Freeze Your Dough
Take your dough out of the refrigerator and move it to the freezer. Freeze for at least 45 minutes.
This will help keep the dough cool while you are working with the chilled butter in the next few steps. By keeping both cool, you will avoid heating and melting the butter.
Step 9: Roll and Butter
Remove your dough from the freezer and transfer to a lightly floured surface.
- Using your rolling pin, roll your dough out until it is a rectangle that is 10" x 17" in size. The long side of your rectangle (17") should be parallel with your counter, if it is not, rotate your dough.
- Place the butter square in the center of your dough.
- Fold the sides of your dough over the butter so that they meet in the middle. Press the seam tightly together by pinching it with your fingertips.
- Roll out to 24" x 8" rectangle lengthwise.
- Starting at the bottom, fold your dough into thirds to form an 8" square.
- Turn your dough 90 degrees and roll out lengthwise again to a 24" x 8" rectangle.
- From the bottom, fold into thirds again.
- Place your dough on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and cover tightly in plastic wrap.
- Place your cookie sheet in the freezer and freeze for 30 minutes.
This process is called laminating your dough and is an essential technique in creating flaky and airy pastry doughs. The process involves sealing a layer of butter in dough and then alternating layers of butter and dough through constant rolling and turning (folding layers). The more layers you create in your dough the flakier your pastry will be. This works because butter is comprised of milk fat and water. As your pastry is heated, the water in the butter will evaporate, creating steam and an air pocket between dough layers. The milk fat will seep into the dough and give it not only a buttery flavor that we all love, but will help to turn your pastry golden.
Step 10: Laminate Some More
- Transfer your dough from the freezer back to a lightly floured surface. Orient your dough so that the top flap opens to your right.
- Roll your dough and butter out to another 24" x 8" rectangle.
- From the bottom of your rectangle, fold into thirds.
- Transfer your dough back to the cookie sheet and wrap again in plastic.
- Place your cookie sheet with the dough into your refrigerator and cool for at least 2 hours. Your dough can be chilled for up to 24 hours if you are making this project over the course of two days.
Step 11: Almond Paste
While your dough is chilling in the freezer, you can make your almond filling.
- Combine your 1/2 Cup of Sugar, 1 Cup of Almond Meal, and 1/8 teaspoon of salt in a mixing bowl. Whisk until uniformly mixed.
- Add 1 stick of softened butter. Whip with your electric mixer until uniform and fluffy.
- Blend in two eggs, one at a time.
Transfer your almond paste to your refrigerator and refrigerate your almond paste until you are ready to use it.
Step 12: Outlining Your Croissants
Transfer your dough/butter block from your refrigerator to your freezer for 30 minutes. This will help super cool the dough and butter, keeping the butter solid as you begin to work with it, shaping it into croissants.
Place your cooled dough on your lightly floured counter. Using your rolling pin, roll out your dough into a 18" x 16" rectangle. The long side of your rectangle should still be parallel to your counter surface. Fold your dough in half, top half over the bottom half ("hot dog style").
Using your ruler and your pastry scraper or a knife, mark the bottom edge of the dough every 3 inches. This should create a total of 5 marks along the bottom edge. Then mark the top edge of the dough using the same tools, starting 1.5" in from the left hand side, and then place marks every 3" after the first mark. The top edge should have 6 marks total.
Starting at the bottom left mark, use your sharp kitchen knife to cut a straight line up to the first top mark. Then cut from that same first top mark to the second bottom mark. Continue cutting in this fashion until you have 12 triangles and 5 diamonds. Cut your diamonds in half along the center fold. You should now have 22 triangles.
Step 13: Stretching
Place one of your triangles on your counter. Cut a 1/2" slit in the middle of the triangle base with your kitchen knife. Gently stretch your triangle by holding the two corners of the base in one hand and the opposing triangle tip with your second hand. You only need to stretch your triangle slightly, and it should happen naturally. Place your stretched triangle down on the counter with the tip of the triangle facing you.
Repeat with the remaining 21 triangles.
Step 14: Slather and Shape
Once you have stretched all of your triangles, you can begin the almond filling and rolling process.
- Using the back of a spoon or a soft pastry brush, slather a thin layer of your almond paste along the inside (top side) of your triangle.
- Fold the base of the triangle down and begin to roll.
- Roll your croissants half way, then using your free hand, pull the tip of the triangle gently toward you as you roll the rest of the way.
- Tuck the tip of the triangle underneath the croissant.
- Gently coerce the side points of your croissant into a crescent shape by pushing them in.
- Place your shaped croissant on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper 2 1/2 inches apart.
- Wrap your cookie sheet in plastic. ****
- Let your croissants sit and rest at room temperature for 2 1/2 hours. Your croissants should double in size.
****NOTE: If you do not want to bake all of your croissants, freeze them on their cookie sheet 1" apart from each other. Once frozen, place in a airtight container or bag. You can freeze them for up to 2 months. When you're ready to bake them, allow them to defrost and rise to double their size, then bake as normal.
Step 15: Egg Wash & Bake
After your croissants have doubled in size they are ready to bake. Preheat your oven to 425 F (218 C).
In a small bowl, combine 1 egg, 1 teaspoon cold water, and a pinch of salt. Using your soft pastry brush, lightly coat each of your croissant in egg wash.
Reduce the temperature of your oven to 400 F (204 C) and bake your croissants for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with almond paste and slivered almonds. Rotate your baking sheet and bake for another 2 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
***NOTE: Cook's Illustrated recommends that you cook your croissants for 10-12 minutes, then rotating and then baking for another 8-12 minutes. I have found that I only need the first 10 minutes or so every time I have baked them, you may need more time and then can bake them as they recommend for the full 20-24 minutes.
Step 16: Enjoy
Serve warm with a cup of coffee or tea and ENJOY!