Homemade Croissants

Today was a bank holiday in this part of Germany, which gave me the time to finally take up a project I’ve been thinking about since returning from France.

Fresh Plain Croissants
                         seitanismymotor 2010

I wanted to make croissants. I gave them up when I went vegan. No, that is not true. I gave them up when I moved away from my parents. Because our local bakery used to make the best croissants ever. They were always  big, soft, delicious, and fresh. They were fresh the whole day, which is not always the case.

The croissants I tried in many other places often where just assembled dust shards, if there is such a thing. They were dry and not at all delicious.  So I haven’t had a proper croissant in a long time. After I went vegan, I sometimes bought prepared puff pastry and tried to make croissants, but that didn’t work out at all. Until a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t know much about how to make them. I then learned that there are different kinds of puff pastry. One version  is not only made from layers of dough and fat, it’s also made with yeast. That is the one used for croissants. The combination of a yeast dough and puff pastry makes croissants extra tender and also is responsible for most of the flavour.

Homemade croissants require a lot of time and work. I started to work on them yesterday evening at eight and finished today at six p.m. Okay, most of the time is passive, but you have to return to your kitchen for a couple of times to work on the dough.

I found several good recipes online, but finally decided to use this one (in German). It calls for a pre-ferment, which I prepared yesterday evening. After a two-hour rise, I put the dough in the fridge to ferment for 15 hours. This morning I made the croissant dough and rolled out the margarine. That was almost the most difficult part of the whole process!

When you make croissants, you start by placing the flattened margarine in the middle of a piece of dough shaped into a rectange and wrap the dough around the butter. It will look like and envelope. Then you seal the edges and roll out the dough. It is very important that both the margarine and the dough don’t get too warm. Because if the butter is too warm, the dough might tear and the butter will squeeze out.You also have to work slowly, to avoid tearing. And you have to let the gluten relax from time to time.

After you rolled out the dough, you fold it in a special way. Then you roll it out again and place it in the fridge for 60 to 120 minutes. You repeat this three times. Then you roll out the dough very thinly and cut it into triangles. You roll them up and shape them into crescents. Then you brush them with butter and let them rise. Mine rose for 2 hours. Then you bake them. And then you enjoy them. Croissants are a lot of work, but they are really worth the effort. Seriously. They are crispy, flaky, soft, and light at the same time. They are a really great treat and you’ll appreciate them even more if you know how much time it takes to make proper croissants.

I sprinkled these with fine sugar before baking.

I didn’t add sugar to my croissant dough, because I wanted to reserve some of it for a special treat. The bakery I told you about at the beginning od this posts sold regular croissants, croissants with a cheese crust, and sesame ham croissants. Yes, you heard that right. They were filled with a thin slice of smoked ham. Today I made a vegan version of these, using a vegan sausage. I know this may look and sound weird, but it tastes really great!

Sesame croissants with sausage. Don't call me crazy. This is good!

45 thoughts on “Homemade Croissants

  1. Mihl, you are a baking goddess! I can’t believe how much time and effort goes into these–your croissants are gorgeous, perfect! They look incredibly flaky and light. . . they remind me of the ones I see in Montreal all the time. I’m just in awe! :)

  2. Those look gorgeous! I successfully made croissants over the summer and they were awesome. I’m sure you can imagine my annoyance that someone put the dryer on in the kitchen with them out. All that work then the humidity from the dryer made them soggy and horrible in no time. I was especially annoyed because I’d made them for a PPK picnic and they weren’t nice at all by then!

  3. It’s a good thing croissants are such a wonderful reward for all the work and patience needed to make them! One day I’ll follow your example…

  4. These look great – they turned out really well, Mihl! You’re making me feel guilty because I haven’t made any croissants in so long…sigh. When I was little my mum used to make croissants like that – with a hot dog in the middle – I loved them!

  5. oooh, Mihl! you’re killing me with awesomeness over here! you are most amazing & your croissants show off all the work and time you put in. wow!

  6. Wow! These look scrumptious! As Kelly and machopineapple said, having a sausage inside a croissant i actually a fairly common thing in the United States; they’re hugely popular in the south (Pigs In Blankets) and also really common in Czech bakeries (kolaches – we’ve got a ton of those around where I live in Texas, but none that are vegan.) I’ve been wanting to make croissants for quite some time, but haven’t managed to get up the nerve to follow through with all the steps! *grin* Instead of sausage, though, I want to fill mine with vegan chocolate! Thanks for your blog post; it’ll be most helpful when I finally decide to make some!

  7. You made vegan croissants!? You are my hero. When I was in culinary school (in my pre-vegan days) we learned to make the most amazing croissants. They were the best I ever had. I have been dying to recreate them and make them vegan. Stuffing them with sausage sounds like a yummy idea!

  8. They look fantastic. What a project!! I’ve had the same problem mentioned by Jojo and haven’t attempted them since. But yours look so good. Can you open a bakery in Frankfurt next to me? That would be awesome.

  9. I love getting your blog recipes sent to my email! Do you really live in Germany? I’m an American vegan living in Denmark. I think you,in Germany,might have access to more and better ingredients than we do here. I know that Berlin has a lot more vegan and veg restaurants than Denmark and the food is much,much better. I have to cook all of the time,because the restaurant food is so bad and expensive. Still,there are things I can’t seem to find here(vital wheat gluten doesn’t exist here. I was told it’s because so many Danes are gluten or wheat intolerant. Strange,considering they still eat regular bread). I have managed to find things I need in Sweden,which helps. I would love to hear about what you’re had to go through to figure everything out while living in Germany.

    1. Hi Meagan,
      yes, I really live in Germany. I haven’t found going vegan very difficult and thanks to the internet I usually find what I need. I’m emailing you.

  10. oh yum, mihl! now off with you back to the kitchen and don’t come back until you’ve got a good gluten free version! seriously though, i have a basic yeasted xgfx dough that i like, do you think it would work for croisant?


    1. Kittee, Kelly above commented that she wants to make gluten-free croissants. I’d never attempt a glluten-free croissant myself, but probably Kelly can help you out.

  11. Oh dear, those look scrumptious! I bet even the croissants that I used to eat and like were nothing like a ‘true’ croissant. I will definitely have to keep this in mind for the next time I want a truly impressive treat (and don’t mind a bit of a time investment). Thanks so much for sharing, and inspiring! ;)

  12. These look amazing. I had not had a croissant for years until I got my hands on one of Mandee’s amazing almond croissants a few months ago. My omni family always has them for christmas breakfast, and I would love to make them so I can enjoy them too!
    Though it is really coming into summer here at the moment, so I would probably need to up the air con before attempting any pastry work to stop it just melting.

  13. Your croissants look gorgeous, fully representing the amount of work that went into them. I used to ferment naturally leavened breads that took days to make, but now I’m much too lazy to attempt something this complex. I will just have to admire yours!

  14. The croissants look lovely, Mihl. I’ve only made them once because they are quite a bit of work, but they’re worth the effort. The sesame-sausage version sounds particularly delicious, not crazy at all! :)

  15. Beautiful, mihl! I don’t think the sausage ones look weird at all. QueenV has an amazing recipe for sausages coming out in her book and I think they would be a perfect application here. As soon as I get time I am going to make a version.

  16. That’s awesome! They look SO good! I tried to make croissants a while ago but they didn’t turn out very well, my margarine was too soft & squooshed out of the dough when I did the envelope bit. I think I may need to try making them again though.

    1. I think that is a very common problem. I cooled the dough like crazy so this wouldn’t happen. It did tear a bit in the end, but it didn’t matter much because the margarine was still cool enough.

  17. Those look incredible! Yeah, and there are a lot of meat and cheese stuffed croissants and croissant-wiches in the US. It’s totally normal, and I’m sure delicious, to have a sausage in one.

  18. There is no shortage of ham and cheese croissants in the US, so I don’t think it seems so weird to put a vegan sausage in there. Not too far off from what we would call Pigs in Blankets. :-)

    That aside, what brand of margarine are you using? I have not yet found a German margarine that can compare to good old Earth Balance for flavor. The ones with decent flavor are all fairly soft, and i find that the buttery flavor disappears in baked goods anyway.

    1. Hi Kelly,
      the only margarine I use is Alsan. It’s sold in organic grocery stores (organic version only) but also in some supermarkets (regular and light version only). It tastes neutral and not as awful as regular margarine. Its texture is very close to butter. I use the organic one that comes in a golden package. The regular one comes in a green package. (It also comes with a butter flavour, but I don’t think it tastes like butter.) There’s also a light version (blue). I have never had Earth Balance, but in my opinion Alsan is definitely the best vegan margarine you can find in Germany.

      1. Thanks, Mihl! I already use Alsan, but I thought maybe I was missing something. I do have to say, Earth Balance is better, but it is also a little bit a salt thing–the American margarines are all more salty than those here, and I think I have not acclimatized to the less-salty German versions. But EB is really pretty great stuff…I forgot how much I missed my EB till my last visit home when I discovered that they have a nifty new soy-free version. Ahhh…heaven.

        I am really glad to see that the Alsan worked for your croissants, though! I want to make some gluten-free croissants, and I already have the flour mix, but I have been afraid to try it out with the Alsan. I thought it might be too bland or too soft. I have been waffling between trying it with Alsan or with palm oil. I think I can move forward with the Alsan after seeing that you used it here successfully. A pre-ferment is probably a great idea for GF, too. When I make GF bread, I have found that the overnight in the fridge method produces the nicest flavor, much as with gluten breads. I hadn’t really thought about it for croissants, but it’s a great idea. Okay, must get over it and just jump in a try it out. I have all the stuff here, so it’s only a matter of time and courage. :-)

        1. Maybe palm or coconut oil will work, too. Or a mix of Alsan and one of those fats. Good luck with your gluten free croissants. That sounds really difficult to me! If you’ve made them, tell us how they came out. Kittee of cake maker to the stars commented that she’d love to know about gluten free croissants.

  19. Wow, Mihl! I would be lying if I said that I am going to try this, I am not ready for such complicated baking. However, I will remember this post if the day comes that I am ready, because what a reward a beautiful flaky croissant would be! I am going to try baking bread for the first time tonight, which I believe is a good first step in becoming comfortable working with dough. I have been wanting to try baking with puff pastry also, and I appreciate learning that there are different types, I had no idea!

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