Photo Tutorial: Step by Step Guide to Baking Butter Croissants & Pain du Chocolat

There really is nothing like a freshly baked croissant. Buttery. Flaky.Crispy. SO. DELICIOUS! I still remember the first time I ever ate a croissant. To a child that grew up with margarine in the house (butter was too expensive), this pastry was something like a baked dream. Over the years I've had my share of delicious croissants and lousy croissants too. 

When I decided to try and bake them, I looked for an authentic recipe (no eggs in the dough) but couldn't find any with great photo instructions to go with the recipe. I used the recipe from Joanne Chang's book, "Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery+Cafe."

In addition to making butter croissants, I also made some chocolate croissants. They were also delicious and I used  Callabaut Semisweet Pain au Chocolat Sticks sold by King Arthur Flour 

Even though you need a lot of patience and time to make these, I believe they are worth it. Plus, you can form them ahead of time and freeze them and then when you know you want to have them, take them out the night before or a few hours before you want to serve them and you can have freshly baked croissants in no time. 

You can find the recipe I used online by clicking here. 

Dough after being mixed in stand mixer.

Take the dough and use a bench scraper to make it into a square and then rotate it to be a diamond. 

Take the bench scraper and mark off the edges to create a square inside the diamond. 

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This is what your diamond with a marked off square should look like. 

Roll out each triangle to as much as a square as you can. The center square will be thicker which is correct. 

Take your softened but still cool butter and place it on the dough. 

Start spreading the butter to cover the center square. 

This is the dough with the butter square. 

Take each flap and fold it over the butter. Try and stretch each fold so it covers the butter square. 

This is the left side being folded over. 

Another fold over the butter square. 

The last fold up over the butter square. Now you should have a nice square with the butter inside. 

Start carefully rolling out the buter/dough square. Use plenty of flour to keep the dough from sticking to the rolling pin. 

After rolling out the dough, brush off any excess flour. 

Fold over half of the dough towards the center. This is after the first half is folded. 

Fold over the other side to meet the center. It looks like a gate fold or two doors. 

Fold each door on top of each other to make one long rectangle. 

Turn the rectangle 90° . This is called "turning the dough". 

Roll the dough out again to an 18" wide by 8" high rectangle. 

Using a bench scraper to mark off thirds and then fold over the dough onto each other to make one rectangle. Now turn the dough again 90°. 

 Cover and chill the dough for at least 1.5 hours or up to three. The plastic wrap should be tucked in around the dough like putting a blanket on it in bed. 

After chilling put the dough the long way facing you on a well floured board. Mark it off into thirds again. 

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Fold over each side (third) on top of the center panel to make one long rectangle. 

Turn the dough 90° again for a long rectangle. 

This is a side view of the folded over dough. Cover it with plastic wrap again and chill for at least 4 hours or up to 16 hours. 

Take the dough and  flour it again. 

I decided to make both plain and chocolate croissants so I cut the dough in half. 

Another view of the laminted dough being cut. 

Here is a side view of the dough with its many layers. Roll the dough out again. 

I cut the dough into five even strips. I measured the strips to be the same length as the chocolate baton. 

Then I cut the dough in half to make ten rectangles. 

Take your chocolate the Callabaut semisweet chocolate sticks available from King Arthur Flour. 

Roll the dough around the chocolate and make sure the end of the dough sits on the bottom of the roll. 

This is what the chocolate croissants or pain du chocolat look like. 

For plain croissant, roll out the other half of the dough. 

Starting at the bottom left of the dough, make a mark/cut every five inches. Then, starting at the top left of the dough, make a mark/cut every 2.5 inches.  

Cut from mark to mark on a diagonal to make five triangles. You will have little scraps leftover which make a nice treat for the baker. 

Take each triangle and make a one inch cut/notch in the center of the base of the triangle. 

Now, using your hands, slowly roll the croissant towards you. 

As you are rolling the dough, also gently pull the dough to lengthen it as you are rolling it. 

This is the start of the roll. 

Rolling and pulling the dough. 

Make sure the end of the triangle is under the croissant. 

Finished rolled croissants! You can freeze the croissant at this point if you want to serve them later. Otherwise, cover them

Otherwise, cover them with plastic wrap and put them in a warm place for 2 - 2.5 hours until they are soft and poufy. 

Brush the croissants with an egg wash. (The double egg wash is key for that beautiful brown finish.)

Cover these again with plastic wrap and put them back in the warm place for 1 - 1.5 hours. They will be even more soft and poufy. (Think dough pillow!)

Heat the oven to 400° F wih the wire rack set in the center of the oven. Brush the egg wash on again. Bake them at 400° F for 5 minutes and then turn the oven down to 350° F for another 25-35 minutes. 

Be patient! They are almost done!

The finished and baked pain du chocolat. Nom nom!

The finished and baked butter croissant!