Professor Calvel’s Croissant Dough

Basic Croissant Dough for Pains au Chocolat and More

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Nick Malgieri’s Pains au Chocolat are based on this basic Croissant DoughWe are showcasing this recipe from his new book, Nick Malgieri’s Pastry, along with a Cranberry Pecan Pie and the aforementioned Pains au Chocolat. And don’t miss our interview with Nick for his tips on better pie crust preparation.

Excerpted with permission from Nick Malgieri’s Pastry: Foolproof Recipes for the Home Cookby Nick Malgieri. Published by Kyle Books 2014. Photographs by Romulo Yanes.


The late Raymond Calvel, the father of modern French bread making, wrote about croissants in his second book, Le Goût du Pain (The Flavor of Bread). This recipe is modified from his in that I’ve used whole milk instead of dry milk because whole milk contributes a fresher taste to the croissants and I have not added ascorbic acid (vitamin C).

Professor Calvel’s Croissant Dough
Makes: Makes 21/2 pounds/1120 grams, enough for 30 to 40 pastries
  • ½ cup/112 grams room-temperature tap water, about 75°F
  • 3½ teaspoons fine granulated active dry or instant yeast
  • ¾ cup/170 grams whole milk, scalded and cooled to room temperature
  • ¼ cup/50 grams sugar
  • 1 teaspoon organic malt syrup or honey
  • 3¾ cups/500 grams unbleached bread flour (spoon into dry-measure cup and level)
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
Butter Block:
  • ¼ cup/34 grams unbleached bread flour (spoon into dry measure cup and level)
  • 8 ounces/2 sticks/225 grams unsalted butter, cold
  1. Whisk the water and yeast together in the bowl of a stand mixer, then whisk in the milk, sugar, and malt syrup. Use a large rubber spatula to stir in the flour; make sure there is no flour stuck to the sides or bottom of the bowl. Place the bowl on the mixer fitted with the dough hook and mix on lowest speed for 2 minutes. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes.
  2. Mix the dough on medium speed, adding the salt and butter, until smooth and elastic, 2 to 3 minutes more. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough ferment at room temperature until it starts to puff, 30 to 60 minutes. Without deflating the dough, place the bowl in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
  3. Once the second hour is almost up, prepare the butter mixture: Scatter half the flour on the work surface and cut the butter into 5 or 6 pieces. Turn the pieces in the flour to coat them and use a rolling pin to gently pound each piece of butter to soften it. Once all the butter has been pounded, scatter on some of the remaining flour, dusting the work surface again if necessary; stack one piece of butter on another and use the rolling pin to hammer them together. Repeat, adding the remaining pieces of butter. Scatter on the last of the flour, then quickly knead the butter into a solid mass and shape into an 8-inch square. Set aside.
  4. Scrape the work surface free of any sticky bits of butter and flour it. Unwrap the dough onto the surface, flour it and roll evenly to an 8 x 16-inch rectangle, with a short edge near you. Brush away any excess flour on the dough’s surface and place the butter on the end closest to you. Fold the dough down to enclose the butter and pinch the edges together around it.
  5. Flour under and on top of the dough and use the rolling pin to start pressing in a succession of gentle and even strokes, moving from the closest edge to the farthest. Gently roll the dough in one direction, starting at the end nearest to you and without going over the opposite edge.
  6. Repeat, rolling from the far end back toward yourself. Repeat the rolling once more and make the dough an 8 x 16-inch rectangle.
  7. Brush excess flour from the dough, then fold both narrow ends toward the middle, leaving about a ½-inch space between. Fold the dough in half along that center line to make 4 layers.
  8. Position the folded package of dough so that the closed fold, resembling the spine of a book, is on your left. Repeat step 5, this time rolling across as well as lengthwise, until the dough is as close to 8 x 16 inches as possible. Repeat step 6.
  9. Wrap and chill the dough and be ready to form and bake the croissants within 2 to 4 hours.

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