That authentic French croissants are rarely found anywhere but at a Pâtisserie is a clue about how much of a pain in the derrière they are to make at home. But the fact that there are precious few Gluten-Free croissants available anywhere in the world necessitates a home-made remedy. The task is not hard but it does take time, like say more time than flying to Paris and buying one. These are a labor of love. They take patience, practice and persistence.
This croissant was created as best I could in the image of the croissants and pain au chocolat we had in France when we lived there for a short time. American made croissants are a poor substitute – too big, too fluffy, too bland and not enough flake. A good croissant is slightly chewy and has a great tear when ripped with visible layers. There’s plenty of butter in the layers and no extra slathering of the butter is necessary when eating it. A croissant should be rather small and compact and even feel slightly heavy.
What You’ll Need
To make this croissant* a few ingredients are absolutely essential. If you save these ingredients just for this purpose you’ll get many cost-effective batches out of your stash. And it’s still cheaper than flying to Paris.
- Expandex which is tapioca flour that has a little zingy science to it that creates the perfect inside chewy texture. You can get that at Gifts of Nature.
- xanthan gum and guar gum and pectin.
- Dry milk powder. Nonfat is fine.
- Whole milk is required – not low fat or nonfat.
- Sparkling mineral water is necessary. And San Pellegrino is just what you want. Others were tried and did not work as well.
- Any good unsalted butter is fine. Don’t bother with the fancy schmancy expensive American-made (pretend) European butters. It’s not necessary and actually doesn’t work all that well with the GF flours for this purpose.
- Yeast. Instant or Bread Machine Red Star or Saf (Red Star) instant yeast. Other yeasts, including the regular stuff just did not cut it.
- The flours that worked best were from Authentic Foods – superfine brown rice flour, superfine white rice flour along with tapioca flour. I wish that we could find the stuff locally and that their shipping was slightly less expensive. You can order all three directly from Authentic Foods.
- You will need 2 eggs. Can’t do this without them.
- And get that kitchen scale you’ve been meaning to buy. All these measurements are by weight because it will bring you the best result. A scale like this is inexpensive and perfect.
Pretty Please Remember This
- Until you are certain you have it nailed, please follow the recipe exactly as directed and that includes using the requisite ingredients. We spent months* developing this tested GF croissant recipe. We want you to make a really great croissant. Which brings me to this next point:
- Unless you’ve successfully made croissants in the past, do not be discouraged if it is not perfect the first time or so you make it. But with practice, it will work perfectly. It might take a few times to get used to the feel of the dough and how it all develops as you follow the recipe. Making croissants is a lot like learning to drive or ride a bicycle. It is terrifying at first and nothing makes sense. But then all of sudden it does. But before that happens you may have some mishaps along the way. Expect them. But remember what they say – you never forget how to ride a bicycle once you learn. Croissants. Same.
Press, Roll, Fold and Turn
Become familiar with the terms: turn, press, roll and fold.
Turn: 90 degree turn of the folded dough, clockwise.
Press: Pressing the dough = great croissants. Use the rolling-pin to press the dough, almost walking it down the dough as you move and strike/flatten it all the way to the edges. That is how you keep the laminated dough together in layers– by pressing with the rolling-pin before rolling. Always, always press all the way to the ends of the dough which secures the layers – before rolling. In the beginning when you first insert the butter packet, make sure the dough surrounding the butter is well padded and flaps are sealed/pinched closed.
Roll: Only roll after you’ve flattened the dough by pressing it. Roll gently from the center out to the edges with even pressure to just smooth the dough. Too much rolling screws up the layers. More press, less roll.
Fold: There are two fold techniques for this croissant recipe. The first is the tri-fold which simply means folding the dough like a business letter in thirds. A book fold is the other. Bring the edges of the long side together to meet in the middle and then fold one side over the other. It looks like you’ve brought the pages of a book together and closed it.
Zen Can Cook – I began with his croissant recipe and subsequently adapted it. I have used several other recipes in the past, but his was by far, the best. He adapted it from Pierre Hermé.
And along came JoePastry. Joe has a tutorial on laminating dough and making croissants that was like finding a top-secret decoder ring for all things pastry. Read about laminating the dough here and making croissants here.
From Helene at Tartlette I learned that the butter package has to be encased in the dough on top of a cushion. Think padded-top mattress.
The butter breaks through the dough
- Padded dough section missing (inserting butter package)
- Did not pinch the edges closed
- Rolled too aggressively or not enough pressing first
Dough too stiff or breaks
- Too much flour worked into the dough
- Rolling with too much force
- Not enough pressing first (see the laminating link)
- Did you use all the required ingredients and the amounts?
- Did you weigh the ingredients? It matters.
Dough won’t rise
- Yeast is old
- Wrong yeast
- Did you heat the milk (don’t do that)
Croissants puffed up and then fell flat in the oven
- Usually over-proofing before baking
- Yeast might be too old or not Red Star/Saf Instant
Butter leaks out while croissants are baking
- Too much butter in the packet
- Did you use all the ingredients and follow the recipe?
- A little butter leaking is normal, a lot is not good
- Over proofing at the end can also be a cause
Dough sticks to everything when rolling
- Silpats are your best friend - Parchment is your 2nd best friend
- Use more flour under the dough and on top
- A plain counter top is not your friend
Dough breaks when rolling up croissants
- Did you use all the ingredients indicated in the recipe?
- Don’t stretch them so enthusiastically
- Test a small piece to see if there is stretch – if not don’t try to stretch the dough – just lightly roll it out
- Sometimes it happens for no good reason, sadly
- Rolled too thickly (yes, thinner is better than thick)
|Croissants, Gluten Free||
- 220 grams Authentic Foods GF flour (plus more for rolling etc.) (110 grams superfine brown rice flour, 55 grams superfine white rice flour, 55 grams tapioca flour)
- 35 grams Expandex Tapioca Flour (4 tablespoons)
- 1.5 teaspoons xanthan gum
- ¼ teaspoon pectin
- ¼ teaspoon guar gum
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 100 grams or 7 tablespoons superfine sugar
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon powdered milk
- 8 tablespoons whole milk (not low fat or non fat), room temperature
- 2 tablespoons yeast (use instant or bread machine Red Star or SAF)
- 2 tablespoons soft unsalted butter, cut into small chunks.
- ½ cup San Pellegrino, room temperature
- 1 large or x-large egg white, room temperature
- 13 tablespoons unsalted chilled butter (1 stick plus 5 tablespoons more)
- 1 tablespoon brown or white rice flour
- 1 whole large egg (for brushing croissant dough)
- optional for pain au chocolat: 25-30 bittersweet chocolate chips
- Mix the flour with the Expandex, x-gum, pectin, guar gum, salt, superfine sugar and 2 tablespoons powdered milk. Whisk to combine. Set aside. Whisk the yeast, one teaspoon of powdered milk with the room temperature whole milk in a small glass container. Whisk again to fully incorporate. Set aside.
- Add 2 tablespoons of very soft butter pieces to the flour and work it in lightly with a fork or your fingers, leaving large pieces. Don’t get overzealous with the mixing. Using a fork add the San Pellegrino and stir well. Add the egg white and stir to thoroughly distribute. Add the milk/yeast mixture and work that in with the fork until everything is well mixed. It will be very wet and very sticky – like muffin batter sticky. Take a teaspoon of flour and dust the top of the dough. Switch to a silicone spatula and get all the dough off the sides of the bowl and turn the dough over mixing in the new flour. Add one more teaspoon of flour just to get the dough to turn with the spatula as you fold it. It will still be quite wet and sticky which is perfect. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft free place for at least two hours or until it somewhat doubles in size. It won’t get that large, but it will rise and needs a lot of time to do that. Don’t rush. What the dough looks like: it should look more like batter than dough at this point. The spatula will come away with some sticky residue on it. That is perfect.
- Once it has risen or a couple of hours go by, just place the whole bowl into the refrigerator. Leave it in there for about an hour or so. A couple of hours is even better. At the end of that time, grab the dough ball and wrap the plastic around it and place it in the freezer for about 30 to 45 minutes. What the dough looks like: It will have risen slightly and should look shaggy. After the refrigerator it should look only slightly like the dough it will become later – it is still shaggy and sticky.
- Before you remove the dough from the freezer, gather your butter and cut each stick in half length-wise. Place it on a piece of plastic wrap that has been dusted with a little flour and form the pieces into a square shape. Add a little more flour on top and cover with more plastic wrap. Using a rolling-pin, hit the butter until it flattens somewhat to about half its depth. Roll and pat into a smooth 6 inch square. Place the butter in the refrigerator to get a little less smooshy. What the butter package looks like: it should be a 6 inch square about ¼ to ⅓ of an inch thick and will be speckled flour.
- Remove the dough from the freezer. Using two silpats or parchment lined up to create a long rectangle and dusted with flour, place the dough and pat into a rectangular shape. Dust with more flour. Cover with plastic wrap and press with a rolling-pin from the center out to the edges. Pressing is done until the dough is able to be rolled. Roll the dough gently to smooth it into a long rectangle about 3x longer than it is wide. Leave a thick, padded dough square in the center that is a little bigger than the butter package (think padded-top mattress). Using a pastry brush remove the excess flour from the dough. Place the butter on the padded portion and fold the rolled edges over each other and the butter. Pinch the edges closed with your fingers. Press the top with your palm and then the rolling-pin – very gently to seal the butter in there. What the dough looks like: The butter package will be invisible to the eye but you should be able to just feel it. Make sure the dough is thickly padding it on the top and bottom and pinch those sides closed. It should be rather smooth at this point and square.
- First sets of tri-folds: Dust with more flour, cover with plastic wrap and press with the rolling-pin to flatten but making sure you don’t pop the butter through the dough. That is very important. Once it is pressed and flattened, roll the dough so that it is 3 times longer than wide (wide side is always facing you). Brush off the excess flour with a pastry brush. Fold the dough from the length ends like a business letter – in thirds – a tri fold. Brush off excess flour as you go. Turn the folded dough package 90 degrees, clock wise and repeat that process. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for at least an hour and more is fine. What the dough looks like: It won’t be sticky, but it will look rather rough yet. But it should fold without cracking. See trouble shooting if it cracks.
- Repeat the process: press, roll, tri-fold: turn, press, roll, tri-fold: refrigerate
- Repeat the process: press, roll, tri-fold: turn, press, roll, book-fold, refrigerate overnight. Book fold description: Brush off excess flour. Take each end (length) and bring those to meet in the center like you are bringing pages of a book to the center. Brush off any excess flour again. Now bring one side over the other just like closing a book. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate overnight. What the dough looks like: smooth, smooth, smooth. You might see some butter but it will be under the layers of dough. You should not see much butter. Butter might poke out of the edges – pay no attention. If you’ve been pressing rather than rolling you will have great layers within the dough but you should not be able to see any visible layers. The dough should fold easily with no cracking at all.
- Prepare two baking sheets by lining them with parchment.
- Rolling the croissants: Press the dough and roll exactly as before. This time you are rolling the dough into a rectangle about 25 inches long by 9 inches wide (the 9 inch wide side is facing you). It should be about ⅛ inch thick – take care to roll the evenly so it is the same thickness throughout.
- Trim the edges using a pizza cutter so that you have a nice, clean edged rectangle.
- Using the pizza cutter, mark off every 5 inches and slice vertically through the width. You should end up with 5 pieces about 5 inches wide by 9 inches tall. For regular croissants, use the pizza cutter to cut each of those pieces in two from opposite corner to opposite corner creating triangles. You should get two triangles out of each piece. They aren’t perfect triangles – but don’t worry about that.
- For Pain au Chocolat, leave the pieces 5×9 inches. Cut each of those in two so that they now measure 5 by 4.5 inches.
- For regular croissants take each triangle and brush off the excess flour. Pick it up from the bottom of the triangle and try to gently work it into a straighter bottom. If it feels like it will break, don’t work it. Make a small vertical slice in the bottom of the triangle and begin rolling up by fanning out those flaps keeping the dough rolling evenly. The tip should be on the bottom when you are done, like a little tail. See JoePastry link in the post (croissants) for a photo of what that looks like.
- Place on the parchment lined baking sheet and repeat. Leave a couple of inches between each croissant.
- For Pain au chocolat: Place about 6 bittersweet chocolate chips or disks at one end of each of the square pieces of croissant dough. Roll up. Place seam side down about 2 inches apart on the prepared parchment lined baking sheet.
- Cover with plastic wrap and let them rise (proof) about an hour to 1.5 hours only. Over proofing will make them deflate in the oven and leak butter.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove plastic wrap and brush the croissants with the egg wash 3x. Begin at one end of the pan and repeat twice more. Bake at 400 for 2 to 3 minutes and then turn oven to 350 and bake about 18-20 minutes more or just until they are dark golden brown, have risen and their internal temperature is 200 degrees. Don’t over bake them. Let them cool about 30 minutes for best flavor – if you can wait that long. Try – it is worth it.
- Mix dough ingredients and cover bowl
- Dough Rises 1-2 hours
- Refrigerate dough 1-2 hours
- Freeze dough 30 minutes
- Prepare butter package
- Roll dough-Insert butter package into dough-pinch closed
- Press- Roll-Fold (tri fold)
- Turn –Press-Roll-Fold (tri fold)
- Refrigerate dough one hour minimum
- Press- Roll-Fold (tri fold)
- Turn –Press-Roll-Fold (tri fold)
- Refrigerate dough one hour minimum
- Press- Roll-Fold (tri fold)
- Turn –Press-Roll-Fold (book- fold)
- Refrigerate dough overnight
- Press-Roll-Cut dough into croissants
- Rise about one to 1.5 hours, no more
- Brush with egg wash 3x
- Bake about 20 minutes
*We worked through more than 16 croissant-wrecks and half-dozen successes to develop this recipe. We purchased all the ingredients, just like you. If you use other ingredients or change the recipe in any way, it matters. The croissant you yield will be different.