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Sourdough Croissants

To make the perfect tasting croissant takes time, fortunately most of that time requires no effort from you :) These sourdough croissants take 3 days, you make the initial dough on day 1, roll, laminate, cut and shape the dough on day 2 and then bake on day 3.

Cold butter is the key to successful lamination, keeping the butter cold stops it from being incorporated into the dough.

Do not be lured in by “quick croissant” recipes, you will end up with a brioche rather than a nice layered croissant and it will take the same amount of effort from you.

Ingredients for 15 croissants

  • 437g  Organic White Flour - No.4 (105) or you can use any strong white bread flour
  • 77g Cold Water
  • 140g Scalded Milk (cooled)
  • 125g Active White Starter that had been fed within the last 6-12 hours @ 100% hydration
  • 55g Unsalted Butter, cubed and at room temperature
  • 55g Caster Sugar
  • 10g Salt
  • 250g Unsalted Butter for Laminating cold (it is critical this butter is cold). Don’t add this to the dough.

I am not going to cover making the white starter as there are countless resources for this on the web. I do suggest that you make a very strong starter by discarding most and then feeding a couple of times over 24 hours, that way you have a very active starter with a high gluten content remaining.

Day 1
In the morning feed your starter. You can scald your milk now to make sure it is nice and cold when you make your dough. Add the milk to a small pan and heat gently until it just starts to simmer. Take off the heat and allow to cool.

In the evening at around 6pm mix the flour, salt and sugar together and then add the milk, water, starter and form the dough. Knead the dough on an un-floured surface for 1 minute and then add half the 55g cubed butter. Knead until the butter has been incorporated and then add the rest of the 55g cubed butter and knead again. Cover the dough and leave to prove at room temp (~20-22°C) for 3 hours. Reduce this to 2 hours if the temperature is warmer. Put the dough in the fridge overnight.

Day 2
Sometime during the morning / early afternoon … Take your cold butter out of the fridge and pound it lightly to form it into a 20cm x 20cm square. You need to make this as square as possible, you can trim the edges and put that butter back on the top. Put your butter in some Clingfilm and put it back in the fridge, you want to keep the butter as cold as possible but don’t be tempted to put in the freezer as it will be too cold!

Take your dough out of the fridge and roll it into a 30cm * 30cm square … you can use a ruler or the long side of a sheet of A4 paper! You want to keep this fairly square but it’s not quite as critical as the butter. You will need a light dusting of flour to stop it sticking but use the flour liberally. Rotate the dough 45 degrees so you have a point towards you rather than a flat edge.

Take your butter out of the fridge and place with a long edge facing you and the points will be close to the long edge of the dough. I didn’t take a picture of this but see my rather crude “Stage 1” diagram below as it will make more sense!

Take one corner of the dough and stretch and fold it over the butter, see the “Stage 2” diagram. Use a food brush (I bought a new paint brush and keep it specifically for this purpose) and brush off any residual flour. Then repeat that for all 4 corners so the butter is totally encased in the dough. Now roll the dough (from the centre outwards) so it is approx. 20cm x 60cm trying to keep it as straight as possible. Now fold the dough, letter style in 3, brushing the excess flour off before each fold . Wrap the dough in Clingfilm and put in the fridge for around 30-60 minutes (longer is fine, this is not a time critical process you just need to make sure everything has cooled down).

Take the dough out of the fridge, with one of the short open ends towards you roll out to 60cm x 20cm and fold into 3 again.
Back into the fridge for another 30-60 mins and then repeat this one more time, short edge towards you, roll to 60cm x 20cm and fold into 3, wrap in Clingfilm and back into the fridge.

You will have done a total of 3 folds which will give you 27 layers in total. Don’t be tempted to try to add more layers as the dough will get so thin that the butter will start to REPLACE into the dough and you will have a brioche rather than a nice laminated croissant dough! Also make sure you do the folds one at a time as keeping the butter cold is the key to lamination (I may have mentioned that once or twice already!)

Now it’s time to cut and shape your croissants! Take the dough out of the fridge and on a lightly floured surface roll out to about 100-120cm x 20cm. The dough will resist and shrink back! You can let the dough rest for a couple of minutes and then continue to roll out. I turn the dough over a few times during this process to make sure it doesn’t stick. Brush off the excess flour before cutting.

You can use a very sharp knife or I prefer a pizza wheel to cut your croissants out into triangles. If you want precisely sized croissants, then you want to make the long end of the triangle about 13-14cm depending on how long you rolled the dough. You can make marks along the top and the bottom to then “join the marks” up to cut your triangles, personally I can’t be bothered with this and just roughly cut them the same size :) .

Put a 1-2cm cut into the end of the triangle take that end and pull the “tabs” apart slightly to stretch and roll up to the tip. You want to stretch out the dough a little as you do this to keep the croissant nice and tight as you roll.

Put the croissant onto a butter lined tray and repeat. This can take a little time hence why I don’t bother with precise measurements! Cover the tray with Clingfilm and leave to prove at room temp (~20-22°C) for around 5 hours, shorten this accordingly if the room temp is higher. Put in the fridge overnight. I put all mine onto one tray to prove so they fitted into the fridge ok, before I baked I split them onto two trays to give them lots of space.

Day 3
Take the croissants out of the fridge and pre heat the oven to 220°C fan for 45 minutes. Egg wash the croissants with a beaten egg with a good pinch of salt added. Drop the temperature to 180°C fan and bake for 25-30 minutes. Turn the tray(s) round halfway through the bake.
Cool for 15 minutes and then eat :)

I like this formula as the croissants are nice and buttery without being too rich, if you wanted to make them richer then use 300g unsalted butter for the lamination. You could also cut and shape on day 3 and prove for 5 hours and then bake if you wanted them later in the day.


This is a link to a calculator I wrote so you can easily scale or convert the formula: