Bakers of any skill level can use this thoroughly detailed recipe to make a beautifully flaky and golden brown loaf of homemade croissant bread. There are 3 rounds of 20-minute refrigerations. Do not break up the lamination steps and do not extend the refrigeration times because the dough will begin to over-expand.
- 1 cup (240ml) whole milk, warmed to about 110°F (43°C)
- 2 and 1/4 teaspoons (7g) instant or active dry yeast (1 standard packet, see Notes)
- 3 Tablespoons (38g) granulated sugar
- 1 and 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 3 Tablespoons (43g) unsalted or salted butter, softened to room temperature and cut into 3 equal pieces
- 3 cups (375g) all-purpose flour (spooned & leveled), plus more as needed and for lamination
- 3/4 cup (12 Tbsp; 170g) salted butter, slightly softened (see Notes)
- 1 large egg, cold or room temperature
- 1 Tablespoon (15ml) water
- Preliminary notes: Watch the video tutorial and use the step-by-step photos before you begin. Read the recipe instructions and notes before beginning. Make room in the refrigerator for your half baking sheet for steps 6–9.
- Prepare the dough: In a large ungreased mixing bowl, whisk the warm milk, yeast, and sugar together in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Cover and allow mixture to sit for about 5 minutes or until foamy on top. *If you do not own a mixer, you can do this in a large mixing bowl and in the next step, mix the dough together with a large wooden spoon/silicone spatula. A hand mixer works, but the sticky dough repeatedly gets stuck in the beaters. Mixing by hand with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula is a better choice.*
- Add the salt, butter, and 2 cups (250g) of flour. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, stopping and scraping down the bowl as needed to help the mixture combine. There may still be chunks of butter—that’s ok. Add remaining flour, scrape down the bowl as needed, and beat on low speed until a soft dough forms and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Dough will be very soft, but not overly sticky. Beat in 2–3 more Tablespoons of flour if dough seems very sticky. Avoid adding more flour than you need.
- Knead the dough: Keep the dough in the mixer and beat for an additional 5 full minutes, or knead by hand on a lightly floured surface for 5 full minutes. (If you’re new to bread-baking, my How to Knead Dough video tutorial can help here.) If the dough becomes too sticky during the kneading process, sprinkle 1 teaspoon of flour at a time on the dough or on the work surface/in the bowl to make a soft, slightly tacky dough. Do not add more flour than you need because you do not want a dry dough. After kneading, the dough should still feel a little soft. Poke it with your finger—if it slowly bounces back, your dough is ready to rise. You can also do a “windowpane test” to see if your dough has been kneaded long enough: tear off a small (roughly golfball-size) piece of dough and gently stretch it out until it’s thin enough for light to pass through it. Hold it up to a window or light. Does light pass through the stretched dough without the dough tearing first? If so, your dough has been kneaded long enough and is ready to rise. If not, keep kneading until it passes the windowpane test.
- 1st rise: Lightly grease a large bowl with oil or use nonstick spray. Place the dough in the bowl, turning it to coat all sides of the dough in the oil. Cover the bowl with aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or a clean kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rise in a relatively warm environment for 1.5–2 hours or until nearly double in size. (For a tiny reduction in rise time, see my answer to Where Should Dough Rise? in my Baking with Yeast Guide.)
- Flatten dough: Punch down the dough to release the air. Place dough on a silicone baking mat-lined, parchment paper-lined, or lightly floured baking sheet. (I highly recommend a silicone baking mat because you can roll the dough out in the next steps directly on top and it won’t slide all over the counter.) Gently flatten the dough out into a 10×14-inch (25x35cm) rectangle using lightly floured hands to carefully stretch, but not tear, the dough. Lightly cover and place the entire baking sheet in the refrigerator, and allow the covered dough to rest and chill for 20 minutes. Do not extend this time.
- Meanwhile, prepare for lamination: Cut the salted butter into 1/4-inch thick slices and, as explained in the recipe note below, make sure the butter is not overly soft. It’s important to note the following 4 tips before you begin laminating in steps 8, 9, & 10: (1) It’s OK if there are air bubbles in the dough because your rolling pin will pop them. (2) If the dough tears and butter is exposed, just sprinkle the exposed butter with flour. (3) If the dough is impossible to roll, try flipping it over. If it’s still impossible to roll, cover and let it rest for 5 minutes before trying again, to let the gluten relax. And (4) Do not extend the refrigeration times, because the folded dough will begin to over-expand.
- 1st lamination: Remove dough from the refrigerator and set baking sheet aside. I like to keep the dough on the silicone baking mat when I’m rolling it because the mat is nonstick. Working with the longer (14-inch) edge in front of you, line butter down the center of the dough, covering the center third of the dough. Fold one dough edge over on top of butter, and fold other edge on top of that (like folding a business letter). Pinch/seal the two short ends to enclose butter inside. Rotate dough so the long edge is horizontally in front of you. Lightly flour the top of the folded dough and, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out to a 9×12-inch (23x30cm) rectangle. Fold dough edges over on top like folding a business letter. Cover dough, place back on baking sheet, and refrigerate 20 minutes. Do not extend this time.
- 2nd & 3rd laminations: Remove dough from the refrigerator and set baking sheet aside. Rotate dough so the long edge is horizontally in front of you. Lightly flour the top of the folded dough and, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out to a 9×12-inch rectangle. Fold dough edges over on top like folding a business letter. Rotate dough horizontally and repeat rolling out to 9×12 inches and folding like a business letter. Cover dough, place back on baking sheet, and refrigerate 20 minutes. Do not extend this time.
- Final lamination & shaping: Remove dough from the refrigerator and set baking sheet aside. Rotate dough so the long edge is horizontally in front of you. Lightly flour the top of the folded dough and using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out to a 9×12-inch rectangle. Fold dough edges over on top like folding a business letter. For the last time, rotate horizontally and roll out to 9×12 inches. Working from a 9-inch side, roll dough up like you would roll up a jelly roll cake or cinnamon rolls. Place 9-inch log on a cutting board and cut into 5 even rolls (just eyeball it, they don’t need to be perfectly even).
- 2nd rise: Grease a 9×5-inch (23x13cm) loaf pan. Place rolls, seam side down, in loaf pan. Cover tightly and allow to rise until slightly puffy, about 45–60 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C).
- Whisk egg wash ingredients together. Generously brush risen rolls/loaf with egg wash. Bake loaf for 1 hour until golden brown on top, loosely tenting with aluminum foil after 25 minutes to prevent the top from over-browning before the center can cook. For an accurate test of doneness, the bread is done when an instant-read thermometer reads the center of the loaf as 195°F (90°C). (Tip: Keep in mind that the bread will continue to cook for a few minutes as it cools.)
- Remove from the oven and place loaf pan on a wire rack. Cool for 30 minutes in the loaf pan. Run a knife around the edges of the pan to release the bread, and then remove bread from loaf pan and cool at least 15 more minutes directly on a wire rack before slicing and serving. (Bread tends to fall apart when sliced warm.) Bread may slightly deflate as it cools.
- Storing & freezing baked bread: Cover and store leftover croissant bread covered at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months and then thaw on the counter or overnight in the refrigerator. Warm up to your liking.
- Overnight Dough Instructions: After step 10, cover the shaped rolls in the loaf pan tightly and refrigerate for up to about 15 hours. At least 3 hours before you need the bread the next day, remove from the refrigerator, keep covered, and allow to rise on the counter for about 1–2 hours before baking. Alternatively, you can let the dough have its 1st rise (step 5) in the refrigerator overnight. Cover the dough tightly and place in the refrigerator for up to 12 hours. Remove from the refrigerator and allow the dough to fully rise for 2 more hours. Continue with step 6.
- Freezing Dough Instructions: The best way to successfully freeze and thaw this dough is after step 10. (Freezing/thawing before makes lamination difficult.) Cover and freeze shaped dough loaf (after step 10) for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator at least 3 hours before you need the bread, remove from the refrigerator, keep covered, and allow to rise on the counter for about 1–2 hours before baking.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): Ruler or tape measure | Silicone Baking Mat (optional but recommended) | Rolling Pin | 12×17-inch Half Sheet Pan | 9×5-inch Loaf Pan | Pastry Brush
- Milk: Whole milk is ideal, but you can swap a lower-fat or non-dairy milk. Avoid nonfat milk.
- Yeast: You can use active dry or instant yeast in this recipe. Follow all of the same instructions. If using active dry yeast, the rise times are usually *slightly* longer, but not much. Reference my Baking with Yeast Guide for answers to common yeast FAQs.
- Butter: You can use either unsalted or salted butter in the dough, but be sure to use salted butter in the lamination step. The butter in the dough can be softened to room temperature, even overly softened is fine. However, the butter for the lamination does require your attention. It’s important to make sure your lamination butter is not too cold/hard and you don’t want it too greasy/soft either, because it needs to be about as pliable as the dough to incorporate into it. Sometimes I use a cooking thermometer just to check what temperature my butter and dough are for the lamination step, and it’s ideal they both register *around* 60°F (15°C). Being about the same temperature helps the butter and the dough laminate easily.
- Can I Halve or Double This Recipe? No. Follow the dough recipe precisely as written. If 1 loaf is too much, freeze any extras. If you want 2 loaves, make the dough 2x separately.
- Can I Add a Filling? I tried jam and cinnamon sugar (1/4 teaspoon cinnamon with 2 Tbsp granulated sugar). The only one that worked fairly well was the cinnamon sugar. Anything wet like jam will create too much moisture and the bottom of the loaf doesn’t bake very well. Plus, you need quite a lot to really taste it, which makes rolling up the dough fairly messy and difficult. You can absolutely try adding something dry like the cinnamon sugar, chopped nuts, or even chocolate chips! Spread a thin layer on the dough before rolling it up into a log in step 10.
Keywords: Croissant Bread