Hello and happy Monday.
Over the last couple of months I have baked croissants quite a few times. I tried the first time because I could never have one, as I have strong dairy allergy whereby 1) I would feel awfully sick, 2) only the smell of cheese and butter makes me quite sick. So I have no idea of what a croissant tastes like. However, people who have had croissants before were over the moon with my croissants, pain au chocolat and hazelnut rolls. All of them share the same basic dough.
I had wanting to make a post about how I make vegan croissants for a while, but I always figured that there must be so many. However, this is what has worked for me so far, merging tips from different recipes until the result was meeting my expectations – how can I have expectations without having ever tried them? I have seen my husband eat plenty in Paris, and I have carefully examined them!
Before going to the “recipe” which is a chimera of various recipes from blogs and books (references at the bottom of the post!), there’s a few things/tips I need to stress/share.
First tip: take your time. It takes a while to make croissants: you have to make the dough, let it prove overnight, then roll it out and incorporate the butter layer (that butter rectangle has its own song in my kitchen; I know it might sound weird but I feel that singing to food, even if you cannot sing AT ALL as it is my case, sometimes help) and fold it. Some suggest folding immediately, I let it rest 20 minutes. Then I fold. Then rest 30-60min, then refold. Then re-rest, then refold. I do a single fold all the times, like the envelop fold and I do it 3 times. Then I roll out the dough and let it rest overnight. This overnight rest is not necessary, so ideally after the folds you can shape, re-prove for 2h and then bake your croissants, but I find that the overnight rest once rolled out is the thing that makes them super flaky and fragrant.
Second. My schedule: dough on Friday night – rest until Saturday morning. Over the course of Saturday morning fold. Then rest, possibly overnight otherwise for at least 1h. Shape the croissants, prove 2h. Bake. I like shaping them very early on Sunday morning to be woken up by the smell of fresh croissants, but I am pretty sure they are quite good on a Saturday afternoon too.
Third: choose your ingredients carefully. As your croissant dough relies mostly on vegan butter, flour and vegan milk, you want to have good ones. For the vegan butter I have had better results using the vegan block one, I think in general it works better with very hard “butters” rather than margarine like ones. Same goes for puff pastry. You need the butter layer to stay in its layer, not to merge with the dough. For the flours, I use Waitrose’s strong bread one and plain doves for the plain flour. Any good flour will do. As vegetable milk, I use Alpo’s unsweetened almond milk.
Fourth: be precise and measure the dough. When you will have to fold the dough for the lamination, you will have to be precise with the measurements. So having some measuring tape around does really help and it is as necessary as a kitchen scale.
Ingredients and procedure:
For the dough:
150g strong bread flour
150g plain white flour
6.5g active dry yeast
45g caster sugar
48g vegan butter
140g almond milk
For the butter rectangle:
140g vegan butter
Use a bit of the milk to dissolve the yeast: warm the milk and pour it on the yeast, wait a few minutes and use when it’s bubbly. Incorporate the yeast in the two sifted flours, then add the salt, sugar and butter and incorporate well. Finally add the remaining milk and knead for 10 minutes.
Let prove in a greased bowl for 45 minutes in a warm dry place with cling film touching the top. I put it under the radiator. The move for 30 minutes to the freezer and then let prove in the fridge overnight or for 8h.
Roll out the dough in a 35x25cm rectangle and put back in the fridge. You want to keep the dough as cold as possible.
Prepare the butter rectangle. What works for me is slicing the butter and placing the slices on parchment paper to form a 15×25 rectangle, and then cover with parchment and use a rolling pin to make it nice and even everywhere. Then I chill it for 10 minutes just to make sure it’s easy to transfer it in the dough.
Put the butter rectangle on one half of the dough and close with the rest of the dough, encasing the butter. Seal the edges well and put back in the fridge to chill for 15 minutes.
Roll the dough in a 20x50cm rectangle – pay attention that the butter doesn’t start to emerge. Then make your first fold, which is an envelope fold: take one end of the rectangle and bring towards the middle and to the same with the other (as shown in the video).
Chill for at least 30 minutes and repeat. Chill 30 minutes and repeat. So it’s 3 folds.
Ideally now you can roll out the dough and use it, but if you let it rest at least 4h or even better overnight, it will be much more flaky. I found that this made the difference for me.
Roll out the dough (usually 47×35) and use as you please. For croissants, it’s cutting triangles (9x27cm), and roll.
Prove in the oven, temp 0 light on, for ~2h. Brush with a mix of veg milk and agave syrup (4:1). Bake ~20’ at 170C fan. Brush with a 1:1 mix of caster sugar and water and let cool completely.
For rolls, spread the filling roll from the longer side and then chill before cutting in 3cm chunks. Prove in muffin tins for 90’. Sprinkle the top with some more chopped hazelnuts/almonds if doing a roll with a praline paste filling. Bake ~20’ at 170C fan.
For pain au chocolat, cut in rectangles (cut horizontally once, and 5-6 times vertically, to obtain ~8×14 cm rectangles) and put dark chocolate (I try to cut it in bars and if it breaks I put the pieces in a line as if they were a stick), roll and prove for 90’-2h, brush with the veg milk mix described above and bake ~20’ at 170C fan. Brush with the water and sugar mix.
If you want to try the rolls with the cream, this is the recipe for the filling:
Creme pat cardamom
320g almond milk
Zest 1 lemon
1 tsp turmeric
10 cardamom pods crushed
Warm the milk with the cardamom pods. Let sit for 1h. Discard the pods, warm the milk again and then pour on the sugar turmeric and cornflour mix. Whisk well and return to heat. Keep whisking until it thickens, remove from the flame and whisk for a couple extra minutes.
Spread and sprinkle with chocolate chips. Let prove and bake as normal rolls.
I hope you enjoyed this post even if it’s atrociously long!
For the recipes based on which I built my method, the vegan croissant one is Petra Stahlová’s in her Modern Vegan Desserts cookbook, and the other is the croissant procedure in Sally’s Baking Addiction blog. Other things are my own tweaks that have worked well for me. I am self taught, so I do what works for me, I try different things and if I see an improvement I try to see if that works well again, just like in science!
Feel free to drop a comment/question, I am always eager to learn more or to chat about food 🙂