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Julia Child’s Croissants (But Vegan!)

Julia Child wasn’t around in my time, but I sure discovered her once I entered the baking world. I read her biography, My Life in France and enjoyed it immensely. My husband got me her cookbooks, Mastering the Art of French Cooking Vol. 1 & 2 for Christmas and they take pride of place on my bookshelf. 

I think she was one of the people who inspired me to challenge myself more in my baking. If Julia could enroll in culinary school at 37 years old and master French cooking, then I can definitely learn some advanced skills in the kitchen. Besides, what is more advanced than croissants? 

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croissants

Put Aside a Whole Day for This

If you follow Julia’s recipe to the letter, it’s going to take you about 12 hours from start to finish. I usually like to make these on a day I know I’ll be home, doing some cleaning or other chores in between resting times. 

Croissants are not hard, but they are time consuming. You have to commit to this, no skimping on the times. If you don’t refrigerate the dough long enough between turns, the butter will melt into the dough and you won’t get all those flaky layers. 

I’ll go over delayed rising options and freezing options so you can have these hot baked out of the oven the morning after if you prefer or if you plan on freezing them for a later point in time. 

This Recipe is Vegan — Dairy and Egg Free

I adapted Julia’s recipe to be dairy free by replacing the butter and milk needed with vegan replacements. The only other thing I needed to do to make it vegan is to replace the egg wash before it into the oven with melted vegan butter instead. 

croissants

Let's Start! First Ingredients & Equipment:

You will need:

  • 1/4oz. Package of Active Dry Yeast
  • Warm Water
  • Granulated Sugar
  • Salt
  • All Purpose Flour
  • Dairy Free Milk
  • Avocado Oil
  • 2 Sticks Vegan Butter

You’ll need some equipment too, most of which you should already have in your kitchen. The only thing you might not have if you’re not a frequent baker is a bench scraper. 

Here’s the equipment you’ll need:

  • Large Bowl
  • Rubber Spatula
  • Bench Scraper (You can use the back of a knife or a pancake flipper instead)
  • Measuring Cups & Spoons
  • Plastic Wrap
  • Kitchen Towel
  • Rolling Pin
  • Parchment Paper
  • Knife

Make the Croissant Dough

There’s not much kneading or muscle involved in this dough. I think because we want it to remain delicate and light, we don’t really have to knead it. If it’s over-kneaded, the dough will get tough.

So first up is activating the yeast. Measure out 3 tablespoons of warm to hot water. I usually just get the water from the sink hot (not steaming hot though where you can’t put your hand under it) and measure out that water. You don’t need to go crazy with checking the temperature, but it should be around 100°F. Mix in the  yeast from the package and 4 teaspoons of sugar. Let it sit for about 5 to 10 minutes and it should bubble and foam up. 

When the yeast is ready, you can add in 2/3 cup of dairy free milk, 1 3/4 cups of all purpose flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and 2 tablespoons of avocado oil. You can mix it all together with the rubber spatula until forms kind of a shaggy dough mixture. At this point you can get in there with your hands and mix it until it stays mostly together in a ball. 

Turn your dough out onto a lightly floured surface and let it rest for a couple minutes. At this point your dough should be soft and sticky. 

Knead the Croissant Dough

Be prepared for sticky. This dough stuck to my hands and the counter kind of like crazy. This is why the bench scraper will be of great use to you when you knead it. 

Julia says, all you need is to do is fold the dough onto itself about 8 to 10 times until the dough feels smooth and doesn’t stick to your hands. So just take your bench scraper or spatula and scrape one half off the counter and fold it onto itself and use the heel of your hand to push the dough together. 

Once you’ve kneaded your dough, get a large bowl and lightly grease it with a small amount of avocado oil on a paper towel. Then place your dough in the bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and then cover that with a kitchen towel. Make sure the bowl is large enough for the dough to rise to about 3 times its original size. I just put it in my kitchen aid mixer bowl. 

Rise Twice: Total Time 4.5 Hours

Rising Temperature:

If your house is around 70-74 degrees, that is the perfect temperature for the dough to rise, so just leave it on your counter. If your house is warm because it’s a hot summer day and you don’t have air conditioning (let’s say), then you might not need the whole 3 hours. The warmer it is, the faster the dough will rise, so keep an eye on it. 

If your home is too cold, like mine usually is, you can use your oven to help the dough rise. What I do is turn my oven on to preheat (the lowest for mine is 170°F), count to 5, then turn it off. I check with a thermometer and usually my oven is around 74°F at that point. Then I pop in my covered dough, close the oven and leave it there to rise. 

First Rise:

The first rise is 3 hours or until the dough is tripled in size. 

After the first rise, punch down your down and on a lightly floured surface roll it out to an 8 to 12 inch rectangle. Then fold it into three like a letter. 

Second Rise:

Return it to the bowl and cover it with plastic and a towel again. For this second rise, you’ll only need to let it rise to double its size and it should take about an hour and a half. 

Once this second rise is over, punch it down and cover it again. Refrigerate it for 20 minutes. This will make it easier for the next steps!

croissants

Laminating the Croissant Dough: Rest Time 3.5 Hours

This is where the fun begins! So first while your dough is still in the fridge, you’re going to beat your butter sticks flat. Put the sticks of butter in between two pieces of parchment paper. Then beat the butter with a rolling pin until it is a flat rectangle about 7 by 13 inches.

Turn 1:

Take your dough out of the fridge and roll it out on a lightly floured surface until it is a rectangle about 14 by 8 inches in size. Peel the flattened butter off the parchment paper and place it in the middle of your dough. 

Then fold one third of the dough into the middle and the other third over that as if you were folding a letter, making three layers of dough separated by 2 layers of butter.

Turn 2:

Now turn your dough so it is long ways in front of you. The visible layers should be at the top and bottom. Now roll it out so it is 14 inches by 6 inches. After rolling, you are going to fold it into three like a letter again.

Wrap your dough in siran wrap and refrigerate it for 1.5 hours so it has time to rest and the butter stays cold.

Turn 3: 

After it has rested for 1.5 hours, take out your dough for the next set of turns. Uncover the dough and let it rest on the counter for 5 minutes. Then roll out the dough to a 14 by 6 inch rectangle and fold into three. 

Turn 4:

Turn the dough so the layers are facing top and bottom and roll out again to the same size and fold into three. 

Now wrap and chill in the refrigerator another 2 hours. 

Forming Croissants

Finally we are forming our croissants!

Take the dough out of the refrigerator and use the diagram to the right to cut your dough into long triangles.

As shown in the diagram, take your dough and roll it into an initial 20 by 5 inch rectangle. Cut it in half and refrigerate one half while you work on the other.

With the first rectangle you then roll it a little longer so its 15 by 5 inches and then cut it into three. Then roll each 5 inch square slightly more so its 5.5 inches. 

Then cut the square diagonally in half so it is a long triangle. Roll the triangle out to the point to get it 7 inches long. Then pull the long ends so it stretches an inch. In the end, one triangle for one croissant should be 7 inches long to the point with the two ends about 6 inches wide.

Croissants
From Mastering the Art of French Cooking

Now you can roll the triangle starting at the large end down to the point. Then you can shape it into a crescent. Place all your prepared croissants on a baking sheet with parchment paper on it. You can keep this in the fridge so your croissants stay cold as you are forming the rest. You should be able to make a dozen croissants.

Final Rise and Bake: 1.5 Hours + 15 Minutes

Once all croissants are formed. Cover the baking sheet loosely in plastic and let them rise at a temperature of about 75 degrees F for 1.5 hours. 

When the final rise is almost over, preheat the oven to 475F. You can either brush the croissants with a beaten egg glaze or melted vegan butter. Then bake for 12 to 15 minutes until puffy and golden brown. Eat and enjoy!

julia child croissants

Delayed Rising and Freezing Options

Here are several delayed rising and freezing options if you want to break down this process. I recommend the final rise overnight or keeping freshly baked croissants in the freezer.

Delayed Rising Options:

  • After Turn 4, you can put the wrapped dough into your fridge with a board and five-pound weight on top of it and leave it overnight. This will delay the rise so you can continue making the croissants in the morning. Tip: Find a large book heavy enough and put that on top of the dough.
  • After the croissants have been formed and risen for one hour at 75 degrees, they can be refrigerated overnight and then baked in the morning after being left out on the counter for 30 minutes. 

Freezing Options:

  • Your first option here is to freeze the dough after the Second Rise. At this point it is a dough ready to be laminated, so if you freeze it now you could always take it out later and start the process after the second rise. This means it will be 4.5 hours shorter since you already did the first two rises. 
  • After the croissants have been formed. You can wrap these airtight in plastic and keep frozen for up to a week as long as they weren’t frozen before.
  • After croissants have been formed and risen the final time, they can be frozen for up to a few days and then baked in their frozen state.
  • Once they are freshly baked, let cool completely. Then wrap them airtight and freeze them. When you are ready to eat, bake frozen croissants in 400F oven for 5 minutes. 

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croissants

Julia Child's Croissants

With Love, Melissa
Julia's original recipe, but make it vegan!
Prep Time 12 hours
Cook Time 15 minutes
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine French
Servings 12

Equipment

  • Large Bowl
  • Rubber Spatula
  • Bench Scraper
  • Measuring Cups & Spoons
  • Plastic Wrap
  • Kitchen Towel
  • Rolling Pin
  • Parchment Paper
  • Knife

Ingredients
  

  • 3 Tbsp Warm Water
  • 4 Tsp Granulated Sugar
  • Tsp Active Dry Yeast
  • 2/3 Cup Dairy Free Milk
  • Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • Tsp Salt
  • 2 Tbsp Avocado Oil
  • 2 Sticks (1 Cup) Dairy Free Butter

Instructions
 

  • In a measuring cup or small bowl, mix together the warm water (which should be around 100℉), yeast and sugar. Let sit 5-10 minutes to foam up and activate.
  • In a large bowl, add the yeast mixture, flour, milk, salt and oil. Mix it all together with a rubber spatula until it forms a kind of shaggy dough mixture. Then you can get in there with your hands and form it into a dough ball. Turn your dough out onto a lightly floured surface and let it rest for a few minutes. It should be soft and sticky at this point.
  • Kneading Time: Take your bench scraper or spatula and scrape one half off the counter and fold it onto itself and use the heel of your hand to push the dough together. Knead it about 10 times until the dough is smooth.
  • Get a large bowl and lightly grease it with a small amount of avocado oil on a paper towel. Then place your dough in the bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and then cover that with a kitchen towel. Let it rise for about 3 hours until it has tripled in size.
  • After the first rise, punch down your down and on a lightly floured surface roll it out to an 8 to 12 inch rectangle. Then fold it into three like a letter.
  • Return it to the bowl and cover it with plastic and a towel again and let rise for 1.5 hours. Punch it down and cover it again. Refrigerate it for 20 minutes.
  • Put the sticks of butter in between two pieces of parchment paper. Then beat the butter with a rolling pin until it is a flat rectangle about 7 by 13 inches.
  • Take your dough out of the fridge and roll it out on a lightly floured surface until it is a rectangle about 14 by 8 inches in size. Peel the flattened butter off the parchment paper and place it in the middle of your dough. 
  • Then fold one third of the dough into the middle and the other third over that as if you were folding a letter, making three layers of dough separated by 2 layers of butter.
  • Now turn your dough so it is long ways in front of you. The visible layers should be at the top and bottom. Now roll it out so it is 14 inches by 6 inches. After rolling, you are going to fold it into three like a letter again. Wrap your dough in siran wrap and refrigerate it for 1.5 hours.
  • Uncover the dough and let it rest on the counter for 5 minutes. Then roll out the dough to a 14 by 6 inch rectangle and fold into three. Turn the dough so the layers are facing top and bottom and roll out again to the same size and fold into three again. Now wrap and chill in the refrigerator another 2 hours.
  • *Take your dough and roll it into an initial 20 by 5 inch rectangle. Cut it in half and refrigerate one half while you work on the other.
  • With the first rectangle, roll it a little longer so its 15 by 5 inches and then cut it into three. Then roll each 5 inch square slightly more so it's 5.5 inches. 
  • Then cut the square diagonally in half so it is a long triangle. Roll the triangle out to the point to get it 7 inches long. Then pull the long ends so it stretches an inch. In the end, one triangle for one croissant should be 7 inches long to the point with the two ends about 6 inches wide.
  • Now you can roll the triangle starting at the large end down to the point. Then you can shape it into a crescent. Place all your prepared croissants on a baking sheet with parchment paper on it. You can keep this in the fridge so your croissants stay cold as you are forming the rest (12 total).
  • Cover the baking sheet loosely in plastic and let them rise at a temperature of about 75 degrees F for 1.5 hours. 
  • When the final rise is almost over, preheat the oven to 475F. You can either brush the croissants with a beaten egg glaze or melted vegan butter. Then bake for 12 to 15 minutes until puffy and golden brown. Eat and enjoy!

Notes

*You might find looking at the diagram in the blog post useful for the next three steps.
Keyword Dairy-Free, Vegan

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