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Tartine Croissants

by Victor @ Taste of Artisan

I had never been crazy about croissants until the day I first made them using the recipe from Chad Robertson’s famous Tartine Bread book. There are many recipes out there that show you how to make croissants, but this Tartine croissant recipe is truly special.

Homemade Tartine croissant on a white plate next to a coffee cup.

The croissants that came out of my oven truly surprised me, in many ways. Full bodied and plump, they displayed a range of beautiful colors from light creamy yellow to shiny rich brown. The freshly baked bread aroma with hints of butter and buttermilk was mouthwatering. I couldn’t wait to try one. I let them cool down for a few minutes and dug in.

The crust was thin and wonderfully crispy, in contrast to soft, flaky and buttery crumb. Moist and pleasantly chewy, the crumb was a happy medium between dense naturally leavened bread crumb and overly aerated bread crumb leavened with commercial bread yeast.  It had slight sweetness, just a touch, finding a perfect balance with salt. Just a hint of sourness from sourdough starter was present, not overpowering, lending the crumb a pleasant light buttermilk-y taste. It felt like putting jam or cream cheese on this croissant would be sacrilege. It was perfect on its own.

Tartine Bread book on a table.

Making Tartine croissants no doubt is a lengthy process, but totally worth it. Actually, it is the lengthy fermentation process using pre-fermented poolish and natural leaven (sourdough starter) that gives them complex flavors and exceptional keeping qualities. Days after baking, they still remain fresh and moist inside. You may want to warm them up in a microwave oven to get the best taste.

While being lengthy, the basic process for making Tartine croissants is quite simple. You start off with preparing poolish and leaven. Poolish is a mix of flour, water and commercial dry yeast that is fermented for about 3-4 hours at room temperature, or overnight in the fridge. Leaven is a mix of flour, water and a tablespoon of mature sourdough starter that is fermented overnight at room temperature.  They are ready when they are about doubled in volume and bubbly.

Ripe poolish for Tartine croissants in a bowl.

Once your your pre-ferments (poolish and leaven) are ready, mix them with warm milk. After poolish and leaven are fully dispersed in milk, add the rest of the ingredients, cover with plastic wrap and let sit for about half an hour. After that, knead slightly and let rise at warm room temperature for 1 1/2 hours, while doing stretch and folds every 30 minutes. Stretch and fold technique helps the dough develop gluten and strengthen. The technique is very simple – in the bowl, pull one corner of the dough and fold onto itself. Repeat for the rest of the three corners and then flip the dough upside down. This dough will be fairly stiff, so you may want to hold it with one hand while stretching and folding with the other.

A ball of dough for croissants on a table.

After that, wrap the dough in saran wrap, flatten and refrigerate for 2-3 hours. Just before taking it out, prepare you butter block. We will need it for lamination. Lamination is a process creating alternating thin layers of dough and butter. This is what gives croissants buttery and flaky texture. Butter block should measure about 8 x 12 inches. I find it easier to prepare an envelope of this size from parchment paper, place butter and flour inside and close it, and then mold the butter block with a rolling pin. This way you will get even thickness and the desired size of the block.

Cubed butter on a piece of parchment paper.

When molding, be sure not to pound too hard or the parchment paper will break, in which case you will most likely have to make a new envelope. I usually use light pounding,  pressing and rolling to mold the butter. Be sure to work quickly as you don’t want the butter to warm up and become soft and runny. We want to achieve cold but pliable butter block, which should have about the same hardness and consistency as your chilled dough. If it becomes too soft, chill in the fridge for 15-20 minutes and then mold again.

Flattened butter in a parchment paper envelope.

Roll the dough out to about 12 by 20 inches rectangle. Place the butter block on the dough rectangle, aligning it to the right. It should cover 2/3 of the dough surface.

Butter on dough ready for lamination.

Now fold the dough as you would fold a letter.

Dough folded over butter rectangle laminating for croissants.

Immediately rotate the dough 90 degrees and again roll it out to 12 by 20 inches rectangle, and do another letter fold.

Dough folded with butter inside. Croissant dough lamination.

Cover with saran wrap and refrigerate for an hour. After that you want to, again, roll out the dough to a 12 by 20 inches rectangle, do letter fold and refrigerate. This will be your second fold. Repeat one more time and you are done. 3 folds altogether.

After the third fold, I usually put the dough back in the fridge for half an hour to relax, then roll it out to about 12 by 24 inches rectangle.  The size of the rectangle may vary, depending several factors such as how much your dough has risen, but you want to make sure that the thickness is 1/2 inch. At this point I usually let the rolled out dough sit for about 10 minutes to relax, otherwise it will pull together and shrink a bit when you cut it.  Nothing wrong with that, only the croissants will turn out shorter and stubbier. Cut the dough in half horizontally, and then cut vertically into 3-4 equal parts. Then cut each of the smaller rectangles in half on the diagonal.

Croissant dough cut into triangles.

Now roll up each triangle, starting with the wide end, and making sure that the narrow end ends up on the bottom. This will prevent croissants from unrolling when they expand during baking.

Croissants rolled up before baking.

Place rolled up croissants on parchment paper lined baking sheets, spaced about 1.5 – 2 inches, cover with plastic and let rise at room temperature for about 2 hours. Croissants will rise by about 50% during this time. Brush with egg wash.

Bake at 425F for about 20-30 minutes until deep golden brown. Smaller size croissant will require less baking, so you may want to keep an eye on them at 15 minutes to check if they are ready.

This Tartine croissant recipe is adapted from Chad Robertson’s Tartine Bread book.

Homemade Tartine croissant on a white plate next to a coffee cup.

Tartine Croissant Recipe

4.67 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Bread, Breakfast
Cuisine: American, French
Keyword: Croissants
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 18 croissants
Calories: 442kcal
Author: Victor

Ingredients

  • 15 oz milk whole or 2%; about 450 g
  • 10 oz leaven about 300 g
  • 13 1/3 oz poolish about 400 g
  • 2 3/16 lbs bread flour about 1000 g
  • 5 tsp salt about 28 g
  • 6 Tbsp sugar about 85 g
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast about 10 g

For dough lamination

  • 14 oz unsalted butter cold, 400 g or 3.5 sticks
  • 1/2 cup flour

For the egg wash

  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tsp heavy cream or milk

Instructions

  • Have your poolish and leaven ready before you begin.
  • Bring milk to room temperature. In a big bowl, add polish and leaven to milk and stir.
  • Mix in the rest of the ingredients. Cover with saran wrap and let stand for half an hour.
  • Knead the dough for 5-10 seconds, cover and let ferment at room temperature for 1.5 hours, doing stretch and folds every half an hour. Stretch and fold is basically taking a corner of the dough, stretching and folding onto itself. Done once for each corner at a time.
  • Transfer the dough into a plastic bag, flatten it into a rectangle, and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.
  • Mold the butter and 1/2 cup of flour into a 8 x 12 inches rectangle. Do it quickly not letting the butter warm up. I use a pre-shaped envelope made from parchment paper for this task. I cut butter into small cubes, mix with flour, and place into the parchment paper envelope. Then, using a rolling pin, I pound, press and roll it to mold it into a rectangle. Put in the fridge.
  • Take out the dough from the fridge and roll out into a 12 x 20 inches rectangle.
  • Take out the block of butter from the fridge and lay it horizontally on the dough. It should cover about 2/3 of the length of the dough.
  • Fold the left and the right side of the dough as you would fold a letter. Turn the dough 90 degrees and roll it out into a rectangle measuring about 12 x 20 inches. Do the fold again, cover with saran wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  • Take the dough out of the fridge, roll out to a 12 x 20 inch rectangle and fold. This is the second turn.
  • Refrigerate for 1 hour and do a third turn. If you want to use the dough later, place it into a freezer proof bag and freeze for up to three days. The night before using the dough, transfer it into refrigerator.
  • After the third turn, if using immediately, let the dough relax in the fridge for half an hour, then take out and roll out to 12 x 24 inches rectangle. The dough should be about 1/2 inch thick.
  • Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough in half, horizontally. Then cut vertically into about 3 or 4 equal pieces. Then cut each piece in half diagonally into triangles.
  • Roll up each triangle, beginning at the widest side, and placing the narrow end on the bottom.
  • Place rolled up pieces onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for about 2 hours. Croissants should increase in size by about 1.5 times.
  • Preheat oven to 425 F.
  • Prepare egg wash by whisking briskly egg yolks and cream or milk. Brush the tops of croissant with the egg wash.
  • Bake for about 20-30 minutes , until the croissants are deep golden brown, crisp and flaky. Smaller size croissants may take 15 minutes to bake, so keep an eye on them, especially the first time you are making them.

Notes

Poolish:200 g all-purpose flour200 g water (warm room temperature)3 g active dry yeastMix flour, water and yeast in a bowl, cover and let st and for 3-4 hours at room temperature or in a fridge overnight.
Leaven:1 Tbsp mature sourdough starter220 g all-purpose flour220 g water (80F)Mix flour, water and sourdough starter in a bowl, cover and let stand overnight at room temperature.

Nutrition

Calories: 442kcal | Carbohydrates: 55g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 72mg | Sodium: 662mg | Potassium: 102mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 620IU | Calcium: 43mg | Iron: 0.7mg

 

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31 comments

Rebecca September 30, 2019 - 11:22 pm

Hi Victor,
Love your recipe and blog. May I ask if we can make the poolish without yeast? Can we just use leaven?

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Victor @ Taste of Artisan October 1, 2019 - 2:51 pm

Rebecca, you absolutely can use natural leaven as a substitute for poolish (commercial yeast). That’s how baguettes were made in France up until about a century ago. Keep in mind though, that using just natural leaven will result in longer bulk fermentation time, denser texture and more pronounced acidity.

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H May 19, 2019 - 9:13 am

Nice sandwich bread, but these are not croissants. There’s too little butter and too few lamination turns, making them very doughy and not at all airy and crisp like a classic croissant. Also they’re huge, make them half or a third of the indicated size and they’ll look more like a normal croissant. They make a buttery sandwich bread with a soft crumb in a croissant shape, but I wouldn’t call them croissants.

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Victor @ Taste of Artisan May 19, 2019 - 4:22 pm

Agree on each point you make except that they did not call them croissants but ‘Tartine croissants’. It’s Robertson’s version of a croissant. I happen to like it a lot actually. The recipe follows the same approach as the traditional croissant, only does it differently. Still a croissant technically. Kind of like a Smart car is still a car.

P.S. I make these quite regularly and take a bunch to work to share with colleagues. They love them too and beg me to bring more. Here is a quick snapshot from my recent batch. Lovely and so tasty!
Tartine Croissants

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Amber Empey November 13, 2018 - 8:31 pm

I was late getting my dough ready and am wondering about something. After the dough has been mixed it says to wrap it in plastic wrap and place in fridge for 4-6 hours. I am wondering if it would be problamatic to leave it in the fridge overnight. Or if that will ruin it. Thanks

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victor November 14, 2018 - 8:01 am

It’s too late but I will respond anyway. You don’t want it to rise too much so keep it very cold. Put it in the freezer for a few hours, then in the fridge.

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Alison Richman November 22, 2017 - 5:56 pm

Hi,
I’ve made these before but forget if you can use instant yeast or not. Thanks!

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victor November 22, 2017 - 6:02 pm

Alison, yes you can use instant yeast.

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patricia November 12, 2017 - 2:55 am

I would like to make the croissants the morning of thanksgiving so I need to be able to let these rise overnight and then pop in hot oven when I wake up.
Any suggestions.

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victor November 12, 2017 - 1:41 pm

Yes, you can absolutely do it and I have done a number of times myself. What you need to do is retard the final rise. Shape the croissants in the evening, place them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, loosely wrap with a plastic wrap to prevent drying out and refrigerate until morning. Around this time of the year I sometimes leave them overnight in my unheated veranda when external temps are around 38-40F. Something to watch out of is fridge temps. A regular frost free fridge is usually a good option, but older non-frost-free fridges may be problematic. I have one of those and it runs too cold for the dough to rise so I avoid using it for dough.

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Jim Little September 27, 2017 - 7:32 pm

Victor-

Per some of the comments above, I don’t think the roll-in percentage is correct here. I don’t have the original recipe handy, but 400g compared to 2273g of dough is only 17.5%. Sure there are really lean “commodity” mass-produced croissants that are that low, but most good recipes are typically 25%+. Some classic ratio are 25% – 28.5% for 27 layers, 33% for 32 layers, or 37.5% for 36 layers. I’ve seen this exact recipe on some other sites exactly the same as you have it here, so I suspect that there was a mistake in the book or that someone translated it incorrectly to weight and it keeps getting passed around. Obviously if you are happy with it that’s what counts, but if you increase butter to 25% of the dough and give 27 layers (3 x 3-folds) I think you will see a big improvement in layering and tenderness. Hope this helps.

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victor September 27, 2017 - 7:56 pm

Thank you for pointing that out, Jim. You’ve just expanded my horizons. To be honest, I am very happy with this recipe and like these croissants more than I do those from French bakeries. These just feel more bready and less fatty/heavy. I am a baguette kind of guy, I guess that’s why I like them like that. I checked, there is no translation mistake, I copied the recipe from the original book, see the attached image below.

Now, Chad Robertson did post a different croissant recipe in his second Tartine book. Looking at it, this recipe calls for 625 grams of roll-in butter to 800 grams of flour. I never got around to making this particular recipe but will try sometime and post here.

I think that’s how he meant it, it’s just a different recipe. Culinary world would be boring if all recipes followed the same standard ratios I suppose.
Original Recipe

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Alison Richman January 22, 2017 - 7:57 pm

ok good. Everyone raved about them.

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victor January 23, 2017 - 7:52 am

Not surprised. They are the best.

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Alison Richman January 17, 2017 - 6:01 am

Hello again, when you say rotate the dough 90 degrees, do you mean to flip it over? The pic below the description shows the dough flipped over to the other side, but I had imagined merely rotating the square without flipping it. Thank you!

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victor January 17, 2017 - 7:41 am

No flipping. Just rotate 90 degrees, roll out and fold again as you would a letter. The picture of the folded dough is taken after folding the second time. To put it more simply, you fold as a letter, roll out, and fold again.

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Alison Richman January 17, 2017 - 8:07 pm

Thank you! Did you realize your website is going down from time to time?

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victor January 18, 2017 - 10:05 am

You are welcome. No, I did not. Thanks for letting me know, I will have my hosting support look into it.

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Alison Richman January 19, 2017 - 4:51 am

They came out really good but huge! I noticed the dough was almost spongey and I almost couldn’t roll the crescent at the end. Does that sound normal? Also the dough was pretty hard to roll by the second turn, and just a little butter was escaping. I felt like I might be doing the turns wrong so I’ll try to find more demos online. Thanks again! Love your site.

victor January 19, 2017 - 9:28 pm

What you describe is exactly what I’ve been experiencing. I never tweaked his recipe though as I love the final results – huge, flavorful, super tasty croissants with a lot of substance.

Dr.Lynn Williams January 1, 2016 - 8:07 pm

I have an important question: In the original Tartine recipe for croissants it uses 625 G of butter for the laminate to 800 g of flour.. in the Tartine Bread book there is 1000 g flour to 400 g butter for the laminate—why is this?

Lastly, the Poolish that I made came out to weigh 385 g and the recipe called for 400 g. please answer these two questions for me. I am afraid after spending all day today folding and stuff that there is not enough butter as I used the recipe from your blog and the Tartine bread book. I am finishing and baking in the morning.

Sincerely,
Dr. Lynn

Reply
victor January 2, 2016 - 10:53 am

Sorry I could not get back you sooner – I was away all day yesterday. It’s an interesting observation that in his two different books Mr. Robertson uses different butter to dough ratios. I just read through both chapters on croissants and did not find an explanation. In the second book, Tartine, he states that he is making his croissants the traditional way, observing traditional artisan standards. Having read and baked from all four of Tartine books, it’s clear that he likes to experiment and constantly evolve his recipes. Is the one with higher butter ratio better? I don’t know as I never tried it. I love the original recipe and don’t want to change a thing. Also, I am not too thrilled about adding more fat calories to the croissants.

As to your second question, I’ve had the same problem. When you mix 200g each of water and flour, you are bound to end up with less than 400g of poolish in the end – some is left over on the spatula you mix the poolish with, and some will be left on the walls of the mixing bowl after you transfer it out. Some water will evaporate as well. What I do is compensate with leaven, which is also a 50/50 mix of water and flour, more or less. Or you can just add a 50/50 mix of water and flour to bring the total to 400g. Either will work just fine and help keep the total ratio of flour to water unchanged. Lately I’ve been making poolish with 220g water and 220g flour, same as the leaven, to avoid that problem.

All that said, I am quite sure that your croissants will turn out fabulous regardless if you put a little more or less of butter. A very small and insignificant reduction of poolish will not affect the results. Enjoy your croissants!

P.S. This post made me so hungry for croissants that I’ve decided to make a batch myself today;-)

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Tartine Croissants | Afoodcionado February 23, 2015 - 11:06 pm

[…] i, Food Blogger Tartine Croissant Recipe […]

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Memoria December 10, 2014 - 2:21 am

What a gorgeous, laminated dough, and the croissants look amazing as well! I love making both, and after seeing your photos, I’m inspired to try out this recipe very soon. Great job!

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Victor December 10, 2014 - 8:42 am

Let us know hot they turn out.

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Terje December 10, 2014 - 1:50 am

They look magnificent! Just by looking at the photos it feels like I’m taken to Paris, eating these fluffy croissants at a summery street café. Never thought a recipe could make me crave food and travels at the same time!

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Victor December 10, 2014 - 8:43 am

Ain’t that the beauty of food blogging? 🙂

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Jessie @ Straight to the Hips, Baby December 9, 2014 - 5:29 pm

Oh my, just GORGEOUS! Really lovely! I wish I had a basket of these in front of me at this moment!

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Victor December 9, 2014 - 7:53 pm

I brought a basket of these to my work once, they were gone in a matter of minutes. They are dangerous 🙂

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Thalia @ butter and brioche December 9, 2014 - 5:15 pm

WOW these croissants are perfect! I regularly make croissants but use a slightly different approach and recipe. Your tartine recipe is definitely one I need to try out so I can compare the difference!

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Victor December 9, 2014 - 7:50 pm

Hi Thalia, thank you for the kind words. I’d love to see your recipe and especially photographs of your croissants. Your photography is one of the most creative and artful I have ever seen. Pain au Chocolat on your site is mouthwatering.

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