How to make twice-baked croissants

One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. Or in bakers’ terms, one person’s stale croissants are another person’s favorite breakfast treat. We’re talking twice-baked croissants. Almond croissants are the most famous of this genre, but really, no need to stop there! Today I’ll give you a general formula and ideas for how to create the twice-baked croissants of your dreams, plus recipes for both almond croissants and black sesame croissants.

twice baked croissants

It starts with stale croissants

First, you need to get yourself some croissants. If you have access to good-quality day-old croissants, great! But we’re going to leave them out to dry, so I don’t bother making my own or splurging on anything fancy — plain old supermarket croissants work just fine. You can even use pain au chocolat (chocolate croissants) if you want something a little more decadent.

Twice-baked croissants work best with stale croissants — they’ll be primed to soak up more of the delicious syrup we’re going to spread on them. So leave them out, uncovered, for at least a few hours or overnight.

Simple Syrup

With twice-baked croissants, you have several opportunities to layer on flavor. With each of the elements, feel free to get creative to come up with some unique flavor combinations!

The first flavor layer is simple syrup. At its most basic, simple syrup is just sugar heated with an equal amount of water. I like to flavor mine with a little alcohol (rum, whisky, or bourbon), but that’s totally optional. You could add vanilla or almond extract, or if you want to get fancy…

  • Infuse citrus zest or herbs in the syrup (add it to the syrup after the sugar has dissolved and let infuse until the syrup cools, then strain before using).
  • Replace the water with lemon juice for a lemon simple syrup.
  • Replace the granulated sugar with brown sugar.

Frangipane

I’ve waxed on about my love for frangipane, or almond cream, on more than one occasion here. A mixture of butter, sugar, egg, and almond flour, frangipane is like the secret sauce of pastry chefs. It’s also the delicious filling and topping for our twice-baked croissants, and another opportunity for added flavor.

You can customize your frangipane in a few ways:

  • Replace some or all of the almond flour with another kind of ground nuts or seeds — think walnuts, pecans, pistachios — or in my example below, black sesame seeds.
  • Replace the granulated sugar with brown sugar or another sweetener like honey or maple syrup. With liquid sweetener, I usually use only 3/4 the amount (by weight) since they taste sweeter than regular sugar.
  • Experiment with additions: spices/citrus zests/extracts/alcohol are easy ways to start, but you can even try adding a little mashed banana or pumpkin puree or melted chocolate or cocoa powder. These additions may take some dialing in to figure out ideal proportions, but frangipane is pretty flexible and you can add a little extra flour if needed to give the cream some structure.

The topping

The final element to a twice-baked croissant is the topping. After spreading on a bit of frangipane for glue, sprinkle on chopped nuts / seeds / coarse sugar for visual interest and texture.

If you’re using a special infused simple syrup for your croissants or prefer a sweeter pastry, you can brush some syrup over the top before spreading on the frangipane.

Traditionally, twice-baked croissants get showered with icing sugar before serving. But you could definitely go a little crazy here too — citrus zest, freeze-dried fruit powder, drizzled melted chocolate, salted caramel sauce, whipped cream, etc.

Time to get creative!

So there you go: play around with the flavor elements of a twice-baked croissant to come up with your own delicious pastries! Here are a few ideas to whet your creativity:

  • Chocolate Hazelnut: Day-old pain au chocolat / brown sugar simple syrup / use ground hazelnuts for frangipane / top with chopped hazelnuts and dusting of cocoa powder or melted chocolate
  • Pistachio rose: Day-old croissant / rose-infused simple syrup / use ground pistachios for frangipane and add a couple drops of rosewater / top with chopped pistachios and edible rose petals
  • Cinnamon apple: Day-old croissant / cinnamon brown sugar simple syrup / add cinnamon to the frangipane / add a layer of apple compote or apple butter under the frangipane / top with pieces of freeze-dried apple and a shake of cinnamon
  • Raspberry, lemon, almond: Day-old croissant / lemon simple syrup / add a layer of raspberry jam or compote under the frangipane / top with extra lemon syrup, pieces of freeze-dried raspberries, and a shaving of lemon zest
  • Chocolate orange: Day old pain au chocolat / orange simple syrup with grand marnier / honey frangipane with orange zest / top with dusting of cocoa powder or melted chocolate

Baker’s notes:

  • Twice-baked croissants are a great make-ahead treat. You can prepare both the simple syrup and frangipane ahead of time and refrigerate until ready to assemble! You can even freeze leftover croissants and then defrost them night before you want to whip these up.
  • If you want to add an extra layer of flavor, spread some fruit jam, curd, or compote onto the croissants after the simple syrup and before the frangipane.

assembling twice baked croissants
almond croissant on plate

Twice-baked croissants, two ways

Makes 8 croissants | Adapted from Baked to Order

Ingredients:

For the simple syrup:

  • 65g (1/3 c) granulated sugar
  • 80g (1/3 c) water
  • 1 Tbsp rum (optional)

For the almond frangipane (makes enough for 8 croissants):

  • 100g (7 Tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 100g (1/2 c) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 100g (1 c) almond flour
  • 16g (2 Tbsp) all purpose flour

For the black frangipane (makes enough for 8 croissants):

  • 100g (7 Tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 100g (1/2 c) light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 80g (1/2 c plus 1 Tbsp) roasted black sesame seeds, ground
  • 20g (3 Tbsp) almond flour
  • 16g (2 Tbsp) all purpose flour

To assemble:

  • 8 day-old croissants
  • Sliced almonds or black sesame seeds/pearl sugar, for garnish
  • Icing sugar, for garnish

Method:

  • Make the simple syrup: Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Turn off the heat and stir in the rum (if using). Pour the syrup into a heat-safe container and cool to room temperature. (Syrup can be refrigerated for up to 1 month.)
  • Make the frangipane: You can make frangipane using a food processor, electric mixer, or bowl + wooden spoon. Beat together the butter, sugar, and salt until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla (mixture will look curdled; this is normal). Fold in the flours until evenly combined and smooth. (Frangipane can be refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 3 months; bring to spreadable room temperature before using).
  • Assemble and bake the croissants: Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) with a rack in the middle. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Split the croissants horizontally, leaving one edge attached. Brush the insides liberally with simple syrup. Spread about 1 1/2 Tbsp of frangipane on the bottom halves of the croissants (reserve about 8 Tbsp for the tops of the croissants). Close the croissants, then spread the remaining frangipane over the tops of the croissants and sprinkle with the sliced almonds or sesame seeds/pearl sugar. (If you like your twice-baked croissants extra-sweet, you can brush the tops with any leftover syrup before adding the frangipane; but I usually don’t.) Bake until the frangipane is puffed and golden on the edges, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cool slightly on a wire rack, then enjoy slightly warm or at room temperature. Dust with icing sugar right before serving, if desired. Twice-baked croissants are best the day they’re baked, but you can store leftovers for a day or two in an airtight container at room temperature. Reheat for a few minutes at 300F to refresh.
black sesame croissant cross section

Sourdough Enriched Cruffins

sourdough enriched cruffins
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I don’t remember when I first laid eyes on a cruffin, but it was intrigue at first sight. Tall, sugared, flaky pastries often filled and garnished to the max, cruffins are a feast for the eyes and Instagram feeds. These laminated darlings are relatively young in the pastry world (they were invented by the famed by Kate Reid of Lune Croissanterie in 2013), but since then have been popularized by bakeries such as Mr. Holmes Bakehouse and Supermoon Bakehouse.

Not many bakeries in my area actually sell cruffins, so I challenged myself to learn how to make them. After a couple years of experimenting with cruffins, I am so excited to finally share this recipe with you, along with a lot of tips learned along the way!

sourdough enriched cruffins

What is a cruffin?

Cruffins are croissants shaped liked muffins (“Cr” = croissant + “uffin” = muffin). That is all. Many people have devised interesting methods for making cruffins using pasta machines, puff pastry, etc.; but for this recipe we’ll just be making good old-fashioned croissant dough and baking it in a muffin (or popover) tin.

I’m just focusing on the cruffin pastry base here, but you can go wild with customizing your cruffins! Start by tossing them in a spiced or flavored sugar. If you’re feeling ambitious, go crazy and fill your cruffins with jam/curd/pastry cream. Finish them with a glaze or garnish for extra flair. You could even run in the opposite direction with a savory cruffin — sprinkle a spice blend on the pastry strips before shaping or fill with a savory whipped cheese. Mmmm…

Cruffin tins and sizing

baked cruffins in tin

To achieve the tall, sleek bakery-style cruffin shape, you will need a jumbo muffin or popover tin. My favorite is the Nordicware Grand Popover tin — judging from the videos I could find online, this seems to be the choice tin of several cruffin-making professional bakeries as well. Each of the six wells measures 2.5″ on top, 2.5″ tall and 2.25″ along the bottom. This creates a beautiful, tall cruffin with a stable base.

For the Nordicware tin, I used ~75g dough per well to get the shape I wanted. If you want more of a dramatic “muffin top” you could try increasing the amount of dough per well by 20-25%. However, I liked this more demure size — each pastry feels substantial without being too much of a sugar bomb. Because I only have one Nordicware tin, I like to divide the dough in half and make 6 cruffins at a time. Croissant dough keeps well in the freezer for a couple of weeks, so I like to maximize my time and make a full batch of dough each time I plan to laminate.

If you don’t have or want to invest in a popover tin, you can bake this recipe using a standard muffin tin — no need to adjust the dough amounts. Your cruffins will just be a little shorter and have more of a muffin top. If baking in a muffin tin, you can bake 12 cruffins at once (the whole batch of dough), if desired.

Note: I also tested baking cruffins in this Chicago Metallic Mini Popover Tin. This worked too; but due to the smaller size and tapered shape of each well, I recommend only using ~60g dough per cruffin (i.e. make 8 cruffins per half-batch of dough instead of 6). If you overfill these tins, the tops of the cruffins may fuse into each other and the finished pastries may be too top-heavy to stand on their own (don’t ask me how I know). Other popular cruffin tins include the Wilton jumbo muffin tins and individual tart rings.

Note that the dimensions listed in the recipe work for the Nordicware tin or a plain muffin tin. For different-sized tins, you may need to adjust the roll-out dimensions and dough quantities.

Shaping the cruffins

Figuring out how to shape cruffins is where I had to do the most experimenting. Over the past couple of years I’ve searched across the interwebs for cruffin shaping tutorials. Unlike croissants, no “classical” shaping technique really exists. Many bakeries simply roll up the dough and cut into thick cinnamon roll-style shapes, sort of like extra-tall morning buns without the butter-sugar spread. However, I was intrigued by this rose shaped method from Supermoon Bakehouse and wanted to emulate that.

Warning: this shaping is a little tricky! I recommend looking at the photos and watching the video above a few times to familiarize yourself with the process. Try to roll the strips up tightly so the cruffin tops don’t pop too much in the oven, and make sure to tuck all three loose ends underneath. Don’t be discouraged if it takes a few tries — it took me a couple batches before I turned out a respectable cruffin!

The sourdough-enriched dough and suggested baking schedule

This cruffin recipe uses a straightforward croissant dough (formula adapted from Adam Pagor). I like adding some active, ripe 100% hydration sourdough starter to the dough for the additional flavor and complexity. There’s still a decent amount of instant yeast, though, so the pastries rise reliably and not too slowly. See baker’s notes if you want to omit the sourdough. You can also use this versatile dough to make croissants, pain au chocolat, or any other laminated pastry.

For best results, I recommend making the cruffins over three days (make sure your starter has been fed and is scheduled to peak around the time you plan to mix the dough):

  • Day 1, evening (right before bed): Mix the croissant dough and chill overnight
  • Day 2, morning: Make the butter block, freeze the dough briefly, then laminated the dough (3 single turns). Freeze dough right after final turn.
  • Day 2, evening (right before bed): Transfer dough back to refrigerator to thaw overnight.
  • Day 3, morning: Assemble, proof, and bake cruffins

If you’re in a rush, you could condense the process into two days. Refrigerate the pastry for 90 minutes after the final turn, then proceed with assembling, shaping, and baking. However, freezing the pastry and letting it slowly thaw overnight makes the final roll out easier (the dough is more relaxed), resulting in pastries with better definition and layering. (Note: Thanks to Brock aka Tuscan Baker and Adam Pagor aka Season Adam for their many pro lamination tips via Instagram!)

Baker’s notes:

  • If you are new to laminated doughs, please refer to my previous laminated dough posts for lots of tips on lamination (morning buns, grape ricotta danishes). Although the dough recipe and butter lock-in method differs slightly here, the same general principles apply.
  • If you want to make cruffins with just yeast and no sourdough starter, omit the starter and increase the bread flour to 423g, water to 135g, and instant yeast to 10g. Method remains the same; the pastries will probably take closer to 2 hours to proof rather than 3.
  • Don’t be afraid to flip the dough as you are rolling it out each time — this helps keep it from sticking and ensures the whole sheet of pastry is an even thickness. Just make sure to orient the pastry correctly (with the opening on the right) before making your folds.
cruffin crumb shot

Sourdough Enriched Cruffins

Makes ~1kg dough (enough for 12 medium-sized cruffins) | Croissant dough formula adapted from Adam Pagor

Ingredients:

For the laminated dough:

  • 381g bread flour
  • 93g water, cold
  • 135g whole milk, cold
  • 40g granulated sugar
  • 6g (2 tsp) instant yeast
  • 10g kosher or fine sea salt
  • 85g fully active, ripe sourdough starter
  • 250g European-style (at least 82% fat) unsalted butter, cold (for the butter block)

To finish:

  • 50g granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon (optional)

Method:

  1. Mix and chill the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine all dough ingredients except the butter. Mix on low speed for about 5 minutes, or until all ingredients are well combined but the dough is only moderately developed. (We’re not looking for a completely smooth dough or windowpane — if you develop the dough too much at this point, it will be more difficult to roll out later.) Flatten dough into a roughly 1-inch thick square, wrap with plastic, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours (or up to 12).
  2. Make the butter block: About 30 minutes before you want to begin the lamination process, take the butter for the butter block out of the fridge. Slice into even pieces (or, if your butter comes in 250g blocks you can just leave it whole) and pound into an even 7-inch square using a rolling pin. An easy way to do this is to draw a 7-inch square on a piece of parchment, flip it over (so you don’t get marker or pencil into your butter), put the butter inside the square, and place another piece of parchment over it. Pound and roll the butter until it is an even square of butter, using the marks as a guide. Use a bench scraper to clean up and sharpen the edges and corners as you go. Place the dough back into the fridge to firm up for about 10 to 15 minutes before beginning lamination.
  3. Freeze the dough: While the butter is chilling, remove the dough from the fridge. On a lightly floured surface, roll into a 7″ x 14″ rectangle. Brush any excess flour from the dough and transfer to a baking sheet. Cover with plastic and freeze for 10-15 minutes, or until the butter is the right temperature and consistency for laminating.
  4. Laminate the dough: Check that the butter block is ready for laminating. It should be cool to the touch but pliable, able to bend without breaking (about 55-60F). Remove the dough from the freezer. Place the butter on the bottom half of the dough. Fold the top half of the dough over the bottom half, sandwiching the butter in between. Pinch the edges of the dough around the butter to seal it in.
  5. Turn the dough so the opening is on the right. Roll the dough into an 8 x 24–inch rectangle, flouring the dough and rolling pin as necessary. You shouldn’t need too much flour, but use as much as you need so nothing sticks. (Just brush off any excess flour with a pastry brush before folding.) Do a single book fold by folding the top third of the dough down and the bottom third up over the middle, using a bit of water to “glue” down the layers. Before folding the top edge down, trim the edge to expose the butter (you can save the scraps and bake them off in a mini loaf pan at the end!). Give the dough a 90-degree clockwise turn so the opening is on the right, cover with plastic, and rest the dough in the fridge for 20 to 30 minutes.
  6. Do two more book folds following the step above, chilling the dough 20 to 30 minutes after the second fold. After completing the third and final fold, you can cut the dough in half crosswise, if you plan on just making 6 cruffins; or keep it whole if you plan on making a full batch. Either way, wrap dough well in plastic wrap and and freeze until solid, at least 4 hours. Thaw overnight in the fridge before using. (Dough will keep in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.)
  7. Roll out and cut the pastry: When you are ready to assemble and bake the cruffins, lightly grease each well of a 6-cup cruffin/large popover tin or a regular muffin tin. Transfer the dough from the fridge to a lightly floured surface, orienting it so the opening is on the right. Allow to sit for about 5 minutes so the butter is pliable. Roll the dough into a rectangle just over 9″ x 12″ (half-batch) or 9″ x 24″ (full-batch), about 3/16″ thick. Trim the edges so you are left with a neat 9″ x 12″ or 9″ x 24″ (full-batch) rectangle. Using a sharp chef’s knife, cut the dough lengthwise into nine 1-inch strips. Cut each strip in half (for a half-batch) or quarters (full-batch) crosswise. You should end up with 18 (half-batch) or 36 (full-batch) strips, each 1 x 6 inches and approximately 25g each. Transfer the strips to a sheet tray (it’s fine to stack them), cover, and refrigerate for 10 minutes before shaping.
  8. Shape the cruffins: To shape a cruffin, place a strip of pastry on your work surface with the short end facing you. Stack two more strips of pastry on top, offsetting each by about one inch from the strip below it. Starting from the short end furthest from you, tightly roll the strips up towards you like a jelly roll. Turn the roll spiral side up. Use the pinky edges of your hands to “spin” the spiral to tighten the shape, then tuck the three loose tails of pastry underneath so the cruffin will not unravel. Place spiral side up into the prepared pan. Repeat with the remaining strips of pastry. (Note: refer to video and photos above for more insight into shaping process.)
  9. Proof the cruffins: Cover the shaped cruffins with lightly oiled plastic wrap. Proof until the pastries have roughly doubled in size and the layers are clearly visible, about 2 to 3 hours at warm room temperature, 78 to 80F. About 30 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 400F with a rack in the middle.
  10. Bake the cruffins: Bake cruffins for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 375F and continue baking for another 15 to 20 minutes or until the tops are evenly golden and the centers register at least 200F. (If they are browning too quickly, tent with a piece of foil halfway through baking.) While the cruffins are baking, whisk together the granulated sugar and cinnamon (if using) in a small, wide bowl.
  11. Cool cruffins in the pan for about 2 minutes, then carefully remove from the tin and roll each in cinnamon sugar. If you wish to fill the cruffins with something like jam/curd/pastry cream, wait until they’ve cooled completely. Use a paring knife to make a hole on top of each cruffin, then transfer filling to a piping bag and fill as desired. Cruffins are best consumed the day they’re baked, but any extras can be stored in an airtight container and reheated for about 5 minutes at 325F the next day or two.