Published November 30th, 2016
Chef Hugo's Tasty Croissants May be Tough to Make, but Worth Every Minute
By Susie Iventosch
Susie Iventosch's daughter, Courtney, cuts croissant triangles with her mom. Photos Susie Iventosch
On a recent trip to Paris I had a hankering to take a cooking class. I wasn't especially picky about what kinds of things we would learn to make, but just thought it would be a really fun thing to do.
When I discovered "Make Your Own Croissants" at Le Foodist cooking school on the Left Bank, I was sold. What better place in the world to learn how to make croissants than Paris? And, the added bonus was that the class was taught by a French pastry chef, in English, but with that gorgeous accent. Although I do speak French, I thought that perhaps it might be a great idea to learn how to make croissants in my native language. They are kind of tricky and time-consuming in any language, so it really helps to understand the instructions.
With six students in the croissant class, and two cooking stations, we all took turns adding ingredients to the dough, kneading and rolling, and finally forming our croissants. The lesson gave us a really great understanding of what makes croissants so beautifully flaky and layered (81 layers!) and when we were all done and the croissants were in the oven, we sat around the table chatting, telling stories and drinking coffee.
One of the things our instructor, Hugo Renard, insisted upon, was that we would do all of the measuring in grams using a scale. The scale offers a more accurate measurement than the cups. He said, "No measuring spoons or cups in this class!"
Because the croissants turned out so well and were so delicious, I didn't want to convert this recipe into our usual measuring cup and spoon routine, so you will need to own, buy or borrow a scale for this recipe. If you have not used a cooking scale before, then you should read about how to "tare" the scale, which in effect zeros-out the scale after taking into account the weight of the vessel used to hold the ingredients. We used a series of small metal bowls in class, but whatever containers you use, be sure to tare the scale to get an accurate reading.
One notable ingredient we used in the class was fresh cake yeast, which gave the croissants a distinct flavor. I had trouble finding fresh yeast in the stores near me, so I went ahead and used dry yeast, and the croissants turned out beautifully, but without that more distinctly yeasty flavor. If you'd like to try the fresh yeast, I checked with Diablo Foods and they carry the Fleishmann's brand in the refrigerator section on Aisle 9. Be sure to note that if converting to dry yeast you will use approximately one-third the amount of fresh yeast called for in the recipe. So, instead of 20 grams of fresh, you will use about 7 grams of dry yeast.
I wanted to be sure to make this recipe soon after returning home, so I wouldn't forget all of Hugo's great tips. You will probably find some new terminology you've not heard of before. At least, that was the case for me. The whole process from beginning to end will take approximately three- to-four hours, but with some spare time in between, as the dough is chilling or the croissants are proofing and baking. Be sure to have plenty of time when you dive into this project, and you'll enjoy the experience much more than if you are rushed.
Also, once the croissants are formed, they can be frozen before proofing and baking. It's best to freeze them on a tray until firm, and then transfer them to a baggie to save space. When you're ready to bake them, take them out of the freezer the night before, or at least several hours ahead of time, to let them thaw and proof before baking them.
Bon Appetit!
For more information about Le Foodist, visit
For more information about fresh or cake yeast and how it compares to dry yeast, visit, or
For yeast conversion from fresh to dry, visit

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