Its one of those recipes that we all look at and go 'oh that looks too hard'. Well I'm here to say its not difficult, just time consuming. And the results were amazing! So I'm going to walk through what I did and what I learned so you can make mouth watering, buttery goodness.
So this starts the night before. The dough is fairly straight forward. Take 2 cups of all purpose flour with 1 tablespoon removed, 1.5 teaspoons instant yeast, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon salt (make sure its on the opposite side from the yeast) and 3/4 cup scalded milk. Now this was a new ingredient for me, but what it is is milk that has been heated to change the proteins in the milk. This allows for a better rise. Don't let it boil, just heat it, while stirring, to the point where it just starts to bubble. Let it cool before adding to the dough.
Using the dough hook combine all of the ingredients at slow speed until combined and then take it a medium speed for about 4 minutes. Once done place the dough in an oiled bowl, make sure the surface of the dough is oiled and cover with plastic. Leave for at least 30 minutes (I forgot and left it for 2 hours and it was fine). Fold the dough once, recover and place in the fridge. This fridge time should be between 2 hours to overnight. I went with the over night route. At the same time I placed 12 tablespoons of butter out on the counter which I'll use in the morning.
In the morning I took the butter and made a flatten square (made easier because its soft) in between two sheets of wax paper. It should be about a 4.5 inch square, no thicker than 3/4 inch. Once flattened put back in the fridge to get solid again. It shouldn't be too long, you don't need it to be completely solid just fairly solid. Set it aside and pull out the dough. On a well floured surface roll the dough out into a 8 inch square. This should be big enough to encase your square of butter. I checked before I went any further to be sure. When its big enough place the butter in the middle, put a bit of water on each of the 'flaps' and seal the butter in tight. Brush off the excess flour, wrap in plastic wrap and put back in the fridge. Now this might sound silly but the first time I put it back in the fridge, I just flopped it down on the shelf. The butter ended up too cold and I struggled to do the first fold. After that I put it on a plate and didn't have the issues. Its a delicate balance between keeping it firm but not so hard you can't roll it out and soft but not so soft that it melts.
After about 10 to 30 minutes bring the dough out and place it on the well floured surface. This will be the first of four folds. Roll the dough out into about a 7 inch by 16 inch rectangle. Fold the dough like a letter. Make sure and brush the excess flour off the folds. Wrap the dough back up and place back in the fridge, this time for 40 minutes. Go through this process 3 more times. I did a couple of book folds to add some extra layers (fold the ends into the middle and then in half). After the fourth fold and you've wrapped up the dough place it in the fridge for two hours.
Now its time to do some shaping. Place the dough out to rest for 15 minutes before starting. After letting it rest, roll it out into into a 14 by 24 inch rectangle. At this point fold the dough in half, so the dough is now 24 by 6ish inches. Using a sharp knife cut it into triangles with a 5 inch base. The triangles should alternate directions. I ended up using a ruler and making marks the whole length before cutting. There will be left over bits. This is good, we will need these. To form the classic shape place a lump of the left over dough on the 5 inch side and have the point facing you. Hold the point and gently pull, begin to roll towards the point. I was kind of confused at first as to why we were putting lumps in the middle until it dawned on me. The lump prevents the dough from being too tight and preventing rise. Place on a tray that has baking parchment on it. You should get about 14 croissants, don't put more than 7 per tray. Glaze each one with a mix of whisked egg and a tablespoon of water. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise. They need to double in size. It should take between 2 to 4 hours. It took mine 3 hours.
In the last hour of the rise preheat the oven to 450F. Once the croissants have doubled do another layer of egg glaze. Make sure you put it on gently so you don't deflate the rise. Place both trays on the oven, turn down the oven to 400F and set a timer for 10 minutes. When the timer ends, switch the position of trays and set the timer for another 10 to 15 minutes. They they should be golden brown and glossy. Set them to cool then enjoy!
Recipe taken from The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum