Last updated on March 15th, 2023.
Cornetti, or little horn, is the Italian version of French croissants. And just like the french pastries, it is as flakey, buttery, and light as air-rolled pastries, and true to its Italian origins; it comes with more passion, some attitude, and a whole lot of love.
A while back, I got a request for a Cornetti recipe for a reader, so I did some research, spent quite some LBs of butter, and now I am more than excited to share this ridiculously delicious pastry. If you are Italian and have some memories or special tricks you learned from your Nonna, please comment below and share them; I would love to hear them!
Cornetto VS. Croissant
Cornetti is the plural of cornetto, and while it is very similar to a french croissant, there are main differences between the two:
- Both are made using brioche dough, but cornetti dough contains eggs, while croissant dough does not. (Hense the attitude)
- Cornetti are a bit sweeter than Traditional croissants. (Hence the passion)
- Italian cornetto is rolled to the shape of horns, while croissant is rolled into a crescent shape.
- Cornetti are sometimes baked with different fillings, such as pastry cream or other sweet fillings, and croissants are usually filled post-bake.
Unfortunately, here in the states, it’s not as common to find Italian croissants at your local coffee shop, but after reading this post, you can make it in the comfort of your home kitchen to enjoy a cup of coffee.
Here are the key simple ingredients and some substitution options, if possible:
- Bread flour and all-purpose flour. Combining the two is my ideal texture, but you can use all-purpose flour only.
- Warm milk. Whole milk is preferable, but skim or warm water are good options.
- Granulated sugar. Or light brown sugar if you like the deep molasses flavor.
- Instant yeast. See the recipe card’s notes to convert to active dry yeast and baker’s yeast.
Some French chefs claim that croissant dough also has some lemon zest, but I’ve seen some cornetti recipes doing the same.
How to make Cornetti
You can make this recipe in one day or overnight. Read the below carefully and decide what worked best for you. The full measurements and instructions are in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Prepare the butter
There is no right or wrong way to make the block of butter; you can use a large ziplock bag and mark the 9-inch line. Another way is to roll the butter over two pieces of parchment paper, with the bottom one having marks of a 9×10-inch rectangle; make sure to trim the edges and reroll them over the butter.
Ensure the butter is soft enough to be rolled but not too soft, or it will spread too thin (a temperature of 68F is best).
Now, if you are in the mood for a shortcut and don’t mind breaking the roles, freeze the butter, then use a grater to grate the cheese over the dough.
Make the dough
A cornetti dough is similar to my Brioche Dough recipe, but the difference is in how we add the butter. Contrary to Chocolate Brioche or Cinnamon Brioche Rolls, we add a tiny amount of butter to the dough. The remaining butter is incorporated into the dough by lamenting or: rolling and folding it.
The process is simple; we only mix the ingredients to form a dough. But this time, we only knead the dough for about 3-4 minutes because we don’t want to overmix it. As we roll, shape, and fold the dough, we will work and develop the gluten chains. If we over-mix now, the dough will bounce back too much later.
Once it is ready, place it in an oiled bowl, cover and let it sit for one hour, then refrigerate overnight. Or leave it at room temperature for three hours.
And yes, this is the same laminating method for making croissants and puff pastry.
Locking the butter
The first step of laminating and creating the layers. As you work, have a bowl with flour, a pastry brush, and a roller next to you.
Remove the butter from the refrigerator and the dough, so the butter will not be too firm. The way to know it is not too firm is by gently bending it; it should not break. It is too warm if it sticks to the wrap as you peel it off.
After folding, look and ensure no gaps between the folds.
First fold: the book fold
The book fold divides the dough into four quarters, then folding each side toward the middle, and then we close the book (or dough) by filing one side over the next.
Once you are done, wrap it with plastic and freeze it for 25 minutes.
Second and third folds: the three-fold
The next two folds are the same, and please do not be tempted to fold more than three times, or else the butter will weigh itself down, and our Italian cornetti will not rise so high.
In this fold, we will fold the left third side of the rectangle over the center part of, then the last right part over the center.
This is the fun part! The standard size of a cornetto is like a croissant 4×8-inch triangle, but you can divide the dough and cut the size you wish, do not roll the dough thinner than 1/8 inch. Divide the dough into two, and keep one piece in the refrigerator while shaping.
Roll each piece into an 18×8-inch rectangle. Trim the edges, use a ruler to measure the dough, and cut the dough vertically every 8 inches; you will have two large 8×8 squares and some scraps. Cut the squares diagonally to make triangles.
Gently hold each triangle at its base and stretch it, then roll from the wide side towards the tip.
Place the cornetti over a baking sheet, let rest, and rise for 1.5-2 hours.
- Accuracy is very important, so use a kitchen scale (affiliate) for the best results.
- It is best to fold and roll the dough when it is cold, so consider refrigerating it for 2-3 hours, if not overnight.
- The first thing we will do before locking the butter and every fold is tapped the dough with our rolling pin into a 1/2-inch rectangle. If we roll right away, we will “activate” the gluten, and the dough will bounce back.
- Use a ruler or a bench scraper to straighten the rectangles as you go.
- Flour your work surface as you go; the dough should move and not stick to your table.
Storing And making ahead
Making ahead: once you complete the lamination processes, you can wrap your dough with plastic wrap and freeze it for up to four weeks. When ready, place in the refrigerator for 8 hours, then continue shaping and baking.
Storing: the Cornetti are best when fresh, up to 24 hours. Leftovers can be stored in a bag or an airtight container for up to 3 days. You can use leftovers to make this delicious Brioche French Toast or French Toast Casserole.
More Pastry Recipes You Might Enjoy
Chocolate Cream Puffs, How to make pastry choux, Puff Pastry Croissants
Flakey, buttery and light as air Italin pastries.
- 1 1/2 Cups + 2 Tablespoons Unsalted butter, sliced into 1/2-inch thick vertical stripes. Soft. (350g)
- 2 Cups Unbleached all-purpose flour (240g)
- 2 Cups Bread flour (240g)
- 1/3 Cup Granulated sugar (70g)
- 1 tablespoon Instant yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 3/4 Cup lukewarm milk or water (180ml)
- 2 tablespoons Unsalted butter (25g)
- 1/2 Cup Flour for dusting (may not use all of it)
- 1 Egg Beaten, for egg wash
Make the dough
Place all ingredients in a large bowl of a standing mixer, and mix.
Once the dough comes together, mix for 3-4 minutes.
Place the dough in an oiled bowl, spray the top with oil spray, and cover it with plastic wrap for 1 hour, then refrigerate overnight. (Or leave at room temperature for 3 hours).
Locking the butter
Remove the butter and the dough from the refrigerator and lightly flour your workspace.
Use your rolling pin to tap the dough into a 1/2-inch rectangle. Do not roll right away, or the dough will bounce back.
Roll the dough into a 9×15-inch rectangle. Use a ruler or a bench scraper to straighten the edges.
Remove the butter with its wrap, and place it over the left side of the dough, ensuring no raw dough stretches beyond the butter.
Fold the unbuttered part over the butter.
Fold the buttered part over the dough.
Dust any flour, wrap the dough with plastic wrap, place over a baking sheet, and freeze it for 25 minutes.
Fold # 1- the book fold
Remove the dough from the freezer, dust the surface with flour, then tap the dough into a 1/2-inch rectangle.
Roll the dough into a 21×10 inches rectangle, and have the dough facing you horizontally.
Fold the dough into two, then unfold it again. You should see the marks in the center of the rectangle.
Fold the left side towards the center line, and do the same with the right side.
Now fold one end over the other.
Dust the flour, wrap, and freeze for 25 minutes.
Fold # 2&3 – The third fold
Tap the dough over a floured surface until it is 1/2-inch thick.
Roll to a 21×10-inches rectangle faving you horizantly.
Mentally divide the dough into three parts, then fold the left part over the center part.
Fold the right part over the center.
Brush off any flour, wrap and freeze for 25 minutes.
Repeat this fold one more time, then wrap and refrigerate for 1.5 -2 hours.
Shaping the cornetti
Divide the chilled dough into two, and place one part in the refrigerator.
Roll over a lightly floured surface into an 18×8-inch rectangle.
Trim the edges, and divide the dough into two 8×8-inch squares.
Cut each square at the center so you'll have four 4×8-inch rectangles.
Cut each square diagonally, so you'll have 8 triangles.
Hold each triangle in the base and stretch it gently, then roll it from the wide end toward the tip.
Place the horns over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cover the cornetti with plastic wrap, and let them rest and rise for 60-90 minutes.
Brush with egg wash and bake at 400F (200C) for 15 minutes; reduce the temperature to 350F (180C) and bake for additional 8-10 minutes.
Remove from the oven, and enjoy!