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Italian croissants and breakfast in a bar for the Italian Table Talk

The coffee shop was simple and cozy: a long glass counter, polished to perfection, where cakes, scones, eggs, bacon and beans were neatly arranged. In front of the counter, facing the bright wide windows, tiny white tables for two people. Outside of that little café there was Ireland, the boundless meadows of the Kilkenny Castle, bus as the only means of transport and the curiosity of a continuous discovery.

That was my second time in Ireland, a week in August for the university summer break, a breath of fresh air between the exams of advertising and semiotics.

I was travelling with my friend Laura, companion of many road trips. We decided to have breakfast in that coffee shop, curious to see how would feel to eat as a local. I still remember how it was called: three item special. An inviting name, though we probably misunderstood the real meaning of special at the moment. With the help of a not too trained English we ended up ordering two three item specials and three other additional dishes from the menu selection.

We sat slightly intimidated at the table and we waited. Soon after two waitresses came out from behind the counter and began to bring our breakfast. Beans with tomato, scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, toasts, butter and jam. Then a moment of embarrassment: we run out of space on our table. They looked at each other, then they took a look around and decided to move a table and add it to ours to have extra space. And they kept on bringing the smoked ham, cakes and scones with jam.

We not hold back laughter, while the other regulars of the small coffee shop in Kilkenny looked at those two naive tourists with a mixture of disbelief and tenderness. Needless to say, the breakfast came out of the cafeteria with us well hidden in backpacks in the form of snacks and sandwiches for lunch. Too abundant, too far from our habits, but perhaps for that very reason so indelible in my memory.

Italian croissants

As you might have heard, the Italian breakfast is quite another thing.

First of all, in most cases – except for individual preferences – breakfast is sweet and not salty, and then it often verges on the routine and monotony. I know people whose names I won’t make now – mum – that have been eating the same breakfast for thirty years: scalding caffellatte with three fette biscottate at dawn every day. Every day. Also for Christmas, even for her birthday, in winter and summer, that’s her breakfast.

We felt it was the right time, after a year of Italian Table Talk – already a year! – to cover the topic of breakfast and tell you about our preferences, our rituals and our memories related to the first meal of the day, which according to experts – and according to my mum – is also the most important one. Valeria wakes us up with the raisin buns of her childhood, Emiko has instead baked a tray of little cherry tarts which can put a smile on the face of the most surly person, while Jasmine made a classic cake perfect in its simplicity, the torta margherita. I am presenting today an classic of the breakfast at the bar, the Italian croissants known as cornetti.

If you follow me on Instagram (do you follow me on Instagram? nooo? You can find me as JulsKitchen if you ask) you may have noticed that I like to vary breakfast, from crepes to bread pudding cake, from yogurt with fresh fruit and cereals to rice pudding. I do not have a tradition and I’m very careful not to fall into the routine: I enjoy changing, as far as possible, to wake up with a bit of curiosity. It is a different matter when it comes to breakfast at the bar.

Italian croissants

Having breakfast in a bar in Italy can be stressful if you’re not used to it and you suffer from the usual performance anxiety that hits you in the most important public occasions.

At first comes the choice of the sweet pastry you are going to eat or dip in your cappuccino: I usually come closer to the counter and I start pointing out the various croissants. Which kind of croissant is that? apricot jam. That one? wholemeal and honey. That over there? chocolate. There instead? custard and apple. Then I understand by the impatient tone of the waitress that I have asked too many questions, so I begin by saying with little certainty: then I’ll take a croissant with… moment of reflection during which I mentally try all the combinations… nothing inside. Is there a plain croissant? And I grab with an apologetic smile the delicate croissant, often still warm, that the waitress hands me wrapped in a paper towel.

Then it comes the time to order coffee.

Usually in the bar at breakfast time there is a large crowding all around the coffee counter: the usual, macchiato, ristretto, corto, a cappuccino, a latte macchiato, a long coffee. Wall Street at end of the day is much more quiet than a bar at breakfast. Requests are made in a tone that ranges from brisk to pleading, this being me when trying for the fourth time to order a coffee and someone else next to me gets his order before me.

Then, with your coffee in the balance in one hand and the croissant – the empty croissant – in the other, you move towards a table if you’re lucky, or you press yourself in a corner of the counter to finally enjoy your breakfast. It is probably clear that I prefer to have breakfast at home, with all the calm of the world, without having to fight for my coffee. Though the still warm croissants have more than a reason to be appreciated, especially if you are lucky enough to find those made as they should be made, with good butter. Making them at home takes time and patience, especially in flaking, but every once in awhile I assure you it is worth a try.

Italian croissants

Cornetti, the Italian croissants

This is an easy recipe to bake at home the same cornetti you might get in an Italian café, with their shiny surface, not too sweet nor too buttery. Unlike the French croissants, the Italian cornetti have more sugar in the dough. Among the ingredients to make the cornetti dough, you also find eggs, vanilla seeds and orange peel, that are instead absent in the croissants you would get in a Parisian bistro. This makes the Italian cornetti sweeter, slightly denser but definitely more aromatic.
As a consequence, if you could potentially pair a French croissant with ham and cheese, you could not do the same with an Italian cornetto, which is better enjoyed plain, simply dusted with icing sugar, or filled with pastry cream, jam or chocolate spread.

With this recipe, you will get 20 Italian croissants.

Should they be too many for you to have in one go, you can decide to bake all of them immediately, and freeze the leftovers once baked. Otherwise, you can bake just a few cornetti and freeze the rest immediately after shaping them.

If you freeze them once baked, you can remove them from the freezer and warm them in a hot oven just before breakfast: doing this, they will thaw immediately and in a few minutes, you will get hot cornetti.

If you prefer to freeze them immediately after shaping them, remove them from the freezer the night before, and arrange them, well-spaced, on an oven tray lined with parchment paper to raise. In the morning, bake them as in the following recipe.

Italian croissants
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4.78 from 9 votes

Cornetti, the Italian croissants

Course baked goods, Breakfast
Cuisine Italian
Keyword cornetti, croissants
Preparation time: 4 hours
Cook time: 15 minutes
Rising time in the fridge 1 day
Total time: 1 day 4 hours 15 minutes
Serves 20 cornetti


  • 250 g (2 cups) bread flour
  • 250 g (2 cups) all purpose flour
  • 8 g (1 1/2 tsp) fine sea salt
  • 24 g (1 1/3 cake) fresh compressed yeast
  • 100 g (1/3 cups) whole milk
  • 80 ml (1/3 cups) water
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 100 g (1/2 cup) sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 2 organic orange, zest grated
  • 60 g (4 1/4 tbsp) butter, room temperature
  • 250 (1 cup + 2 tbsp) butter, room temperature, to laminate the croissants
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk, to brush the croissants

For the vanilla syrup to brush the cornetti

  • 100 g (1/2 cup) sugar
  • 100 g (1/2 cup) water
  • 1/2 vanilla bean


  • The day before, add the bread flour, the all-purpose flour and the salt in the bowl of a stand mixer.
  • Dissolve the yeast in the milk, whisk well and add it into the flour, then add the water and the lightly beaten eggs. Knead at low speed for about ten minutes with the hook attachment.
  • Add the butter cut into small pieces, then the sugar mixed with the seeds of the vanilla bean and the grated zest of the oranges. Knead for ten more minutes with the hook attachment at low speed, until the butter has been completely incorporated. You should get a smooth, elastic dough: eventually it should form a ball and clean the sides of the bowl, remaining attached just to the bottom of the bowl.
  • Remove the dough from the bowl and scrape it into a plastic bag that has enough space to allow the dough to double. Store it in the fridge for 24 hours.
  • Prepare also the butter sheet to laminate the croissants, so that the day after you will have all the ingredients ready. Use the butter at room temperature and with the help of a rolling pin gently spread it in between two sheets of parchment paper, about 3/16in (5mm) thick, to get a square sheet, as regular as possible. Store it in the fridge.
  • The next day, remove the dough from the fridge and place it on a well-floured surface.
  • Roll it with a rolling pin on a disk slightly larger than the butter sheet.
    How to make Italian croissants
  • Place the butter in the centre of the dough and gently pull the four sides of the dough over the butter, to close it inside as in an envelope.
    How to make Italian croissants
  • Seal the edges.
    How to make Italian croissants
  • With the help of the rolling pin and some flour, roll out the dough so that it could triple its length, keeping the same width.
    How to make Italian croissants
  • Now make a three-fold: mentally divide the dough into three equal parts and fold on the middle part the right side, then the left one.
    How to make Italian croissants
  • Seal the edges by pinching the dough together.
    How to make Italian croissants
  • Rotate the dough, keeping the folds the sides, and roll out again the dough in a rectangle sheet so that it quadruples its length, keeping the same width.
  • Now is the time to give a four-fold: mentally divide the dough into four equal parts and fold the two outer parts on the two parts inside.
    How to make Italian croissants
  • Fold again to close the dough as a book. Seal the edges by pinching the dough together.
    How to make Italian croissants
  • Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge for about one hour.
  • After this time, remove the dough from the fridge and roll it into a 3/16in (5mm) thick rectangular sheet.
  • With a sharp knife or a pizza wheel, cut out two long strips, then long and narrow triangles. You should get 20 pieces, and each triangle should weigh about 2oz (60 g).
    How to make Italian croissants
  • Wrap the triangles on themselves from the short side, keeping the tip of the triangle under the cornetti so that it won't open while rising. Arrange the cornetti in a tray lined with baking paper, keeping them well spaced.
    How to make Italian croissants
  • Let them rise in a warm place for about 2 hours, or until they have doubled their volume.
  • While the croissants are raising, prepare the syrup to brush them once bakes. Pour the water in a small saucepan, add the sugar and the open vanilla pod and bring to a simmer on low flame. Simmer for about 5-8 minutes, until the syrup becomes thick and slightly golden. Set aside to cool down.
  • When the cornetti have doubled, heat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
  • Just before baking the cornetti, brush them gently with milk, then bake them for about 15-17 minutes, until golden brown.
  • As soon as the cornetti are out of the oven, brush them with the vanilla syrup. Serve them immediately, or wait until they are slightly warm.
Tried this recipe?We love to see your creations! Snap a pic and tag @julskitchen and hashtag it #myseasonaltable!

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Italian croissants

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This Post Has 45 Comments

  1. Oh Giulia, I love love love the story of your Irish breakfast! SO different to colazione all’Italiana! I must have those anglo saxon breakfast genes in me as I can never get by with a pastry and coffee for breakfast, but I wouldn’t be able to walk past home baked cornetti – what a TREAT!

  2. Giulia, thank you soooo much for this! I have several times improvised cornetti by altering a croissant recipe. We call them faux cornetti. They are good but not the cornetti of my memories and dreams. My family amd I far prefer cornetti to croissants ( our children each fondlynremember the time when i let each of them go to the bar by themselves to retrieve our breakfast when we were living in Rome and Siena. I will be joyfully donning my apron and trying my hand at these as soon as possible 🙂 thanks again!!!!

  3. Cornetti are the only thing I eat for breakfast when I am in Italy. My favorites are the apricot or cherry jam-filled ones paired with a cappuccino. These are on my (very long) list of things to learn how to make. Beautiful post as always!

  4. 5 stars
    Oh Juls! I cannot wait to do just that in Ireland! 😉

    But more importantly, I want to make those gorgeous, awesome croissants! Like NOW!

  5. LOL LOL that was embarrassing. It reminded me of this time I was in China for work and a similar situation happened with me and a friend.
    I am horrible with breakfast. Mostly would stick to cereal and yogurt. It’s funny cause all breakfast-y items are my fav food and most often I land up eating those for lunch or dinner 🙂
    I never made croissants at home, but I think I will soon!

  6. Oh, I can’t agree more. The diversity of options, the pleasure of a breakfast at home, comfortably sipping coffee while reading the news, enjoying a big bowl of something nutritios and tasty is so much better than fighting for a corner of counter to sip your (short, too-short-to-flush-down-the-croissant) coffee. Plus, as I mentioned, one cornetto (and I tend to choose the vuoto, too, if I don’t find the French-style, almond one) just doesn’t fill me up at all. Now, if I made them at home it would be a completely different story –I could at least have three 🙂 So maybe I should do the full recipe LOL

  7. I have always wanted to make cornetti! Thank you for the recipe! I did find it strange when last year I visited my relatives in Italy many times breakfast was a “long-life” pastry and yet lunch and dinner were a feast of home made YUM! Though one cousin produce a delicious yoghurt cake! My daughter is through and through Italian – an espresso and a sweet cake. I loved reading you experience in Ireland.

  8. I made them last week and can’t wait to bake them again!!!! I have tried with other recipes, but these are the best by far!!!! Many thanks for sharing!

    1. thank you so much for the feedback Micaela! I am also in love with this recipe! many many many more baking happiness to you!

  9. I cannot thank you enough for this recipe! I knew when I read it that it was perfect, and my husband and I were longing for our Italian breakfast. Turned out beautifully, and I’m sure I will be making these regularly. Gracie mille!

  10. Hi! I have been looking for a Cornetti recipe ever since I returned from Italy. My mornings just have not been the same without them! I was wondering if it’s possible to get the full recipe for 40 cornetti? I’d love to make a big batch for my family and friends.

    1. Hi Palma, you can easily scale up the recipe, adding 4 times the quantity of every ingredient. 🙂 it’s a good idea to bake a big batch of them!

  11. I remember cornetti from Moya in Florence that are filled with a pastry creame of some type. Can these be filled and what would be a good filling recipe

  12. Ciao Giulia! I am Italian and I love to bake and cook and do the things my mamma was passionate about. I’m living in the states and I’ve recently started a blog capturing moments with my parents and posting recipes that I love — Italian and otherwise. I’ve been looking for a cornetti recipe and your blog popped up!! How lucky is that!! I am signing on to your blog so — alla prossima!

  13. 5 stars
    Ah, I could kiss you for this! LOL I’ve been looking for years for a decent cornetto recipe! I final resorted to simply baking “baker’s (yeasted) croissants” – and they are so not the same! With my youngest’s impending return from Rome, I wanted to surprise her with cornetti al cioccolato, and now I can. Many thanks!

  14. Ciao! I’ve started making them but could i stick things in the freezer to speed things up? Can’t wait to finish them! Grazie! X 🙂

    1. In theory you can, but I can not guarantee the same result! go for the fridge for the first time!

  15. Hello Giulia,
    I’d love to make these croissants but I cannot get fresh Brewer’s yeast in my area. Can I use dry yeast, and if I can, would the measurements be different? Thank you!

  16. 5 stars
    I made these for my boyfriend who is from Milan but is studying abroad here in the U.S. They came out perfectly, and they cured his homesickness for a little while. I’ve tried several other of your recipes to equal success! For anyone wondering, I used normal bread yeast as that was all I had available, and they came out just fine. Thank you for sharing!!!

  17. 5 stars
    My girlfriend and I made these croissants this past weekend and they turned out amazing!
    The inspiration to make these came from a recent trip to Italy/Switzerland where we enjoyed croissants, espresso, and fresh fruit just about every morning for the 10 or so days we were there.
    We (mostly me) wanted a way to bring that experience/memory back to the States so I did some intense Google searching for a recipe that would be good and stumbled upon this one.
    After about three months, we finally set aside some time to make these and they turned out better than expected as this was our first time ever attempting to make croissants.

    We substituted Brewer’s yeast for active dry (that was all we had at the time) and it did not seem to mess with the recipe at all from what we could tell.

    Definitely keeping this recipe in my collection!

    1. Hello Brandon, food memories are the best kind of memories, and I am so happy you managed to replicate a part of you trip back home!
      Thank you also for your feedback about active dry yeast, it might be useful for other people! 🙂

  18. I just returned to the USA from southern Italy (my 3rd time this year) A few times a week we head down to the local bar and get a cappuccino and fresh baked cornetti. and I a sure you I have tried every kind they make. I have been unable to find them here in our area of the US and we have a large Italian community. I found your recipe and I can not wait to make them. Thank you!

    1. I am so happy that my recipe is a way t ravel back in time to your holidays in Italy! Let me know the results!

  19. Hello! I am trying to make these to recreate a cornetto con pistacchio that I had in Florence while studying abroad. I tried to substitute active dry yeast and after the first knead in the machine it seemed great! However, I keep running into trouble after adding the butter and sugar. The dough gets ridiculously wet and clumpy, and just feels all wrong. Any idea of what could be going wrong?

    1. Hello Katie, probably the butter was too cold. Just keep kneading, at low speed, until everything is incorporated!

  20. I’m running into the same problem as Katie with this recipe. Leading up to the end of the first machine knead, everything looks fine (albeit a bit stiff). Room temperature butter plus sugar, etc. is resulting in a very lumpy, sticky dough that won’t firm up, no matter how long I knead by machine or hand. I’m weighing the ingredients and the butter is absolutely room temperature, but the dough from the first knead isn’t incorporating the remaining ingredients properly.

  21. An update to my earlier comment: I figured out the issue that I was having, and I wanted to post the solution in case others have had similar results. Switching up the order of ingredients helped! I combined all wet ingredients (water, milk, yeast, sugar) in the bowl of my stand mixer, added the eggs, and then slowly added the flour and salt to combine. Once the dough formed, I added the butter in pieces and let it knead for about 10 minutes. What resulted was a smooth, elastic and somewhat sticky dough that was closer to what I’ve achieved with traditional brioche recipes. Looking forward to laminating and baking these tomorrow!

    1. Hi Andi, I am happy you found a solution. I usually do not have problems following the method I explained, so the only question I have is regarding the flour, maybe it did not have enough proteins?

      1. It’s possible! While I used the recommended combo, the brands might have made a difference. I can confirm these are delicious though 🙂

  22. Hi Giulia, my Sicilian husband would absolutely love to have these for his breakfast. I’ve read through the comments and see that there were questions about the yeast, but I am still unsure of how to substitute dry yeast, measurements etc. Will you please clarify for me? Grazie ?

    1. This is a great idea! if you use dry yeast, just reduce the quantity to one-third, 8 grams (2 teaspoons). Activate it as per the instructions on the packaging, and then follow this recipe! Hope you will love them!

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