Tips on making croissants?
I don't usually bake much, but have a craving for croissants and thought I'd give it a shot (yikes!) Anyone with more expertise have any tips on how to make them come out light and flaky? Also thought I might try to fill some w/a good dark chocolate (yum)
The most important thing is to keep everything as cold as possible -- ideally, you should work on a marble surface and work the dough as quickly as possible so the butter does not melt and your delicate layers are not destroyed. Obviously, your butter cannot be totally stiff and hard or it will break, rather than stretch, as you're rolling and folding the dough. Also, do be patient and chill the dough for as long as needed between each time that you handle it.
ssusu makes a great point about keeping ingredients cold. I went to France on a cooking vacation and got a major lesson in croissant making. Laborious as all get out, but so satisfying. I'd say get some French yeast, for one thing - World Market has it sometimes - and follow a recipe that measures ingredients by weight. Also, take your time and keep it neat. It's important that the rectangles you roll out are even. Use unsalted butter. One mistake I made a couple of times was using chocolate that had too much going on. You want a semi-sweet chocolate that's mellow instead of acidy. Don't get all wound up in the "I only like the 70%" mentality. As hard is it is to make croissants, you don't want them to taste like medicine. Guittard chocolate chips, for instance, taste delicious in chocolate croissants, but stay away from products like Scharffenberger.
The "Baking with Julia" book has a recipe that works.
Oh, yeah. The egg wash, which you want for that laquer-y look and shattering bite: paint it on twice, letting it dry in between applications--15 minutes or so.
The technique for making croissants, like puff pastry, is called "lamination". Easy to see why. I like a marble rolling pin, too. Keeps the dough cold and takes a little of the work out of what is a major job. I mean, you roll and you roll. It's a great upper body workout. There's nothing quite as satisfying as pulling your own croissants out of the oven.
Give yourself more time than you think for all the chilling, rolling, resting, etc. I used a recipe that called for adding the butter in three parts. I added it all equally (1/3, 1/3, 1/3) but I think I should have added more at the beginning and less at the last stage to have more equal butter layers in the resulting dough.
Also, make sure your oven is hot enough when you put the croissants in. I think mine was a touch off and I ended up with some butter pooling out instead of incorporating into the dough. They were still good, though.
I've made croissants from sratch twice and, while they were phenomenal, I now buy the little 4-pack of choc. croissants from Trader Joe's. I just proof them overnight and I get a flaky, light choc croissant after baking with much less work on my part.
Here's a good essay on Laminated Doughs:
In addition to allowing yourself more time than you think you need, allow yourself more space than you think need to roll the dough. Also allow for more patience than you think you need, especially if this is your first time laminating dough.
Get the dough out and back into the fridge as soon as possible between lamination steps.
I like to use salted butter, but I like the flavor that salt adds to the pastry. Regardless of using salted or unsalted butter, make sure to taste your butter before you lock it in to assure the quality and flavor of the butter. It would be so disappointing to pull out your finished croissants and find that they taste like bad butter.
I like the traditional "pain au chocolat" shape for chocolate croissants. It just seems like you can get more chocolate in there. I've tried putting chocolate chips into the traditional rolled triangle shape, but it messes with the rise of the the dough and you end up with less chocolate impact.
I have a question on croissant making concerning oven temperature. I've used the CookIllustrated recipe before and, while they tasted really nice, I found I had a lot of grease left over on the bottom of the baking pan. CI's recipe has the oven set to 400....could this be too hot? cold? They were baked straight outta the fridge, so it's not as if it got too warm. Anyone have any suggestions?
I'm not familiar with the CI recipes, but I have 2 guesses:
1) Were the ingredients measured in cups rather than weighed? This could mess with the ratio of butter/lock in to dough and cause seepage.
2) As you suspect, baking right out of the fridge may cause the butter to seep out of the dough, as butter melts at a significantly lower temp than the dough will rise. I suggest taking the croissants out of the fridge and letting them temper for about 10-20 minutes (depending on room temp) before popping them in the oven. 400 degrees F does seem a bit high to me. You may want to preheat the oven to 400, then drop it to 375 when you put them in the oven (which will keep the oven cycle from kicking back on to recover the lost temp from opening the door). Also make sure you oven is properly calibrated, and/or use an oven thermometer.
butter running can come from a couple of reasons: not enough proofing, or proofing too hot.
Prooging croissant takes much longer than normal bread...2 to 2.5 hours until they are poofed up and jiggle when your done. You should be able to see the laminations on the sides of the dough.
Try throttling back the oven temp. If you have a regular home oven, try 375 to give them a chance to bake fully without burning the bottoms...with convection, maybe even 360.
If you rolled the croissant and refrigerated them without proofing, try giving them a chance to proof fully.
Here is what we usually do if we want croissant on Wednesday:
Make the dough on Monday
Make the butter block right after.
The dough bulk ferments for one hour...roll out to approximately twice the size of your butter block then refrigerate overight covered in plastic.
On Tuesday, the dough goes in the freezer for 30 minutes.
The butter block is tapped and made pliable again without warming whatsoever!!!!
Incorporate the butter block in the dough and give it two single turns right off the bat making sure to trim the sides that have no exposed laminations.
Back in the fridge to relax 90 minutes, then in the freezer for 30.
Out of the freezer and one more single turn.
Wrap in plastic and refrigerate.
Wednesday...into the freezer for 30 minutes
Rollout 10 inches by whatever length by 3mm or 1/8 inch.
Trim the parts that do not expose laminations.
cut triangles, roll, proof 80 degrees with high humidity.
If you can't get the high humidity, egg wash immediately, then again just before baking.
See if that goes better!
If you would like a recipe and you have micorsoft excell...email me.
Adagio Bakery & Cafe
"..Prooging croissant takes much longer than normal bread...2 to 2.5 hours until they are poofed up and jiggle when your done. .."
Ralph, this tip alone helped validate my croissant baking progress by leaps and bounds. Thank you!
What happened was I had gotten a successful batch once by accidentally leaving the shaped croissants to proof for too long. They looked exactly as you'd described, or, as my sister said, like "Jabba the Hut". They were so airy and hollow feeling that I was thinking for sure they will just flop once I put them in the oven. This was also the time I wanted to experiment with cold oven start. So, I turned on the oven and put them in only 5 mins after. And right about now is when i should also confess that I used less than usual amount of butter in the dough because I'd ran out of it...and also, I've used only 1/4 tsp of yeast for 3 cups of flour....
So, when they came out the best croissants I've ever made, I wasn't sure which of the elements contributed to the success. Now, I have a one less thing to investigate. Thanks again!
Laminated doughs are a favorite of mine and croissant is an 11 our ot 10 in the difficulty scale.
Your dough should be pliable, bulk fermente for an hour then in the frige overnight roughly twice the size of your butter block. Whatever formula you use...cut the water in half and add the rest in milk. It makes a smoother dough.
The butter block, rolled in parchement should be about 3mm thick and that goes in the fridge overnight as well. This is a good time to talk butter...buy the best you can get...we use plugra here at the shop. It's not only the extra fat, but the process is key.
The next day, the butter block must be rendered plaiabe...we tap it a bit.
Trap it in the dough...there are several methods, and you have dough/butter/dough.
And everyone is right...at this point we work COLD.
We roll it out and give it two single turns...like a letter. That makes dough/butter/dough/dough/butter/dough/dough/butter/dough.
Now that lookes like nine layers, but you must subtract where the dough touches dough.
So the first singe turns is 3X3-2=7 layters.
With two single turns you get 19 layers.
When you do your turns, make certain not to trap dough. So we trim the edges to expose laminations...trust me it makes a better lamination. DO NOT put the trimmings in the dough. That goes in the next days bake!!!!!
With two turns accomplished, the dough goes back in the fridge for at least 90 minutes, then in the freezer for 30 minutes.
After that...on more singe turn which gives us 3X19-2=55 layers in total.
For us...it goes in the frige overnight, then in the freezer for 30 minutes prior to roll out.
We now have a run of laminated dough, with three single turns ready to rock and roll.
Roll it out to 3mm or 1/8 inch. We use a sheeter, but doing it by hand will be aided if you go to Home depot and purchase to strips of 1/2" wide, 36" long, 1/8" thick steel.
Put the steel on either side of the dough and roll your pin on the steel. Your laminations will be PERFECT.
Roll it to 10" wide by however long your run will allow. TRIM those edges where the laminations are NOT exposed...do not trap dough!
Cut your croissant about 4.5" at that top and about 10 inches long.
Put a 1 inch score at the top for stretching.
Roll the croissant fairly tight. The complete roll can be left French..straight, or curve toward the small end for German.
Be sure to let them proof sitting on the tip so it does not come apart.
Now...here is the big tip...proof a long time...may 2-2.5 hours till puffy and they should shake like jello...you should see laminations on the sides of the rolls.
You can single or double egg wash. Egg washing immediately after forming keeps them moist!!!
Egg wash again just before baking.
Here we proof at 80 degress and high humidity!
Bake at 380 or so and shift them around in the oven to bake evenly.
If you proofed them enough...the butter won't run out!
If you like...I can show you what to do with leftover croissant.
Adagio Baker & Cafe
very interesting about NOT trapping dough...just to insure I understand you, when you do your turns, you should be able to see the butter layer if you looked at the dough on it's side (i.e. you should not have dough touch dough)....
Also: when you make puff pastry, does this same rule of not trapping dough apply?
thanks for the tips!
Absolutely! You have it.
So, anytime you "hide" and end in the fold, make sure you can see the laminations, otherwise you've turned in just a piece of dough. That's why we don't throw the "scraps" into the dough.
Puff pastry is the same. Remember here that Puff Pastry has NO yeast so all of the rise comes from the "steam" created by the butter!. If you incorporated, what I will call incorrectly, 'dead dough', that is dough without lamination, you just have a 'dead' spot.
Also the used of salted butter takes away the ability to control the amount of butter used in the dough process.
Laminating takes a little practice. Mainly, using the rolling pin as evenly as possible for the turns, keeping the dough rectangle so that the laminations are tight and even, trimming the ends. It sound daunting...but it really isn't.
Here's the trick to making perfect, and I mean PERFECT croissant at home: make them four days in a row. Any scraps fromt he previous day can go into the next day's dough. By the fourth day, trust me you will be an expert.
Here are some of the downfalls I see in makeing croissant:
uneven final sheeting (remember use the steel trick from home depot)
shaping...shaping must be tight. If you cut a one inch gash in the bottom of the triangle, stretch those ears out!. Also, stretch the dough lenght wise a bit. You need it long to get enough rolls. Traditionally...you need 7 little steps.
Proofing...proof long...2 to 2.5 hours in a warm, moist invironment. Moist it key. You can egg wash (5:1, egg to water) as soon as they are shaped...keeps them moist, then again just before baking.
They have to look...puuuuffffyyy. They should jiggle if you gently shake the pan.
If you have a convection oven, bake around 360. The temp here will vary according to your oven. We don't want to burn the bottoms before the top is a lovely brown. That's where the 4 days comes in...you will learn your oven.
Once you get these, you will be an expert and trust me they will be better than anything you can get outside your home.
The butter is all important here...the higher end 'european style' butters is a must for optimum results.
The butter block has to be made cold and kept cold. You want piability, NOT softness.
Let me know how you do!
Adagio Bakery & Cafe
You are an angel to provide all the great tips/instructions you have posted to this thread! Could you perhaps describe the Home Depot steels a bit more that you mentioned in the post above? Do you know where in Home Depot these would be found, or which department to look? Are these pre-cut strips or must they be cut in the store?
Thank you for your help,
No problem with the help...I give my formulas away all the time!
In Home Depot, in the Hardware Department is a section with "stock metals"...aluminum, steel rod, flat steel. You are looking at a bin with flat steel. The ones in which we are interested are 36" long, 1/2" wide, and 1/8" thick.
These rails will sit on either side of your final roll out to insure an even 3mm, or 1/8" thick dough from which we will cut croissant trianges or squares for pain au chocolat.
The strips come in singes measured out exactly as I described...no cutting necessary.
I use these in teaching the home bake that they can get results equally as good as the store bought items.
Now then...go make me perfect croissant, and by all means, at least tell us how you're doing!
Adagio Bakery & Cafe
I had considered replying but it would be superfluous after your essay. Listen to Ralph and pay attention to every detail that he wrote and your pasty will be perfect. Proper baking is about the details and if you skimp it will be noticed.
I tend to fold my doughs twice as much as most recipes recommend because I like the extra layers and the challenge but I wouldn't recommend it to the beginner.
P.S. Ralph, I looked at the Adagio website and your baked goods are impressive. Congratulations.
A Youtube link for those who like to see the process before they attempt it. It is part 1 of 4.
You are too kind.
And, I love to help. I come from a pastry background...My family was in the pastry biz for 80 years. But...I was the black sheep...got hooked on bread...don't know why...don't know how...but I love it.
Scream at me for any yeast problems.
My wife is an extraordinary pastry chef. We paint the line really thick...she does non-yeasted products...and I do all yeasted.
We have a passion for what we do and love to pass it on!
Ciao and good baking!!!!
Adagio Bakery & Cafe
Thanks atlantanative for this thread and Ralph at Adagio for the croissant recipe and many helpful hints. Wanted to share my croissant-making experience with you.
I’ve been making homemade bread awhile but was intimidated by the difficulty of making croissants. But after reading thru the recipe, tips, and watching You Tube a few times, it began to come together.
Ralph, your recipe created the most PHENOMENAL croissants I ever tasted! I did it over a three-day period as suggested and I’m glad I did. Takes A LOT of time but definitely worth it! (I had a bit of butter pooling but I know that with practice I'll improve.)
I also used some of the dough to make Lebanese spinach pies and your recipe took them to a higher level. They all popped open so I'll probably have to roll the dough around the filling next time. But no problem. Overall not bad for a first attempt. Again, much appreciation for all your info.
Hello Ralph my name is Amy I had a question. I followed the 3-day "weekend baker recipe" weekendbakery.com and the temperature while laminating was always a solid 60F. I didn't measure my final roll out into a 20x110cm I did a 20x60 so my triangles were a bit thick. I proofed the raw croissants at 71F and at the 2hr mark they wiggled but the dough had a weird appearance (2nd pic) I thought perhaps this was the yeast continuing to ferment. I preheated the oven at 380F for 10 minutes. While my raw croissants were proofing in a room at 71F. when I placed them in the oven within 3 minutes they looked like they were disintegrating (pic 3). medium size amount of butter was leaking all throughout the cook. Where was my mistake? HELP!!! ;)
Well...the picture on the right shows a roll not quite tight enough...the picture in the middle may be too much mixer...most of the gluten will be formed in the turning process.
Proofing croissant is generally at 80F and 80RH for about two hours.
Would you like to see my formula?
Go to email@example.com and I'll send it to you...then we will begin the troubleshooting process.
Amy said she proofed at 71° but not how she maintained humidity. I agree with you about proofing at 80° but also caution to use a good digital thermometer to try for 80° but definitely stay below 82°. It may be slightly different if you don't have high fat, low moisture butter, but I have never tried it.
I don't have a hygrometer or humidity controlled oven. I just use a rule of thumb: a baking pan of water at approx 120° sitting in the bottom of my "proofing box," actually a room temp oven. I can open or shut the oven door to maintain the proofing temp. Maybe every half hour or so I replace the water or add hot water to bring it back to 120°.
The time it takes for the oven to heat to baking temp after removing the proofed croissants is just about right to let the croissant surface dry a tad before the second egg wash.
I got the same result like you sometimes. What caused this 'disintegration' after proofing is still mystery to me, but I have several possibility that might caused it:
* lack of rest before shaping the croissant
* using hand (while lack of rest) to pull the croissant when shaping instead of rolling pin
* too much yeast and fermentation time
* too much fat while mixing the dough
* temperature too high
* flour too strong or too much gluten developed after mixing
* something related to humidity while proofing
but after undergoing lots of experiment and comparing the results between batches, only the last 2 possibility seems valid to me, especially concerning the humidity factor. I never heard any posts, or comments about how high/low humidity (while proofing) can affect your croissant.
I post a picture of 2 of my croissants 'disintegrated' after proofed (i baked it anyway)
Ciao Ralph! We are having real hard time here in Brazil to come out with good croissants. Our butter here is crap! And the temperature... Always too warm! Our croissants are comming out hollow in the middle.
Would you send me your Excell spread sheet? So I can check on the recipe?
OK...we are going to go through the Croissant process step by step with an explanation of why for each step.
I will probably start this today and take the next several days to complete the process giving an opportunity for questions in between...I hope this helps! Stay tuned
Hi Ralph, i have some silly questions i wanted to ask, i'm hoping you can shed light to it.
first, what happen if we make a croissant with puff pastry recipe (aka. no yeast). how the inner texture would become? will it still be able to attain 'honeycomb' structure? second, can we make a croissant with baking powder instead of yeast? i wonder if anyone have tried these methods. cheers.
Don't forget Pain au Chololat!!!!
If you've rolled out dough for Croissant...why not a few Pain au Chololat?!
Just cut the dough into 4 X 4 squares and trap two chocolat batons so that you have two side by side connected rolls. Or, you can cut the dough about 2.5 X 4 and trap just one baton. If you do the two batons, after you roll one side, then the other, turn them over to proof on parchment just like croissant the same way.
You can find short orders of batons from King Arthur:
Barry Callebaut has made this chololat sticks just for pain au chocolat. The melt just enough at the correct temperature!
Make sure you put the batons IN the dough and NOT your mouth!
Don't blame me for the extra weight you put on!
Adagio Bakery & Cafe
You can email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org I'll send you the formula.
Remember, we use weight and NOT volume. A small dietary scale will do you. Also, frash baker's yeast is in the formula with an adjustment column for instant yeast.
blog...maybe I shoud do that...If I knew how!!!
Adagio Bakery & Cafe
And here's more fun with Croissant:
The Kerry Gold people generously send me a bunch of their high end unsalted butter to try.
I usually use Plugra.
So...today I made two runs and made sure I did everything, identically, the same.
I'll let you know how I did and who won>>>lol
Also, after much experimenting and trying to "cheat", there is no substitution for high end butter.
Notice I didn't say "hi fat butter".
As I understand it, in the normal butter process, if you do what you do to get butter, it comes out around 80%.
If, though, you upgrade the process, you get a different product. The higher fat...somewhere around 82 to 83% is a result of that process.
So...again, as it was explained to me...it isn't the tiny 2%, it's the process.
Wish me luck!
Adagio Bakery & Cafe
PS. Not terribly board literate here...how does one start a new topic!?
Click on "Chowhound" up towards the top of the page.
You will see a list of boards. Click the one that is appropriate to your topic and click it.
Towards the top of that page, in red on the left, you will see "add new post".
Click that and type away.
Then click "add topic" at the bottom in red when you are done typing to post your new topic.
OK...the butter argument...
I did several attempts with several butters.
All butters were unsalted, and of the European style...82% plus fat. Remember, it's not so much the fat content as the process by which the butter is made!
I look for the following.
1. extensible dough
2. pliability of butter at VERY cold temperatures for precise laminations.
3. Ease of final roll out to 3mm after 30 minutes in freezer
4. Proofing...no leakage of butter at 82 F and 80%RH
5. Good size increase during the proof...usually 2 to 2.5 hours. Croissant should be 'poofy' and jiggly and you should see the laminations on the side of the dough
6. No, or very little leakage of butter during the bake
7. good golden brown color without having to burn the bottom
8. inviting buttery smell...great for sales...:-)
9. the roll should be light feeling relative to its size
10. when cut down the middle with an extremely sharp serrated knife, there should be a well defined spidery web of dough and holes.
11. The buttery taste should be "lovely" and not overwhelming.
12. The taste should go away when you are finished eating...no lingering aftertaste.
So...with all the butters I have tried, Plugra still turns up the winner with Cabot just behind only because I can't get it easily in the Philadelphia area.
By the way...great pains were taken to make sure all runs were identical with regard to formula, gluten developement, rest periods, retarding, number of turns, roll out, etc. I made sure I was on my game for each attempt.
Perhaps on my future runs, time allowing, I'll do a series of pictures for each step and put it up here if you think you would like that...I must ge nuts!
But then...bakers are nuts!
Adagio Bakery and Cafe.
TIPS AND TRICKS LEARNED FROM EXPERIMENTING WITH CROISSANTS DOUGH:
1. DO NOT MIX INGREDIENTS TOO LONG! GLUTEN WILL DEVELOP DURING LAMINATION! IF YOU MIX TOO LONG, GLUTEN WILL APPEAR TOO SOON, WILL RESIST YOU DURING ROLLING AND YOU’LL BE LOSING ITS FORCE FOR THOSE LAST MINUTES OF BAKING AND THEY WILL DEFLATE UPON GETTING OUT OF THE OVEN AT THE END!
2. A MUST MUST MUST: FREEZE DOUGH FOR ABOUT 30 MINS BEFORE incorporating the butter. Butter and dough here SHOULD be of the same consistency.
3. Roll dough gently in one direction, in single long shots and not in tiny interrupted ones.
4. When doing your folds, TRIM BOTH TOP AND BOTTOM EDGES SO AS NOT TO TRAP DOUGH AND GET “DEAD” DOUGH AS RALPH SAYS. I NOTICED THAT THIS WAY, BUTTER WILL ALWAYS BE IN CONTACT WITH DOUGH IN THE SHAPING, HENCE MORE AIRATION AND FLAKINESS.
5. When egg washing, don’t let egg wash drizzle on parchment for it will make croissants stick to parchment paper.
6. Proof at 75-78C or 23-25C.
7. Butter make leak from dough being too tight hence, not able to expand. Therefore, increase liquid in recipe.
8. If proofed enough, but SHOULD NOT leak during baking, (2-2.5 hrs).
9. Amount of butter block for lamination: 25%, so 250g for every 1Kg dough weight. You can go up to 35% if you like. If calculating from flour weight, use 45% of butter. For home rolling, increase butter otherwise if too thin, butter will be absorbed into dough or leak out. So, might use 55% of flour weight = 30% of dough weight.
10. Finally, READ AND EXECUTE EVERY SINGLE WORD Ralph says. I called myself Happierbaker here (Happybaker was taken) as a result of Ralph’s kind instructions to me. I now have nicer looking croissants with those typical hollow holes in the center and this is again due to him. It gives me great pleasure to post a picture of my progress and success. Couldn’t have done it without you Ralph, THANK YOU EVER SOOOOOO MUCH!!!
Adagio, thank you for sharing your croissant recipe. You are so generous. As you suggested I'm making 4 batches 4 days in a row. Third one is in the oven now. Fourth one will be baked tomorrow morning. This has indeed helped me listen to the dough and learn my oven which is going to insure consistency in the croissants. The croissants are amazing. Gold-brown color, shatter effect, beautiful open layers inside, pleasant buttery taste. There is a women who sells her homemade croissants at a local farmers' market and she has a loyal following. She was my inspiration for setting out on my own croissant-making quest 5 yrs ago. I bought some from her this morning to compare with mine. The color was good but no shatter, dense layers and they tasted old. I am now convinced to go ahead with my home baking business. I appreciate the information you emailed me about equipment and state/county regulations. I've started the process to get my kitchen licensed to make "cottage foods" in Ohio. I'm in touch with a rep from Plugra to purchase butter in bulk. Not sure if it's possible but he's checking. I've heard of butter sheets that are available in Europe and Australia. Anything like that in the States? Since I can't eat all my experiments, I share them with friends and neighbors who give rave reviews. Now I want to see if people will put money where their mouth is.
Thanks so much Ralph, these were outsanding!
For the lamination procedures for the intricacies I followed weekendbakery's video, found here:
I still think it needs a bit of work in the middle to get more of that honeycomb structure you want but overall for my first try I can't complain!
Adagio, I have a question about your recipe. For the final roll before shaping, if I roll to 3mm (you recommend 2.75mm) my croissants weigh about 60g each. According to your spreadsheet I think they should weigh 125g. Is that correct? Thanks for your help........again!
I think I need to qualify something: If you use my spreadsheet, and you put 12 for the units with 125grams as the target, you will get something less than that.
Remember, during the laminating process, there is some trimming around the edges so we dont trap, what I'll call "dead dough"...that is dough without any butter layer.
And during the roll out, you might choose to "square" up the final sheet to get consistency of shape which will mean more trimming. Or, if you use a Croissant cutting wheel, you will leave some dough behind!
Remember...NO "patching", or mixing in the trimmed pieces with the laminated dough. Those pieces you use in the next day's batch of dough!
Your final roll will be something less than 125 grams...maybe 10% less. Of course, baked, it will be another 10% less.
Oh...and before anyone writes to yell at me, real "dead dough" is made with white rye and sugar syrup to make decorative pieces! The French term is Pate Morte.
The "dead dough" in my formula is my term!
Remember to proof the croissant fully...about 2 hours at 80F and 80RH. You should see the lamination on the sides of the dough and when proofed fully, the roll should "jiggle" if you shake the pan.
Egg wash 5:1 egg to water carefully and don't puddle up the wash in the cracks or you have croissant with an omelet in between!
When shaping, keep the roll tight and make sure the final tip is under the roll so it won't spring open.
If you do the German style (cressent), make sure you put a slit in the small part of the triangle and pull it apart somewhat so you will have a long enough roll to shape into the cressent. Also, before rolling, streeeeeeetch the dough somewhat to make sure you have enough to get the traditional seven steps...all this while keeping the dough cold!
so...tip on the bottom, pull the ends around, one tip over the other and press them together firmly. They will separate when baked and that's the goal.
After much experimenting, and TJ no longer selling Plugra cheap, I settled on Organic Valley European Style Cultured butter for my croissants. Both work equally well. I go back and forth about which flavor I prefer. Something to do with moon cycles, maybe.
When I'm traveling in places where really good, cultured butters are not available, Kerry is my best choice because it is available in so much of the world.
Hi Ralph, I want to thank you for all the croissant-making tips you've shared here. You also offered your recipe to anyone interested. Of course, I took you up on that offer. I practiced like crazy over the winter until my results were consistently great. This summer I am at two farmers markets and selling like crazy as well as filling special orders. Now my problem is upping production in my teeny, tiny kitchen. A great problem to have! This is all due to your help. Thank you!
I'm a bit confused about "cutting off the dead dough" part. Do you only cut the edges off before the first turn? Because I feel if i were to do it on the 2nd or 3rd turn, it would expose some of the already-laminated butter layers and the butter would leak out as i'm rolling the dough.
I have been waiting for Adagio to reply because his explanations have been so helpful to me. I will try to help but this is only what works for me. I do trim the open edges only before the first turn. When I first started making croissant, I had a lot of "dead dough" (dough without the layer of butter) after every turn. It was horrible. I was trimming off a huge amount. Now that my technique has improved I have very little "dead dough" even before the first turn but I still trim to even the edges because it makes it easier to maintain the rectangle shape with future turns. As far as the laminations being exposed and leaking butter, they are going to be exposed anyway when the croissant shape is cut. Hope this helps a bit and that others will offer what has worked for them because we never stop learning. Here are some photos of mine that I'm rather proud of.
Wow, that croissant looks absolutely perfect, debraholz! It's better than all the bakeries i've visited so far in San Francisco! I had suspicions that mine turned out unevenly (some croissant had perfect honeycomb crumb/interior and some seemed to have layers stuck together) because 1. i didn't trim the dead dough on the first turn and 2. because i was using a tapered french rolling pin and didn't keep my ends straight enough. I think this will improve it greatly.
One additional question I have for you is...what do you do with small air bubbles/pockets that sometimes appear on the dough. I've been lightly pricking it with a toothpick and gently squeezing the air out, but I'm not sure if this will cause leakage of butter into the dough.
Thanks again for your comment. It was very helpful, and I'll keep you updated on my next batch!
I have the same issue as you. Sometimes I get a great honeycomb interior other times not so much. From your photos, I think you are doing an amazing job. As you know, there are so many factors that can affect croissants from the type of butter to the proof time to the room temp and humidity. They are such divas. I hope someone jumps in to offer insights because I would like to know how to get more consistent results as well. It seems that when I have dough sticking together inside is when I don't let them proof long enough.
I tried the French tapered rolling pin but had a hard time with using short strokes and rolling to an even thickness. Well, as even as I can get doing it by hand. I do love that rolling pin for beating the butter. I have a non-tapered pin but I'm not comfortable with that either. So I use my 40 yr old one with handles. Maybe it's so comfortable because we've been together so long.
I know what you mean about the air bubbles. If they are small, say dime-size or less, I leave them. The huge ones that form on the sides of the dough I pop with a toothpick just like you.
Keep up the good work. I hope you do keep in touch.
I would have said what you call "dead dough" is a function of hand rolling and only totally avoidable with a laminater/sheeter machine that works a lot faster and with more pressure. But I have watched my French pastry profs and one cruise ship pastry chef roll croissant dough by hand with virtually no dead ends. I still can't figure it out.
Myself, I get some uneven ends but it's fairly minor. I don't trim much. I do suggest you respect the dough's need to rest in the fridge in between every handling.
None of the above chefs use tapered rolling pins for dough that should be evenly flat from side to side.
Ok…here we go…please keep your hands inside the ride.
First: ingredients. It’s not so much about the ingredients as it is about the process!
Bread flour 100% 1.00
Salt 2.5% .025
Sugar 10% .1
Yeast (Fresh) 4% .04
Butter, Pliable 10% .1
Water 28.5% .285
Milk 28.5% .285
Butter Block 58% .58
This my friends is baker’s math.
The formula: Flour = total product divided by the total
Example: 1 roll @ 125 grams is the total product.
125 divided by 2.415 = 52 grams of flour
This is the number against which we apply all of our other ingredients.
Example: we want to make 12 croissant at 125 grams each 12 X 125 = 1500 grams of total product.
1500 divided by 2.415 = 621 grams of flour.
So how much salt? We said our salt is 2.5%
621 (flour) X .025 = 15.5 grams of salt.
We do this for each ingredient. Or, like I, we make an Excel spread sheet and do the work once. Then we just plug in the amount of croissant we want and let the computer do the rest!
Ingredients one by one:
Flour: When I say bread flour I mean something around 11.8% protein and certainly not more than 12%. We do not want any more than this. High gluten flour will make for a tough roll! King Arthur All purpose, Cerasota all purpose, or any equivalent, always unbleached and no bromide!
Salt: just regular table salt, sea salt, kosher salt…as long as it’s fine.
Yeast: Fresh Baker’s yeast. Ok…at home we’re not going to use fresh baker’s yeast because we don’t bake enough and it goes bad in about three weeks. We use instant. And the multiplier for this is 0.33 times the fresh yeast.
Example: yeast = 20 grams. Instant yeast = 20 X .33 or 6.6 grams of instant. Usually, I make an adjustment in the water to make up for the yeast correction but it's really not necessary. If I use 6.6 grams of instant yeast, then I add in the difference in water ( 20- 6.6 + 13.4 grams extra of hydration...water or milk)
Remember, fresh yeast is mostly water and instant yeast is dry and more potent per gram. Although in my opinion, fresh yeast out performs instant. If you have a particularly cold kitchen, go to 0.4.
A word about instant yeast…we don’t “pre-proof”. We just toss it in with the other ingredients! There is no good reason to give the yeast warm water and sugar. That’s a meal for which it hasn’t worked. The only good reason I can see for proofing yeast is to see if it’s still good! I buy instant yeast by the pound and keep in a mason jar in the refrigerator with its own plastic spoon. It stays cool, dry and fresh for over a year. If I think it’s “iffy” I toss it and use a new batch. Or, you take teaspoon and some 100F water with some sugar and if it wakes up...go ahead and use it.
Butter: European style like Plugra. Regular butter is 80% fat and European is an average of 81%. It’s not the 1% that is the big deal, it’s the method by which they got that extra fat that makes the real difference!
Further, we want the butter pliable not warm. How do we get it that way? We beat it with a rolling pin, we do NOT let it get warm!!!!!!!!
Water: regular tap water
Milk: we can use all water at 57 %, but I find the substitution of half of that in milk makes a nicer dough. And I have used from no fat milk to whole milk with little difference. I use whole at home if I have it or 2% or skim.
Butter Block: here again, European style like Plugra…pliable not warm!
So…let’s make some croissant!
The mix: We scale all of our ingredients except that butter…we leave that in the fridge to remain COLD!!!! After we have all of our ingredients ready to go, the butter comes out, measured, and we literally beat it with a rolling pin, folding it over on itself until it is pliable.
I place the cold, wet ingredients in the mixing bowl first, then the dry and butter chopped in cubes.
We mix all on slow (Kitchen Aid number 1-2) until all ingredients are incorporated.
We mix on second speed (Kitchen Aid number 7-8) for no more than 1-2 minutes. The mix is done when the dough just comes together and NO more. The dough is weak, weak, weak. This is just enough to be able to roll it out and no more. If we mix the dough like we mix for bread, the croissant will be tough and misshapen because of over development of gluten.
Gluten starts as soon as flour hits water. Gluten gets stronger as we knead. Gluten gets stronger when we let the dough bulk ferment. Gluten gets even stronger when we roll it out. So we will depend on our roll outs to develop gluten!
Next step…shut that darn mixer OFF and roll out the dough. For home baking we will use a half pan for about 12 rolls at 125 grams. The butter block will be half of that. Roll out the dough to fit that pan, more or less. Don’t work the dough…just get it somewhat flat, place it in the pan, cover it with plastic and in the refrigerator it goes over night.
OK…what’s happening here? In the refrigerator, more aptly named the “retarder”, the dough will ferment slowly. This is cold, bulk fermentation. This is where flavor in the dough is developed.
Now…the butter block.
We take that butter from the fridge, scale out whatever 58% comes out to be in your formula, and beat it just like we did the détrempe (butter in the dough). This dough goes between two pieces of parchment (one piece folded) and rolled out to about half the size of the dough.
Actually, the process is, once the butter block is made (about a quarter inch thick and square) the dough is rolled out about twice that size.
Example: we will make a butter block about 10 X 10 inches and the dough rolled out 10 X 20 inches.
Take your time with the butter block to get it even and uniform. Once done, it goes in the refrigerator with the dough overnight.
OK…now it’s time to take a break and go look at this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMfZBF...
This is my friend Cyril Hitz going through the entire process. STOP when you get to the butter block if you like as I am going to describe what’s going on blow by blow.
Pay particular attention to the weak dough, and the butter block process.
Enough for now…questions?
OK…where were we…oh yes…we have a pan of over-night fermented dough and a butter block in the refrigerator (retarder). Let’s get them out but first…let’s talk turns!
Turn…is it a bird, a place in line, or a way to fold laminated dough? Answer, all three but it’s the last one with which we are concerned here.
A single turn, and that’s what we shall use, is a tri-fold. If you roll out your dough to 18 inches by 10 inches, a single turn would have you take one end, let’s say the left side and bring 9 inches over on top of your dough. You will be left with 9 inches on the right which you fold over on top…simple. You now have three layers of dough/butter/dough.
Question…how many layers in laminated dough talk is that? Answer 7…WHAT? We have dough/butter/dough/dough/butter/dough/dough/butter/dough…that’s 9. Oh no….where dough touches dough it counts as one.
So that single turn gives us 3 (dough/butter/dough) time 3 layers = 9 minus 2 = 7
A single turn of three layers = 7 final layers.
You can do whatever you like, but in my croissant I use 3 single turns…so how many layers is that?
Turn one: 3 x 3 = 9 – 2 = 7
Turn two: 3 X 7 = 21 – 2 = 19
Turn three: 3 X 19 = 57 – 2 = 55
Three single turns equals 55 layers of dough/butter/dough
Here’s a problem: when we perform a fold, by virtue of that fold we have a crease where there is no butter…cry foul!!! We do not want dough without butter in between. I call this dead dough. It’s not the same as the pate morte in decorative bread that has no yeast…but to me it means the same…why?
What makes puff pastry puff? Steam trapped in the layer of the dough sealed by butter.
The difference between laminated dough and puff pastry is the yeast. However, we still use the butter to seal in the moisture in the dough so that when we bake, the dough “puffs”. If we don’t trim the outer edges of the roll out to expose the butter in between, we risk having, “dead dough”.
What do we do with the scraps we trimmed? If we’re baking croissant at home, once in a while, you can toss them or twist them and bake them. If we are commercial bakers doing this all time, day after day, we put that trimmed dough in the next day’s mix. My mentor Jeffrey Hamelman says, “It pays the taxes”.
OK…let’s go get that dough and butter block and get to work!
The butter block which we made pliable is nothing but. How do we work with it? We make it pliable again. Lay it flat on your work surface and tap it squarely with the rolling pin to soften it. We want it cold but pliable. Once you think you have it pliable, roll it over the edge of the table to make sure it bends without cracking. If need be, whack it some more. The butter needs to be as pliable as the dough for obvious reasons. The dough should be twice the size of the butter block.
There are a few ways to trap that butter between the dough, but for our purposes we’ll do this: strip the paper off of the butter and place in on the dough on one side. Fold the remaining half of the dough over to sandwich the butter.
We will assume for our purposes again that we do not own a sheeter, which makes this so much easier, but we are baking at home. You commercial bakers use your sheeters and leave us poor home bakers to our own devices. You home bakers be jealous in silence…we’ll do just as well!
Let’s take the fold of dough/butter/dough and roll it out to about the same size we had it when we started…about the size of a half sheet pan.
Time for that first turn…left to the two thirds point, and right to the left end.
The more precise you are with this process, the better off you will be at the end. Is your first turn perfect? Only by luck…This takes practice as does the manufacturing of the butter block.
Let’s do that again for the second turn. Roll out the dough enough to do just what you did a minute ago.
You now have two single turns completed. But what’s happening here…it’s getting warm…danger Will Robinson.
What to do? Let’s put that dough in the freezer for about 30 minutes to get rid of some of that heat. If the butter gets warm it will ooze. We don’t want that. Remember…pliable but cold!
See you in thirty!
While your dough is chilling go back and watch the master: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMfZBF
I left a step out! And no one caught me :-)
After the mix is done, we bulk ferment for two hours.
This is important in that the flavor will be enhanced by this process.
Bulk fermentation is no more than letting the dough sit in a closed container. We will NOT stretch and fold as this will just make more gluten and we don't want that just now.
OK...we performed two single turns, we returned the dough to the freezer for a bit to bring the temperature down, and now it's time to perform our third and final turn.
Out comes the dough and we roll out to about 9mm or 3/8 inches once again and perform our final turn...AFTER we trim the edges of the potential "dead" dough.
Left side to the 2/3 rds point and right side over to the end. Remember, accuracy in these folds is a good thing.
We can now, if we wish, do our final roll out. We are going to roll out the dough to approximately 10 inches by however long it goes to a thickness of 2.5mm or about 1/8 inch. See how important the cold is here. The layers are thin and fragile. Warm butter is the enemy!!!!
If we are pros and using a larger batch and a sheeter, we will probably double up and to 20" by however long, split that length wise and have two runs of 10 inch sheets.
Time to cut the triangles and this is subjective.
I use something like 10 inches long and 4.5 inches at the base. This will give me the normal 7 step croissant.
And I know some measure like we're building a bridge, but I use a roller cutter and wing it. After a bit, you will be surprised at how consistent you can be...and it's NOT rocket science.
We now have a bunch of long triangle. At the base, we cut a one inch notch in the middle. This notch, after a bit of stretching will allow us to get enough width to make a German Croissant...the arc shape. If we're making the French Croissant, forget the notch...they are straight.
You may find that you have to hold the triangle base in one hand and stretch the long side a bit to get enough dough to get those seven steps, one in the middle and three on either side.
OK...we start at the base, the 4.5 inch part and start the roll tightly. We use our hands after starting the roll as we do in making baguettes. We roll our half way with our hands going OUT. Then turn the roll, hang on to the tail, pull a bit, and with the other hand, continue the process of completing the roll.
NOW...no matter which you are making; French or German, make sure the very last part is tucked under the roll. This way the roll won't come apart in proofing and baking.
If your making the German Croissant and want to arc the roll, the arc goes toward the narrower part of the last layer.
Time to proof!
Proof at 80F and 80 RH for about two hours.
The roll is ready to bake when the layers are visible on the sides, and the rolls jiggle if you shake the pan.
Next the egg wash and the bake!
Did I leave anything out???
OK...a word on rolling!
Again, if you arc the roll, it goes toward the "smaller" part of the last roll and make sure that tail is UNDER the roll.
Also, press the ends of the roll, one on top of the other.
It will separte on baking and that's OK
So...we have proofed our rolls, anywhere from 2-2.5 hours at 80F and 80% RH.
We shake the pan and they do in fact "giggle". And we see the laminations on the sides...GREAT!
Time to egg wash!
5:1...egg to water. That's about a tablespoon of water for an egg. The french like to use milk...ok...you can see which one you like best.
In any case, be carful not to let the egg pile up in the creases...you will create an omelet...yuk.
So, egg washed and proofed, into a 380F oven until golden brown. I do encourage double panning to avoid buring the bottom before the roll is baked, if your baking these on a deck oven!
Convection ovens...lower heat. You will have to experiment but I would start with 5-10% lower. You have to be careful with convection, that you don't cook the outside so fast that the inside is not done!
Next...we go over all the steps!
Ciao and happy baking!
The Microsoft Excel spreadsheet I send you requires no math!
Just go to the upper right hand portion, and where it says units, or on some, quantity and plug in the amount of rolls, or loaves you want and the math is done for you.
You don't need to understand bakery's percentages or baker's math.
And, in the E column, you will see the correction for instant yeast and the corresponding correction for hydration also done for you.
Now...go bake me some croissant!
I was having difficulty rolling out my dough (very stiff despite putting in refrigerator for an hour after every turn), so someone recommended that I use half all purpose flour and half pastry flour. This seemed to make rolling easier and produced a nice looking/tasting croissant. I am wondering if I can increase the pastry flour even more? Thoughts?
In my French pastry school, we used more pastry flour (T45) than all purpose (T55). When I tried doing this using US flours, it was easier to roll but the result was not nearly as good. I went back to using entirely KAF All Purpose (the not organic one). That is close to a French T55.
I have not tried shlepping French flour back to the US to experiment with here. It would be like bringing US ballpark hot dogs to a French soccer stadium. Just wouldn't taste like they do in front of a baseball game.
(I admit that's a stupid analogy. I just couldn't help myself.)
Ralph, I made your recipe today and things turned out pretty good.......a little bleeding of butter which I have not figured out yet. My biggest problem is rolling out the dough......so stiff, particularly after the third turn. I seem to be able to get the dough to extend lengthwise to 24" pretty easily but getting the width to extend to 10" was impossible. I got 8" after cutting the dough in half and working with just one piece at a time. I did keep putting it back to rest and to keep the butter and dough cold but this did not help a whole lot. I am wondering if I am not turning/rotating the turns correctly after forming the letter folds. Any advice to make rolling easier?
Great job...and it's all about the butter.
Remember that the butter has to be as pliable as the dough!
Not warm, pliable.
The first insertion of the butter is generally the problem.
When you make your butter block, and get there by beating the butter with a rolling pin, it has to remain cold, cold, cold.
Ok...but here is where you have to be careful: when it's time to remove the butter from its temporary home in the parchment envelope, you have to make sure it's once again pliable. We do this by tapping it squarely with the rolling pin and then rolling the entrapped butter over the edge of the work table. You watch the butter as your gently bending it over the edge of the table. If it cracks, it's cold...but not pliable. Back to the table and the rolling pin beating.
When you can slide the butter over the edge of the table trying to give it a slight bend, and there is no cracking...you're there.
The butter must be the same as the dough.
From there you trap the butter in the dough and roll it out to about 3/8 ths of an inch.
The more turns, the thinner the butter. By the second turn the butter is pretty thin and pliability isn't a problem.
Also...and perhaps, that first roll out isn't thin enough...9mm or about 3/8 of an inch...no more!
I would then give it a single turn, roll it out again to 9mm, then back in the fridge.
Ok...let me know what you think!
Remember...this takes practice and you are doing great!
The Pie & Pastry Bible by Rose Levy-Berenbaum has a great croissant recipe, clear instructions and lots of helpful information on technique, and ingredient measurements by both volume and weight. It may not be worth it if your sole interest is croissants, but if you want to expand your pastry horizons in general it's a must. Great recipes, and a wealth of information.
(I don't bake myself, but my sweetheart does, and I can vouch for the quality of the results.)
I have a formula for croissant and a spreadsheet that I have made available here.
If you would like it, you can email me at email@example.com
However, I promised Chow that all discussion comes back here.
Let me know and it's yours as long as you have Microsoft excel it's automatic.