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More croissant....

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  • Missy Oct 10, 2012 05:47 AM
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Hi all
Having read all the wonderful advice here, and just returned from a trip to Europe, Matt (my 16yo) and I embarked on a croissant making spree. I used this recipe
http://leitesculinaria.com/78697/reci...
Everything seemed to be going well-the dough was so so easy to work, kitchen cool, big granite countertop workspace, nice chilly fall evening... they rose like nobody's biz... look great.... but inside are like a very very light dinner roll. Not flaky at all. The crust is more like a very light bread crust. Also they do not have a well-developed yeasty flavor.
So I'm all set to buy some Plugra and try again (this was a spur of the moment thing and I used store-brand butter). But is there another recipe out there that anyone particularly likes?

 
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  1. Like I suspect most of we Europeans, I buy croissants from the bakery, rather than try to make the tricky little beggars at home.

    As such, I havnt tried the recipe on the following link, but Paul Hollywood is a Baking God and I'm sure it will work well. http://uktv.co.uk/food/recipe/aid/514811

    4 Replies
    1. re: Harters

      Yes. you are lucky! I think it's so sad when we can get an awesome croissant in the Termini station in Rome that surpasses by far any that I have had in the US!!!! WHY WHY OH WHY?!?!?!?!?!?

      1. re: Missy

        We have some very good ones here in the Bay Area.
        Haters Recipe looks right on.
        Here is another Recipe with some Diagrams that may help.
        http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/20...
        Keeping the lamination is of utmost import. If the Butter warms it will be worked into rather than between the dough. It takes practice to get the feel of it. Luckily the failures still taste great just not like a great Croissant.

        1. re: chefj

          The seriouseats one is more along the lines of what I learned, with longer rests in the refrigerator. It helps w/ keeping the butter layer cold so it doesn't absorb into the flour.

      2. re: Harters

        Even the photo at the OP's recipe link looks like a dinner roll rather than a croissant. I'm seeing dough, not distinct layers.

        I just read Paul Hollywood's recommendation for a strong bread flour to make croissants, and then went on to read other websites about the importance of bread flour in gluten formation for the dough portion of croissants. The OP's recipe uses only part bread flour -- could that be the cause of the lack of layers?

        On The French Loaf website, one poster says that "the whole magic of laminated doughs (croissants, danish, puff pastry, phyllo, strudel) is that their gluten is very well developed in order to form the very thin, elastic sheets that give the doughs their character, especially in the case of the last three on the list, which depend exclusively on steam for leavening."

        Any guesses that the OPs "dinner roll" texture was caused by the lack of gluten formation in the dough before the butter was added? Or that the layers were not properly created (butter too soft, not enough turns, etc.)?

        BTW, I've made croissants worthy of a bakery shop window many many times. I think Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking recipe is possibly the clearest and best illustrated roadmap to making perfect croissants.

      3. Making croissants is an art.

        Your problem is not the recipe, but in the execution.

        If you have the talent, practice will get you the croissant you want. If you don't, I suggest more trips to Rome.

        3 Replies
        1. re: ipsedixit

          Yeah, just rolling the dough out in a rectangle takes practice.

          1. re: chowser

            Making croissants is difficult. It's why people are willing to pay upwards of $3 for one croissants, and even a plane ticket to Rome.

            1. re: ipsedixit

              I would never fly to Rome just for a croissant. That is why I fly to Paris. ;-)

        2. The only recipe I've used is from a class I took from L'Academie de Cuisine. I can look for it and post it, although it is lengthy. I haven't made them in a couple of years, not since Trader Joe's started carrying frozen crossaints (and pain au chocolat and now some amazing almost croissants) which were so much easier and just as good as what I'd make at home. I never used Plugra butter, just regular TJ's.

          1 Reply
          1. re: chowser

            Chowser, that would be great!

          2. I have made croissants successfully.. I used the technique of kneading the butter in a bowl of ice water. It worked quite well. I used a marble slab and marble rolling pin that I'd put outside in cold weather for a few hours. It is tough for me to do now as I have RA and I cannot stand the cold water long enough. There must be a mechanical way to knead the butter in ice water, but I don't know what it is.

            6 Replies
            1. re: travelerjjm

              We cut the butter into tablespoons, added some flour and used a marble rolling pin and hands to incorporate them, then chilled until it was cold and pliable. I feel pretty sure we had that technique down.

              1. re: Missy

                You do not want flour incorporated in your butter.

                1. re: chefj

                  The JOC recipe calls for a couple of tablespoons of flour sprinkled over the butter block as you begin to work it to pliable. I've done it both with and without, and feel it makes the butter a bit easier to work with and keeps it from getting greasy/melty during the process with no noticable difference in the finished product.

                  1. re: splatgirl

                    I have the 1975 edition of JOC and I do not see the reference to flour sprinkled over the butter block. What edition do you have? Does it suggest kneading the butter in ice water or under cold running water ad mine does?

                    1. re: travelerjjm

                      OHHH wow! I have never heard of that technique! My copy is just a pup--1997. I'll mark that as the year I came to my senses about what constitutes a good cookbook :)

                      1. re: splatgirl

                        Interestingly, in the 1953 version (my late Grandmother's copy) it calls for whipping the butter in a mixer and dotting it on the dough. I have a similar instruction in a recipe I use for laminated dough with cheese for cheese sticks.

            2. America's Test Kitchen did a segment on croissants that provided some helpful techniques. For example, they bash and roll the butter out in a ziplock bag which makes it easy to calculate the size the dough needs to be to enclose the butter. Croissants are an excellent example of the difference between baking and cooking.

              4 Replies
              1. re: sr44

                I tend to think it might be the addition of the cake flour-most of the recipes I've seen called for all purpose flour though-and I thought this one, with the balance of bread and cake, might be a good compromise. I'm pretty sure that we had a successful first couple of turns. Anyway, trying again tomorrow. This is similar to the obsession I had last month with the salty oat cookie.
                The frangipane, BTW, was mahhvelous. Unfortunately we ate a lot of it with our fingers before it got stuffed into the dough.
                I'm going to try bread flour and a a recipe with an initial long cool rise. Also using cake yeast. I'd like to develop the flavor quite a bit more. I don't understand why some receipes call for an inital overnight rise and some proceed from mixing to turning w/o one. That seems like a substantial difference.

                1. re: Missy

                  Longer slower rise = more flavor

                2. re: sr44

                  What do you all think about trimming the folded edges each turn, not incorporating them into the dough? Some people think that is key to successful lamination.

                  1. re: Missy

                    Utter nonsense. Why waste dough? I've never heard this and never done it.

                3. I've baked many, many batches of absolutely stellar croissant at home, and my experience using regular store butter mirrors yours. Use Plugra, change nothing else, and report back.
                  My go-to recipe is the Joy of Cooking. It has never failed me.
                  A cold retard--prolonging the rise time with refrigeration--will get you a better flavor in the finished product. Let the shaped rolls rise in the fridge instead of at room temp.