Saturday, September 17, 2011

Croissants: forming

Croissants have the reputation of being time consuming and complicated to make. Many a home baker shies away from laminated doughs at first, dismissing it as "too difficult".

My initial reaction wasn't very different.

After a visit to Paris, where I can find the best croissants with my eyes closed, I decided to be brave and give it a try, and I have been hooked ever since. It really isn't all that difficult, nor time consuming!

Time to find the perfect formula for perfect flaky buttery croissants.

What technique is the best to use? Do you work in the butter and then proof the dough, or does it yield better results working the butter in after the first proof?

What flour works best for croissants, and why?

The coming episodes of BreadLab will try and answer those questions and inspire home bakers to overcome their croissantophobia.




Are you one of those secret sufferers, longing to bake those golden brown, melt-in-your-mouth French Crown bread jewels, but are afraid to take the plunge... Come out of the closet, face your fears, be brave!

I'd be happy to answer any of your questions.

Happy Baking!

Have a look at my baking gallery!

6 comments:

  1. Hi Freerk,

    I don't know where should I write this message for you so I decided to write them here. I hope you don't mind. I like to mix my croissant dough with hand something like pie/tart dough(don't worry about gluten formation at all in this particular stage) because you will develop your gluten formation during your turns/folds. Your dough will be easy for you to do the turns later on. This was the experience that I gained in the past after a couple failure in making puff pasty dough. Please make sure you don't do the rolling when your butter in the dough is hard(too cold). All the best.

    Kimmy

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  2. Hey Kimmy; it sounds like you like Cyril Hitz (me too!) I try not to overmix my dough in the initial phase.

    It also depends on what flour you use to begin with. That is pretty much the stage where I am in right now: finding the right local flour that will work for a very nice flaky croissant.

    I'm still sifting through a whole lot of different formulas and combinations of ingredients. By Friday, I will be making two new batches based on what I think should/could work.

    Nice that you are following the process!

    Freerk

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  3. Hello Freerk,

    I didn't take any class with Cyril Hitz before so I'm not so sure who is he? I believe another master baker in US? Had you taken any classes with him before?

    I use AP flour here in US (that was also recommended in my baking classes instructors) but in Asia I need to make sure I'm not using cake flour. As long as you are not using strong flour then you will be fine because if you use too strong flour in your dough, the dough will fight you while rolling. Bakery will not have problem at all since they are using sheeter on site.

    I think you are super fine with any recipes perhaps you need to ready nail down which flour is best suit you in your situation. I have no idea what flour is best for you in your country; I think you are solving your problem very soon.

    I think you will not in trouble getting the right kinds of butter in your country. I think 84% butterfat is what you are looking for the roll-in butter. Just remember as the butterfat increase the more turns your pastry will require.

    I wish you all the best in your croissants making.

    Kimmy

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  4. Hello Freerk:
    Yes, I am the secret sufferer you mentioned above. I look at your your tube above and would like to get more info....Are you going to post all the ingredients, the mix, the work.....as it did in The TFL site? In this way, I would be able to at least try to make one.
    Thanks, ( read many of your post in the TFL)

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  5. Hey there!

    Thanks for stopping by! I will be investigating a number of aspects/techniques of croissant making here. Eventually that will lead to me posting and sharing my "perfect croissant formula" in a few weeks.

    If you are impatient and need a good recipe to start with fast: in the past I made this video on YouTube with my own croissant dough (pretty standard) It is in Dutch, but I think it's visually pretty clear. Have a look at it to get started.

    I will also be baking some well respected formulas by the best bakers in the world, but I hope you understand I can't share the formulas they have been working on so hard. If you happen to have Ciril Hitz's book on your book shelf: go for it, it's a wonderful recipe.

    With croissants, the devil is usually in the detail, so I will be sharing a lot of tips and tricks as well.

    I hope you overcome your croissantophobia. Keep me posted, I would love to hear about your progress.

    Freerk

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  6. @kimmy; thanks for your input. I am actually starting from two sides of the flour spectrum. I started a batch with a Dutch variety of T45 flour called "patentbloem". Low in gluten, and often used for pastry. The dough was, with the method I was using(easy mixing), not strong enough to hold the croissant together during baking.

    Tomorrow, I will produce a batch with much higher gluten levels.

    I will work my way towards the "perfect" flour, or mix of flours. My educated guess is I will end up somewhere around 11% for a good croissant dough. We'll see!

    The butter is usually 82%-84% here, so that;s really easy :-)

    I'll keep you posted on the progress.

    Freerk

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