As several other member's have bit the Abel bug I thought it's about time to give it a shot. This was a half ditched effort since I couldn't locate my loaf tins and so had to go free form. Not disappointed, thos of course was an unfocused experiment more-or-less just to see how it would turn out as a side bake against croissants with more attention to the croissants. Since they (croissants) take a good bit of oven kick, I think the pain vienoisse turned out a little too dark - I even removed it from the oven at around minute 5 to allow the croissants to take on he heat and then returned it later at a lower temp. Problem was that after 5 minutes it was already a bit too dark. I think this loaf needs a super short hot kick as in 3 minutes around 425 then a longer warm bake say 20-25 at around 375. That's what I would soon the next take. But anyway here's the results for those interested ;)
Here's another attempt at crumb embellishment in croissants after an interesting cocoa experiment last week. Note the lower right croissant. The idea here is to have a bit of fun with the beautiful 'honeycomb' crumb that croissants produce (if done well). I wanted to see if a contrasting color could be incorporated into the lamination. The first attempt involved simply coating the dough in cocoa power and then performing the folds. That turned out to just complicate things as cocoa is so dry that nothing sticks. This time (after a suggestion by Leslie) I mixed up a separate dough with cocoa mixed in then added 3 layers to the usual 13 dough layer sheet. This improved the contrast and overall spring but seems to have caused the layers to bond during baking. All on all another fun little project (not sure what do try next though)
One of these kids is not like the others one of these kids is doing his own thing (a little sesame street jingle to introduce today's bake models).
Pushing the envelope a bit today after a slight step back last week and learning from mistakes I am finding that a 12% levain build and overall 53% hydration seems to be the sweet spot for croissant spring as today we got some nice flakey and inflated croissants and, ... the addition of a chocolate version which turned out not so bad. I had been thinking about a chocolate croissant where instead of planting a few chips before rolling it would be more interesting to incorporate cocoa into the dough or butter, all in a effort to produce something with visual appeal. I read up on a recipe that used a chocolate butter and wasn't to fond of the photos I saw as this recipe seemed to produce rather ugly mutants with dark butter bleeding everywhere so, instead I decided to use butter slab as normal and then layer in some cocoa between dough layers. After the first fold things looks great and it wasn't until the second and third folds that that the incredible dryness of cocoa proved to complicate lamination - suffice to say it was rather difficult but with enough patience (and speed as we work against the clock and warming dough with laminates). As is quite obvious the chocolate species did not proof nor spring up as high but still had decent structure - I would say much more than the article I read.
So, all in all, happy with the standard variety as they are a positive step in the consistency department and, with he bonus of an interesting chocolate variation - that's a bake that makes ya feel a decent sense of accomplishment :)
So last week I jumped for joy at getting some great spring and 'honeycomb' on my croissants and of course imparted as much of the experience as possible (since that's what TFL is all about ... ie sharing experiences). The last thought of that post was 'can it be reproduced?' - so far not entirely. This week seemed on track but in retrospect the lack of same degree of spring I think can be attributed to hydration. I pushed hydration an extra 5% and noticed great extensibility, which btw, is a bit challenging with this kind of dough. This week I pulled back a bit and immediately noticed the dough was a bit tougher, not necessarily resistant but sort of well, dry and lethargic. The other thing I noticed last week was very slow bulk rise which usually with bread I see as a positive characteristic for acheiving open crumb (I'm a firm believer that less gas helps the bubbles expand with less competition from other gas pockets). All steps this time were suggesting that we were not heading in the same direction as last week and the results corroborate this observation. That is, not as exaggerated spring and impressive crumb. That's not to say that this is necessarily a bad batch, it's ok, the crumb is just doesn't have that wow factor (all y'all know what I mean by that...ie, the anticipation of cutting your creation open). So lesson learned, go with the gut, I should have returned the dough and re-hydrated...I friggen knew it after mixing, it didn't have the same stickyness as last week. Well, there it is - failure leads to learning. One good thing they always taste pretty good ;)
After many agonizing croissant batches here's a bake I can say I'm pretty happy with. I'm finding that sourdough croissants are a little more fun than their commercial cousins. These like the last batch I did were inspired by txfarmer farmer using a blend of her techniques and Louis lamour (youtube baking artist extraordinaire). I mixed mixed in about 10-20% rye starter into my levain and let that sit for about 4 hours - this time the dough was considerably more sticky and took much longer to bulk up than usual and entire experience was much different - lamination for example required addition freezer chills. There's something about a wild yeast starter that just gooifies dough bit in this case seems to have really helped with the 'honeycomb' style crumb most croissanteurs strive for. The very first batch of croissant ... 6+ months ago was like looking at white bread and slowly (with some steps forward and some steps back) these suckers just like bread begin to do what you want. Now the question is can it be repeated ?
Anybody who's seen txfarmers sourdough croissants knows it doesn't get much better so having recently booted another round of stsryers and having a bit of an aversion to sourdough bread (just due to flavor) thought I'd give txfarmers formula a shot. So far although nowhere near in the ballpark of txfarmer I'm pretty happy and think I may havw found a good challenge. What I like about the sourdough formula is the added elasticity it seems to provide to dough. What I have discovered with croissants is that final proofing can often result in the dough tearing especially along the top fold. I would often see about 1/3 of my croissants rip in the last 30 minutes of proofing which results increally sad croissant. In this case you can see some nice bulbous loaves here - would love to see the crumb open more but still this is encouraging and the beginnings of hopeful improvement seems to be in the works. For the record these are the traditional French lamination technique of one double fold and one simple fold which ends up as 12 butter layers and 13 dough layers. Additionally the butter that folded in is exactly 50% the flour weight. Last week I decided to give 2 double folds a shot with a little less butter (40%) and was rather disappointed. With that said it seems fewer layers, generous butter seems to work better. The o,my regret here was not bakkng on the top rack,as I know thats the hotter zone in my oven and think there would likely have been l a more open crumb but oh well, not upset, a step forward is always rewarding ;)
Decided to try out a 16 layer version of croissants today and unfortunately over proofed them (having realized no eggs and making a dash for the market of last minute eggwash) ... Note to self - be prepared ! Its really quite annoying having one step mess the entire bake. So unfortunately I ended up with fairly sunken croissants but the objective here was to see if 16 layers is better then 12. Typically most recipes call for a double fold followed by a simple fold - that's 4 layers from the double multiplied by 3 from the simple fold. Depending how you look at it you could call that 25 layers if you count both the butter and dough but it got me wondering as I do read articles where some bakers do two double turns for 16 (or 33 spending how you count). It seems the lower count version is more common in France and the higher count version is more of English spin on the traditional viennoise pastry. I tend to notice that my dough layers in the final product seem a bit thick and though it may be a good idea to try increasing and was wondering if anykne had an opinion on lamination ?
Sorry for the subversive reference but it had to said as I am convinced the sourdough heads are kinda hooked on the stuff ;) <- little wink to soften the blow ... Shoot! And theres another one ... Eek !
Ok, moving on, so here's a little sourdough batard accompanied by the usual 'yeasted' bake but, done with a twist and wondering if I have broken any cardinal rules.
Rather than preparing a levain hours in advance, i decided to mix starter directly into the dough this time (mainly due to lack,of planning). It seems that each week at feeding time both starters (one plain ap based the other a rye) have bubbled up quite nicely in the refridgerator. It can be pretty predictable that if I prepare a levain, that in 6 or so hours I will have a nice foamy floatable mixture. Since I didnt really plan things out, I began to wonder why adding the starter directly to flour water and salt would not result in the multplication of yeast ... of course it would right ? The yeast dont hold a meeting and ask if they are part of bulk fermetation or levain build, they just see starch and go to work yah ? So I am thinking that surely by morning there would have to be activity and the question really becomes is there enough activity. Well surely as expected, having let this dough bulk ferment at around 78f, an evaluation of the dough in the am seemed good enough to shape and bake - this is the result. Tastes good, sprung up enough, got a little bit of grigne - just wondering if Im breaking any rules here - do all y'all SD junkies ever do this and mainline starter directly to the dough ?
Seem to be getting more spring in these guys with each bake (save for the occassional step backwards). This batch probably would have sprung more had my lower deck not collapsing today causing the oven door to only partially close. That also became apparent with the onset of billowing smoke thanks to one kouign amman hitting the oven floor and caramelizing all that sugar into a nasty plume - cant complain though its always exciting to see improvement :)
Its been 3 weeks I think this starter may be ripe now (also made a small batard) both popped pretty well. This is just a simple 123 formula using two starter mixed evenly (one a rye and the other a basic white flour starter). Levain build yesterday for about 4-5 hours followed by 12 hour bulk at just under RT - about 68f, saw about 1.5x rise around 10pm and decided to refridgerate until am. 7am completed the bulk at RT ~74f for 2-3hrs until double. Shape and rest for 1.5 hrs then bake. Nice thing is theres very little tang and the crust is not overly tough, quite delicate surprisingly. Other than that overall flavor is somewhat bland, but much better than anticipated (ie not overly tangy). So mayve its time to go full in and do some full size loaves ?