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Croissant with Sourdough Starter - TXFarmer VS. TX summer

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txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Croissant with Sourdough Starter - TXFarmer VS. TX summer

In my last croissant post(see here), I said I am practicing once or twice every week to perfect my lamination skill. It's been more than a month, and my croissant fever is getting hotter -- sadly, what's heating up faster is TX temperature. If you look up "mission impossible" or "self punishment" in the dictionary, you might see the following picture (28C is about 82F):

 

However, making croissant in warm weather is "mission difficult", not "mission impossible", the following are some tips I learned in the past month, I hope they will be helpful to my fellow warm weather TFLers.

1) Avoid direct sunlight. My kitchen has huge windows, and the counter space that's large enough to roll out the doug is right by the window. Under direct sunlight, the temperature could shoot to 90F in no time. My husband jokingly calls me "cold blooded" since my hands are always freezing cold, however, the few times when I was rolling out dough under the sun, my hands quickly warmed up -- so did the dough. Not a good thing. Lately, I have figured out the optimal schedule: Sunday at 5pm, mix dough and put in fridge for 2 hours; make butter block during that time; at 7pm enclose the butter and do the roll out. The temperature at 7pm is uaually still 28C (hence the picture above), but since the sun is on the way down, it won't keep heating up. After that just follow the schedule and do two more folds, usually I am done by 9:30 or 10pm. Next morning I usually get up early to run, so I do the final roll out before/during/after the run. 5am is the coolest time of the day, which is still around 24C/75F, but that's the best I can get. Usually by 7:30am, after resting a few times in the fridge, I can finish shaping. I usually freeze half for later, and put the other half in fridge until after work to bake.

2) Use the right butter. Not all European style butter are created equal, even if they have the same butterfat content. I have tried 4 or 5 different brands, when it's cooler (like a month ago), most of them would work, but now, only Plugra gives me consistent results, other brands are simply too melty.

3) Use the right rolling pin. I use a heavy duty metal rolling pin to make up for the lack of arm strength. However, lately, when it's this warm, I find it's necessary to put the pin in fridge along with the dough. At first I put it in freezer, thinking "the colder the better", nope. It was too cold for the first two folds, butter simply broke between dough layers, creating uneven crumb. Now I put it in fridge for the first two folds (when butter layers are still thick), freezer for the last fold and final roll out (when butter layers are thin and easier to melty but less likely to break).

4) Only work on the dough a few minutes a time, and put it in fridge more often than you would expect. That's the most important thing. When it's this warm, time is not on your side. Several times I tried to push my luck and roll the dough for a bit too long - warm dough == melty butter, never fails. This is where practicing comes in handy - at first I can't roll out much in the 3 to 5 min time span (longer for the first two folds when butter layers are thicker, shorter time for later folds and rolling out), which means the whole process drags on forever since the dough has to be in and out of the fridge many times. However, as I practice more, 3 to 5 min is more than enough for me to roll out the dough completely. For the last fold and final roll out I still let the dough rest in fridge once during rolling just so it's relaxed and easier to roll, but for the first two folds, it's all done in one shot.

Other than dealing with the warm temperature, I am also adjusting the formula to get more flavor. I replaced the poolish in previous attempt with 100% white starter. Since there's still dry yeast in the final dough, I though it would be an easy switch - not so. Starter is more acidic than poolish, which made the dough too soft. I then mixed it longer and reduced hydration slightly. Got the even layers with no butter leakage, however, the crumb is not open enough, indicating that the dough gluten is still too weak (shown in the following picture).

So I changed the AP flour to Bread flour, KAF bread flour at that, which has very high protein level. To my surprise the rolling out was not as impossible as I expected (or maybe I have practiced enough so it seems easier?), but the crumb became a lot mroe open (shown below).

The formula I am using now is as following:

Bread flour (KAF), 362g

milk, 130g

sugar, 67g

salt, 10g

osmotolerant instant yeast (SAF gold), 3.55g, 1tsp+1/8tsp

malt, 3.55g (I used a tsp of barley malt syrup)

butter, 22g, softened

100% white starter (fed with bread flour), 320g

roll-in butter, 287g

1. Mix everything but the rolling butter, knead until gluten starts to form. In my KA mixer, 3min at first speed, 4 min at 3rd speed.

Then following the procedure illustrated here.

 

Other things I have noticed:

1) For the final roll out, while it needs to be as thin as 3mm to 5mm, don't go over board and roll it too thin, other than it will look like this - not bad, but not as open as possible

2) Don't squish any parts of the dough during shaping, here I must've pressed down the tip a bit too hard, look at the thick top

3. Don't roll the croissants too tight during shaping, it will explode as following, even when proofed fully (no leaking butter during baking)

 

 My ideal croissant has very open, but even crumb with honeycomb holes, and thin walls. Still not quite there yet, but heading in the right direction. The addition of starter in the dough adds another dimension of flavor. When I brought some to my coworkers, who has no knowledge about yeast/starter, they all much prefer the starter version.

 

Sometimes I would make some chocolate ones, those are always gone first.

 

The temperature is still rising here in TX, let's see how far into the summer I can keep up this crazy croissant project.

 

Sending this to Yeastspotting.

Comments

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Pretty darn nice txfarmer! Glad you found a way to incorporate starter into the mix. I just picked up a sheet of marble to use when rolling laminated doughs. I'll have to try your new formula/procedure. Beautiful.


Eric

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

I have been debating about getting a marble sheet - really don't want yet another piece of heavy kitchen tool, but so many people say it's great for making lamination doughs.

arlo's picture
arlo

Delicious, and I can only imagine how hard it would be to make croissants in a Texas summer.

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

The worst of the summer is still yet to come, I kinda dread it.

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Baking these in TX humid hot weather certainly is a feat you have overcome! Your results are gorgeous.  What lucky co-workers getting to sample and judge 'la difference' excuse my french :-)  Thank you for the nicely written results and beautiful photos!  I would love to see what you can do with high altitude baking.


Sylvia 

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

I have lived in a lot of place, coincidently, all of them are at sea level, haven't had a chance to experience high altitude baking yet.

wally's picture
wally

Superb looking lamination in your pictures.  I've tried making them up here in Virginia during the summer and it's really a challenge unless your kitchen happens to be a walk-in cooler, which mine isn't.


Nice bake!


Larry

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Ah, a walk-in cooler, I can only dream. I will settle on a "not so oven like" kitchen in TX summer. :P

RonRay's picture
RonRay

I marvel at your dedication to "getting it done right".


One Great Posting, txfarmer-


Ron

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Thanks Ron!

Jaydot's picture
Jaydot

They look beautiful and delicious, I am very impressed!

PeterS's picture
PeterS

Wow!


Your pictures and notes are first class, too.

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Thank you Peter.

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Thank you Jaydot!

Anjali's picture
Anjali

Beautiful pictures. I am impressed by your perseverance  to attain perfection. This is reflected in all your blog enties. I know what a lot of adjustments need to be made to bake in hot climate(It is 41deg C where I live). Good luck!


 


 

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

41C huh? That's probably not croissant weather at all. :P

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and the ovens outside.  :)   


What can I say?  Beautiful pics and most importantly, exquisite croissants!

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Makes total sense - with TX summer, the oven outside could save a lot of energy!

gary.turner's picture
gary.turner

Early settlers in Texas came up with that solution. The Texas house or the dog-run house was common from the 1850s until A/C became ubiquitous.


Notice the breezeway. For the summer, the stove would be moved from the kitchen to the breezeway. So, too, the kitchen table and even the beds. In the early fifties, Grandma's breezeway was the best place to sleep when staying over in the summer.


Back on topic, your blogs are always a must-read for me. They are totally frustrating, as even your rejects would be something I'd grin myself silly were I to produce them myself.


cheers,


gary

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Woah, way impressed with the diagram, even has measurements!

teketeke's picture
teketeke

Wow, Txfarmer!!  You made such super perfect croissants. I will study your formula. Thank you for posting your another great croissants!  I totally agree with your shaping point :Don't roll the croissants too tight during shaping:  This is the result of shaping the dough tightly.



That was a shocking moment. 


Best wishes,


Akiko

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Actually from the pictures, I don't think tight shaping was the problem. I am guess butter layer was uneven, some leaked into the dough layers (hence the ones stuck together), and the super thick ones created the big gap.

teketeke's picture
teketeke

Thank you for your observation, Txfarmer.  I put the final dough in a refrigerator after mixing to ferment for 24 hours. I also put the shaped butter in the refrigerator for 24 hours, too.  I don't remember but the butter was too cold for the dough, I wonder.. Thank you for the advice.   I made another bad one on 21th April.



I didn't take the picture of the other ones ( or I can't find the picture )that were edge's dough and I didn't stretch nor roll them tightly. They were airy crumb.  That is why I thought that the first one was the same problem. 


I appreciate your generous advice. Thank you, Txfarmer.


Akiko

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

look so perfect to me! I don't know what I'd give to make mine look like yours!

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Thanks!The only trick is to make LOTS of them. Let's just say thank goodness that I am a marathon runner. :P

eliabel's picture
eliabel

Wonderful croissants! I live in Brussels, one of the domains of the French culinary tradition, but even here it is not easy to find more perfect croissants. My congratulations!

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Ah, I am so flattered, thank you so much for the affirmation!

Mebake's picture
Mebake

All a feast to the eye, Txfarmer. As Nico said, even th "defective" ones are my next target.. if i bake croissants ever again.


Pictures, writeup, Notes are all great.. Thank you!


 

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Thanks Mebake!

gary.turner's picture
gary.turner

Well, txfarmer, I hope you took advantage of this weekend's temps  in North Texas to bake lots of laminated breads. It's been cool all weekend, and I awoke this A.M. to 46°F. Brrrr!


cheers,


gary

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

I was elbow deep in flour/butter while it was hailing/storming outside. Got everything shaped this morning, will baking tonight!

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

I was elbow deep in flour/butter while it was hailing/storming outside. Got everything shaped this morning, will baking tonight!

joalro's picture
joalro

I used hamelman's recipe and technique, so I didn't make a poolish. I have very little recent experience with
using instant yeast and I often feel like the taste of the bread is either too simple or too yeasty.  I again felt this way about the croissant.  I searched for sourdough starter croissants and landed on this great post.

This brings me to my questions for y'all:

1) Would a poolish result in better taste than simply adding the dry yeast to the dough at formation?
2) have your results been tastier and otherwise better with a starter? If so, what is your current best approach?  I would like to try croissant again this week!

Thanks!!

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

1) Adding poolish usually give breads a slightly "sweeter" taste, however croissants are "heavy flavor" breads with a lot of butter and sugar, I doubt such taste difference can be easily detected. Poolish is used mainly for the dough to be more extensible, which then translates to be easier to roll out.

2) Using a starter gives a noticable tangy flavor to the final product, which I love combined with the rich buttery taste of croissants. Please refer to my blog index http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/24437/blog-index-will-keep-updating-and-linking-it , you will see most of my recent croissant recipes use both starter and yeast.

Kaeshiro's picture
Kaeshiro

Hello :)

im newbie for baking.

and i like to learn all about croissant.

i want ask, what is white starter made from?

thank you !

Xenophon's picture
Xenophon

They look yummy!  Don't know if you can get it in the US but in Europe the dough is typically made with a special type of butter (actually I don't think that technically it's 100% butter) which has a higher melting point than normal butter and is A LOT easier to handle, especially at higher temperatures, yet still delivers a good taste/mouth feel.  It's not easy to find, I purchased it over the net at a shop which sells specialty baking products.  All regular croissants/puff pastry are made with this.  While living in Brussels my neighbour was an artisan baker and during the week this is what he sold.  Pure butter croissants were available on sundays only exactly because by his own admission the dough was the very devil to make during summer.  (nowadays 95% of bakeries purchase pre-made dough sheets).  Am in India now and except -maybe- during december-january making croissant dough or puff pastry dough isn't an option due to the temperatures.  Perhaps not such a bad thing either, long distance running and croissants are not a match made in heaven.

LoveFunAdventure's picture
LoveFunAdventure

Thanks for giving me the courage -- and more importantly the recipe -- to try my hand at sourdough croissants. I've made a couple of laminated doughs before, but this was my first attempt at achieving the open crumb you described in your post. I must have had beginner's luck, because I think they turned out pretty great! 

is there any chance you can tell me how to cut the 9x18" piece of dough so that I can make both traditional croissants and traditional chocolate croissants in the same batch? I got a little confused and ended up making only plain ones because I didn't know the proper dimensions for the chocolate croissant form. 

thanks again! 

Christina Natalia's picture
Christina Natalia

hi, im not sure about the 100% white starter, 320 g.

im a newbie, could someone elaborate more please?

Jelena's picture
Jelena

I just made my first even croissants following your recipe and I was seriously impressed, thank you !

http://bylelush.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/sourdough-croissants.html

 

dizastro's picture
dizastro

I have been tempted by this site for a few months, thinking that I wanted to tackle croissant using my starter. Finally got the courage to give it a go and it was my first try at laminated pastry. Many thanks to you txfarmer for the detailed instruction! They turned out pretty well for a first timer! Posted pictures to Facebook - Perfect Sourdough and Artisan Bread Bakers groups.