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Croissants - in Buttery Heaven!

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hanseata's picture
hanseata

Croissants - in Buttery Heaven!

 

When my husband decided to open up a furniture store in Portland, ME, he found a big old garage in Fore Street. After spending a month with scrubbing, painting and cutting new panes for each of the high windows, he turned the dark and dirty place into a beautiful, light space, to showcase his contemporary furnishings.

Eventually Richard Parks Gallery moved to Commercial Street, and the first floor of the old store became Fore Street Restaurant, one of Portland's foodie temples.

The souterrain was turned into a bakery, and, instead of housing French sofas and bistro tables, it's now home of Standard Baking Co., maker of the best French breads and pastries in Maine!

Richard Parks Gallery on Fore Street in the early Nineties

Whenever we visit Portland, we get Pain au Levain, Seeded Fougasse, Croissants, or, on Fridays, Rugalachs.

Last time we came into the bakery, I saw a pile of books: Standard Baking Company had published "Pastries" with many of their recipes, including those of the croissants and rugalachs we were just about to buy. Of course I didn't hesitate one second, grabbed one of the little books, and, while driving home and munching on a walnut filled rugalach, studied the recipes.

Though I bake (and sell) lots of breads, I have little experience with French baking, and couldn't wait to try making one of those mouthwatering pastries myself.

I was also wondering whether Alison Pray and Tara Smith had dumbed down their formulas to make them "everybody's darling". Or, jealously guarding their secrets, changed them so that the home baked pastries would never taste the same as their professional counterparts at the store (try finding the original Sachertorte in Hotel Sacher's pastry book!)

Worth every penny!

To my utter delight neither was the case. Every piece of pastry I made so far was outstanding - and tasted as good as its sibling at the bakery. (No, I don't get a kickback for my gushing!)

Croissants, with their multi-layered, buttery dough, are the gold standard of pastry baking. I had made them only once before. Those had turned out quite nice, and I was curious how the Standard Baking ones would compare to them.

I found the formula easy to follow, with clear, detailed instructions and explanations for every step of the way. Involved as the process is, it's not rocket science, and you really can do it at home!

You have to plan ahead, though, because you'll achieve your best results when you allow the dough sufficient time to rest. As with most of my breads, time and the refrigerator are your friends, achieving three important goals: relax the gluten (readying the dough for the next turn), keep the butter cold (preventing it from seeping out) and develop the taste.

Therefore, make yourself familiar with the whole procedure before you start! This is your schedule for the 3-day process (no worries, the actual hands-on time is much less!)

Pure buttery, flaky goodness!

 TIME PLANNER

DAY 1 (Mixing the dough)
Hands-on time: 20 minutes mixing           Resting time: 1 hour plus 1 night

DAY 2: (Laminating the dough)
Hands-on time: 2 to 2 1/2 hour                 Resting time: 2 hours plus 1 night

DAY 3: (Shaping and baking)
Hands-on time: 30 minutes                       Resting time: 1 1/2 to 2 hours
            

If you don't want to use all the dough for regular butter croissants, use part of it for Pain au Chocolat or Ham & Cheese Croissants or Morning Buns. You can also freeze the laminated dough up to 10 days, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before baking.)

And if you have leftovers, recycle them into utterly delicious Almond Croissants!


BUTTER CROISSANTS   (12)  (adapted with Alison Pray's permission from Standard Baking Co. "Pastries")

Dough
630 g all-purpose flour (4 1/2 cups)
    7 g instant yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
  50 g sugar (1/4 cup)
  14 g salt (2 1/2 tsp)
  28 g unsalted butter*) (2 tbsp), cool, cut in pieces
186 g water, at room temperature (about 70ºF) (3/4 cup)
186 g milk, at room temperature (about 70ºF) (3/4 cup)

Butter Roll-In
280 g/10 oz unsalted butter*), chilled

Egg Wash
1 egg
2 tsp. water
1 pinch salt

*) If you have the chance, get European style butter with a higher percentage of fat (like Cabot's European style butter or Plugra)

DAY 1
For the dough, whisk together flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Using your fingertips, rub butter into dry ingredients until it is evenly distributed and coated with flour mixture.

  
Rubbing the butter into the dry ingredients is easy

Using a stand mixer with dough hook: Combine water and milk in mixer bowl. Add dry ingredients on low speed and incorporate for 3 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.

Increase to medium speed, stopping mixer after 2 minutes to check consistency of dough. It should be medium-soft. (If it feels stiff, add more water, a tablespoon at a time.) Resume mixing for 2 minutes more. Dough will not be completely smooth, but hold together. (Don't over-mix, you don't want the dough to become tough!)

Using a food processor: Pulse for about 2 minutes, or until dough comes together in a ball. (Don't over-mix, otherwise dough becomes more difficult to roll out, and result in less tender croissants.)

 

Place dough in lightly oiled container, turn around to coat with oil, cover, and let rise in a warm spot (ideally 75ºF) for about 1 hour, or until it has grown by about half.

The dough has risen 1 1/2 times its original size   

Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and pat it into a rectangle about 2 inches thick. Wrap it in plastic and seal it well to prevent it from escaping when it rises. Refrigerate dough overnight (or at least for a minimum of 4 hours.)

(I placed the dough on lightly floured cutting board, sprayed it lightly with baking spray,  put the whole thing first into an unscented garbage bag, and then in the fridge.)

 


DAY 2
About half an hour before rolling out the chilled dough, prepare butter roll-in: cut cold butter into large chunks, and place them in mixer fitted with dough hook. Beat butter on medium speed until completely smooth and pliable, but not warm (about 3 minutes.)

(You can also pound the butter with a French rolling pin until it is flat and pliable, but the mixer works great.)

After kneading the butter is pliable but still cold

Transfer butter to a piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper. Press it into a 6-inch square, 1/2 inch thick. (I measured and marked parchment paper at 6 inches, and folded it into a square, then closed it with the butter inside, and pressed on the package until the butter filled the edges.)

Chill butter square in refrigerator for about 15 minutes (it should be just firm, but not hard.)

Folded parchment paper helps pressing the butter into a square

And now the fun starts: you are about to create something absolutely wonderful, a tender, buttery, multi-layered (laminated) croissant dough.

Room temperature and work surface should be on the cool side, and each step should be done as quickly as possible, to prevent dough and butter from getting warm. Put everything you need (flour for dusting the work surface, roller pin, brush for excess flour, and ruler for measuring) within easy reach.

The butter square covers half of the dough rectangle.

If the chilled butter feels too firm, take it out of the fridge a few minutes before using. Dust work surface lightly with flour. Remove dough and butter block from refrigerator. Roll dough into rectangle twice the size of the butter square: 12 x 6 inches. Brush off excess flour from top of dough. Place butter square (unwrapped) on one half of rectangle, so that edges are neatly stacked.

Fold other half of dough over butter, and press open sides together to seal butter in. Lightly re-flour work surface, if necessary, and roll out dough rectangle into a square, about 1/2-inch thick and twice as long as it is wide (the long side should be facing you.) Brush dough surface to remove loose flour.

Roll out dough into rectangle twice as long as it is wide

Fold dough lengthwise in thirds like a business letter, always brushing any loose flour from the surface before you fold: first fold left third over center, then right side over left. Using a bench knife, straighten and square edges, so that layers are neatly stacked. Congratulations! You just made your first turn (aka envelope fold.)

Wrap the dough "envelope" in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 45 - 60 minutes, so that you and the gluten can relax and cool down. In the meantime, clean your work surface from any remaining bits of dough, and dust it again lightly with flour.

After its workout the dough needs another break in the fridge

Unwrap cooled dough and place it on work surface, the long, folded side facing you. Roll out dough as before into a 1/2-inch thick rectangle. Fold it again in thirds, always brushing off excess flour between folds. The second turn is done! Re-wrap and re-chill dough again for 45 - 60 minutes.

Now you're already a pro, and know how to handle the third and final turn. Unwrap, roll out, fold, and use the brush in between! You don't want flour to keep the layers from adhering.

Brushing off any flour from the top of the dough is important

So, that's it for the day, wrap your (beautifully laminated) dough in plastic and place it in the freezer. Before you go to sleep, take it out, and put it in the fridge so that it can slowly thaw overnight. (Or, if your mouth waters too much, and you need to bake it the same day, give it at least 2 hours chill-out time before shaping.)

TO MAKE AHEAD: You can also freeze the dough up to 10 days, thawing it in the fridge overnight before baking.

DAY 3
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. On a lightly floured work surface, roll dough into 12-inch x 25-inch rectangle (1/4 inch thick.) Re-dust with a little flour, if needed, to prevent sticking. If dough springs back and is difficult to lengthen, let it rest a few minutes, before you continue. When desired length is reached, trim and straighten narrow ends with pizza wheel or chef's knife.

A same size piece of parchment paper with markings helps with the cutting

Cut rectangle into long, skinny triangles, 4 inches wide at base and 10 to 12 inches long on sides. (It's easier if you cut parchment paper into a same size rectangle, and measure and mark bases and tips of triangles on it. Place paper over dough, and then mark dough in the same way with little incisions.)

Make a 3/4-inch incision in the center of each triangle base (this notch helps to create the desired length in the final shape.)

To shape each croissants, pick up a triangle, holding base edge with one hand. With the other hand about 1 inch from base, pull dough gently to lengthen it slightly, without causing any tears. Place triangle down again, base towards you, and gently but firmly roll it up towards the tip. (If done properly, you should have 6 to 7 tiers.)

Leftover dough scraps: Place cut off half-triangles from both edges side by side, pinch the middle seam together, put any other small scraps on top, and roll this patchwork triangle up, too. It will be a little "malfatti" (badly made) as my half Italian spouse calls it, but nothing of your precious dough will be lost.

The triangles get a notch at the base to make lengthening easier

Put shaped croissants on prepared baking sheets, evenly spaced, the tips should be tucked underneath.

For the egg wash, whisk together egg with water and salt in small bowl until smooth. Brush croissants lightly with egg wash, carefully avoiding open edges, so that the egg can't glue them together and prevent tiers from rising. (Refrigerate remaining egg wash for the second application.)

The croissants need to proof for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Place baking sheets in the (unheated!) oven, then put a pan with hot, steaming water on the bottom to provide the ideal rising environment: humid, to prevent a skin from forming, and warm, but not too warm - you don't want the butter to melt, resulting in less flaky, greasy croissants.

Half an hour before baking, remove proofing croissants from oven. Position racks in upper and lower thirds, and preheat oven to 430º F.

Cover croissants, and continue to let them rise, until they have almost doubled in size, and dough springs back slightly when pressed gently with a finger tip, but the dimple should remain visible. Each tier should still hold its distinct shape. (Check croissants frequently after the first hour of rising, if they overproof, they will have loose their flakiness and have a bread-like structure. The room temperature should not be too warm.)

Proofed croissants. The "malfatti" on the upper right is not much different from the others
  

A few minutes before they go into the oven, brush risen croissants again with a thin coat of egg wash, carefully avoiding the edges (you don't want to screw up now!)

Bake croissants for 10 minutes, then quickly rotate baking sheets from top to bottom and from front to back, for more even browning, taking care not to leave the door open too long. Continue baking for another 4 - 6 minutes, until they are evenly baked, with deeply browned, crisp edges.

Remove sheets from oven, and transfer croissants to wire rack, to cool a bit. They are best when eaten while still warm, or shortly after baking.

 

If you cant eat all of the croissants right away, you can wrap them individually in plastic wrap, and re-crisp them at 375ºF for a few minutes.

OR YOU TURN THEM INTO HEAVENLY ALMOND CROISSANTS!

There is no such thing as stale croissants when you recycle them into these!

Submitted to YeastSpotting

Comments

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

Can't wait to try this in our 94 F kitchen. Now that it is May I suppose we could cool it down to 78 F and give it a go :-) OR...wait till next winter. 

Happy baking.

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Well, DBM, those are the perks of living in cool Maine. Though I think if you work fast, and give the dough some more cool breaks, it might be doable.

Maybe, your apprentice could wag her tail more frequently to create a breeze...

Or you just come to Maine!

Happy baking,

Karin

ananda's picture
ananda

Fantastic, Karin!

Beautiful croissants, great post.   Cold process, resting a lot along the way; the 2 secrets.

Great choice of friends

All good wishes

Andy

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Yes, and you have more freedom to time the actual baking.

Thanks for your compliments (very welcome, of course!)

Best wishes to you, too,

Karin

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

That's the right shade of golden brown buttery heaven that I love to savor!    

Mini

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Thanks, Mini, I think the double application of egg wash must have made a diffence.

Karin

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Hi Karin,

You make it look easy!  These look delicious - especially the almond ones.  Nice to know that the book didn't  hold any secrets back.

Interesting history of the building.  Sounds like a very nice place to stroll through. I so miss the mini shopping areas I grew up with in San Francisco...

Thanks for the post and the step by step process for these croissants!

Take Care,

Janet

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Though all those steps are necessary, fortunately each of them is not too difficult if you follow the instructions.

I was glad that my husband was able to unearth a photo from his old store in all his piles of stuff he keeps in boxes (it took him quite a while!)

I will post the almond croissant variation, too.

Take care,

Karin

varda's picture
varda

Looks scrumptious.  Very nice tutorial.  -Varda

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Thanks, Varda (so sorry that I missed the get together in MA!)

I always had croissants on my wish list, but thought they were too complicated. The one time I tried them before, with another recipe, they didn't turn out half so good, and I made some mistakes because I couldn't quite understand what was meant.

Karin

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Beautiful croissants, Karin. My husband and I stayed in Portland several years ago when we came to Maine to attend a wedding. Lovely town. Hope to get back there again someday.  dw

hanseata's picture
hanseata

is one of my favorite places. The old port reminds me of my hometown Hamburg, on a smaller scale, and there is always something interesting going on.

Thanks for your friendly comments, Debra,

Karin

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Great post!  Mind if I feature on the homepage for a bit?

hanseata's picture
hanseata

I will be honored, Floyd!

I do like the new look of TFL.

Karin

 

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

Light, airy, and translucent - a feast for the eyes - what more could be desired? 

After reading your expert tutorial I'm eyeing the unsalted butter supply in the freezer...,

pâte feuilletée is such a beautiful thing...,  

Wild-Yeast

hanseata's picture
hanseata

This is surely an omen - the butter wants a transformation to transcend its humble existence!

Thanks, Wild-Yeast!

Karin

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Yum Karin, beautiful, and buttery.

Nice explanation of the procedure, Karin.. thank you so much.

-Khalid

hanseata's picture
hanseata

But in a good way, and who thinks about calories when confronted with a freshly baked croissant?

Thanks, Khalid (I hope your back has improved!)

Karin

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Thanks for asking Karin, yes much improved now.

-Khalid

hanseata's picture
hanseata

to hear that!

Karin

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

And a very good write-up. 

David

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Karin

Petit Batard's picture
Petit Batard

 Those croissants look amazing. I live just up the street from Standard, and have had their pastries a quite a few times. Very nice write up!  

 

hanseata's picture
hanseata

to have such a good bakery. Alison Pray gave us once the tour of the premises, everything looks very nice, and people seem to love their work there.

The Old Port is a great place to stay (if you don't ticketed too often!)

Karin

 

isand66's picture
isand66

wonderful post Karin.  the end result looks fantastic.  My wife and I took a course recently on making croissants but have not had the time yet to try them myself.  

Regards

Ian

hanseata's picture
hanseata

It is a bit of an effort to make croissants, and can't be a spontaneous decision. But it's so worth it!

Karin

 

 

Alpana's picture
Alpana

Thanks for this post, Karin. The photos of your creations and the well explained process  tempts me even though I know there is a rare chance I will manage to do it.

The almond croissants are just drool worthy! 

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Thanks, Alpana, I will post the almond croissant version, too, when I'm home from my trip. I didn't want to make the post too long.

Karin

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne

I'm going th have to try these!

 

dwayne

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Dwayne, you won't regret it!

Karin

Foamheart's picture
Foamheart

I appreciate your post and have to try it your way. I love Croissant w/ham and cheese, heck I like croissants as a BLT, or just a croissant with coffee). I always pound my butter with a rolling pin, and three days worth butter gets old. And if not extremely careful with it, its absorbs the fridge odors. You hang a tag and dare anyone to use the fridge.

I have got to try using the blender! Croissants might be removed from the special event only list!

Thank you Karin

hanseata's picture
hanseata

When I made croissants the first time, from another recipe, I pounded the butter with a roller pin, too. But beating it in a mixer is so much easier and faster, and the butter stays cold.

Karin

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

and a great writeup

Juergen (currently suffering from a mild case of layer confusion ...)

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Layer confusion is a serious thing! I recommend ingesting a large amount of laminated pastry, to overcome this horrible disease!

Gute Besserung,

Karin

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

... 

On Saturday I ingested several Croissants with 1 X 4 X 4 = 16 layers and Pain Au Chocolat with 1 X 4 X 4 X 3 = 48 Layers.

This didn't help much, as the symptoms have returned. But 48 has been ruled out.

Cravings for 1 X 3 X 4 = 12 and 2 X 3 X 3 = 18 layers are getting stronger ...

hanseata's picture
hanseata

I know, it's a stubborn disease, once you contract it it's hard to overcome!

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

So nicely written up too!  Thanks for the info on the book...looks like I'll be ordering another book : )

Sylvia

hanseata's picture
hanseata

The book is my current favorite pastry baking book. After having some mediocre croissants during our trip to Hamburg I really appreciated the quality of these again.

Karin

wally's picture
wally

Beautifful croissants!  And a beautiful pictoral display of the process along with the recipe.  Bon appetit!

Larry

hanseata's picture
hanseata

I tried to make it as easily understandable as possible.

Karin

grind's picture
grind

Butter and me have recently renewed our vows.

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Haha, nothing better. You cannot always think of healthy, skinny stuff, and traveling through Saxony, I renewed my vows to cakes, too. They have a specialty cake here, called "Dresdner Eierschecke", which I will make and post about when I get home, including some nice photos of magnificent Dresden.

Karin

Lauretta's picture
Lauretta

I'd like to try with stevia, but the doughs with it is very difficult.

Could you give me some advise?

Thanks

acebaker's picture
acebaker

Stevia will give you sweetness, but when baking, sugar does more than that: It carmelizes, giving the rich dark colour of the croissant; it tenderizes, helping to counteract the gluten development of all that dough rolling; it acts as a preservative; it is a ready food for yeast, promoting the "puff"; and it is hygroscopic, which means it helps the croissant to retain moisture. 

I don't know that stevia can do all those things on it's own. You might have to add other dough conditioners to provide the things that stevia cannot.

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Thanks for your input, Acebaker, you confirm my notion that you couldn't just exchange the sugar for stevia, since it has other properties than just sweetening.

Karin

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Lauretta, I'm not sure whether you can substitute the sugar in the croissants with stevia. From what I read, stevia is not recommended in recipes where not only the sweetness, but also the volume of the sugar plays a role, as in cakes. The croissants have 50 g of sugar, therefore it might be that a substitution with stevia would affect the structure, too.

Karin

breadzilla's picture
breadzilla

I just want to say thanks for a lovely recipe.  I ended up using bread machine yeast.  These are the best croissants I've ever made!  Time well spent. :)

hanseata's picture
hanseata

I'm very happy to hear that - definitely time well spent!

Karin

Boron Elgar's picture
Boron Elgar

I just got the first batch out of the oven. Karin, the recipe and instructions are superb. The results are delectible. There is no other way to describe them. Oh, I had a helluva time shaping them, BUT I made two batchs of the dough and all the lessons I leared from this one will be put to good use tomorro in shaping the second batch.

I cannot thank you enough for posting this. I am jazzed.Croissants

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Those look wonderful!

The instructions in the book are very good already, and I added my insights from my first struggles (with another recipe.) What seems so easy to a pastry chef, can be really frustrating for an amateur, and I felt often discouraged from even trying to make croissants, when I read some other formulas, written in professional "bakers' lingo".

Happy Baking,

Karin

 

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