The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

croissants

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GabrielLeung1's picture
GabrielLeung1

I end a period of inactivity with a picture of croissants!



 


I've been trying to perfect my scaling and shaping of croissants this weekend, its very important, as i have an exam that tests my ability to do that in three days. Enrolled in culinary school for the past month, I've decided to post up a collection of photographs (that will be growing over the next six months) that I am calling my baking and pastry arts portfolio. 


Please critique what you see, and advise me about the life in industry I will be embarking on soon!

Chef Bart's picture
Chef Bart


Hi everyone,


 


I just wanted to take a minute and introduce myself. This is my first foray into the world of online baking communities…


 


I completed pastry school and earned my Grande Diplome from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris many years ago.  In addition, I hold multiple professional certificates in bread baking and venoisserie.  In other words, I’m a pastry chef.  


 


Like a lot of you, for years I have tried to make high quality venoisserie, brioche, croissants and baguettes using domestic flour, but I couldn’t seem to make it work with the flour we have available to us here in the States.  After all that time and money spent learning how to make them, needless to say, it left me more than a bit frustrated.  I searched and searched the internet and found many people trying “add a little of this or a little of that or try this or that”.  None of it worked to my satisfaction.  Actually, no one posted that they had great success either. 


 


I went to the top of the mountain, Grands Moulins de Paris (GMP), in a little town north of Paris by the name of Gennevilliers.  They are the largest mill company in Europe and arguably the best food and grain laboratory in the world.


 


My good friends and chefs in Paris tried to help me figure it out. The people at GMP tell me the flour that we have now developed is superior to type 45 and 55 French flour in every aspect.  


 


Knowing that there was no real solution for bakers in the States, I decided to turn my passion into my life’s work to provide this flour.  After all, we deserve high quality breads as much as Europeans.

The flour is not bleached.  The protein content is 11.5%.  There is ascorbic acid added as a preservative.  The deactivated enzymes, lipids and proteins, etc., added make the difference.  I believe one of the major benefits is derived from the enzymes that allow the starch to be broken down to complex sugars and the complex sugars to be broken down to simple sugars in the second proof.  Kind of complicated but really simple. The enzymes let the yeast live and the starches work as nature intended. Other than the vitamin C, everything added appears naturally in wheat.  Domestic mill companies buy the wheat and mill it so it has maximum shelf life.  We add the good stuff back. Just take a look at the breads on our website http://www.bdflour.com.  The beautiful color on the exterior of the breads come from the caramelization of the sugars, and of course, a good egg wash.


 


So, for the pastry students returning to the States, the product offers the opportunity to actually recreate what they learned to make abroad.


 


For the professional baker, the product will help you save money while creating a superior product possessing unmatched taste, texture, smell, appearance, and quality. Here’s a good example of how it saves you money: typically, American croissants weigh approximately 100 grams. B & D Croissant Flour creates a stronger dough, allowing for the same size croissant to weigh around 60 grams. This means that you not only use half the flour per croissant, but you use half of all other ingredients as well.


 


And for the at home bakers, well, the product allows you to make the best croissants, brioche and breads that you’ve ever tasted.


 


I’m excited to join the community of online bakers, and I welcome your questions and comments.  I encourage you to check out the website at http://www.bdflour.com, and, of course, hope some of you will venture to try the product.


 


Bart


 

 

DonD's picture
DonD

Does the taste of a favorite food evoke in you indelible memories of time and places where the pleasure it has given you has put a mark on you for life?


For me, a bite into a buttery and flaky croissant and my taste memory takes me back to my childhood in Saigon where every morning, I would look forward to the familiar sound of the horn announcing the arrival of the "Bread Man" riding on his scooter with twin canvas trunks full of goodies straddling the rear seat to deliver fresh baguettes and croissants to the neighborhood houses.


The sweet smell of baking croissants always reminds me of the time when I was a student in Geneva, walking by a bakery at 6:00 am, suddenly being overwhelmed by the tantalizing aroma of freshly baked croissants, summoning enough nerve to knock on the door to convince the owner to sell me a couple before the store was open and walking home in the snowy winter dawn, enjoying the best croissants I ever had in my life.


A croissant with cafe au lait for breakfast always transports me back to my first visit to Paris in the spring, sitting at a sidewalk table at the Cafe "La Rotonde" in the Montparnasse area, sipping a cafe creme and eating a croissant with confiture, watching the morning bustle and hustle of Parisian life just like Hemingway, Picasso, Nijinsky, Gershwin and other luminaries had done at the same spot so many years ago.


I have been baking Croissants and Pains au Chocolat on and off for over 20 years and until recently, my favorite recipe was from Jacques Pepin's "The Art of Cooking". It is a foolproof recipe where you can follow the instructions verbatim and end up with great results.


Last year I discovered the Esther McManus recipe from the PBS "Baking with Julia" TV Series. I have tried this recipe about half a dozen times, tweaking it along the way to suit my taste and baking techniques. It has become my favorite recipe as I find that it comes closest to the Croissants and Pains au Lait that you can only find in Europe.


This past weekend, I made a batch of Croissants and Pain au Chocolat and following are my notes and recommendations:


1- I basically followed the step by step instructions in the video which are excellent. The link is www.pbs.org/juliachild/meet/mcmanus.html


2- It is not mandatory to have the companion book " Baking with Julia" but it is nice to have as a back-up.


3- I use pretty much the same formulation except for the following variations:


    A- I use 1 1/4 cup of milk. I find the little extra milk makes the dough more pliable and easier to work with.


    B- I use 2 1/2 tsp Instant Yeast. I converted the amount into Instant Yeast because I prefer it over Cake or Dry Yeast.


    C- I use only 3-1/2 sticks of butter. More butter would only leak out during baking. I have tried different unsalted butters including imported "Le President", "Plugra"European Style and found that old "Land o' Lakes" works just as well.


    D- I use two 3 inch long "Valrhona" Chocolate Batons for each Pain of Chocolat. I splurge on a box of 350 pieces and they are disappearing fast as they are good to snack on as well.


4- I do not put a hot water pan in the turned off oven while proofing as recommended. I found out the hard way that it melts the butter in the dough.


5- I bake the Croissants in a preheated 425 degrees F oven with steam for 5 mins , then without steam at 400 degrees for 5 more mins and  finally at 375 degrees for 5 mins. I find it gives me better oven spring and a flakier crust than a longer bake with dry heat at 350 degrees.


6- The recipe should yield a dozen each Croissants and Pains au Chocolat.



Dough cut into triangles with a Croissant Cutter, not an essential tool but a nice gadget.



Shaped, proofed and egg washed Croissants ready for the oven.



Baked Croissants cooling on the rack.



The ultimate Continental Breakfast with Croissant and Pain au Chocolat



The mandatory crumb shot.


Happy Baking!


Don

xaipete's picture
xaipete

I completed a batch of Leader's Sourdough Croissants from Local Breads today. I used the metric weights and had no problem with the recipe; everything seemed to be correct as written. I baked one tray at the recommended 350º for 18 minutes but thought they weren't browning enough, so upped the temperature to 375º for the remainder.


They baked up fine--light, flakey and layered--, but have almost no flavor, being neither sour, nor sweet, nor buttery, nor anything else. I knew something was wrong when I couldn't smell anything when they were baking. What a disappointment! It's almost like the levain canceled out the flavor of the dough. I've tried at least 6 different croissant recipes over my lifetime and all have come out well except this one. I think they are destined for the trash.


If anyone has had experience with this recipe or has an idea as to their lack of flavor, please let me know.


Leader's Sourdough Croissants


 


Leader's Sourdough Croissants


--Pamela

PiperBaker's picture

100% Whole Wheat Croissants

January 29, 2009 - 6:25pm -- PiperBaker

My first attempt at croissants.  We're a 100% whole wheat family, so that's what I used.  Also, since I cannot find anything but bleached white flour on the local market  (we're posted to Turkmenistan), I hand milled the flour.  Not bad, if I do say so myself.  Could have added some salt to the butter slab, and next time I'll do an egg wash, but overall a success!


Adelphos24's picture

Sourdough Croissants

January 22, 2009 - 3:30am -- Adelphos24

So I have been mucking about with my wild yeast sourdough starter a lot over the last few weeks. I made pain poilane, and a traditional american style sourdough, and was thinking..."what else can i do with this starter?"


The answer? Sourdough croissants!


I know this could fall in the pastry category, but decided that the wild yeast starter aspect kinda throws it into the realm of the sourdough junkie. I've gotta say, they turned out great. I even made some with chocolate in the middle. I wrote more about them here:

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

We had invited friends for brunch the weekend after New Year's day and I had already decided to make zolablue's cinnamon rolls.  It seemed, though, that something else would be good to have with the quiches that my wife was making; something not quite so sweet as the cinnamon rolls (which were fabulous, by the way).  It occurred to me that a croissant's buttery, flaky lightness would be a perfect accompaniment for the richness of the quiche.  There was one minor problem: I'd never made a croissant in my life.


The first step: search TFL for threads dealing with croissants.  I found two things that proved to be very helpful.  The first was a formula for Bertinet's croissants, posted by dolfs.  The second was a link to SteveB's Breadcetera site, which included some very helpful videos and other instructions for croissants.  Armed with this information, I decided to forge ahead.  If the croissants turned out well, I would serve them to my guests; if they turned out badly, my guests would never hear about them but my wife and I would have some very tasty french toast.


The next step was to assemble all of the ingredients and start building the dough.  I'll spare you all of the process steps; Dolf and Steve have done an excellent job of documenting those, which you can read by clicking on the links, above.  My laminated dough skills, being essentially non-existent, caused a couple of butter breakouts during the turning and rolling steps.  Happily (for me, anyway), the end product didn't seem to have suffered as a result; although M. Bertinet may not have wanted his name attached to them.


I was grateful to have a largish island on which to roll out the final dough before cutting the croissants.  A 3-foot long strip of dough is much longer in reality than it would seem to be in concept.  While I suspect that I may not have rolled the dough as thinly as a professional baker would have, I did get 14 croissants out of it, plus a couple of smaller scraps from the ends (which served well for QA testing).  


Here's a picture of the shaped croissants during their final rise, after shaping:


Shaped croissants


By this point, I could already tell that they would taste wonderful.  All I needed to do was bake them successfully.  Here's how they looked after coming out of the oven:


Baked croissants


I could probably have left them in the oven another couple of minutes for additional browning, but I was very skittish about burning them after having gotten them this far.  (By the way, Dolf, thanks for including the tip on applying the egg wash.)  Turns out they were fully baked and absolutely delicious, as confirmed by our QA samples.  Lots of tender, buttery, flaky goodness.  


So, our guests did get croissants to go with the quiche, although the cinnamon rolls were probably the bigger hit of the party.  


As good as they are, these will probably remain on my "special occasion" baking list.  For one thing, there's almost a tablespoon of butter in every single one of them.  For another, they require significantly more effort for the yield than a similar quantity of dinner rolls.  Still, after a bite of one warm from the oven with a dab of marmalade, I know I'll be making them again.


Paul

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