The Fresh Loaf

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Walnut levain and croissants

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hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

Walnut levain and croissants

Last week I've been enjoying a variation of the pain au levain I blogged about in my previous post - I'm really loving the bite the breads get by the rye sourdough. For the loaf pictured below, I raised the whole-grain amount slightly and added a healthy dose of walnuts. I'm such a sucker for walnuts; only bad thing about them is that they're not a "local food" around these parts. The ones I find in the stores are pricey and have travelled all the way from California... Still my favourite nuts, though. Here's a link to the recipe, and here's the loaf:


Walnut levain


...and here's the crumb:


Walnut levain crumb


A delicious bread!


 


I also baked a batch of croissants this weekend. I'm not sure exactly what beats the smell of croissants baking...


I split the dough in two after rolling it out, and used one half to make large-ish croissants and the other half to make smaller, regular sized croissants. Photo below:


Croissants


And here's the crumb shot:


Croissant crumb


I was really happy to see how they turned out - probably my best batch so far! One of these with a cup of freshly brewed coffee makes the morning routine bearable :)

Comments

proth5's picture
proth5

a beautiful honey comb cross section in that croissant.  Impressive for hand rolling...


(Geez - I wish I could get back to baking, again.)


Nice stuff!


Pat

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

David

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

:)

jennyloh's picture
jennyloh

absolutely beautiful!

arlo's picture
arlo

Those croissants are works of art : )


 

louie brown's picture
louie brown

Beautiful work, and much useful information on your blog. Thank you.

venkitac's picture
venkitac

Amazing. I wish I could do that, looks awesome!

DonD's picture
DonD

Hansjoakim, your Walnut Levain Loaf and your Croissants are simply amazing...


Don

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Both breads look amazing!

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

I think that's the word that comes to everyone's mind when we look at your Walnut Levain Loaf and your Croissants...just perfection, Hans!  Are you sure you don't have a sheeter hid out back :) I bet if your hands planted a walnut seed you could grow a walnut tree.  Just gorgeous and the Croissants are amazing!


Sylvia

wally's picture
wally

Those croissants are perfection!  I'm with Sylvia, where are you hiding the sheeter?


The pain au levain looks delicous as well!  Hamelman has a mixed starter pain au levain, using both white and rye starters, and then adding some whole wheat to the final dough.  I've baked it twice now, and I've decided it is my favorite everyday SD.  The addition of the rye starter and whole wheat, as you observed, just creates a wonderfully complex taste.


And the walnuts are like icing on the cake!


Beautiful job as usual.


Larry

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Hansjoakim,


Nothing beats the smell of croissants baking, of course!   Though the accompanying fresh coffee comes fairly close.


Lamination, and, aeration are picture perfect.


As for the walnut levain; the formula is simple, but, oh so balanced.   Lovely bread.


Just one question: have you ever used walnut oil?   It's a great little adjunct in this type of bread!


All good wishes


Andy

LindyD's picture
LindyD

The bread is your typical perfection, Hans, but those croissants are spectacular.


Awesome.

rossnroller's picture
rossnroller

As always, your baking is simply exquisite. Love your slashing on the bread, and that crumb on the croissants!...well, it just doesn't get any better.


Re the bread: just wondering, what do you see as the advantage of using an all-rye starter? Have you tried the same bread with an all-white starter, and if so, what difference(s) did you notice?


Cheers
Ross

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Your walnut bread is gorgeous - but the croissants! The whorls and buttered layers on the inside are curled so perfectly it's like looking at the inside of a rose....


Best wishes, Daisy_A

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

Let me start by thanking you all for your heartwarming compliments :)  It means a lot, coming from fellow TFL'ers!


Sylvia and Larry: No sheeter!! I bet you've seen this youtube video before, but it's still pretty neat to see a sheeter in action. No, I'm all for handrolling...


Andy: No, I've never used walnut oil. I've looked for it on several occasions but never seen it. I'm sure a specialist store carries some also around here, so I should take a better look. What are typical dishes where walnut oil really shines? I think I've read that walnut oil is produced in the Dordogne region of France (not far from Bordeaux I seem to recall). Maybe it's time for a field trip. As always, thanks so much for your compliments, Andy!


Ross: Thanks! Well, I do bake many rye-based breads, and for loaves with > 40% rye, I definitely prefer to use a rye starter. I could keep a white starter for pain au levains and a rye starter for the ryes, but I prefer to have a single starter that I can focus on keeping in top shape. So I've settled on a rye starter, for a number of reasons:



  1. It's very easy to maintain and get going: Rye is highly fermentable and the starter is very active.

  2. I find that rye breads made with a rye starter have greater dough strength than rye breads made with a white starter. For the latter, a substantial amount of the overall white flour is prefermented. In rye-based doughs, the white flour provides most of the gluten properties and dough strength. As a result, prefermenting white flour in these breads seems to lower the overall dough strength. There's also a more intense rye flavour to rye breads prepared with a rye starter (or so I think, at least), and a more aerated crumb (probably related to the dough strength mentioned above).

  3. I find only small differences in pain au levains prepared with either a white or a rye starter. Based on my experience, the rye starter produces more gas in the dough during bulk fermentation and a more modest oven spring, while a white starter yields a comparatively lower gas production rate during bulk fermentation and a greater/more dramatic oven spring. The two seem to balance each other out in the end, however. Those observations are based on a firm white starter I used to keep and my present rye starter.

  4. There is a noticeable tangy "bite" to pain au levains baked with rye starters; I find this especially in the crust of the bread. The crumb is very similar; chewy and aromatic.

  5. The "drawback" with baking with a rye starter, is that every formula needs to contain some rye flour (preferrably whole-rye), which comes from the sourdough. I bake virtually any bread with some rye flour in the dough in the first place, so it doesn't really matter to me. However, if you want to make a pure white sourdough bread, you'd have to branch off the rye starter and prepare a temporary white starter. I personally think that most breads benefit from at least 5% - 10% whole-rye flour, so this is not really an issue for me.

rossnroller's picture
rossnroller

Appreciated.


Re 3: my findings, too.


And 5: Share your views - I never make purely white sourdough bread these days, although I once preferred it. Amazing how one's perception and taste changes over time and with more baking experience and exposure to different flavour profiles.


Cheers!
Ross

DonD's picture
DonD

Hi Hans,


Very interesting perspective on starter preference. I guess there is no perfect solution and that whatever works for you is the best solution. Personally, I like to maintain a small quantity of white (bread flour based) 100% hydration starter in the refrigerator, feeding it once a week. Before a bake, I refresh it and make a final build using whatever hydration the recipe calls for and whatever flour mix I will use in the final dough (i.e. it could be all white or any combination of white, whole wheat and rye). Depending on the flour mixture, I like to supplement the starter with a small amount of instant yeast. I find that this way, I have better control of the fermentation time and it gives me better oven spring and a lighter crumb.


Don

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi hansjoakim,


I'm sure you are right about specialist walnut oil coming from France.


Actually my only experience of it is, either as extra flavour in a salad dressing, or, in a bread such as yours.


The only decent and genuine craft bakers in my local city produce a walnut loaf.   Cafe Royal Bakery [ link: http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&source=web&ct=res&cd=4&ved=0CCEQFjAD&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.sjf.co.uk%2Fcaferoyal%2Fabout.php&rct=j&q=cafe+royal+newcastle&ei=viX0S9XLDIfG_gam8Z2XDQ&usg=AFQjCNH7OLSWJ_L1vBxcj1u688UMZI8-sg ] has strong links with Dan Lepard, who has been a key consultant in the project.   I take my Foundation Degree students there every year, and Adrian, business manager, has been a key supporter of the work I've done in College.


He told me about using the heavily-flavoured oil in this loaf about 3 years ago: total winning idea.   Walnuts can be bitter; but that doesn't seem to apply to the oil, even though there is such tremendous depth of flavour.


Very interesting discussions on pros and cons of rye-based starters.


I have to agree with everything you said about rye: eminently fermentable, but definitely more flow, so a flatter loaf.   I can't put an exact finger on it, but, for some reason, I would prefer to use pre-fermented rye flour in a dough.   Maybe that's just over-caution on fear of structural collapse.   On the high rye doughs, definitely use the rye sour as opposed to wheat levain, and for the reason I allude to above.   But yes, agreed: I'd be confident baking with either leaven; but if you only want to keep one starter, I 'd agree with you and keep it rye!


Best wishes


Andy

salma's picture
salma

If I could reach out through the screen and grab only one, I would have a very tough decision.  They are utter perfection as has been said.  I have never made croissants because of the high fat content, but looking at these, I might just break down one day!!!


Salma

scottsourdough's picture
scottsourdough

Like everyone has said, these loaves are just perfect. I have one question about your process.


What do you think the advantages are of building your levain with very little starter, but using a high proportion of levain in the final dough? I tend to build my levain with a baker's percentage around 25%, as opposed to your 15%. And for final doughs lately, especially for whole grain breads, I've been using just 8% levain in my final dough, as opposed to your 35%.


Your bulk fermentation is much shorter than mine as a result, but what do you think the difference is in terms of flavor?

pattycakes's picture
pattycakes

Beautiful baking, Hansjoakim!


I printed out your recipe, and I have two questions: what temp do you bake at and for how long? I would probably bake at 460 F for 15 minutes under steam then 20 minutes to finish with a 10 minute rest in the hot oven with the door cracked. What did you do?


Another question: do you freeze you croissants to enjoy all week, and if so, how do you thaw and heat to keep the beautiful texture and crumb? (Not to mention the flakiness...)


Thank you!


Patricia

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

Thanks again, to all the rest of you who have commented on my post! It's highly appreciated and very kind of you :)


Andy: Thanks again! I think we agree on all points :) And thanks for the link, they've got some luscious photos on their website. I'll have a closer look.


Salma: You go for it! Croissants are not that butter-heavy (at least not compared to many other pastries... not to mention brioche, puff pastry or some of those devilish concoctions from the dairy-rich Bretagne region of France): A standard croissant recipe has some 250 gr. butter for lamination for a 1000 gr. dough. A word of warning: Once you've made them, there's no turning back.


scottsourdough: Hmm... I think we might be a bit "lost in translation" on some points here. How much of the overall flour do you preferment? Here, I preferment 15% of the overall flour. That's pretty normal for most pain au levains, I'd say. The weight of sourdough to be used in the final dough depends on the sourdough hydration (a higher hydration sourdough means that you use more sourdough in the final dough than if you have a low hydration sourdough). Coincidentally, the sourdough inoculation ratio is also 15%. I arrived at this starter ratio by experimenting with my sourdough; I knew I wanted it to be perky and fully ripe in approx. 12 hrs. Using an inoculation ratio of 15% seems to be the sweet spot for my starter.


Patricia: Thanks so much :) And that baking procedure is pretty much what I'm doing too. I have a total baking time of approx. 40 mins., the first 11 - 12 mins. under steam. I don't crack open the door at the end, but rather open the oven door for a few seconds from time to time during the final 30 mins. of the bake to let any accumulated steam escape. As for the croissants, most of them went to work, so my colleagues  could enjoy them as well (on an otherwise tough Monday morning). The leftovers were frozen. To thaw them, I place them in the fridge overnight, and then heat gently in the oven at approx. 350F - 375F for somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes. I'm not sure if that's the best way to do it, but they do retain most of their flakiness that way at least. Thanks again :)

wally's picture
wally

hansjoakim -


I can't stop coming back to look at those magnificant croissants again!  But as I gaze at them, a question occurs regarding butter content.  I welcome your take, as well as Don's, Andy's and others who make these.


You indicate above that a standard recipe for croissant has butter at 25% of TFW.  I believe Andy's formula for laminated puff pastry is around 40% if memory serves.


However, the recipe Don and I use is from Esther McManus, who made croissants on one of Julia Child's old PBS series. Her butter content is actually a whopping 106% of TFW.  (Don tamps his butter usage down, but by my calculations it's still around 82%. I have also cut down on the butter, but mine is still 94% of TFW).  gothicgirl, who posted a very nice pictoral and descriptive account of croissants on TFL here has a butter content of 62% in her recipe.


That's a pretty astounding range of butter content for the same pastry.  Is there something like an agreed on standard for butter content in these?  My own ongoing experimentation has taught me that the higher the butter content, the more difficult to keep it from leaking through the laminations unless you are very careful to keep everything well-chilled.


Anyhow, appreciate your thoughts here.


Larry


 

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Larry,


You raise a really good topic for discussion.


Think across a broad spectrum here.   So, full puff paste is 100 flour: 100 fat, and the laminating process is given 6 half turns making 1458 layers!!!   More layers means more aeration; but to achieve this, greater care in carrying out the laminating process.


Croissants have 4 half turns, and Danish have 3.   This is to produce the desired finished characteristics: maybe you might care to reflect on this and define!!?


Anyway, I just think that a formula calling for fat levels above 50%, and only suggesting 4 half turns [or equivalent book turns] is plain wrong.   Also, if more than this number of turns are used, then will that give you the desired final product qualities?


25% on flour would be my minimum, and 50% my maximum.


Small hint here: these are YEASTED pastries at the end of the day; they are not full puff


Does that fall into line with yours, and Hans' thoughts?


All good wishes


Andy

wally's picture
wally

This is a big puzzle because Viennoiserie is an area that's new to me.  Your comments above are quite helpful in distinguishing various kinds of this pastry.  I guess what I can't figure out is why McManus employed a full puff pastry with only 4 turns (well, actually two turns and a third, wallet turn).


I suspect, however, based on your comments, that my 94% butter croissants are probably not exhibiting hansjoakim's stellar internal structure because of too much butter and too few laminations for that content.  (On the plus side, there is no earthly need to put butter on one of my baked croissants). 


Your 'small hint' is a nice reality check: why bother with yeast if you're going to generate rise with the steam from the laminations alone?  Good point!


Thanks again as usual!


Larry


 


 

ananda's picture
ananda

Larry,.


I NEVER put butter on my croissants either [my formula].


I do delight in telling people that my croissant formula is 75% fat free!!!!


Glad this helped you get a better handle on Viennoiserie


Andy


 

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

Hi Larry,


Thanks again!


No, I meant that most standard croissant recipes that I've seen, have butter for lamination at 25% of total dough weight (not total flour weight). That's what I've seen in e.g. Suas' book ABAP and in most other pastry textbooks. So, if you've mixed up a 1.000 gr dough, use 250 gr butter for lamination.


There's also typically a small amount of butter cut into the dough itself, but that's only a minor amount (such as 5-6% of total flour weight).


Puff pastry is a different story. Whenever I'm making classic puff pastry, I scale the butter for lamination to 50% of total dough weight (so 500 gr butter for a 1.000 gr dough).


The recipe I used for the croissants pictured above is the same as that posted by Steve on his fabulous breadcetera blog.

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Larry/Hans


Yes, I'm familiar with setting the laminating fat at 25% of the dough.   My formula actually has fat at just less than 24%.


Actually this was how the butter was calculated in the original recipe I used as the base for my current formula.   BUT, at the time we used concentrated butter, which is 99.99% fat, as opposed to the standard dairy butter on offer in the UK where fat content will be between 80 and 85%.   I really liked using the concentrated butter, as it was so waxy you could sheet it directly through the pastry brake.   When Andrew Whitley took the enlightened decision to move to solely organic raw materials, we switched to Danish Organic butter, which had a water content around 15%.   But we left the butter amount at the original quantity in the recipe.   I think this was possibly done on cost grounds.   I remember the price of the organic Chocolate we sourced from Green and Blacks being high enough to necessitate serious portion control when assembling the Pain au Chocolat.   I think we changed the name to Petit Pain au Chocolat at that point!!!


I would be more than happy to increase the butter in the formula I use, but not significantly.   Suas' recommendation, through Hansjoakim is spot-on; laminating fat around 25% the final dough weight.


With puff pastry, however, I am schooled in thinking of fat weight in relation to flour weight, and not dough weight.   The term three quarte puff means flour 100: fat 75, and full puff means flour 100: fat 100.


I just got really scared having a look at Bo Friberg's Advanced Pastry Chef.   His recipe for puff paste has flour at 100 and the laminating fat is 125.   Be afraid; be very afraid!!!!


Best wishes


Andy

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

Hi Andy,


That's a really interesting read re: Whitley. Do you know whether he's still involved in baking? I've enjoyed reading his book!


Re: Friberg and puff pastry: I've never tried making puff according to his formula. It's probably closer to flour 100:fat 100 if you account for the flour that goes into the butter block? It sounds like a rather good idea, putting a liberal amount of flour into the butter block, as the dough and the block would be more similar in feel and texture, right? Friberg's recipe appears to be almost a hybrid between "ordinary" puff pastry and that freakish inverted puff pastry.


Thanks again for your interesting reply, Andy!

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi hansjoakim


Andrew Whitley has just re-located to the Scottish Borders; maybe 40 miles north of where I live?   His Breadmatters courses will be up and running once more, and are possibly sold out already.


We are meeting up soon to discuss formal qualifications to accompany professional baking to the standrds of the "Real Bread Campaign" which is taking off in the UK.


You can catch up with Andrew's activities here: http://www.breadmatters.com/


I didn't read through Friberg's methods, so am a bit less scared now you clarify he adds flour to the butter.   Are you familiar with the terms full and 3/4 puff?

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

Judging by his book, Andrew's philosophy regarding bread (and probably food in general) is both inspiring and motivating. I'd bet that most people who care about what they eat (and don't mind spending some time in their own kitchen), would find it less intimidating to start baking their own loaves after reading Bread Matters. A very unpretentious, funny and honest account of modern bread and how you can start baking on your own. I'll check out the website, thanks!


Hmm... full and 3/4? Not really, but I guess it's got something to do with the weight of butter used for lamination? If so, I guess I'm mostly familiar with 3/4 puff, since I've usually made puff with butter for lamination at 50% of total dough weight. With a 50% hydrated dough, the butter for lamination would be at 75% (3/4) of total flour weight.

wally's picture
wally

Ok, that's makes so much more sense.  My misreading!  But this has been a good discussion; I've learned a lot more about what differentiates different laminated doughs.  I also went back and read Dan DiMuzio's chapter on lamination in his very good Bread Baking (and which would have served me better had I read it before I started making croissants).


Thanks!


Larry

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

Larry, another splendid resource on Viennoiserie, if you don't own it already, is Suas' ABAP. There's an entire section devoted to Viennoiserie in the book (everything from choice of ingredients to mixing, lamination, proofing, alternative baking processes (freezing made up products), various fillings), and you'll get several failsafe formulas for croissants, Danish, brioche et al., in addition to more exotic French specialty products.

wally's picture
wally

Thanks for the suggestion Hans!  I don't have that book, but I see his formulas being baked by so many members that perhaps it's time to break down and get it.

Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

We used to harvest these nuts when I was a kid.  They are covered by a very hard shell and the meat has to be picked out of the nut shell with a tool.  I may try some in breads.


Black Walnuts have a very strong flavor (I use a few with other nuts to tone it down some).  While pricy, the black walnut is my favorite nut. These are great in ice cream.  Available online.


Hickory nuts have a unique flavor and make great cakes.  These are pricy as well, but worth it for me.  These are also available online.


 

Bev1616's picture
Bev1616

I am drooling at your pictures!!

earth3rd's picture
earth3rd

Your bread looks fantastic. The photo's give me inspiration. Nice job.

chefdann's picture
chefdann

Dude, Hans, Where is the croissant recipe?  I've a few but none produce that! Did you egg wash them?  100% or something less?  I am eager for my homemade continental breakfast.


Dann

salma's picture
salma

Yes Hans, I am ready to go for it!  On my first attempt I dont want to make any, I want to make your croissants, if you can share the recipe.


Salma

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

Great!


You'll find the recipe at this fabulous blog.