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Poolish Croissant - the pursuit of perfection

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txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Poolish Croissant - the pursuit of perfection

 

In the past 1.5 months, this is what I have been doing in the kitchen, once, or even two batches every week. I have occasionally made croissants before, however, this time I really want to get the techinques down. My idea of a perfect croissant: golden flaky high on the outside, crisp layers and honeycomb like crumb inside, and of course, buttery rich taste. Using European style butter (Plugra), in TX warm weather, with no professional equipment (no sheeter here!), it's a process that requires patience, thorough understanding for each step, a lot of attention to details, and insane amount of practice. I am nowhere near "perfect" yet, but heading in the right direction, here are some lessons learned in the process.

 

First, the following are resources that helped me a great deal, many thanks!

1)"Advanced Bread and Pastry". This book has a whole chapter on viennoiserie, the formula I am used is adapted from it. However, the formula and procedures require quite a bit of changes in a home kitchen.

2)Hamelman's formula from here. while I didn't use his ingredient ratios, but his procedure is much more suitable for a home kitchen, comparing to what's in AB&P.

3)Ralph from this thread. The whole thread is helpful, but Ralph's input was extra enlightening to me. I emailed him asking for the formula he uses in the shop. Since his posting was from over a year ago, I really didn't expect a reply, but he did write back! I really appreciate his insight and generosity.

4)Many enlightening posts from TFL, especially andy's post here.

 

Since I made many mistakes along the way, and learned a lot form each of them, I am writing them all down below. Warning, it's long. I mean looooooooong.

 

Poolish Croissant (Adapted from AB&P)

*I get about 12 standard sized croissants from each batch, with some small rolls from scraps.

 

- Poolish

AP flour (KAF AP), 160g

water, 160g

instant yeast, 1/8tsp

 

1. mix and ferment 12 to 16 hours.

- Final Dough

AP flour (KAF AP), 362g

milk, 135g

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

poolish, all

roll-in butter, 287g

NOTE 1, there are two poolish croissant formulas from AB&P, one for hand rolling, one for sheeter. The sheeter one has less liquid and less rest time between folding and rolling, the hand rolling one has much more liquid and more rest time. I find drier dough would give a more well defined cleaner crumb structur, but it's harder to rol out; wetter dough would be easier to roll out, but the crumb would be more sticky and less layered. What I try to do is to adjust the liquid amount so that it's dry, but still possible to roll out without messing up the layers. In the end, this amoutn is closer to the sheeter formula (the hand rolling one is way too wet for me), but with a tad more liquid.

NOTE 2, the original formula uses bread flour. As Andy mentions in his post, contrary to conventional belief, croissants need a strong dough to rise well and create layer in the end. Since the formula was meant for machine rolling, it can afford to use BF, however, 10 years of marathon running gave me strong legs, not arms, I had to change it to AP flour, otherwise butter would melt and leak when I struggle with the strong dough. Note that Hamelman's formula I quoted above is meant for home bakers, and it uses AP; while Ralph's formula (which he emailed to me) uses BF, but it's meant for shop production. I have seen recipes that uses mostly, even all, cake flour. It never ends well. The final product is usally small and bread like, with less rise. The crumb structure is not layered. IMO, those recipes are sacraficing the crumb structure for the ease of handling


NOTE3, this is probably the most important lesson in terms of ingredients. The industry standard for rolling in butter is apparently 25% of the dough weight, which comes out to be about 45%of flour weight. Andy says it's about the same over the pond. However, I have found that in a home environment, when the rolling is less even and efficient, more rolling-in butter is needs for a well defined crumb. The less butter to use, the thinner the butter layers are, which means easier for the butter to melt into the dough or leak out. I have increased the roll-in butter ratio to 55% of the flour weight, about 30% of dough weight, which gives me much more consistent good results. I know many have said more butter would cause butter to leak out during final proof or baking - it's simply not true. Butter leakage during proofing is caused by proofing temp being too hight, and butter leakage during baking is caused by under-proofing, neither is related to the amount of roll-in butter. With 55% of roll-in butter, zero butter is leaked during proofing for me, minimal leaks during baking - sometimes none at all.

NOTE4, I use  Plugra European style butter for most of my croissants. Have also used Kerry Gold occasionally. Both taste great. I would suggest to stick to a good European butter, different brand handls a bit differently. My Chinese baking friends can buy "butter sheets" which are 100% butter with high melting point. Those are much easier to handle, but I have not found any here in US, if anyone knows a resouce pelase let me know. In fact if anyone knows why we don't have such a thing here, I am curious to know as well. Those are made in New Zealand and Europe.

 

1. Mix everything but the rolling butter, knead until gluten starts to form. In my KA mixer, 3min at first speed, 3 min at 3rd speed. The dough is not very smooth, but not sticky. Pat flat and put in fridge for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

NOTE5, some recipes ask for a thorough kneaded dough, some ask for no kneading at all. I think the objective is to have a strong dough with well developed gluten structure AT THE END. All the rolling, folding, even relaxing in the fridge would strengthen gluten, so it's not a good idea to knead the dough too well in the beginning. It will make rolling near impossible (if you don't have a sheeter).

 

NOTE6, some recipe would ask for some bulk rise time at room temperature. I think it's not suitable for home bakers. Bulk fermentations strengthen the dough, which means one would need to play with knead time, and rolling technique to accomodate the added dough strength. Furthurmore, there are a lot of resting in my procedure because the dough would get too tight or too warm. With a bulk rise, I am risking over fermentating, which would cause the final proof and oven spring to be weak.

2. Cut the roll-in butter into pieces, put between two sheets of plastic or wax paper. Use a rolling pin to tap the butter until it's soft enough to roll, roll between the two sheets until it's a 7.5X7.5inch square. Put in fridge.

NOTE7, this is a good time to learn how your butter behave. How long does it take for it to get soft? How long until it's melty? That's the guideline for later.

3. Roll the dough out until it's double size of the butter sheet, 11X11inch in this case. Tap butter until it's roll-able, and the texture is similar to the dough. put the butter in the middle of the dough as following, fold up dough and seal the butter. Pay attention to corners and edges, you don't want spots where there's no butter.

 

4. Roll out into a 8X24inch rectangle, do your first fold as following:

NOTE8, as Ralph emphasized in his posting: don't trap the dough! Before folding, cut the edge off to expose the layers before folding that side into the crease of the dough, that way there's no "extra trapped dough".

NOTE9, even though at this stage, it doesn't seem important to roll the dough out into specified sizes, but you will get better results if you do. The reason is simple: if your dough piece is smaller at this step, you will have to do more rolling in the later steps. Later steps would have more layers of butter, which means it will be harder to roll out evenly. Roll out the dough to the size now.

NOTE10, pay attention to corners and edges. Every imperfection would be magnified 27 times because you are folding 3 times.

 

5 Put in fridge and rest for 1 hour. Take out dough and repeat the rolling and folding 2 mroe times, which gives 3 folds in total.

NOTE11, I had the misconception that the more folds, the more layers, the flakier it will be. Wrong. With too many folds, butter layers would be thinner and thinner, and it will be more likely for the butter to melt and leak. Even with perfect rolling, too may layers would mean smaller honeycomb "holes" in the crumb. With no sheeter and TX weather, I find 3 folds sufficient, any more it's risky.

NOTE12, 1 hour is "MINIMAL" resting time. I often have rested longer since I was doing something else. There's no harm in resting a bit longer. During final fold, I sometimes have to rest it in the middle in order to roll out to the desired size. Sometimes when it's way too warm (the curse of TX, at one point I was rolling out croissant while hubby was eating watermelon in a tshirt), I would also rest in the middle to avoid butter melting. It's always better to be overly cautious. Allow you self more time than your expect.

 

6. Put in fridge and rest for at least 90min.Roll out to 9X36inch, 1/8inch thickness.

NOTE13, I don't have such a big counter space, niether do I have such a big fridge, so I cut the dough in half, which means I have 2 pieces, each one is 9X18inch.

NOTE14, Rest often. Rest when there's any indication of butter getting too warm, or the dough getting too elasticy. There's no harm in resting too much.

NOTE15, Use enough flour so the dough don't stick.

 

7. Cut into triangles, 4.5inch wide at the base, 9inches tall(the one on the left). Don't hesitate to cut off inperfect edges if you want a pefect crumb. Fridge and rest the triangle pieces, then strech them into 10inch high(the one on the right), this will creat more layers.

 

8. Roll up fairly tight, stretch out the tip with one hand when you roll the bottom with the other hand. You should get 3 rolls, and 7 little steps, wich the tip underneath.

NOTE16, this is the straight shape, if you want a curved shape, you will need to cut a slit in the base before rolling, and roll to the outside as you start from the base. See Hamelman's formual link.

 

9. At this point, you can proof right away, fridge overnight and proof next day, or freeze (defrost overnight in fridge before proofing). Brush with egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 TBSP of water), then proof @ about 80F until very soft and jiggly. About 3 hours for me. Brush another layer of egg wash after proofing.

NOTE17, don't proof warmer than 80F, the butter might leak otherwise.

NOTE18, don't under proof, otherwise butter will leak during baking. I have yet to overproof these. They have to be REALLY soft and jiggly. The layers will be very obvious at the end.

NOTE19, the egg wash before proofing would reduce the requirement on proofing humidity.

NOTE20, I have a madeshift proofing box made from foam box, a temperature sensor and control from pet shop, and a light bulb, works great.

 

10. Bake at 425F for 10min, 375 for 15min.

 

Honeycomb enough? Not really, but getting there.They should be more well defined, and the wall of each cell should be thinner.

 

For this one, I didn't cut off the imperfect edge before rolling up , which made the center too doughy.

 

I don't even know whether a "perfect" croissant can be achieved in a home kitchen, especially a warm TX home kitchen, but I will keep trying. In the mean time, my family, friends, and coworkers are loving me for feeding them such delicious breads.

 

Sending this to Yeastspotting.

Comments

calliekoch's picture
calliekoch

TXFarmer,

 

Your croissant post has been immensly helpful. I have been reading and re-reading it along with the links to other croissant discussions that you include.

 

Do you have any tips for preventing the butter block from breaking up into large chunks during lamination? My butter always does this and, not only does it keep me from getting nice, even layers of butter and dough, but the butter chunks often cause the dough to tear and the butter breaks through it. It seems like rolling out the dough when it is at a warmer temperature would keep the butter soft enought to spread rather than break, but all the literature on croissant-making always stresses the importance of keeping the dough cold. I am laminating by hand with a rolling pin. Is it something about my rolling technique that possibly causes this?

 

Callie

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Callie,

Whilst your butter should not be in any way warm, you are either working with it too cold, or cut too thickly.

Your comment about "keeping the dough cold" remains a key principle.   So work with your butter, not dough to overcome this problem.

All good wishes

Andy

calliekoch's picture
calliekoch

Thanks for your input, Andy. My butter is definitely quite thick when I put it into the dough. Next time I will try rolling out my dough into a larger piece so the butter can be applied in a thinner layer.

Callie

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Hi Callie,

I think the key here is that the dough and butter need to be of same consistency if you want them to "follow" each other. You said butter is breaking, then it might be too hard/colder for the dough, OR/AND the dough is way too soft/extensible.

Either way it's not a good idea to "warm up" the butter, once it melts, you won't get any layers. You can tap the butter block a bit to soften it though.

calliekoch's picture
calliekoch

Thanks, TXFarmer.

In the past I have made the dough softer in order to make rolling it out by hand easier, but this last batch the dough was slightly stiffer in order to achieve a more honeycombed crumb like the ones in your post. However, it could probably still be a bit stiffer.

Callie

sanny's picture
sanny

Hi . just really don't know despite I have been trying so many times making good croissant . but still couldn't . 

only once it was better than all but every time a lot of butter is coming out from the dough.  while  folding and baking. 

my oven is electric and normally i feel it is too hot and reducing the temperature form given recipes.

in this recipe what is the Poolish one? and when dough is ready where to put it for rest to double in size? how long we should keep it? 

and for proofeing where to keep it ?

but still i will try and retry . 

 

san

skan's picture
skan

Hello  

I don't understand why most of the process has to be done at low temperature and later we leave the croissants at room temperature for several hours.

Isn't the butter going to melt then?

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Room temp alone isn't going to melt the butter (as long as it's under the melting point of butter), but warmer temp + rolling/handling the dough will melt butter.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

the looks, write up and pictures of your very fine croissants is wrong, I don't want to be right.  Really a nice piece of work txfarmer

Zsac's picture
Zsac

 

This is my attempt - i experimented with making two folds after each other at a time, and not just one. Is this the reason why my layers are not honeycomb at all like yours? I see them way to doughy.

In the TFL Laminated Yeasted Dough you posted Andy wrote about using concentrated butter. I gave it a go today, to slowly cook off the water in the butter. Could this butter with less water help in the lamination?

I really admire your dedication in perfection.

I wish you and everyone else on TFL all the best :-)

jlittle23's picture
jlittle23

This dough was done with the roll-in and first fold back-to-back.  When the layers totally collapse like in your photo, it's either from the fat being too warm and absorbing into dough, or the quality of the fat being compromised.  I would suggest abandoning the concentrated butter idea - by melting it your are destroying the crystal structure necessary to maintain the emulsion beteen the fat and the water.  Good croissants can be made from any decent quality butter.  Plugra helps (was used here), but I find it's biggest advantage is that it is more plastic at colder temps....a little less likely to break if you're dough is soft or spent too much time in the cooler between folds.  The slight difference in butterfat content between Plugra and regular butter can usually be overcome by adjusting flour protein and/or dough fat.

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Agreeing with everything Jlittle23 said. Rolling and fold back to back is not wrong in itself -- IF you can manage it without the butter melting/leaking. The key to keep butter "un-melted" is not some magic butter, but good old technique of keeping it cold, keeping it the same texture as the dough layer, and lots of practice.

Zsac's picture
Zsac

Thank you for both of your quick and direct response.

I did "boil" some butter in an attempt to concentrate it, and the flavour completely changed, developed a somewhat nutty taste. I will abandoned it as it was recommended :-)

I would like to add that I live in Hungary, and have no access to Plugra butter (or any of the other other brands mentioned in most of the recepies, actually.) Only Kerrygold is here, Irish.

Forgive me if I have lost the thread somewhere, but what is rolling and folding back to back? I just fold the dough like an envelope as it was demonstrated - or at least I try to :-)

Also, could I please ask some more explanation about adjusting the dough's fat content? Does that mean I should add a bit of butter into the dough? (I actually do that, a bit of butter into the dough, a bit of flour into the roll-in butter... is this a good thing?)

Thank you very much for the encouragement, I will defineatly keep on trying, and the posted croissaints defineatly look amazing :-)

Zsac

lazybaker's picture
lazybaker

yy posted a blog on croissants and used Kerrygold butter. You might want to read the blog and some tips:

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/27975/weekend-bakery-hamelman-croissants

This site has an embedded youtube video on how they roll the croissants:

http://www.weekendbakery.com/posts/wkb-2012-croissant-making-log/

 

 

jlittle23's picture
jlittle23

Zsac-

 

Most croissant recipes have a certain amount of fat in the dough, in addition to what is in the layers.  This serves a couple of purposes:  makes dough easier to roll and expand during proofing, firms up dough during refrigeration to make the consistency more similar to the roll-in fat, and to tenderize the baked croissant if the flour is too strong to be tenderized by the roll-in fat alone.

 

For most European bread flours and US “artisan-style” (lower protein) bread flours, 2-3% fat in the dough (compared to the weight of flour) is enough.  If you are using whole milk (not advised unless you scald it), you will get some butterfat from the milk.  For people like me using water and nonfat dry milk powder, it’s common to add 4% butter (which is about 80% fat), but if you are working with a very strong flour it’s sometimes necessary to add more butter if you want a tender, flaky croissant.

 

Keep in mind that if your method uses scrap from a previous dough, complete with roll-in butter, you should need to account for the extra butter from the scrap.  For example, I add 8% butter when I’m not adding scrap, but only 4% butter if I do add scrap.  I’m using King Arthur All-purpose flour at 11.7% protein, when calculated on flour having 14% moisture.  In many other countries, protein levels are usually given on dry matter (0% moisture).  My flour would be considered strong at 13.6% protein on dry matter. 

 

I would advise against working flour into your roll-in butter.  The reason people do this is to supposedly soften the butter so it is less likely to break when they go to roll the dough.  If this is a problem for you, it is more likely you a) have too much moisture in your dough, b) are mixing your dough too much, or c) are giving too much time in between turns.

 

By the way, there is no rule about how much butter to put in the layers.  Here are my preferences:

 

24 layers = 22.2 to 25% butter on dough weight

27 layers = 25 to 28.125% butter on dough weight

32 layers = 29.6 to 33.3% butter on dough weight

36 layers =33.3 to 37.5% butter on dough weight

 

Less layers makes it easier to have a very open crumb, but the layers will be thicker and less flaky, and volume will be lower.  More layers give thinner, flakier layers, and higher volume, but the crumb will close up a little.  I personally like 32 layers the best.

 

Hope this helps,

 

Jim

Zsac's picture
Zsac

Oh, and one more thing, I hope I'm not getting on anybody's nerves here - what is the conversion ratio between instant yeast and the fresh yeast that comes in a block? Maybe this is where I slip, that I use the wrong ratio :-( I only have fresh yeast. Thanks a lot again :-)

jlittle23's picture
jlittle23

I don't have any experience using dry yeast in croissant. For fresh yeast I would use 4%- 6% on the weight of the flour, depending on how stiff your dough is and how fast you intend to proof it. My dough is a little stiff - 48% water and 8% butter in the dough, and after shaping I proof 4 hours at 75F. I use 5% fresh yeast.

jlittle23's picture
jlittle23

Forgot to mention- do NOT proof at over 80F/26C...you will lose your layers because the butter will melt during proofing instead of during baking.

Zsac's picture
Zsac

Thank you very much for the detailed response.

The ratio you say, the 5% is similar to what I use - my question would be how much do you use in the poolish? Doesn't such a long "autolyse" tire the yeast before time?

 

txfarmer, please understand I am in now way trying to be tackling your recepie - I am very greatfull that you posted it, and also for everyone else for their comments. Its just that on my personal quest for perfection these question arise and you guys are the best place to get answers for it :-)

 

I wish you all the best

jlittle23's picture
jlittle23

Zsac-

You are correct - that would be way too much yeast in the poolish. I don't usually use a poolish in my croissant (see below), but if I do I use very little in the poolish...maybe .1% on the total flour in the recipe. The remainder - the 5% I mentioned - would go in the final dough.

I personally like an overnight refrigerated dough more than a poolish, although both can give nice results. I find that without a fermentation room that can maintain 70F, it's difficult to always get the same results from the poolish. My refrigerator, on the other hand, is always 33-40F and so is more consistent. Also, I find the colder dough gets a little more sourness, which I like. And last, I like to undermix my dough, and this is difficult with a poolish.

But you have the right idea - try different recipes and see which you like the best. I've been working on mine on and off for a long time, and have done a lot of experimenting....but before I started changing things I at least tried the recipes to see what about them I liked or didn't like.

Zsac's picture
Zsac

jlittle23

Thank you so much for the clear vision in this yeast subject.

You are totally correct regarding trying various recepies - that is exactly what I do. Usually I try to perfect my technique and my recepie in someway each time I make croissaints, and then I analise the results - and my friends and family loyally eat everything up to make space for the new experiment.

I am more then gratefull to you and to TFL for all the effort all of you put in to achieve and value the quality that comes from mastering all the small details... it makes it worth to try and achieve something great just to be able to share it with you guys :-)

annerang's picture
annerang

I've been trying to get these right for a week. I never really get the honeycomb look and the center is always doughy. I'm using Kerrygold. My croissants are never really 'jiggly' even after 3 hours of proofing. Could they be underproofed? Or is there a problem in my rolling technique?

Sjadad's picture
Sjadad

Are you sure you're baking them long enough? Laminated doughs need to be baked thoroughly. Some people have this experience the first time they work with puff pastry too. There's a tendency to panic that you're going to burn the pastry and you think  it's getting too dark. Commercial baked goods tend to be much lighter in color than properly home made or artisinally made pastries. With all of those layers of butter and dough you really need to bake it all the way through. 

Just my two cents. Good luck. 

lazybaker's picture
lazybaker

It sounds they could be underproofed. Proofing time can go beyond 3 hours, depending on the temperature they were proofed. If it's on the cool side, they could proof more than 3 hours. There is no set time. I always look at the edges where the dough was cut. If the edges are rounded and puffy, that's when they have proofed enough. If the edges are still sharp, they're still underproofed.

annerang's picture
annerang

It's me again. I really want to get these figured out and I would love any input. Can anyone tell from this photo (albeit sideways) what I'm doing wrong? I know that I could definitely improve my rolling technique, but my main concern is my rise. I am using SAF Gold yeast, tonight I let these rise for over three hours and they still werent' "jiggly" they definitely expanded but the egg wash seemed to dry out the dough, preventing it from jiggling. Any thoughts?

lazybaker's picture
lazybaker

Maybe it needs more butter. It looks more bread than pastry. 

For some reason, lamination of dough after letting the dough ferment overnight never works out for me. I just start lamination immediately after mixing and forming the dough.

-mix ingredients and knead for a few minutes until ball of dough forms. Don't overknead. The dough should not be sticky but not overly dry either.  Let rest for 15  minutes in the refrigerator.

-immediately start lamination. I do 3 book folds. It's the kind of fold that creates 4 layers. So if you fold it that way three times, you get 4 x 4 x 4= 64 layers. For some reason, this always work for me. The layers are flaky. Less than 3 book folds, the layers are crunchy. More than 3 book folds, the layers lose the flaky texture because the layers are too thin.

-I prefer proofing at 75 F to 77 F. I cover the dough with a buttered plastic wrap to prevent the dough from drying. I don't do the egg wash.  Proof until they look puffy. The cut edges should be rounded and puffy.

-preheat oven at a high temperature (for me I use 475 F since I don't use egg wash, but 425 F is fine). I use two jelly roll pans on top of each other since the pans aren't thick. If you have a good baking sheet that doesn't make things burn at the bottom, one sheet is fine. Bake for 5 minutes and then gradually turn down the temperature every 5 minutes. Like 475 F to 450 F to 425 F to 400 F to 350 F. The high temperature at the start helps to jump start the rise. The pastries need to be baked thoroughly, or they will go flat once cooled. It takes me like 30 minutes to be thoroughly baked. It may vary due to croissant size.

 

 

Home Sweet Baker's picture
Home Sweet Baker

Thx TX farmer

Thx! you inspired me alot on croissant making. This time i am using a straight method instead of adding SD or poolish, but it gives a not bad result too!!!

However, it not easy to get premium food ingredients in HK and this time i can only use the flour from China and butter from Singapore. I will re-try next time by using better ingredient and see how its goes.

 The Rust! Redish Brown Color!!     The Crumb - but not open enough (i guess missing of SD)

 

hOME bAKER from HONG KONG!!!!!

 

vhender's picture
vhender

OMG, devine is just one adjective to use! They are stunning!

tennispromn's picture
tennispromn

Hey Tx,

I just wandered onto this post, and what a piece of work it is-in a good way. I can really see that you're working hard on these babies. I, too, have been obsessed with making my own croissants after it became nearly impossible to find a good croissant in my area. In particular, I love your poolish with the malt that give my croissants such a good little extra bit of fermented flavor. In the past two years, I've made hundreds of batches of croissants, and I have a few little hints that I can divulge. With that said, however, I do think you're doing a great job. Also, you should relax about the honeycomb; you're doing a great job on that actually. On a side note, I just got back from grant ole' Paris, and I was able to sample a bunch of different croissants. Interestingly, about half of the croissants I tried had very little honeycomb at all. The point being that I've learned that there is no one school of thought when it comes to even Parisian croissants. Anyway, I thought you'll should know what I gleamed from that visit.

As for your recipe, I have a few thoughts. First, I completely agree with you on the liquid. Beware of doughs that are too dry if you don't have a sheeter. As for the liquid, however, I didn't see you mention scalding the milk. I've found this step to be very important insofar as the amount of time needed to proof. When I didn't scald the milk, it would add an extra hour to the proofing. As I found out, the milk has enzymes that inhibit yeast growth; scalding the milk eliminates the enzymes that impede proofing.

Now, as for the flour, I agree with you that bread flour is too difficult to deal with when you don't have a sheeter. Going a little bit further, however, I might encourage you and your readers to experiment with using some pastry (aka cake flour) in the mix. I use a mixture of 50% AP and 50% pastry. Now, the reason I've done this has to do with how much trial and error I've gone through. For whatever the reason when I made the croissants with just AP flour, the croissant would turn out a little more "bready." The inside was more chewy, and even the outside shards of croissant were a little tougher than I wanted. Also, I found that my crumb was still good, and my honeycomb was also still good. So, from then on, I mixed it up with the pastry flour.

Surprisingly, it was just what I was looking for. I no longer had bread-like insides, and I had an exterior that was shatteringly good but would would melt in your mouth. The problem that I think has forced me done this path has to do with the turns. I believe I was working the dough too much when making the turns, which was making it tough. Naturally, this wouldn't be a problem if I had a sheeter, but it is a problem when you do it by hand. So, feel free to mess with the flour a little bit-especially if you're like me and tend to develop too much gluten during the whole process. You can also develop less gluten based on how much you initially kneed the dough. I've found, like you Tx, that you don't want to overkneed the dough because you're going to develop enough gluten in the folding process.

I love your comments about trapping the dough. That's an area I never thought about before. I'll try this out some more and report back to see if I notice any consistent difference. And, your comments about using enough flour are crucial. If you don't use enough flour when you're making the turns, you're do will tear, and there's not really anything that can fix your dough once that happens. Also, I think the necessity of using adequate bench flour relates to the problem I was having with my croissants being tougher than I wanted. I think the excess flour needed to make the turns, which wouldn't be necessary with a sheeter, help to contribute to the gluten develpment, which can make your croissants tough and hard to roll out.

Lastly, I want to make a comment about the shaping of the croissants. For me, it's not enough that my croissants taste good and have a great texture; they also have to look great-you should be able to see all the layers you worked so hard on. Contrary to popular belief, the way to achieve this is by completely avoiding the stretching process. This destroys the layers you worked so hard to create in the first place. Also, I've found that I get a better honeycomb when I don't stretch the poor little things out. To date, the only complaint I would have about this method is that when eating you can't unravel/unroll the croissants as much as before like some people, including me, like to do. This is a very minor issue, though.

If any of your are wondering where I got this idea, I got it from Williams and Sonoma. I was looking on the internet to find the best looking croissants pictures. Well, after some searching, I found what I was looking for, and, as it turned out, they were made for W&S by a company called Galaxy Deserts. And, the W&S website even had a video showing how he made his. As I said, they did not in any way stretch their croissant triangles; they rolled out the dough, cut it, and then they rolled them up. That's it. Nothing else.

Last thing I'll mention, is it's good to have a little steam in the oven when you're baking the croissants. They puff up more when I have steam. To do this, I made a little aluminum foil vessel that sits on the bottom of my oven; I fill it with water just before I'm about to bake.

Anyway, these are a few tips that I've come up with after making many a croissant. Good luck everyone, and thanks a million to Tx for posting this very helpful blog. If I remember, I will try to update this post with some pictures of my croissants, so you'll can see what an unstretched croissant can look like-and they look good.

KQBui's picture
KQBui

This recipe is seriously amazing- my god the smell after mixing the final dough- that poolish and barley syrup- SO GOOD. I've been practicing txfarmer's croissants for over a year now- I got better drastically after the first few tries; but still my crumb is definitely not adequately open. And I have been getting better only marginally.

I only let it knead in the kitchen aid speed 1 for 3 minutes- that's it. Yet by the final rolling, the gluten is ridiculously developed. Your post has shed a light on my problem; I have a very, VERY heavy marble rolling pin. I think by using the same amount of force as people would using a wooden one, I have unintentionally overdeveloped the gluten and likely squished butter layers underneath. (Another note- I find kerrygold gets way too soft, very easily, almost like land o lakes butter. This surprises me given its higher fat content). 

Another problem- how would you cover up your dough when you return it to the fridge? I cover it with plastic, yet when I take it out, the outer layer is quite dry so when I try to roll it, the gluten resists and the dryness facilitates "cracks" or stretch marks which further damage the layers. Would the inadequate covering not be a problem if the gluten hadn't been overdeveloped in the first place? Or do I simply need to find a better way to cover the dough when chilling?

KQBui's picture
KQBui

Sometimes there are bubbles from fermentation, and rolling out the dough causes the bubbles to pop, again damaging the layers...is there anyway I can control the amount of bubbles?... Is it even a problem? Does this happen to you to?

passionne's picture
passionne

Hi im not sure is anyone is able to answer me since this post is way back dated.. what if i cannot find osmotolerant instant yeast ? can i replace with instant yeast? 

Brokeback Cowboy's picture
Brokeback Cowboy

Dried yeast is horse manure. If you can get access to fresh yeast use it! When substituting fresh yeast for dry, you double the amount of fresh yeast in the recipe

Cheers,

Brokeback Cowboy xo

Brokeback Cowboy's picture
Brokeback Cowboy

One of the best looking croissants I've seen in my years. In all honesty Croissants are rarely done well in North American bakeries to cite your limits as a home baker is preposterous! I can not name many professional bakers who execute a croissant as you have. Your persistence is inspiring and the results speak for themselves. Brava!

Cheers,

Brokeback Cowboy

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