The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Pâtisserie: A Lamentation

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

Pâtisserie: A Lamentation

 

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I’m coming up on my first anniversary.  It was late August last year when I first baked something like bread and wrote something like a blog post about it. 

So how do I celebrate this anniversary?  Perhaps by baking some wonderful bread to demonstrate the skill and experience I’ve gathered over the past year?  Of course not!  That’s would hardly be a meal fit for a glutton for punishment.  No, I have to try something new and difficult, to re-live the feeling of utter novice-hood that I remember as if it were just last year.

Croissants and Laminated Pastries!!  Something I could study for weeks, work at for days and finish by realizing how very much I have to learn.  Sounds like the kind of challenge that got me started baking bread. 

I started preparing myself for this experiment by reading everything I could find and watching lots of videos about making lamented dough (yes, I know that word is missing a letter; more about the lamentation later).  I was hoping that if I knew the mistakes other people had made, I would only make my own new and novel mistakes (of which I was sure there would be plenty).

Of all the writings on croissants on the World Wide Web, the best by far is Txfarmer’s TFL post about her pursuit of the perfect croissant (http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/22677/poolish-croissant-pursuit-perfection).  I careful reviewed her lengthy and detailed description of all the lessons she learned in repeated attempts.  Her account is a perfect example of what makes TFL great.  So much work so generously shared, and a wonderful pictorial of a successful course of experimentation. In the process of making the dough and shaping the croissants with the benefit of her numerous tips, I realized that she probably saved my ten pounds of butter worth of inedible (or at least grossly imperfect) croissants. 

I made two batches of dough, one Friday for baking Saturday, and one Saturday for baking Sunday. Each batch was split, with some of the dough going into croissants, and some into pastries—morning buns Saturday and pains aux raisins Sunday.

The Morning Bun recipe is here (http://www.7x7.com/recipes/tartines-heavenly-morning-buns-recipe), as cited in Sue’s blog post a couple months ago (http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/23704/tartine039s-morning-bun-best-eaten-fresh-morning-every-morning).  The pains aux raisins recipe is here (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/jacques-torres/croissants-pain-au-chocolat-pain-raisin-and-danish-recipe/index.html). 

In general, I found the process challenging but manageable.  So many steps, a full weekend is needed, and almost as much patience as butter.  I found the dough to be very elastic after the third fold, and never could get it as thin as ¼ inch, even after repeated rests.  I also learned on the first batch to be very patient with the proofing…it does take a long while at 70 degrees F. for the pastries to get sufficiently jiggly.  The first batch was a bit underproofed, I think.

But, all told, the results were very satisfying, even delectable.  The croissants are flaky on the outside, tender on the inside—a wonderful mouthfeel.  I slightly oversweetened the morning buns the first time, and will cut back the sugar coating a bit next time  The texture of the morning buns is pretty close to the way they should be.  Just a bit too heavy and chewy, probably due to underproofing.  And the pains aux raisins (which I may re-name “raisins d’etre”) are delightfully tender and delicious, with their almond cream and rum-soaked raisins.

I’m pretty pleased with my first tries at laminated goodies, and grateful to my mentors.

The peak experience was a mid-morning macchiato with warmed pastries.  A real morning buzz.

Now, about the lamentation.  Yes, I admit I love a good pun almost as much as a bad one.  But I really do have a lament about this baking experience.  I knew pâtisserie had lots of butter.  But, until I saw and dealt with the quantity of butter in this recipe, I hadn’t realized that eating this stuff is basically eating butter and sugar held together with just enough flour and liquid.  I imagine if I ate these regularly, someone would need to bash my arteries with a rolling pin (per the proper lamenation technique) just to get the blood to squish past the plaque buildup.   I’d end up looking like our local pinniped friends, the elephant seals.

It is simply not fair that something soooo good is soooo bad!  Plus, I know that Txfarmer is right that it would take a lot more practice to get really good at it, and of course I have to eat my homework.  Plus, today I got an Amazon package with the Tartine cookbook with all their amazing cakes, tarts and pastries.  I’m doomed!

So, if I can muster the will power, this will not be a weekly, or even monthly, habit.  But I will return to these sinful pleasures on occasion, hopefully when I have a crowd of butter-loving carbotarians around so I don’t need to eat more than one or two myself.  Okay…maybe three.

Glenn

Comments

Franko's picture
Franko

Welcome to the world of laminated dough Glenn, and a very nice entry you've made for yourself to be sure. You've made some truly excellent looking croissants and rolls for a first attempt at them. Really, really, impresive lamination in your dough, and something you should be very proud of considering you've done it strictly from research. Txfarmer is without a doubt one of the very best contributors and baker's on TFL, especially when it comes to laminating and Viennoiserie. You couldn't have studied a better baker or teacher, and your product shows that.

Like you, I'd eat these more often but for the percentage of solid butter fat in them. Tastes great, but at our age a treat to sample occasionally. Still, the practice of perfecting lamination draws me in, so I try to co-ordinate it with visits from our kids, ...or friends who don't don't seem to care, despite what I tell them about the fat ratio of croissant dough.

Showcase baking Glenn, well done !

Franko   

 

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

Wow!  Your kind words are as sweet and satisfying as a morning bun.  

I am pretty pleased with the outcome for the first try.  

We'll see how slowly we dole out the frozen pastries.   I think I'll set a rule that a five mile walk is required for every croissant.

Thanks.

Glenn

lumos's picture
lumos

  But, until I saw and dealt with the quantity of butter in this recipe, I hadn’t realized that eating this stuff is basically eating butter and sugar held together with just enough flour and liquid.

Exactly!!!!!!!!  That's exactly why I don't make croissant or Danish pastries (or that sort) anymore these days.  When I made croissant for the first time, I was amazed how easy it was to make, much easier than I'd anticipated, but also I was stunned by how much butter went into the dough.  And the resultant croissants were better than any other croissants I'd ever eaten (fresher, better ingredients....), very .....buttery......  it was very difficult to restrain myself from stretching my hand for another one.  I just thought 'this is a very dangerous thing to make.....Too dangerous...I shouldn't make this too often.....' Especially since the doctor found out my chlesterol level jumped up in a recent health check, it's an ABSOLUTE NO-GO area.

Yours look really great! It must've been a real testing time for your will power. :p

 

btw, what did you do with the scrap dough of croissant?  Try cutting it in small pieces and layer them with sugar, cinnamon (you can add other ingredients, too, like chopped chocolate, dried fruits, etc. etc.)  in a buttered  small metal dish/muffin cup (or that sort of things) and bake it for 10-15 minutes or so. It's evern better (and more dangerous) than croissants! 

Just saying....:p

lumos

 

 

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

Thanks for the comments, Lumos.  I did bake some scraps, just twisted as in the shot below.  

As for cholesterol, perhaps I can find a recipe for Lipitor glaze to put on these puppies.

Glenn 

lumos's picture
lumos

The scrap looks cute and yummy!

The one I mentioned above looks like this (with chocolate pieces) or this (with matcha=green tea powder and sweet beans) . I used to make mine with sliced almond. (chocolate redeemed unforgivably dangerous!)  Trust me, it's really, really, seriously good. I sometimes made croissants so that I could make these. :p

lumos

 

 

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Life is all about Balance, Glenn.. I'am sure you know that :) you'd get away with a croissant or two ,occasionally!

Beautiful croissant, and lamination layers you got on your 1st trial. You have an excellent ability to grasp things, so fast.

 

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

"Balance" you say?  Does that mean making sure that the fat cells get to both my gut and my butt?

Glenn

Syd's picture
Syd

Nothing lamentable about those, Glenn!  Outstanding lamination for a first try.  I am very impressed!

Best,

Syd

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

Glenn

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

If so, he'd surely be a good friend of mine.  (And if you get even half of the allusions, seek out the nearest mental health practioner.  Now.  Before the voices talk you out of it.)

Lovely laminated pastries, Glenn.  Nothing to lament (other than butterfat content) in those!

Paul

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

Jeremiah the Elephant Seal?  Jeremiah the mental health practitioner?

Thanks for the comment, Paul.

Glenn

EvaB's picture
EvaB

And yes he would be a friend of mine!

Love the delicious contents of the post, and get the kicks out of the references! LOL

louie brown's picture
louie brown

and gorgeous results first time out. Btw, I suspect that more than a few croissant bakers and eaters are rail thin exercise junkies indulging in a guilty pleasure. 

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

I can only dream that eating croissants is the secret to thinness.

Glenn

varda's picture
varda

Glenn,  You've outdone yourself.   Gorgeous croissants.   And yes there's a big difference between bread with a pat of butter on the side and butter with a few bread atoms thrown in aka croissants.   I gain weight just by reading posts like yours.   So...move along folks - nothing here to see.  -Varda

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

Varda--

They haven't even perfected smellavision, so how can you gain weight looking at pictures!?

I wish I could convey the taste and texture of these goodies via the internet...without the calories, of course.

Thanks for your comment.

Glenn

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

You did a fantastic job on those croissants and morning buns. Buttery, flakey goodness!

David

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

I do love buttery, flaky goodness.  I'm sure I'll also continue to enjoy a nice green salad (I'll have to eat more greens to make up for the butter).

Glenn

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

I am so glad my rambling of a post was helpful to you, but obviously the magic touch is all yours and yours only. :)

I think the process of making these is so much work that I can eat the croissants without guilt! :P

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

Thanks for your comment, and again for your generous instruction.  Your blog post was not rambling at all.  Indeed it was very well organized, with the tips woven into the formula.

I do wish that making these pastries burned as many calories as one took in eating them.  I think I would need to wax the kitchen floor (three coats) after every fold of the dough to burn the calories in one morning bun.  Nice thought, though.

Glenn

bakeshack's picture
bakeshack

Eating croissants is just like eating your everyday sourdough/country bread with butter and jam on it!  So I wouldn't feel bad if I had those croissants in my kitchen everyday! :)

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

Maybe like eating sourdough fried in a huge glob of butter.

Glenn

gary.turner's picture
gary.turner

A pat of butter is ¹⁄₄₈ of a pound of butter (⅓ oz. avoir.). That would be 33% of a 1 oz. slice of bread. Really, you'd be better off restricting yourself to crescent rolls, and eschewing your buttered toast for breakfast. That's a Good Thing©,  right?

cheers,

gary

gary.turner's picture
gary.turner

At the Texas State Fair, where goodness is in all things fried, you can buy deep-fried butter; I kid you not.

cheers,

gary

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

I Heart Texas State Fair foods. Love deep fried coke, deep fried cheesecake, deep fried cookie dough, deep fried twix, and my absolutely favorite deep fried guacamole. Sounds gross, but unfortunately, delicious.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I've always wondered why a warm croissant tastes so much better with a big dollop of jam or a little extra butter applied to the insides. Yours look delicious!

Eric

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

Eric--

Thanks for the comment.  I do like a bit of jam on croissants, but putting more butter on them is just overkill to my taste.

Glenn

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Yeah, I saw recipes where you soak croissants in more cream, butter, and sugar. Haven't tried it yet, I am afraid I might like it.

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

I guess the theme here might be that croissants are not the most calorie-intense thing one could enjoy.  For me, that distinction goes to the Oysters Brochette at Galatoire's in New Orleans: Breaded oysters, wrapped in bacon and deep fried, served with remoulade.  Amazingly delicious food, but you can feel the arteries hardening ...while you order a second serving.

Glenn

breadme's picture
breadme

Thought that was a strange looking batard.

I need time to have a go at making these.  The patisserie.

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

Wouldn't smell good in the oven at all!

Glenn

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

Glenn, your croissants look perfect to me, but I have to disagree on a point: all recipes I found on the web IMO are seriously lacking on the sweet side. For some reason all croissants recipes seem to be totally focused on butter, ignoring the lack of the sweet taste (a typical french-like inclination). Now, for my tastes a sweet bread that doesn't have at least 30% of sugar with respect to the flour doesn't have such a great taste, I find it quite neutral... thus unappealing, so much that I stopped completely my croissants tests.

Anyway, your excercise seems to have succeeded completely!

lumos's picture
lumos

Hi, Nico.....and sorry for cutting in before you, Glenn. :p

Reading your post just brought back the memories of sweet croissants we had in Italy on our holidays.   Not only the dough was MUCH sweeter, but some of them even had sweet glaze on top as well, they were almost like sweet Danish pastries than croissants. ......It was quite shocking to the palate that is used to buttery-not-that-sweet croissants, if I may tell you, though my daughter really enjoyed it.  Please don't tell me some people eat it with sweet jam......and very sweet hot chocolate! :p

 

 

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

Nico--

I respect your right to prefer sweeter dough.  For me, the best croissants are those that could be eaten with a dab of jam or with a slice of jambon.  In Venice years ago, we enjoyed some croissants that had an apricot jam glaze.  And for added sweetness, one can use the dough (as I did) for pastries.  All a matter of preference.

Glenn

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Glenn,

These are wonderful.

You'll have to watch Nico...he's got a really sweet tooth.   At least he is honest enough to admit it!

My croissant dough is sugar-free; so he wouldn't like that at all!   But, I don't want to end up the same size as the seal either

Best wishes

Andy

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

Glenn

EvaB's picture
EvaB

I like my crosissants a bit less sweet, if I want sweet I can add jam, or make them into pastry with sweet fillings, but I like savoury better, and would most likely fill them with ham, cheese or even gasp! tuna or chicken salad or right now fresh tomato bruschetta, its funny, I like sweet stuff, but that's candy, the rest of the time, give me a salad and I'm happy! LOL