The Fresh Loaf

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Flaky croissants

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kimemerson's picture
kimemerson

Flaky croissants

Hello one & all,

What's the secret to getting a nice flaky outer crust on croissants? Everything else about mine seems to be wonderful. But I like the real flaky outer stuff. Is it the rolling? Stretching at all? The egg wash? Clues?

Thanks

Kim

 

PastryPaul's picture
PastryPaul

Croissant dough is a laminated dough, but not so much as, say puff pastry. It's the water in the butter that steams and makes the layers during cooking. I believe that it is very important to get the butter well dispersed in the dough.

Three folds (all singles) are usually required to get the layering effect. I.E: Beurrage + fold #1, refrigerate, Folds two and three, refigerate overnight. Mind you, I have also seen people do a double fold immediately after the beurrage, and others who do double-single-double, which to my mind is too much.

BTW: The biggest problem I see with croissants is usually that the outer layer is TOO flaky. Nothing I hate more than biting into a croissant and having it disintegrate into a million flaky crumbs. It should have some "tooth" to it IMHO.

Egg wash mostly provides color. The croissants should be deep and rich in color, more like a brunette with golden undertones rather than a blonde. (side note: we use only yolks, water, and sugar in our washes for croissants)

Cheers

PastryPaul's picture
PastryPaul

In a conversation with my croissant guru he differs with my statement that it is the water in the butter that causes the puffing. He tells me that it is actually the water in the dough that does the trick. The butter keeps the dough layers apart.

I tend to go along with whatever he says since he makes the most amazing croissants. He prefers using regular household butter (at 80 - 83%, he insists we don't buy the low-water French type) which seems contradictory to his assertion.

In either case, the key would remain lamination.

Andy, are you around to weigh in on this?

kimemerson's picture
kimemerson

I already understand all this. I tend to do a "book" fold: bring both ends into the center -not overlapping - and then fold these onto each other so that you have four layers. I do that once, rfigerate, do it twice, refigerate and maybe once again, refigerate and roll out. If I vary it at all it's that I'll fold it twice the first time instead of once. But I'm  not at all convinced yet that makes any difference. And refigerating can have as much to do with the butter becoming too soft as it can with resting the dough.

Thanks

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

I've read more than once that it's the stretching that makes the light, flaky crust, and I tend to agree.  The croissants I didn't stretch came out without that lovely bubbly crust, while the ones I definitely stretched had the proper crust.  Some recipes also tell you to let the croissants rise after a first brushing with egg wash, uncovered.  I'm not sure whether that would make a difference or not, since I've never tried it.

kimemerson's picture
kimemerson

I've pretty much been leaning the stretching direction too.  I do stretch, however, and I'm wondrting if I'm not really giving them enough stretch. I mean, it just springs back anyway so it's not as though I'm mis-shaping or over thinning them in the process. Could it be I'm being too easy on the stretching and not really accomplishing anything?

Thanks

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Kim,

If your triangle shapes are resisting when you shape them, then you need to allow the to rest for longer.   Keep them cool and covered for long enough that you are able to tease out the triangle shapes easily and with no resistance.

Best wishes

Andy

kimemerson's picture
kimemerson

Andy, I'm not sure I understand. I'm not having trouble shaping anything. I stretch as I roll from the triangle to the final rolled individual piece. I just need to understand how to get the tops flaky rather than simply bread-top like. Mine can get a little bubbly on top but rarely do they really flake. Here's a photo. Thanks.

lazybaker's picture
lazybaker

In the past, I ran into problems where the exterior was bread-like in texture. It was more crunchy than flaky. I think the problem was due to the dough not having enough butter. Also, I think I didn't brush off the excess flour as I was flouring the dough. The excess flour combined with the dough layers created crunchy layers, as opposed to flaky layers. I flour as little as possible to prevent the dough from sticking during rolling and brush off the excess flour as much as possible. With a bit more butter and brushing off the flour, that's when the pastries were flakier.

kimemerson's picture
kimemerson

What's the % of  butter in your recipe?

lazybaker's picture
lazybaker

Volume wise since I make them on a small scale, it's 1 cup of butter for every 3 cups flour. For some recipes I've seen, it's 4 cups of flour with 1 1/4 cups butter.

The key thing is to make sure the layers have even butter and dough layers. You don't want thick though layers on top. Make sure to proof until they look puffy, so butter won't leak out during baking.

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Kim,

I was trying to provide a solution the what you identified in the comment above mine; here:

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/25013/flaky-croissants#comment-184489

If your triangle shape will not stretch out easily then you cannot shape it properly.

Your croissant look beautiful, by the way.   But you only have a couple of stands on them.   If you could stretch out your dough piece further and more easily you could be looking at 6 stands and a much tighter shape.   I thought that is what the particular comment was making reference to, although I realise it may not help with your original query.

Best wishes

Andy

kimemerson's picture
kimemerson

Hi Andy,

What are "stands"? 

The stretching part of croissant making is still relatively new to me in the time I've been baking croissants. I only heard about it maybe a year ago and for the years I'd been making croissants I just figured I was missing something but had no clue what. So now I think I just have not been stretching enough. I'm being too timid. Looks like I'll just have to do another bactch. Oh well, life is hard all over I suppose.

Thanks,

Kim

proth5's picture
proth5

As Andy points out - the stretching is very important.  Recently I had a chance to work with an extraordinary baker on croissants.  This individual had us  hold the triangles in the air by their base and stroke the triangles several times to elogate them.  A very gentle stroke.  A very light touch like petting the cat's ears.  This elongated the triangle in a gentle way that didn't break or warm the butter.  I don't take pictures, so I can't post photographic evidence, but these croissants were very flaky after only two double folds.  An interesting refinement on a basic move...

Hope this is helpful.

YBMHP's picture
YBMHP

Proth5, I know I'm jumping in a little late here but I thought Maybe you could answer a few questions for me. I've been using Peter Reinhart's Croissant recipe and his recipe calls for the triangles to be cut 4" x 9" and rolled out approx 7 times. I've seen some videos of people stretching their dough like you mentioned and I was wondering how long should the dough be after the stretch??? Can I use a rolling pin to roll them out instead or will this 'break' the dough?? Thanks for your time!

juds2228's picture
juds2228

Our croissants lately have a "bubbly" appearance after baking.  The layers are visible on the inside, but the exterior is bubbled and not the pretty appearance with flakes.  Is this caused by incorrect proofing, mixing, stretching, etc?  Any help would be appreciated!  Thanks!

 

Sally

kimemerson's picture
kimemerson

Sally,

If you're talking about the same thing I brought up, then I feel we're closingin on the stretching as the way to get that nice flake. Your description sounds a lot like my own croissants. 

I looked on You Tube for some examples of this and I'd have to warn that there are many variations on You Tube, of how people treat their croissants. Not all of them are ones I would want to copy. Still, I see some doing quite a serious stretch.

I think, as I said above, that we'll just be forced to make a new batch, a test batch. Oh well.

Kim

kimemerson's picture
kimemerson

Ok, I'm making the sacrificial plunge forward for Fresh Loaf bkaers of the world: As I type I am making the next batch of croissants and, as with any exercise, we will be stretching. Stay tuned for results with photos. The upside is that, if all elese fails, even without the requisite flake, at least there will be yumminess and smiles all around.

Here's to butter!

Kim