The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Julia Child's Croissant - with major overhaul

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Julia Child's Croissant - with major overhaul

Sending this to Yeastspotting.

Click here for my blog index.

This is the theme for this month's Daring Bakers' Challenge. One look at the original recipe (see here), I knew it wouldn't produce the croissants I want. Don't get me wrong, I worship Julia Child, but I think she made some compromises here so that it's less daunting for the home bakers, however, the quality suffers as the result. All the changes I made were based on the lessons I learned over the last few months of croissant marathon, you may find that they correspond closely to the tips I gave in this original croissant post.

1. Reduced the water amount by A LOT
2. Reduced the oil amount by A LOT. The original recipe yields incredibly wet doughs, while it's easier to roll out, it affects crumb negatively. The first 2 changes mean to make the dough drier, and crumb more crisp. Note that this recipe uses oil rather than butter in the dough, which makes the dough more extensible(i.e. easier to roll out). It would make the dough stronger if I replace it with butter, but I kept oil to stay somewhat true to the original recipe - I can get the dough strength in other ways.
3. Reduced salt. The original recipe yields VERY salty croissants.
4. The original recipe soften the roll-in butter then "smear" it onto the rolled out dough. It may see easier than making a butter block then enclose it, but softened butter is warmer butter, which means it's easier to melt, a big NO NO if you want clear flaky layers. In addition, smearing doesn't produce even butter layers either. I still used my usual method to enclose butter: make a butter block, fridge, enclose into dough. (picture below with recipe)
5. Used bread flour rather than AP flour.
6. Kneaded the dough much longer than what the recipe required. Both 5 and 6 aim to increase dough strength. Stronger dough rises higher during baking, creating clear layers and open honeycomb crumb. Yes, stronger dough is also harder to roll out, but it's worthwhile.
7. The original recipes requires 4 bookfolds, which IMO, is way too much for such small croissants (much smaller than the standard size I made before). More folds == more layers, good in theory, easy to have leaky butter in practice. Even if the butter doesn't leak, more layers in such a small roll would just make the crumb less "open". I only made 3 bookfolds as usual.
8. The original recipe doesn't produce a lot of dough, yet still makes 12 croissants, so each one is tiny-mini. On top of that, the shaping process has unusal sizes (bottom and sides are of the same length for each triangle, which means each croissant is very long, but doesn't have a lot of layers), and too much stretching (easy to melt the butter). I changed the sizes to make 8 croissants (still much smaller than standard size, but at least each croissant is rolled up enough times to create a layered crumb).
9. Extended proofing time from 1.5 hr to 3.5 hr. Croissants MUST be fully proofed for a good crumb.

Note: this recipe requires a builk rise , which is different from all the other croissant recipes I tried before. Bulk rise made the dough extra strong - again, harder to roll out, but crumb is better.

Croissants (majorly adapted from Julia Child)
Note: Makes 8 small croissants
Note: for details and tips, please see this post
Note: for more tips on making croissants in warm weather, see here

Bread Flour, 228g
Milk, 120g
Water, 13g
Sugar, 14g
Salt, 5g
Instant Yeast, 2.7g (a scant tsp)
Oil, 15g
Roll-in Butter, 125g

1. Mix everything together but the roll-in butter. Knead @ low speed for 3min, @medium speed for 7min, the dough should be very smooth, relatively strong, a relatively weak windowpane.
2. Bulk rise at room temp (24C) for 3 hours until doubled, mine even tripled. Knead to get rid of air, press flat, put in fridge for 2 hours or overnight.
3. Tap roll-in butter between two sheet s of plastic, roll into 5inch square. Put in fridge for at least one hour.
4. Roll out dough into 7inch square, enclose butter block as following, seal well

5. Roll out to 6X14inch rectangle, do first bookfold along the longer side. Don't forget to trim the edges.

6. 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.
7. Put in fridge and rest for at least 120min.Roll out to 8X16inch, 1/8inch thickness. You may need to rest the dough in fridge several times.
8a. For classic croissants: cut into 4 rectangles, each 8X4inch. Then cut each rectangle diagonally into 2 triangles. Trim edges, stretch lightly into skinny long triangles.
8b. For Bear claws, cut into 5X3inch rectangles.
9a. For classic croissants: roll up fairly tight, stretch out the tip with one hand when you roll the bottom with the other hand. Since they are smaller, you won't get as many layers as the standard ones

9b. For bear claws, put a TBSP of almond filling on the dough, fold in half along the longer side. Seal, and make 4 cuts for the "claw" effect.

10. 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 3.5 hours for me. Brush another layer of egg wash after proofing.


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

 

The very round cross section indicates enough dough strength. The crumb is open with a clear honeycomb effect.

I am fairly happy with the crumb, but there's always room for improvement. The smaller rolls has less layers than standard ones, which means the crumb has less "holes".

The bear claws came out pretty well, with or without powder sugar. And I used the leftover dough from bear claws for some mini chocolate croissants.

 

Bear claws and chocolate croissants were rolled up in less turns than croissants during shaping, so the layers are very clear and very flaky - easier to make than the standard ones IMO.

With some major overhaul, this recipe produces very good results.

Comments

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Great write up and photos, on your method for making more Gorgeous Croissants!  Thanks for all your hard, cool work and sharing : )

Sylvia

 

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Thanks Sylvia! It's fun to be able to share my experience.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Great write up and pictures and I'm stuck on step 4.  I need one more picture.  I imagine the dough corners get folded over the butter and meet or overlap in an "X"  before getting rolled out.  Please correct me if I'm wrong.  Any special tips to sealing?  Step 5.  "Don't forget to trim the edges."   Do I cut something off?  Yes, I cut the edges (caught that on the other thread)  I was worried about those rolled edges with less butter.  You make it look so easy!  I just got to try this!  Can you tell I'm nervous?

Mini

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

1) Yes you fold over the corners to meet in the middle like an "X". No special tips on sealing, just pinch them together

2) Yes, trim off the edge to expose butter layer before folding that edge into the crease. Triming also makes sure that the butter layers get to all the edges and corners.

Don't be neverse, and don't be discouraged if you don't get everything perfect the first time -- for the first few times. I have been working on it for almost 6 months, still lots to improve!

Barmy's picture
Barmy

Do you think this recipe would still work if I turned your measurements into percentages?  A friend  just gave me 1kg of french pastry butter - Lescuere Grand Cru Appellation - and I would love to make your lovely looking croissants.

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Sure, it can definitely be scaled up or down. Jealous of your butter, however do note that the bigger the amount the harder it will be to roll out evenly by hand.

varda's picture
varda

of your caliber standard English words don't seem sufficient.   So your croissants look scrumdidlyumptious !   Furthermore, your directions are so detailed and clear that if one day I start wandering down this path, I'll know where to start.    -Varda

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Thanks Varda for the encouraging words!

lazybaker's picture
lazybaker

I never thought the size of the croissants matter, but it did. Likewise, I noticed that when I cut the croissants smaller, there weren't so much air holes inside. One time, I made the croissants larger. The isosceles triangle was something like 5" base with 9" height. I proofed them between 80 and 84 F until they really get huge and puffy. They really expand with large pockets of air inside. Also, I noticed the texture was lighter and flakier with the larger croissants.

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Actually rather than size alone, I think what's matter is the "size/thickness" ratio. As we generally roll the dough out to be 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick, it's just right for a standard size croissant - rolled up enought times to create an open yet layered crumb. However, if we use the same dough to make small croissants, each layer of dough is too thick for the size, which means the dough won't be rolled up as many times, the crumb won't be as layered. I bet if we can roll out the dough proportionally thinner, mini croissants can also have good crumb. However, it's difficult to roll the dough out to much thinner than 1/8inch...

nir's picture
nir

You listed the baking time and temp. as "Bake at 425F for 10min, 375 for 15min." Did you mean bake at 425 for 10min then reduce the temp. to 375 and continue baking for 15min; or are they different baking times and temps. for the crossiants and the bear claws?

Thanks, great listing; I can't wait to try this!

 

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

I meant to bake at 425 for 10min, "THEN" 15 more minutes at 375, for a total of 25min. Same for croissants and bear claws.

Jeremy's picture
Jeremy

YOur always amazing and inspiring.....I finally got a decent croissant made and am taking a course, which I should of nixed since reading all your posts! Cheers and happy baking!

 

Jeremy

www.stirthepots.com

BoyTimo's picture
BoyTimo

Hi I was wondering if someone could help me out. I have made croissants twice now but each time they don't rise at all in the final proof and there aren't any layers even though I do 4 turns. It is really frustrating as I can't understand what I am doing incorrectly...

BoyTimo's picture
BoyTimo

Hi I was wondering if someone could help me out. I have made croissants twice now but each time they don't rise at all in the final proof and there aren't any layers even though I do 4 turns. It is really frustrating as I can't understand what I am doing incorrectly...

SallyBR's picture
SallyBR

Absolutely awesome!   I have croissants as a project for this Fall,  but I'm so scared to go ahead and try them again... I don't think I am 'croissant material', but with your detailed instructions, I might just give it another try

 

goodbetterbest's picture
goodbetterbest

Just as a comment, from what you described you were making "pain au chocolat" or "chocolatine" (in southern france) not chocolate croissants... a common confusion though. Just wanted to let you know! Making the recipe now, it seems like it should be great :)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pain_au_chocolat

 

 

StuartG's picture
StuartG

Thanks for your work - very impressive and I am both not surprised and also in awe of you working on this over 6 months.  I've also been a little confused by many of the different recipies - some say use cake flour, some say use bread, some say kneed only to combine and some say kneed 15 minute, bulk rise or no bulk rise ...

I've tried croissants a dozen times now and I keep running into the same problem, for the last roll, the butter is being exposed.

So, for the final roll out before cutting the trianges, do you take the dough straight from the fridge or do you let it warm up a little?

Also - why 120g milk and 14g water?  Any reason not to just use 134g milk?

StuartG's picture
StuartG

Thanks for your work - very impressive and I am both not surprised and also in awe of you working on this over 6 months.  I've also been a little confused by many of the different recipies - some say use cake flour, some say use bread, some say kneed only to combine and some say kneed 15 minute, bulk rise or no bulk rise ...

I've tried croissants a dozen times now and I keep running into the same problem, for the last roll, the butter is being exposed.

So, for the final roll out before cutting the trianges, do you take the dough straight from the fridge or do you let it warm up a little?

Also - why 120g milk and 14g water?  Any reason not to just use 134g milk?

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Straight from fridge. Never let the dough "warm up". "Warm" is the enemy to croissant making, nothing good can come from warm butter, EXCEPT FOR after shaping,during proofing. Even then, it's the best not to go above 85F for proofing.

If butter leaks and the dough tears, either you have not relaxed the dough enough, or the dough is not extensible enough.

Milk has less water than pure water, so if you use all milk, you will need more.

fishguy83's picture
fishguy83

Thanks for all the info Tx! You're really putting some effort into these things. In fact, I think you might be over-thinking these little buggers. After some experimenting of my own, it has be proclaimed that I make the best croissants in Minneapolis. Better than anything in any bakery. Period. The lesson I've learned, after all this, is that these things aren't actually that difficult. The only real problem concerns temperature. Don't make these in a hot kitchen without chilled marble or something like chilled glass. I have a glass cutting board that is perfect for this project. I put it in the freezer before I use it, and I keep the dough on it while chilling after turns. This is the cincher. Also, you cannot proof these things in anything above 75F. It will destroy everything you've worked so hard on. It also helps if you have central air like me. It's a lifesaver.

Beyond these tips, I have a few comments about your post. First, I think some of your Julia criticisms are unfounded, while some clearly have a stronger backing. For starters, I reject the idea that you need to reduce the liquids markedly. I used almost a cup and a third of milk in my last croissant batch, and the crumb was not negatively affected in any way. One of the problems I see in your recipes (yes, I looked at the others) is that there's no accounting for humidity in any of your posts. Depending on how the weather is, you're bread will either take more flour or less flour depending on how much liquid you use. I almost never pay attention to the exact amount of liquid one has to add, as it's a total waste of time.

I go by what bread looks like. I've worked with enough bread to know what it should look like. I'm afraid you're scarring off many of the readers from using enough liquid. Quite frankly if I used your measurements, I don't think my dough would have been even usable. It would have been a mess. Also, I do not cut back on the salt. I've given these things out to everyone, and not a soul complained about the salinity. Beyond this, I would also encourage people to not overdue the kneading. I actually don't knead past four minutes. All the turns create gluten, as well. That has to be accounted for. Another good tip I have for people is to add a few tablespoons of flour into the butterblock. This has the effect of absorbing the extra water our less fattening American butter has.

As for some other thoughts, I always use AP flour. Can't say what bread flour would do, but since mine are perfect I see no need to change anything up. Finally, I think the fourth turn is necessary; I don't think it interferes with the crumb. Every respectable french baker does four turns. The French are some of the few who still know how to make croissants-although even in Paris this is becoming a lost art. If you've done you're work well enough, you shouldn't have any issues with butter leakage. In fact, I've never had butter leakage of any kind either during proofing or cooking. ( I do, however, have experience with laminating dough.)

So, now that I've torn down this post so-to-speak, I do have some positive comments. For starters, your ideas about he butterblock are right on. Smearing warmish butter onto your bread dough is moronic, even for Julia. YOU NEED A BUTTERBLOCK. PERIOD. And, lastly, you're totally right about the proofing. They need at least three hours to get anywhere near where they need to go.

 

bnom's picture
bnom

Fishguy - it's one thing to proclaim your croissants are perfect, and the best things croissants in Minneapolis period, but it would be nice to include a photo and crumb shot.  From one of your earlier posts (to DonD, April 19) I gather you have been making croissants for about two months.  I've never attempted croissants so I don't know if two months is sufficient to master them. However, since I have had TxFarmer's croissants and do know how diligently she has been working to perfect her technique, I wouldn't hesitate in trusting her recommendations.

fishguy83's picture
fishguy83

Sorry no photos. But I can assure you they are the best. I've tried every bakery around. Everyone is in agreement. Tx makes everything sound way too complicated and hard. You really can't mess these things up unless you're dough is too dry, which for the life of me I can't figure why Tx is so adement about. The bottom line is dont' worry. They'll work out fine if the dough is okay, and the butter doesn't melt. Her recomondations, in my opinion, aren't worth much I hate to say. I've laminated dough many times; so I have great experience with the combining of the butter and dough. This is hard for some. The question isn't about my croissants. You can either believe or not. I don't care. The bottom line is that Tx is making this seem like cardiac surgery when it really is not that hard. As for my crumb? The layers looked identical to Tx, but my croissants looked, which they should, more brittle on the outside. A perfect croissant's exterior should shatter when you bite into it. It's interior should be light and fluffy like a cloud.

 

Tx can do whatever she/it wants to do. She just makes this process seem dificult. It's not difficult, and I'm trying to encourage people to understand that. Anyone can makes croissants.

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

First of all, thank you for taking the time to write such a long response.

Secondly, I welcome discussions about bread making (that's the reason I am here on TFL), especially those that's founded by facts. However, while you proclaim that your croissants are "better than store bought" , I haven't seen any facts regarding your results: how does the crumb look? Honeycomb like or not? Are layers visibly separated? Are the walls of holes crisp? I also haven't seen any facts regarding your attempts at my method: was it impossible to make? Was the dough so dry that you couldn't roll it out? How much water did you use? In grams, rather than cup? Actually, did you try my method at all? I am an engineer, I think like one. If we are to debate two different methods, I think it's reasonable to lay out the goal to achieve and detailed facts/reasons of each method.

Thirdly, I think our discussion need to first confirm that we are in fact chasing the same end goal. My goal is as such: I want a croissant that taste great AND with honeycomb like crumb. I want the holes to be clear, even, and crisp. That's my goal, and I wouldn't dream of forcing it on anyone else. If you are happy with your results and it's different from what I want, great, congratulations. In the mean time, let me continue my crazy obsessed, possibly meaningless, chase. If our ideas of "great croissants" are different, then there's no point "tearing down" each other's methods.

Fourthly, here are some of my facts.
1) This recipe was a part of Daring Baker's Challenge, which had a lot of members participating in. The problems I pointed out in the original recipe was shared by most participants -- with pictures to compare with. In fact, if you do a search on Daring Baker's, you will find quite a few posts quoting my method and better results using it.
2) As I mentioned in several earlier croissant posts :

my preference for dryer dough and more kneading is conditional: dryer dough and better kneaded dough would result in better croissants IF THE DOUGH CAN BE ROLLED OUT WIHTOUT BUTTER LEAKAGE. Given that I am a person with arm strength much weaker than a sheeter, I need to find the balance point - i.e. the dough needs to be as dry and kneaded as possible yet still possible for me to roll out successfully. The balance point is different for each person. For someone who is not as obsessed as me, who have not made croissants almost every week or two for the past year, the dough might needs to be less developed and wetter, which is not wrong, nor bad. However, it also doesn't change my theory.

3) I agree that liquid content needs to be adjusted with different flour/humidity, but that goes without saying for any bread recipe. Would it make me less wrong to include a disclaimer saying "might need to be adjusted with different flour/humidity"? Does Julia's original recipe include such a warning? In my limited experience of making croissants in Dallas and Seattle, humidity varies, but doesn't affect the liqud amount THAT MUCH. Types of flour would make a bigger difference, which is why I specify which type I use.

The following is a batch of matcha croissant with red bean filling I made yesterday (not Julia's recipe, it's my own recipe with sourdough starter). The crumb is closer to my goal than ever, after a year of practicing my theory. Bread flour, very well kneaded.

The following is a batch with dryer dough (bread flour, also kneaded very well), it's obvious that the dryer dough has less sticky layers, but since it's harder to roll out, holes are less even. Hence the balance point written above.


Finally, I am an amature baker who makes croissants in my tiny kitchen. I feed them to my friends and family. I am not so arrogant that I would assume to have enough influence to "scare off" anyone to do anything. I have a goal (which might be crazy to some), I document my journey to chase the goal here on my blog. If the journey looks unnecessary or confusing, then by all means, close the browser. I can't hurt anyone's confidence in croissant making unless they let me -- and if they are so happy with their perfect croissant, certainly they won't feel challenged. 

In summary, I sincerely welcome any debate when it comes to theory and technique. If you think my theory is incorrect to achieve my goal, I would love to hear it. However, if your post basically says: "My croissants are pefect, so perfect that it's better than anyone else in the city. My methods are different from yours, hence yours are wrong." Frankly, I don't know how to resond other than saying: "My croissants are NOT perfect, but I have an idea how I want them to be like. These are my methods to get to that goal, and I am getting closer with each try.  I have tried other ways, and I got farther from my goal. "

Cheers.

varda's picture
varda

I can see that you do not need anyone else to defend you, as you are well able to do it yourself.    I am as impressed with your clear and logical response as I am with your wonderful and exceedingly well-documented croissants.  -Varda

fishguy83's picture
fishguy83

I think you're overthinking the whole problem. You're closer than you think to getting where you want to go. I'm just encouraging people not to get overwhelmed. So many people get overwhelmed before they ever get started. Also, it's most important to understand that a dry dough is toxic to good croissant making. You can go on Youtube and see real frenchmen making croissants. They're dough is certainly not "dry" in any way. I can't disagree with you more on any other point. As for my other flippant comments, they were really suggestions. I assume you're croissants, by the photos, turn out quite well, but we ain't doing brain surgery. These aren't hard to do with proper instructions. Also, when you use metric measurements, it emplies that you're being exact. At least that 's what we in America think when you use this instead of cups, tablespoons, etc. If humidity issues go without saying, why do have such an exacting ingredient list. Many people actually don't know that they can adjust liquid/flour amounts depending on the weather.

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

1) You keep saying "these things aren't difficult to make". But what things? It's not difficult to simply make something, it's often difficult/particular to make something in a very specific way. My posts are about making croissants that fits MY OWN standards. If your simple/easy methods can produce similar results that matches my standards, please do take a picture and show me. And I would be happy to discuss why different/opposit methods would produce similar results. However, if your simple/easy methods are producing croissants that are different from I am showing here, yet you are still very happy about, then there's absolutionly no point of saying which methods is easier, because our goals are entirely different.

2) You suggest that my detailed posts are discouraging to people. May I suggest that it might be discouraging to SOME people, which may or may not include you. To them, there's a very easy solution: turn away and don't read. I have gotten many messages from people that such detailed instructions were very helpful to them. Having a baseline and concrete direction to start from is encouraging to them. It boils down to different learning habits. This reminds me of some critisim about Rose Levy Beranbaum (who wrote "Bread Bible" and "Cake Bible", amonth other books). Her instructions are very detailed, a cake recipe that took a page to describle in other books would take 5 pages in hers. I have heard some say that she's confusing/discouraging/wordy/etc. I personaly never understand why "more information" is bad. Just because you don't want to parse through them doesn't mean other people dont' want to or can't. Skip them and follow your instinct if that's what you prefer, but don't blame the detailed instruction for existing. In this case, I posted many photos to show exactly what I am trying to achieve, if that's not what your goal for croissants, please do stop reading, then no one would be discouraged/scared off.

3) Your comment about weight/volume measurement completely confuses me. In bread making, there are many variables, ingredient measurement and environment (humidity etc.) being two of them. You are basically saying that: being inprecise about both measurement and environment is better than being precise about one of them? So vague+vague is better than precise+vague? As far as what American readers "assume" about measurements, I just have to say more and more AMERICAN cookbooks are coming with weight measurement, without specific notes on humidity. I could include warning to say "humidity may affect liquid ratio" but where does it end? How about flour brand, water type, elevation, etc etc? In terms of the "volume VS. weight" debate, my point is that exact weight measurement is better for communication (espcially long distance communication such as books/internet). Using weights rather than volume, I can tell the readers what "I have done" to achieve "my result" in a much more precise way. The readers then have a relatively precise starting point, from which they can fine tune according to their environment. For example, consistently using weights, after a couple recipes, you might discover that you always have to add 15% more water than me, which would make future recipes very easy to follow. However using volume, you are never sure, because volume measure is so inprecise with each try even for the same person.

Anyway, I think we are speaking very different languages both in terms of what we are trying to achieve in croissant making, and specific learning methods. There's a saying I love: if it's easy, everyone would be doing it. Since I don't often see "my idea of good croissants"(illustrated by many pictures of mine), I would be surprised that they are so easy to make. Of course if you can prove me wrong, I would love to hear it, but please please please come with facts. I would love to make the croissants I like with less effort, but your simple statement of "these things are not hard. mine is perfect. my methods are easy." isn't helpful unless you can share your results (that matches with what I am trying to achieve) and methods to produce them.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

Those red bean croissants are the best thing I have ever seen, I make puff paste but have never made croissants but you have inspired me to try since laminating is similar for both.  I don't have any problem getting a well developed, dry dough in AZ this time of year :-)  Think we will use some home made sweet mince meat made from beef shank intead of red bean filling though. 

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Woah, making croissants in AZ early summer, you are as crazy as me! :) I will post my formula of that matcha croissants soon, hopefully it would be helpful to you. Sweet mince meat as filling, what a great idea! I am getting ideas.:)

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

to your post of the formula for the matcha croissants.   You learn to work fast on very cold granite (bags of ice help)  during AZ summers.  They may not look to good because of the speed required not to have them melt in your hands but hopefully they will taste OK.

fishguy83's picture
fishguy83

So, after getting some feedback, I can see that I've definitely laid a mine field for myself; but, that's okay. The bottom line is that I think Tx and I have a totally different approach to making breads. To me, breadmaking of any kind is about feeling the dough. You have to have the right feel for baking. I'm not much for exact ingredient lists. I know what my dough should look like. I've laminated enough doughs to know that dry dough is your worst enemy to deal with. Dry dough will ruin croissants with cracks and leakage. Tx claims this helps the texture. Nonsense! If her logic were true, my croissants and puff pastry, for that matter, wouldn't have the right texture. That's patently false. My croissants shatter whey you eat them, and their crumb in stupendous. Yet, I use nearly a half cup more of liquid? How can this be? It's simple. You can use more liquid, which makes the process of laminating, which is by far the most difficult tecnique involved in this, much more easy. Trust me, you don't need to cut back on the liquid. You will be sorry. Take this advice from someone who's laminated hundreds of puff pastry doughs, which, by the way, is just hideous if you buy it in the store. Make your own. You won't be sorry. Damn you pepperidge farms and your hydrogenated oils!

Also, I really do think Tx is doing a good job here. I'm not trying to get in here face, but I know dry dough is fatal to laminated doughs. If she's able to make these things with a dry dough, then she does have some chops; but, that doesn't mean that this procedure is necessary, as referenced above. Anyway, Good luck everyone! Go make these things. Maybe some of you have better bakeries, but the only reason I started making my own perfect croissants was the lack of good bakery choices. Finally, it should be noted that I'm a total perfectionist. I'm rarely ever completely happy about anything I make. You can be assured the I am not boasting here about my croissants. They are amazing, and they could stand up to any Parisean croissant, but that's not the point. The point is that YOU can make a near perfect croissant without a giant headache. You don't need stringent rules, as like those proposed by Tx. Honestly, if you want a recipe, go with Don D's. His recipe is more like what I use. I even made mine without a sheeter just like everyone else here, even though I've used them in the past. (Sheeters do make this whole process go like clockwork. I would love one in my kitchen!)

Good luck everyone!

varda's picture
varda

The interesting thing about TFL is that even without meeting people you get a really good sense for who they are.   

Like for instance how logical they are:  "You can be assured the I am not boasting here about my croissants. They are amazing..."  

And how aware they are of the the fact that other people's values and interests may differ from their own:   "YOU can make a near perfect croissant without a giant headache."

And their basic manners or lack of them:  "Honestly, if you want a recipe, go with Don D's. His recipe is more like what I use."

It all comes clear in one simple post. 

PaulZ's picture
PaulZ

folle! (=This is completely stupid and foolish thinking.)

I find this a rather one sided debate especially since the party filled with hubris and self congratulatory praise hasn't provided one shred of visual evidence supporting his claim to the "best croissants ever etc blah blah." Surprising for someone who has "produced hundreds of laminated doughs" and not one single pictorial frame of any work produced? Do you not have access to a mobile phone, digital camera or laptop to take one picture? Interesting indeed, talk is always cheap.

Txfarmer - I cannot for one single moment understand why you are phased by your crumb structure - it is absolutely perfect and would fill many a French patissier / boulanger with pride. Airy, honeycomb structure that is ideal and the proportion of thread lines to space is 100%. Whatever you did was spot on!

Now, the matter of dry dough. You're right - it is a delicate balance - but in France we NEVER tried to achieve a high hydration rate (or a wet dough as it has been termed.) This would have been disasterous. Proofing for one would have been more difficult. Secondly, high hydration croissant dough would definitely wrap itself around the steel roller of the laminator or dough sheeter. (Not a pleasant task to clean up - literally - at 2 in the morning.) Thirdly, please explain why in France we used the driest butter available - with the lowest possible water content? No, wet dough is total non-non.

Now to technique - since I haven't seen visual representation of fishguy83's "magnificent work" I cannot comment specifically but generally, there is much technique involved in croissant making. from the mixing to the laminating - (and yes, in France we also trimmed the dough to prevent leaks) to the final roll out and proof. It requires developed skills and practise and is not simply a walk in the park as implied - that's if you're producing it correctly.  But I haven't seen the visual proof.

And finally, to the "volume-weight" debate. No self respecting French boulanger would even consider producing croissants (or any other type of viennnoiserie for that matter) without first weighing every ingredient - right down to weighing the egg yolk for the coating colouring in the bake. (la doree) I cannot comprehend why one would try to replicate a French pastry such as a croissant and then fly in the face of accepted practise (as carried out in EVERY patisserie in France)  by  adopting a guessing game by using "cups 'n spoons."

Snuff said!!

(For the record - I trained as a professional pastry chef / baker in France for 4 years, worked in two Michelin restaurants in Lyon and Nice and worked in one of the top boulangeries (bakeries) in the south of France. I have personally produced over 10 000 croissants in my time, all rolled by hand, as they should be. I trained in pastry at the Cordon Bleu school in Paris and at the International Culinary Academy in Cap d'Agde. Furthermore, I trained under, and was mentored by, the ex-pastry chef of the then 3* Michelin Four Seasons George V Hotel in Paris. I understand that this site, TFL, is mainly amateur driven however as a professional I am enthused by the swell and surge of home bakers around the world all basically striving to produce, bake, discuss and experiment with artisanal  and other types of breads and pastries getting back to what bread should REALLY taste like.)

bnom's picture
bnom

Very much appreciate your contribution PaulZ.  Spoken like a "real frenchman" ;)   

kadnium's picture
kadnium

I would like to express my gratitude for such detailed and precise instructions.  I just attempted this recipe and I think it turned out decent.

I was on vacation in Paris for the first time about 3 weeks ago and was surprised how different croissants are in Paris compared to where I live (Toronto, Canada).  Or should I say: I don't think I've had a real croissant until I tasted one in Paris.  After a few days back home I started getting croissant withdrawal and started looking for authentic Parisan style croissants.  I haven't found any so far; I've found a few decent places but I think they are Quebec style croissants.  So I went to the bookstore and bought a book on artisan baking and followed the recipe for croissants.  It turned out okay but it really paled in comparison to what I remember to be a Parisan croissant.  A friend of mine suggested I look up Julia Child's recipe for croissants.  I googled it and found this page.

Prior to this, I've only baked cupcakes (three times) and pizza crust .. so I'm pretty much a novice.  I can't say following this recipe was a breeze but with the detailed instructions, exact weight measurements, tips and a few youtube videos (and the motivation from croissant withdrawal pangs), I was able to get my first batch done today.  Here are a few pictures.  They were taken a few minutes after taking them out of the oven:

  

txfarmer, your description of an ideal croissant mirrors what I like about the Parisian croissants; so I was very motivated to try this recipe with next to no baking skills.  Specifically, the crispiness of the "walls of the holes".  This texture really shocked me when I had a Parisan croissant.  My croissants' walls of the holes weren't crispy and I was wondering if you could offer suggestions on what I might be doing wrong.  As far as I recall, I followed the recipe as best as I could.  Specifically,

  • the weight measurements (I used an electronic scale)
  • the 3.5h proofing time (I proofed mine for 4h)
  • the use of bread flour

I did notice that my dough did not rise as much as you had indicated.

Overall, I am very happy with the results.

--

K

bnom's picture
bnom

that's a pretty amazing result for someone new to baking!  I remember my dad coming back from a trip to Paris and embarking on a quest to recreate the croissants. I recall a very messy process that seemed to take days and produced a pretty unimpressive result.  Too bad Fresh Loaf and Txfarmer weren't available back then . . .

lazybaker's picture
lazybaker

Those croissants look so good. For more crispyness, use water instead of milk. I watched Vincent's video on making croissants; he uses water, yeast, sugar, and flour. Water makes the pastry crispier.

kadnium's picture
kadnium

Thank you bakers.  

My wife, mother in law and myself gobbled them up.  They tasted really good  :)

I will definitely try to use water to make them crispier.  Thank you.

Again, thank you txfarmer.  Your detailed instructions is exactly what a novice like myself needed.

--

K

fishguy83's picture
fishguy83

Thanks for the post. I think you're doing a damned good job for your first or second attempt. For starters, you're not far off from the texture you're looking for. A little time and experimentation and you're there. What I really appreciate most about your post is you make my point about this not being all that dificult. If you were able to produce these with, mind you, a recipe I consider slightly problematic, then anyone can do this. I've been trying to make the point that these are actually fairly easy to do, and, who knew, your post is just the thing to back me up. One thing you might try doing the next time you're in Paris is to harrass a baker to get them to show you the process. If you act right, you should be able to convice at least one baker to let you come by early and have a look at how they do it. Until then, I found a YouTube Video that is very helpful

www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhpxkGB1OyY

baybakin's picture
baybakin

I tried this recipe today (well, last night and baked them today).  The only change is I did it with a poolish and used coconut oil instead of the usual oil, and unrefined sugar instead of the white sugar.  Turned out pretty well compared to previous attempts of mine, I can't quite roll them out as accurate as you seem to be able to, they always break and butter starts leaking.  Anyway, here's the picture.

PaulZ's picture
PaulZ

| ------------------------------

--------------------------------------
| New comment:
| Author: fishguy83
| Title: there it is

Boy, I thought I was fed up with TX. Hardly. She at least means well. You,
however, make about as much since as a Mitt Romney commercial. BTW everyone,
I don't give a fig if I don't post pix. You can either believe me or not. I
don't care.It's not like you can taste my croissants through a picture
anyway.

You, like Tx, are making this seem hard. Maybe it has to do with the fact
I've laminated so many doughs, but people, PLEASE, this is not a hard
technique-even when you do it by hand. I'm so sick and tired of hearing you
and Tx ramble on about how hard this is. Get over it. BTW Mr Cordon Bleu, if
you were such a grand pro baker, then you would know this is easy, even with
a rolling pin. If I've done this thousands of time over and think it's easy,
and yet you've done it thousands of times and think it's dificult? Maybe
somebody should go back to school. THIS IS NOT HARD. THIS IS NOT HARD. THIS
IS NOT HARD. THIS IS NOT HARD. HOW MANY TIME DO I HAVE TO SAY IT'S NOT
HARD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you have any baking skills, you should be able to make good if not great
croissants your first time. Stop believing that this is overly hard or
requires great skill. The one thing I've learned, since making these by hand
without a sheeter, is that they're actually more tough than you would think.
The last time I made croissants, the butter block was competely solid and
didn't want to spread out. I should have rested the dough until the butter
slightly warmed, but I said screw it. I was in a hurry. So, I just rolled
them out anyway. After the whole process, I was convinced something wouldn't
turn out. But, in the end, they were perfect just like the rest.

By the way genius, did I ever say you need to use a wet dough? I don't think
so. You might want to learn English, too. Never, ever, ever did I see to use
a wet dough. To get an idea of what kind of dough (texture/water content)
that I like, here's a YouTube from someone who actually knows what they are
doing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhpxkGB1OyY [1] This guy is serious
baker. Does the dough at 00:35 look anything like a dry dough? Hardly.

I just encourage people to make a dough that isn't overly dry because, as
novices and as people who haven't laminated hundreds maybe thousands of puff
pastries like me, they are possibly setting themselves up for a disaster.
Also, when it comes to making hundreds of croissants, I would probably use my
scale to measure. When you're making small batches, metric weights are a bit
time consuming and unneeded in my opinion. I live in a part of the world that
can be both humid and arid, depending on the season. This humidity can cause
market differences in, specificall,y the liquid needed.

So, when making small batches, I get a little flustered with people who have
both exact dry and wet metric ingredient lists. I know full well that I have
to add more or less liquid depending if it's winter or summer.

Also, perhaps you're not aware of this foreigner, but in America our butter
has slightly less fat and slightly more water. So, to account for the extra
water in the butter, it's advantageous to, unless you can find isigny ste
mere butter or some other French imported butte, to add a bit of flour into
the butter block. 

Lastly everyone, I don't consider anything I do great until other people tell
me. If anything, I hedge until I think otherwise. I'm a scientist by trade. I
don't make hyperbolic statements normally. Everyone I've fed these to agrees
that they are, hands down, the best in Minneapolis.

Bottom Line: Tx and Paul, you make everything seem too hard, and your
comments only make people either less likely to make the product or mess it
up in the process. Regardless other readers, pay close attention to these
people. Also, look at the YouTube vid. It really says more than anything
these two jokers have to say.
StuartG's picture
StuartG

@FishGuy1883

Scientist eh?  What's science?  Science is two things at it's core.  Firstly it's about the testable hypothesis.  That means theory (what you propose and say) can be tested (resulting in evidence).  You've spoken at length about your hypothesis but where is your evidence?  (Remember cold fusion?)  Secondly, Scientific theory is about peer review.  That means that your theory must be able to be examined by your peers (that's us) and we should be able to perform your experiments and get the same results.

If your parents didn't teach you to be polite then I'm sorry.  But in their place, I suggest you calm down, read the writing on the wall and back away from your insulting and rediculous posting.

/Stuart

PaulZ's picture
PaulZ

Dear fishguy83

I shall not stoop as low as you have done in your posting and I shall not dignify your response in the same childish and acrimonious manner in which you have written about TXFarmer and myself.

I find your writing lacking in credibility (I don't believe you have rolled a croissant in your life hence the lack of pictorial evidence) and you seem to gain perverse pleasure in writing provocative statements regarding baking. When you have produced the volume of work that TXFarmer and I have, then maybe, just maybe, you'll have reason to bleep. In the meantime, climb under your rock in Minneapolis (talk about a big fish in a small pond syndrome) and enjoy your small town self-imposed celebrity status and continue making your non-existant croissants.

Please desist from lowering the currently high standard of comment prevalent on this very valuable site. No-one is really interested in your over-inflated ego and your clear lack of skills or even the dearth of basic knowledge of laminated doughs.

PaulZ.

PS: Despite your insulting comments, I have studied English and qualified as an English language teacher in 1976. I would sincerely suggest that you read through your own copy before posting on this site since every posting of yours is riddled with spelling mistakes and blatant grammatical errors. But then, I didn't really expect much more from you.

grind's picture
grind

Wow, these look perfect.  I'll have to give these a whirl.  I make laminated danish pastry dough and the drier the dough, the better the flake and separation.  That's why I'd want a dough sheeter!  It's tough to laminate a dry dough by hand and rolling pin.

grind's picture
grind

Those croissants look so good. For more crispyness, use water instead of milk. I watched Vincent's video on making croissants; he uses water, yeast, sugar, and flour. Water makes the pastry crispier.

 

Good tip, lazybaker.

grind's picture
grind

Hi txfarmer, did you make a couple of incisions/cuts at the wide end before rolling?

Fresh Mama's picture
Fresh Mama

I made croissants today, well, started in the wee hours of this morning; 1 a.m. and let the dough and butter refridgerate over night.  One batch was almost perfect, while the other had a lot of butter bleeding.  Suddenly, I realized I'd over done it.  The dough had the 2 hour original rest w/butter, then there was a 2nd folding w/1 hour rest, a 3rd that followed and then I had a final 4th resting.  Perhaps I heard the 4th from another croissant program, I'm not sure.  During the 4th folding, I remembered I needed to do a wallet.  Well, I'd already rolled it out into 3rds, now I'm rolling it out in the same setting again for the wallet.   When the time came to roll the dough to form croissants, I wondered if it would rise?  Have I killed the yeast?  The texture was no longer as it was before.  I rolled and formed the croissants but am curious if anyone else has made this mistake and still had success?  These are for Thanksgiving so I've placed the croissants on a lightly floured cookie sheet, separated and covered into the freezer.  I suppose I could bake one and have my answer before the time comes.  Making yet another batch of this scrumptious treat would be nothing more than delightful! 

btw, what a beautiful blog!  I've always used Esther McManus' recipe, baking w/Juilia Child, as I'm just not liking the oil in Julia's original and feel it's more French authentic without.  http://video.pbs.org/video/2250835454/ 

Although I did watch Julia Child hand mixing/kneading here in her origianl program since my mixer is out of service.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YU1HBpFIGKs&feature=relmfu

I couldn't do this w/out watching these videos over and over again and still I made a possibly terrible error...now to take out a croissant from the freezer, place it in the fridge and bake it for breakfast to know for sure what I've done...and happily make another batch before Thanksgiving! 

lazybaker's picture
lazybaker

I've had success with three bookfolds. The bookfold (or wallet) creates four layers when you fold, so if you do it three times, then you have 64 layers ( 4 x 4 x 4). I get nice flaky layers that aren't too thick or too thin. Too many folds lead to very thin layers that might end up fusing together and won't produce flaky layers. Too few folds lead to thick crunchy layers.

The yeast is dormant if you keep the dough refrigerated. When you proof, you need to make sure the room temperature is around 75 to 78 degrees F.

I couldn't do this w/out watching these videos over and over again and still I made a possibly terrible error...now to take out a croissant from the freezer, place it in the fridge and bake it for breakfast to know for sure what I've done...and happily make another batch before Thanksgiving! 


I would just set them on the counter to thaw and proof until they're puffy before baking. I think putting them in the fridge after taking them out from the freezer will make them too cold, and you might end up with butter melting and pooling when you bake them. You want to get the butter up to room temperature and the dough well proofed before baking, so butter won't melt so badly during the bake.

Good luck.

Fresh Mama's picture
Fresh Mama

thank you lazybaker, I totally agree...my concern about killing the yeast is due to not letting the dough rest between the 4th & 5th rolling & folding into the wallet.  Before rolling to form, the dough didn't proof nearly as much as the other batch which is leading me to believe I may have released the gas of the yeast and killed it.  I still have an hour and 15 min to wait and see if the dough will proof.  I pulled one from each batch from the freezer before bed & let them thaw overnight in the fridge, then transferred to an oven around 7 a.m. but I'm not liking what I'm seeing.  This is a good experiement before the big day.  Failure is an opportunity to grow, but I dislike it happening during the presentation! :) 

I also used a fresh yeast that expired an hour earlier.  I know, sounds funny but it's my 1st time using fresh yeast and I only had a couple of days before it expired, which was barely enough time for me to use it.  The doughs appeared to be doing great, which I know they lose potency the closer to expiration.   

If these do not turn out well, I will definately purchase fresher yeast, make the dough, perhaps freeze before forming, thaw Thanksgiving eve morning, form croissants to proof in the fridge during the night & then bake Thanksgiving day, although, I do believe they should be just fine formed, frozen until ready to use, proofing before baking.   

Fresh Mama's picture
Fresh Mama

I baked my croissants and learned another lesson. 

1. even at a high altitude, don't turn the oven down 20 degrees to compensate the convection oven.   The croissant I was most concerned about was delicious but super flaky outside and a little on the under done side in some parts inside.  It couldn't be baked any longer w/out burning the outside.  I think the temp of the oven was the cause of this problem, that or the double rolling and folding without rest maybe.  

So I will make another batch or two this week, as I'm pleased enough with the results.  

I'm definately for the forming and freezing croissant.  Also, I'm going to get some fresher yeast or use an instant to see if they'll rise like they did last year.  Not sure why they were so flakey on the outside.  I've never had an issue with pooling butter.  

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