The Fresh Loaf

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Naive question on croissant dough....

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SallyBR's picture

Naive question on croissant dough....

I hope I can make myself clear.... (not too optmistic about it)

here are some instructions (from King Arthur site) about how to roll and fold the dough:


When the dough is the right size, brush any excess flour off the top, and fold the bottom third of the dough up to the center and the top third over (like a business letter). Line the corners up as neatly as you can; dab them with a little water to help them stick together if necessary, and turn the dough package 1/4 turn to the right so it looks like a book ready to be opened. If the dough is still nice and cold and still relaxed, do another rolling and turning the same way. (If it begins to feel too soft or wants to resist being rolled, cover it, put it on a small baking sheet and refrigerate it for 15 minutes to chill and relax.)

If you've successfully rolled it out and folded it twice, you've completed two turns. Classic puff pastry gets six. Continue refrigerating it after each two turns (or more often if necessary) until all six turns are completed.

Make a checklist somewhere so you know how many turns or layers you've made. Bakers commonly put fingerprints in a corner of the pastry to indicate the numbers of turns. If you try this, be careful you don't break through with your fingernails, since the layers are very thin.


now, my question - if you turn the dough 1/4 turn to the right every time, the layers you are building won't be parallel to each other, right?  They will be at a 90 degree angle from each other...   is that what we want?  or am I missing something, or misunderstanding something? 

mcs's picture

Hi Sally,
The purpose of the 90 degree turn is just so the dough isn't stretched in the same direction over and over.  First you roll it out long one way, fold it into thirds (or however you're folding it), turn it 90 degrees, then repeat.   At the end of the first turn on your rectangle of dough you'll have two folded edges and two 'open' edges.  By turning it, those open edges will be locked in on the next turn so the slab becomes more uniform.

You are correct about the layers not being parallel to each other, but your dough doesn't know the difference.


SallyBR's picture

Puuuurfect!  Now I can relax and go for it without this nagging feeling on the back of my mind that I was doing something wrong...





llwhitley's picture

Think of the 90° turn as a rotation (not turning over) of the slab. The slab has many layers that are all parallel to each other. When you rotate the slab the layers stay in the same planes that they were in prior to the rotation and are therefore still parallel to each other.


SallyBR's picture

It makes perfect sense to me now - for some reaon, when I thought about it "on my own", I thought that the "criss-cross" of layers would prevent the dough from maximal expansion.

This will sound pretty strange, but it has to do with the way a certain polymer in bacterial cell walls is organized - the cross-linking between layers gives it structure and prevents the bacteria from expanding and exploding under certain conditions in the environment. 

I should keep my work out of the kitchen!    ;-)


SallyBR's picture

Finally I managed to make some croissants that met my expectations

I used the recipe from Peter Reinhart in Artisan Breads Every Day, with no modifications...



SallyBR's picture

.... if anyone wants to see the full recipe I used (published with Peter Reinhart's permission), and a few more photos (a lot more, maybe... :-)