The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

another sub-par croissant (desperate for help)

jooney's picture
jooney

another sub-par croissant (desperate for help)

Hi,

I am a very novice baker.  I just started baking 5-6 weeks ago.   I chose croissants as my first challenge for bread.  And that was probably not the smartest decison I've ever made, I have admit, since my croissants have been nothing but a failure.   I've seen some people get solid result at their first croissant making.  That's not the case for me.  In fact, out of 1o tries, not once did they turn out right!  They are pretty much the polar opposites of good croissants.  I'd like to post some pics to show how mine are different from store-bought ones.

1.  On the outside

 

As you all can see, mine is the one on the left.^^  Mine is crunchy rather than crispy and flaky.  And this time, the butter seemed to have leaked out during baking.(There was some noticeable grease on the crust)

 

2. On the inside

 

Again, you can readily see which one is mine.  The store-bought one is light, moist, and airy.  Mine is bread-like in texture.  

Quite honestly, I don't know what else to do at this point. I'm really disappointed with the results that I've gotten so far.  It seems that making perfect croissants is beyond my ability.  What corrections should I make to replicate store-bought croissants in terms of appearance and texture?  Your help and advice would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you.  

please note:  I use Bertinet's recipe in making croissants.  http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/31048/croissant-help  

 

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi jooney,

If butter runs out during baking this is a sign of poor lamination.   I believe you have just about admitted what your problem is.   Choosing to take on laminated yeasted dough as your first foray into ferments was too ambitious.   There are much easier projects which you could undertake which will help you garner the skills and knowledge needed to make good croissants and other Viennoisserie.

Whatever you do, be very wary of comparing home-produced croissants to store-bought ones!   Industrially made croissants may look amazing, but, in my experience they often taste horrible and are nothing but air.   Your photograph does however suggest that you managed to buy a good croissant....lucky you!

I'm afraid I can't offer any better advice, other than to further explore the tutorial I originally referenced for you.   You may also take a look at txfarmer's blogs about croissant, although I regard the levels of butter she uses as being more challenging, so you may struggle even more with her formula.   The formula I post is well tried and tested, and is not too advanced for laminated dough.   But you are probably best finding something easier to make and master first.

Best wishes

Andy

jooney's picture
jooney

Thank you for your answer.  I'm starting to realize that my lamination is far from being perfect.  As you pointed out, I think the poor lamination is one of the root causes of my mediocre croissants.  I need to keep butter from smearing through dough layers, but that seems a very difficult task for me.  My dough would become like a rubber band, especially on my last turn, making it really hard for me to roll it out.  As a result, I would apply more pressure on the dough and spend more time with it than necessary, causing butter to melt into dough layers eventually.  What should I do to prevent this from happening?  You say concentrated butter would help, but we don't have that available here in Korea.  How about putting the dough in the freezer for half an hour or so before you roll it out and make a turn?  Would that help?

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi jooney,

You have to allow more time for resting between turns if your dough is so resistant to being rolled out.   This is the root cause of your poor lamination.   If you have to fight to get the dough rolled out, your lamination is wrecked.

Work COLD, plenty of rest between turns. Don't allow the dough to become over-developed.   Unlike lazybaker, I make the dough the night before and chill it in the fridge.   That way it has plenty of time to relax, and the gluten has had some time, and slow fermentation allowing it to soften.   Croissants are fermented, it should be noted, unlike puff paste.

Additionally, I have worked out that Richard's hydration in the recipe you are using is around 58%.   It really does depend to some extent what type of flour you are using, but 58% is quite low.   My recipe is developed for a good quality strong white bread flour here in the UK; typical example is Carrs Special CC, and I also use Marriage's Organic flours which work well.   Protein level in these flours is just shy of 12%, but it is more about the quality of the protein rather than the headline read figure, which can really only ever act as a guide.   But if you choose a genuinely strong flour, I recommend you look to increase the hydration.   I use 63%.   I would suggest you try 60% first and see if things improve.   Then maybe try 62%, but do always take note of what Mirko wrote.   Dough and fat texture should be similar.   Dough should not be too soft as you will loose laminations immediately.   But, if it's too stiff then you come up against the sort of problems you seem to be describing here.

Keep trying

Best wishes

Andy

grind's picture
grind

My dough would become like a rubber band, especially on my last turn, making it really hard for me to roll it out.

I was re-reading Calvel last nigh and he mentions using a prefermet in will help in rolling out the dough.  I tried it today and it's been my experience so far.  I also barely mixed the dough.  The real test, of course, will be when I bake the croissants.  But in terms of rolling it out, it's been working so far ...

 

 

 

yy's picture
yy
jooney's picture
jooney

Those are gorgeous looking croissants!  I'm really envious of you!  And thank you for the helpful link as well.

 

yy's picture
yy

Just to clarify, the link is the work of Weekend Bakery, and not my own. I found their croissant blog post very helpful when I was having trouble with croissants. I hope you find some of their tips useful :-)

MANNA's picture
MANNA

I know what your feeling. I suffer from the cruel punishment of making these. Some times I get mediocre results and other times just terrible. If you figure this out let me know, I could use the help as well.

jooney's picture
jooney

Once I come up with the solutions, I'll definitely share them with you.  Thanks. 

lazybaker's picture
lazybaker

It took me many tries before I was able to achieve flaky croissants. Don't give up.

I had the problem of bread-like croissants, too. For me, I always get that bread texture whenever I allow the dough to ferment before lamination. I know others never have that problem, but I always do. Anyway, right after forming the dough into a ball and flattening it out into a square. Let it rest for 5 minutes to relax and then start lamination right away.  The room should be cold, so that the butter won't melt.

For lamination, I like doing three doublefolds. It's a wallet fold that forms 4 layers, so three times the wallet fold ( 4 x 4 x 4). 

After formation of the croissants, allow them to proof at around 75 F until they're really puffy. It usually takes like 2 to 3 hours. Bake at 425F for the first 5 minutes and then lower to 350F and bake rest for 20 to 25 minutes.

bshank11's picture
bshank11

I concur that the croissant is not a rookie dough, but you can succeed through practice. Just a pointer to get you on the right path; never let it rise, always keep it cold/firm enough that the yeast is dormant. This will retard fermentation so that all of the rise is Oven-Spring.

Good Luck 

jooney's picture
jooney

Thank you for the reply, lazybaker.  Hmm, it is interesting to see that you start lamination pretty quickly.  I say this because Mr. Bertinet's recipe, which I use, calls for resting the dough for at least two hours in the fridge.(He says letting it rest overnight is even better)   So I'm kind of confused as to which method is the way to go.  

lazybaker's picture
lazybaker

Dough resting before lamination is to develop flavor. But for me, letting the dough relax in the fridge or fermenting first before lamination always result in a bread crust rather than the pastry flaky layers. I think maybe I end up using too much flour during the rolling process because the dough ends up a bit moist after fermentation. Maybe the moisture and the flour end up making crunchy layers. With dough that is not fermented first, I flour less. The trick is to flour as little as possible during the rolling, like use a light dusting of flour so the dough won't stick and brush off any excess.

I think you can still develop flavor. After completion of lamination, just allow the dough to rest in the fridge overnight.

ananda's picture
ananda

Croissant are laminated yeasted pastries, so fermentation really is an intrinsic part of the process.   Otherwise it might as well be puff paste.

The fermentation is not just about flavour.   There are a lot of chemical and enzymatic reactions going on; some of which lead to a softening of the gluten.   This should mean that the dough is easier to roll out as it becomes stronger and extensible.

I don't see a problem with your suggestion to laminate and then rest the dough overnight.   But the theory is that leaving the dough to rest and ferment cold first, should make the lamination process easier.   You obviously don't consider this to be the case, but it is very much my experience that the theory holds good.

Best wishes

Andy

lazybaker's picture
lazybaker

I tried letting the dough ferment at room temperature for an hour or so and another ferment in the fridge overnight before lamination. With either of those methods, I always ended up with butterhorns. Maybe I have to try again.

The croissants I made aren't like puff pastry because they do have to proof after being shaped. Wouldn't the proofing stage be enough fermentation if they rise for like 2 to 3 hours?

tjbrumme's picture
tjbrumme

Jooney, while you may have been ambicious in choosing croissants as your first foray into breadmaking, don't give up yet! 

I'd recommend switching to another recipe. I've been using the croissant recipe from Tartine cookbook for a few years now and won't try anything else. Their recipe is very detailed and it is easy to get overwhelmed, but if you think everything through well in advance of attempting the croissants, you can have great results. I always sit down and read through the recipe and highlight or make notes of important steps before I attempt it. Then I pull out my calendar to make sure I will have time when it is needed (croissants are a multi-day process.) I've found the most important thing to obsess about is the temperature of the dough and butter. If it warms at all, then you lose all the layers you've laminated and everything combines into one layer, much like the photos you posted. Because of this, I always refridgerate the dough for at least 8 hours inbetween turns. 

 

If you can't get a copy of the book let me know. I'm happy to type up the recipe and give you some more tips. 

jooney's picture
jooney

Thank you for the encouraging words and useful tips.  I'm definitely going to get a copy of the book you recommended.  Thanks!

 

 

Mirko's picture
Mirko

For good lamination is important your dough and butter block have same consistency (not temperature).

 

 

grind's picture
grind

Your ambition will be rewarded.  Keep at it!  I'm also trying to figure out the elusive croissant, so I don't have much to offer by way of tips, etc.  Mine puff up like the ones on the right in your photo, but there are some layers that are stuck together.  Good luck with yours.

jooney's picture
jooney

Thank you for the encouragement.  I hope I'll be able to make good croissants one day.^^  Good luck with yours, too!

 

yy's picture
yy

How many folds are you doing?

The leaking butter during baking is an indication of underproofing. As lazybaker mentioned, proofing until they're very puffy and jiggly will help prevent butter leakage.

jooney's picture
jooney

Hi,

I'm doing three single turns.  Can I ask you something, if you don't mind me asking?  What is the best way to know if your croissants are fully proofed?  I'd greatly appreciate your answer.  Thanks.  

yy's picture
yy

I asked about the number of folds because it's possible that too many folds adversely affected layer separation. It doesn't sound like this is your problem.

Here are some clues that your croissants are fully proofed:

  • The croissants have expanded considerably, are very puffy and feel like they would collapse if you poke them too hard
  • You can see the laminated layers start to pull apart slightly at the cut edges
  • When you gently shake the sheet pan they're sitting on, they jiggle around like piles of whipped cream. There are probably better analogies to be made. 
golgi70's picture
golgi70

I'd love to help guide you a bit in the right direction but I don't have the  book or its process to see what is possibly going wrong.  Could you list your process and recipe and maybe we can help a bit more.  From the photo all I am sure of is the proofing is way off as others have mentioned.   Don't give up and you will make better than store bought croissants before long. 

 

Josh

jooney's picture
jooney

Hello,

Below is my previous croissant post.   Could you please have a look and tell me what I'm doing wrong?  Your help would be very much appreciated.

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/31048/croissant-help

 

 

FlourChild's picture
FlourChild

Another thought:  sounds like you may live in a warm climate, so be careful not to proof the croissants at too warm a temperature.  They must remain below the melting point of butter so that the butter doesn't melt into the dough and ruin your layers.   Croissants take a long time to proof, be patient, keep them cool-ish, and give them enough time to  get the job done.

good luck!