The Fresh Loaf

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Chocolate bursting out of pains au chocolat

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petitbleu88's picture
petitbleu88

Chocolate bursting out of pains au chocolat

Okay, I've been tweaking a croissant recipe for several months at the restaurant where I work. Initially, my problem was that the butter was leaking out pretty badly. I've troubleshot that issue and seem to have it pretty much under control. But now a new problem has cropped up, and I'm not sure why this is happening. As the pains au chocolat bake, the chocolate pistoles that I use (Valrhona blond chocolate) burst out of the center of the pastry--not the edges, but right in the middle where the pastry meets the parchment. The layers of the pains au chocolat look great--they have the characteristic honeycomb crumb that you want from a croissant, but the chocolate literally explodes out of the dough, leaving very little chocolate still inside the pastry.

My process is as follows: on day 1, I make the preferment, make the dough, and fold in the butter (3 turns). I freeze the laminated dough for a few hours and take it out of the freezer before I go home at night. On day 2, I roll out the dough and shape the pains au chocolat. I then freeze them overnight. On day 3, I take the pains au chocolat out of the freezer, proof them, double egg wash them, and bake. 

Other things that might be a factor: the baker's percentage of butter is 55%. I use a slightly better butter than your run of the mill restaurant butter, but I don't know exactly how high the quality is or what the exact fat content is. The ovens where I work are pretty awful. At home, I set my oven to 425, then immediately lower to 400 when I put the croissants in. The croissants bake in about 15 minutes and are beautiful and flaky. At work, I make the croissants smaller, but even so I can only set the oven to 325 max (no fan--tried that and it was a disaster), and the croissants take at least 30 minutes to bake. I rotate the sheet pans in the oven every 10 minutes to try to get them all to bake evenly. There's not much I can do about the oven problem. They are what they are.

But I have no idea what would cause the chocolate to burst out of the dough. I tried using chocolate batons, and the same thing happened. Could it be the freeze-thaw process? Any insight would be helpful.

gerhard's picture
gerhard

More is not always better, could you be using too much chocolate?  The weight of the chocolate may settle to the bottom once the dough starts to proof and then the expansion from the heat may just be enough for it to expand through the dough.  Just try cutting back on some, maybe a few with a third less and few at half the present quantity.

Gerhard

petitbleu88's picture
petitbleu88

I've been using two Valrhona chocolate pistoles in each pain au chocolat. I believe they weigh 1/8 ounce apiece, so that's 1/4 ounce chocolate per pastry. They're smaller pains au chocolat, but not tiny. That could be the case that the chocolate is too much, but I'm inclined to think not simply because I'm not using more chocolate than most bakeries use in their pains au chocolat. Granted, I'm using pistoles and not batons, which might affect the dough in a way that I didn't think of. Thanks for the food for thought, Gerhard! Much appreciated.

coffeecat's picture
coffeecat

Are they crescent or the rolled rectangle style? I feel like that freezing and thawing process could be affecting the structural integrity of your dough? In the times that you are freezing the dough you could be refrigerating instead? It would make it easier anyhow, since you wouldn't have to wait for it to thaw to handle, but the crystals that form during freezing may be making little crystals that tear your gluten network, in the same way that freezing tears meat fibers and makes meat too tender and weird... That's unfortunate about your oven at work... Another possibility could be that the lower oven temperature is making it easier for the chocolate to sort of migrate through the dough..?

petitbleu88's picture
petitbleu88

They're rectangular, like a typical pain au chocolat. My theory was that the freezing could have damaged the gluten network in the dough, making it brittle enough to allow the chocolate to burst out the middle. I can certainly test that theory, but freezing them a day in advance made things easier schedule-wise (I was shaping and baking on the same day before, and the reason I stopped doing that was because I work in a restaurant kitchen where the ovens are being used by many different people, so every time my pastries were perfectly proofed, it seemed that someone else had to use the oven--freezing the shaped pastries was my insurance against overproofing).

As for the lower oven temperature, you may be right about that as well. It's really irksome. Nothing to be done about that, I'm afraid. We make buttermilk biscuits and have to bake them off at 300F low fan with a sheet pan right above them so they don't get too brown! At home, I bake biscuits at 425. I will try not freezing the shaped pastries and see what happens. I can't do anything about the oven situation, but I can change my baking schedule a little bit to see if freezing is the problem. Thanks so much!