The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Need Help with Croissants!

EmilieL's picture
EmilieL

Need Help with Croissants!

Hello! A week ago I started trying to learn croissant making. All was going fine until I got to the third fold and suddenly I saw hard butter bits in the dough, i decided to do a 4th fold and they turned out tiny but tasty. I then found out 4th folds is a big no no! And decided to try again. Again after the 2nd fold was chilled an hour, i went onto my third fold to find the big hard pieces on butter again. I decided to just keep going according to instructions and they obviously leaked butter, tasted nice but not good enough. Iwill point out that the butter wasnt leaking or too warm, they were cold pieces. Also that they hardly rose during the proofing time. Any advice would be lovely because i dont want to give up! Emilie 

ds99303's picture
ds99303

It's not the number of turns. I always do four turns. What's happening is when you put the dough back into the refrigerator to rest, the butter rehardens.  Then, when you go to roll it out, it breaks into pieces.  There are a couple things you can do.  One, make sure the butter is rolled out sufficiently thin enough before puttinng the dough in the refrigerator.  If you put a block of butter on a piece off dough and just do one turn,that butter is still fairly thick between the layers of dough and if you chill it, it's going to break into pieces when you go to roll it out again.  Do two turns before chilling the dough and make sure you roll the dough out sufficiently on each turn.  However, don't roll it out too thin or else it will be too hard to handle when you fold it and/or the butter could break through.  The second thing you could do is not let the dough get so cold in the first place.  If you can't increase the temperature of your refrigerator, you could try chilling the dough for a shorter period of time or try wrapping the dough with enough wrap to protect it from the cold.  After the 4th turn however, I always let the dough rest in the refrigerator for 8-12 hours to develop flavor.  It seems if you don't do that, they just don't taste as good.  One final thought: Don't worry if they're not picture perfect.  I've had picture-perfect croissants that have tasted horrible.

EmilieL's picture
EmilieL

Thank you both for all that advice, really helps! I guess i was focusing too much on the exact steps rather than adapting them to the feel of the sough and butter/ the cold enviroment im in. The fridges are quite cold where i work. I shall take these tips and try again on Monday! thanks again! 

ds99303's picture
ds99303

In your first post you said the croissants didn't proof very much.  How long did you let them proof?  I know many recipes say let rise for 45 minutes to an hour.  Mine are still cold after that amount of time and haven't done a bit of rising.  I let mine rise for about 4 4 1/2 hours at room temperature.  If it goes over 5 hours, then they sometimes overproof and get that alcohol taste that doesn't go away even after being fully baked.  There's four stages of proofness in my opinion.

1. Dough feels firm when pressed means not proofed enough.

2. Dough feels spongy like a fresh marshmallow.  Slowly returns to shape when pressed: This is the optimal time for baking.

3. Dough has large air bubbles and collapses slightly when pressed.  Does not return to shape means  dough is overproofed but still salvageable.  Croissants may have an alcohol taste to them.

4. Dough has collapsed or collapses completely when you touch it:  Dough is beyond help.  Throw it away and start over.

Colin2's picture
Colin2

How are you prepping the butter before it goes into the dough?  That initial process of beating/rolling/smearing the butter to a smooth spreadable consistency is really important.  I don't know what recipe you're using, but the 2nd volume of Child and Beck's _Mastering the Art of French Cooking_ is very good on method.

Once you wrap that rectangle of smoothed butter in dough, you face the main challenge of croissant-making, as you're discovering: too cold and the dough is too stiff to roll, too warm and you end up making buttery rolls.  My take is that the first turn is key.  You're basically rolling out that rectangle of butter inside its soft dough envelope.  The butter layer should be *just* pliant enough that you can feel it gradually spreading out inside the dough as you roll it.  Patience is key here.  Roll gently and firmly, prod with a finger every now and then to track temperature and the status of the butter layer, put it in the fridge for a bit if it feels like it's getting too warm or slack.  

Once a good first turn is done the rest should be straightforward.  The advice above is excellent!

EmilieL's picture
EmilieL

Thanks for your advice i shall follow it on my next attempt on Monday! I think my butter was too hard then to begin with and i was working too quickly trying to keep it cold rather than working it to the right consistency , thanks!

Norcalbaker's picture
Norcalbaker

I find the brand of butter makes a difference in the laminating process.  I prefer a butter that stays pliable when cold.  So I use Kerrygold.

I normally use Plugra for baking, But it gets so hard when chilled, rolling and turning was too difficult.  I kept stretching instead of rolling the dough.

With Kerrygold being pliable, i was able to roll the dough, so had better control over gluten development.  And I didn't tear open my butter lock.  

You have to work efficiently with Kerrygold because it will warm quickly.  But I thing the pliability is worth the trade off.

The butter block and butter lock are key to proper lamination.  I prepare my butter block the day before I start my dough.  

There's a website called Weekend Bakery that has excellent, step by step instructions on making croissants.  I found it extremely helpful when I decided to try laminated dough the first time.  when I had a question, i left it in their comment section.  It took a few days, but they answered me.  it was nice to get the extra help.

they have both 3-day and 1-day croissant recipes on their site.

https://www.weekendbakery.com/posts/classic-french-croissant-recipe/

Norcalbaker's picture
Norcalbaker

this was my result using Weekend Bakery's recipe and instructions.  First time I had made a laminated dough; first croissant.  They really provide excellent information.