Croissants in a tropical climate
Since going on a 1 day French baking course at Christmas I have been keen to continue my croissant baking journey. There are many blogs on here already but I wanted a place to be able to track my progress and perhaps help other's in the meantime - even if it's just to show how not to do it!
The recipe I use is from the Bread Ahead baking book.
500g strong bread flour (I can't get strong bread flour so I used bread flour which I think has 13% protein here)
12g sea salt
40g softened unsalted butter
30g fresh yeast
140g full fat milk
1 egg for the eggwash
I have had varying degrees of success the 3 times prior to this blog post. The first batch I made were OK - some honeycomb structure but not as airy as I'd like them to be. You can see them here. Changes I've made since that batch are leaving the dough in the fridge just a few hours rather than overnight and proving for longer.
This week I've made 2 batches - 1 is actually still proving.
The first batch this week turned out quite bready - although some bizarrely more bready than others even though they're from the same batch. There was a little evidence of layers in some of them but not many. I'm sure the butter was too warm during the laminating so it's been absorbed by the dough. I had sliced the batter and made the butter block by rolling that out - quite thin due to advise from another baker on TFL. I'm now wondering if this only made it easier for the dough to absorb the butter when it got too warm?
After some more reading on TFL I decided I was going to make some changes to the batch that are currently proving. I decided only to do half the recipe so that I wasn't using so many ingredients. Also given the hot and humid climate I:
- beat the block of butter to shape in some cling film and then rolled it to size, rather than slicing it and then rolling it
- cooled the butter before locking it in as I think that previously my butter has been far too warm
- put the dough back in the fridge after the lock in for 15mins and put the rolling pin in the freezer - as far as I can see it this was a very important step given the climate
- rolled and turned it and then put it in the fridge for 1h 30min until I'd completed 3 turns (envelope fold) - I will do this every time from now on
- each time I'd put the rolling pin back in the freezer alongside some ice blocks which I used to cool my counter down for 10mins before I rolled out the dough - I will continue doing this as it seemed to help
- left it in the fridge overnight
- I began to roll out the dough but had to put it back in the fridge several times (for between 5 and 15 mins) before I'd reached the correct dimensions - will probably increase the time it's in the fridge between rolling out
- I cut my croissants and began stretching and shaping them, however, by the time I'd got to the remaining 4 they had warmed up too much so I put them in the fridge for about 10 mins - next time I'll cut all the triangles out and then refrigerate them all for 15mins before shaping
- I egg washed them and now they are proving...update to follow!
So I proved them for 3 hours (maybe up to 3hr 15min ish) and then cooked them in the oven at 180C (although I turned the oven up to 200C just after I put them in to give them a bit of extra heat). The oven is enormous and doesn't cook that well. They were in there for 25mins and were still only light golden brown.
You can see the layers on the outside of the croissants but the crumb isn't as open and I can't really work out why. They taste very light though and aren't as dense as the batch from earlier in the week. More photos here.
Is it over proved? Is the butter still too warm? I made a batch in March that came out much much more open but I wasn't nearly as cautious in that batch with keeping the butter cold and was probably more heavy handed. I also proved that batch for about the same time but cooked it in my countertop electric oven rather than the gas oven. The electric oven only gets up to 180C. Could that be a difference that counts?
You can see photos from previous attempts here. I'd be grateful for any feedback anyone can offer.