Sesame Croissant with Sourdough Starter - the balancing act
Laminated dough is all about balancing: can't be so weak that it doesn't have enough strength to lift in the oven to create honeycomb crumb, yet at the same time, it can't be so strong that it's impossible to roll out without butter leakage; it can't be so wet that layers are smeared/stick together, yet if it's too dry, it will take a lot of pressing to roll out, butter layers will easily smeared into dough layers. In this case, I wanted to add black sesame (one of my favorite baking ingredients) into croissants (one of my favorite breads). The first time, I started out with my usual croissant recipe without changing anything -- too dry. The 2nd time, I added more water -- too wet. The third time was a charm, it was just right. Dough and butter went smoothly together during rolling and folding, and final breads had great open crumb with even honeycomb holes.
starter (100%), 35g
bread flour, 105g
1. mix and leave at room temp for 12 hours.
bread flour, 422g
instant yeast, 7g
butter, 21g, softened
black sesame, 75g
roll-in butter, 287g
1. Mix everything but the rolling butter, knead until medium gluten developement. Then follow the steps here .
Black sesames are REALLY fragrant in baked goods, combined with butter, these croissants are to die for.
I have received many questions regarding croissants - how much liquid in the dough, egg or no egg, what flour, how much butter ... In fact, I don't think the exact ingredients and ratios are important. What's important is that the resulting dough is of the "right" consistency -- i.e. the same consistency of the butter block, so that they can be rolled out evenly together. In my poolish croissant blog  post, I have written about all the lessons I have learned. The key to successful croissants are not some magic ingredients, or magic ratios, it's about making the right decisions about how much to knead, how wet/dry the dough is, so that it can be rolled out without butter leakage, yet at the same time, has enough "lift"/"strength" in the end to create honeycomb holes.
Once the dough consistency is right, the rest is just science, not art. Be patient to roll out, keep everything cold, pay attention to details. Get the process down into a routine, then it can't go wrong. A lot of people ask why their croissants have tight crumb even though they have NOT noticed butter leaking while making the dough. The answer is simple -- when the dough/butter are folded into that many layers, you often can't see it even when butter layers are smeared/leaked into the dough layers. Yes, sometimes the leakage is so serious that you can literally see/feel the butter, however, more often then not, the inner butter layers are just pressed/melted into the inner dough layers without you ever noticing. The key to prevent this is: keep it cold & relax (both the dough and yourself).