The Fresh Loaf

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Yet another Croissant help post

LukeHFlynn's picture

Yet another Croissant help post

Hey there! I'm a die-hard coffee snob that's just been introduced to a new hobby of baking things! Within the past 4 months, I've started attempting croissants.. I still am not quite there.


I've used a lot of different recipes, but the last few batches I've used the iconic Tartine recipe (From the original book, the one in Tartine Bread is slightly different, kind of similar to TxFarmer's). For whatever reason, my croissants are turning out dense inside, I've heard this can be attributed to kneading excessively, I mix with a dough hook on low until the dough comes together, then mix for a few more minutes on medium until smooth, I then put the dough in the fridge and form a butter block. After formed into a rectangle (10"x5" roughly) I chill until malleable and cold, but not rock hard. I roll the dough out and place the butter inside and perform a tri-fold (producing two layers of butter and 3 layers of dough. I roll out, then perform another tri fold and chill for one hour and repeat. twice. After the third tri-fold I place it into the fridge overnight, then roll out to 32" x 12" and shape the croissants (about 2.5-3 inches at the base). I let them proof for 2-3 hours at about 68 degrees. After they puff up and become really flexible, I egg wash them then place them into a pre-heated 425 degree oven for 20-25 minutes rotating halfway through. When I pull them out (they smell great) I let them cool for about half an hour. They're beautiful on the outside, and crisp but when I cut into them they look like bread you would buy at the store, there's no airy crumb (Or honeycomb design) at all. When you pull them apart you can see where there are supposed to be layers, but it's not as satisfying as those open airy croissants we all know and love.. they taste great when they're still slightly warm, but after a day in a sealed container they just taste like yeasted butter rolls. 


So some things I've noticed that might be worth noting:

When I cut into the dough, before baking or shaping, I don't see butter and dough, I see some hollowness where butter should be. Just to be clear, this is what I'm talking about (saw this on Instagram, don't recall the user): 














I'm thinking perhaps the butter is getting too warm and being absorbed by the dough, if that's the case does anyone know of ways to help keep the dough cool? (I have the kitchen at 70 degrees, and it's pretty chilly this time of year).

Another visual, when I pull the croissants out they don't have that beautiful layering on the outside either (like below)









Mine look rather flat, and don't have much definition.

Thanks for taking the time to look at this I look forward to hearing what you guys have to say! :)

Digitalsmgital's picture

too much liquid in the détrempe? Too heavy and the layers will bind together, not allowing the butter to spread out in between. I will check my notes to see the hydration ratios.

What percentage of butter, (by weight) are you using compared to the dough? Some French versions go to the extreme 50/50 (!) while 1 to 3 is a more acceptable percentage to my taste. You should definitely see layers while you roll out and trim the final product.

Very important is the first fold, getting the butter pat evenly distributed all the way out to the edges of the envelope, ensuring good distribution throughout the remaining processes.

MichaelLily's picture

I use the Tartine recipe as well, except that I make croissants often and use IDY and I use trimmings from previous batches instead of poolish.  That being said, my hydration percentage is closer to 65 (with a 12.3% or so protein flour).  My roll in butter percentage is 37.5%.

The dough in the picture looks great.  I don't make an egg wash (I don't have a use for eggs otherwise, so it's just easier, plus it can fuse the layers on the outside), I just cover with plastic wrap.  I probably use less yeast than you, but 2-3 hours at 68 would never do the trick for me.  I reckon you are not giving it enough time on that final rise.  Honestly, at 68 I would let them sit out all night.  In fact, I am about to head to the bakery and pull some frozen ones out and let them sit for 10 hours or so.  You really can't overproof croissants when the kitchen's too cold for butter to melt.  They should really get close to double size.  For me, this takes at least 5 hours at 71.  I've had bready croissants and I've had beautifully open ones, and I am convinced it came down to the final proof every single time.  I strongly suggest putting them on the counter to proof while you sleep; that way you won't get impatient.

LukeHFlynn's picture

Thanks for the replies! :)

Sorry for being a nooby at this, my last batch I used a little bit less butter, 550 grams instead of the called 625 grams... the first batch I made I used the full 625 grams and I had butter all over the pan, this could have been underproofing too though, which is starting to seem like a culprit to some of these problems. I've used KAF Bread Flour for them, I might try with AP this next batch since I hear it can be easier to roll out. 

I've heard not bulk fermenting can also make the croissants more airy, do you suggest I try that?

As far as distributing the butter, the Tartine recipe calls for spreading the butter out instead of forming a block.. I'm trying to picture this in my head and just can't wrap a clear vision around it.


boeboen's picture

hi luke. in my opinion, bready croissant almost always related to the imperfection of the laminating process, which means, the layers didn't form perfectly, which is mostly because the butter melts and merge with the dough. some factors that can caused this :

* the temperature is too hot while working on the laminating process

* the detrempe is too elastic aka the gluten is too well formed which can have negative effect while you roll and fold. (the dough cannot be too smooth by the time you finished mixing)

* too many folds. the more you fold the thinner the layer of butter gets and the quicker it melts while being worked on. the rate the butter melts when you worked it on the first fold is different than when you worked it on the third fold, because it's been thinned considerably therefore it also melts considerably quicker. how many folds you perform when you make your croissant?

* rough handling while rolling and folding which can damage the layers

there are many intertwining factor to pay attention to because each factor affect the other. there's no exact procedure which can guarantee perfect croissant. a simple example, i cannot tell for sure how long you must final proof the croissant, because it depends on how active and how much yeast you use. even if the amount is the same as mine, there's temperature, humidity difference between yours and my kitchen. don't get caught up in certain benchmark procedure, like for example : "do the first and second fold side by side, then rest 1 hour, then repeat the folds, etc" . remember, their condition is different from yours. if you think the paton (the detrempe with beurrage inside) feels somewhat soggy or soft after the first fold then put it in refrigerator, don't just continue making the second fold, because the butter inside is already starting to melt. if you think the paton needs to be refrigerated for 1.5 hours instead of 1 hour, then refrigerated it regardless what the procedure says, if you think the croissant haven't puffed enough after 2 hours proofing, then add another 10 or 15 minutes regardless of the procedure says, et cetera et cetera. your senses is the best indicator, particularly touch and sight. the key is keep practicing. there's no shortcut of it. in time you'll get hold of it. as for the butter, i don't think "...spreading the butter out instead of forming a block..." is a good idea...


LukeHFlynn's picture

Thanks, I started a new batch today with a poolish and sourdough leaven (From Tartine Bread). I brought the dough together with a wooden spoon then mixed with a dough hook for probably 30 seconds to a minute on low. I've done two folds, and the dough is extremely easy to roll out and not fighting back. I've also been working outside on a bench where it's really cold and have had a lot easier time rolling out the dough thus far. 

proth5's picture

You can look at some very old blogs of mine, but I have been successful with croissants. I write these for your consideration.

  • You may be going down the wrong path with such minimal dough development. I had a conversation with txfarmer on this matter a while back (since she used a firm pre ferment - which adds to dough strength) and tend to agree that the dough should be fairly well developed prior to lamination (uh, that and input from a couple of highly qualified individuals). Yes, it is harder to roll out if you are doing this by hand, but it does result in a better product. I use a flour from Lehi Roller Mills that is somewhat lower in protein than King Arthur Bread Flour, but would not go so far as to use a typical all purpose flour.
  • What kind of butter are you using for roll-in? It either needs to have a higher fat content than typical supermarket butter (I use Plugra or President) or you can add flour to it prior to forming the butter block.
  • When you laminate, the butter layers should be the same consistency as the dough layers. This can be accomplished by allowing the paton to rest at room temperature until you feel no difference in consistency or by "tapping" the paton with a rolling pin to create "cold/pliable" butter (as you would do to mix brioche, but with a little less vigor). I use a combination of the two. If the butter is too cold and not the same pliability as the dough, it will fracture and will not roll into the even layers that we so strive for in croissant making.
  • Proofing times can be very long - I've done up to six hours in cool room temperatures. The croissant should be really "jiggly."

Hopefully this will help you. I'm sort of a "ghost" here on TFL, so if you have specific questions for me, please reply directly to this post so I will be notified.

LukeHFlynn's picture

So, I tried some suggestions, mainly using a longer proofing time (3-4 hours). I've also shifted to using a matured Sour Dough starter + 7 grams of SAF instant yeast. 

Well, it's safe to say this is my best batch yet.. the crumb is much more open, but it's not as nice as I'd like.. I'd say using a higher protein flour will take care of that more than anything. 

I took my time on placing the butter inside of the dough prior to lamination and made sure there was barely any dough surrounding the butter, edge to edge coverage... I also made sure to chill the dough every 3-5 minutes.

They turned out great, but there are still some things I should note

My croissants are still looking pretty flat and boring on the outside (Yolk + heavy cream + salt egg wash):


This is the kind of awesomeness I want to achieve:

















(From a local bakery that has inspired me...)

I should note that I haven't been using European or Cultured butter.. I've been using normal Sweet cream butter with a tablespoon of flour... I'm hoping my croissants will improve when I go get some Plugra. Other than that, any other suggestions?