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Croissants with tight crumb

lotaoto's picture

Croissants with tight crumb

Hello everyone!

My name is Carlota, I'm from Spain. It's a pleasure to participate in this great forum which I've been consulting for a while. We also have a great forum in Spain, but I wanted to ask here as I see there are some "croissant" experts here :) Sorry for my strange english.

I've done croissants more or less 10 times. I always have similar results, even if I've changed some things.

These are my croissants:

They are crunchy on the outside and taste really good. The problem is that they have this laminated but really tight crumb:

They are pleasant to eat, and people is enjoying this texture, but I would like to learn how to make them airy!!

The recipe I follow

  • Poolish: 100gr white bread flour + 100gr water + 0,4 dry yeast
  • 275gr bread white flour
  • 125gr strong flour
  • 180gr water (56%)
  • 4gr dry yeast (0,8 %)
  • 85gr sugar (17%)
  • 10gr salt (2%)
  • 250g butter for the lamination (50%)

The process

19º in my kitchen.

I mix the dough and knead until it almost passes the Windowpane Test (a well-known baker in my city recommended this). I spend around 1 hour with kneading, stretch and fold and rest.

I roll the dough to make it flat and put it in the freezer for around 4 hours (this was a recomendation someone told me to stop the fermentation) and then on the fridge for 4 more hours

Then I make the butter square and start the lamination. At this point both dough and butter are cold-temperate and the stretching goes fluent. I stretch it in vertical (maybe with too much strength?) and then make a simple fold. In total I make: Simple fold. 30 minutes rest. Simple fold. 30 min rest. Simple fold and the last rest is for 90 minutes. Then I stretch the dough both in vertical and horizontal direction and cut the triangles.

I normally don't let them rest after cutting, I form the croissants one after another.

I let them rise for around 30 minutes and then leave them on the fridge all night long. On the next morning I let them proof until they are fluffy (normally 4-5 hours).

I oven them for 17 minutes at 180º. 

Things I was doing before but changed (I get almost the same results after the changes):

- Trying different butters (I normally use an organic butter that has 82% fat)

- Not kneading the dough at all.

- Not freezing the dough before putting it on the fridge.

- Laminating with a cooler butter.

- Experimenting with leaving the dough thicker or thiner before the cutting. 

My only "progress" is that in the last 3 times, there is a POOL of butter around the croissants when they are on the oven :( :(

Any help will be very welcome!

Thank you!



bottleny's picture

I haven't tried myself. But after googling, I found this two blog posts from a bakery Balti Bakehouse at Liverpool.

The Trouble With Croissants: this gives some advice on fermentation and lamination.

Later, the bakery posted a newer post, Our Croissants Aren't French, which shows a "better"-looking croissant after using Danish pastry dough instead of traditional French recipes.

Hope these might help.

lotaoto's picture

Hi! I had already read the first link you share. I'm considering trying with a diferent recipe, as I've changed a lot of things, but always with the same recipe. Maybe that is the "problem"! Thank you for your comment!

pmccool's picture

She posted her pursuit of the ideal croissant in a number of posts here on TFL.  You will probably pick up some helpful information as you follow her progression. She achieved that honeycombed texture you are looking for. 


lotaoto's picture

Hi Paul! Yes, I've read her amazing posts. I've also read some other posts of croissant troubleshooting in this forum, but I haven't find any explanation to this tight but laminated crumb. Some others have bread type crumbs, but mine is laminated. 

Thank you!
Jaaakob's picture

I have two suggestions, but be aware that my own croissants still have a long way to go before they can be considered to have a very open crumb. I myself have had the same result as you several times. The croissants had that "laminated-but-tight" look. They taste great anyway, but are far from the croissants I would like to make.

Now, this tip I have is just something that made my last batch actually have clear layers (though they could be much more open):

When I rolled the dough out I did the following for all the folding steps including the last roll-out (more or less):
1. Rolled from the middle of the dough, away from myself
2. Turned the dough 180 degrees, rolled from the middle and away from myself
3. Flipped the dough upside down, and did step 1 & 2
4. Flipped the dough again, repeated steps 1 & 2

I did this until it was the correct length (three times longer than the starting length, that is). The effect was that the roll-out took less time and less force than before. 

TIP 2: I should add that I didn't rest between 1st and 2nd fold (three-folds). After the 2nd fold I rested the dough ~1 hour in the fridge + 5-6 mins in freezer, and then rested the dough for at least 5 hours before I did the final roll-out and shape! 

I see recipes of all kinds that end up making fantastic croissants. The last one I saw was rather different from txfarmers and Hamelmans (which are fairly similar in %'s, I think), and the person behind that recipe (Håkan Johansson) was nominated the world champion in sweet breads & pastries 2014. 

I wish you the best of luck. I'm trying to keep track of the things I do right now, to separate the wrongs and rights. I'm actually going to start a croissant blog today if I have the time. 

Jaaakob's picture

I should perhaps add that I adjusted my rolling technique a bit for my last batch. I tried to avoid using a lot of downward pressure/force, and concentrated on more forward motion instead. I think this might have been important too.
I think it is logical to say that if I move my rolling pin faster forward, it would stretch the dough faster than if I rolled more slowly (but with the same pressure). I guess you could say I tried to roll like a sheeter machine would...

lotaoto's picture

Hello Jaaakob,

What you say is very interesting. I spoke to one well-known baker in my town and he told me he didn't know exactly the reasons for a tight crumb, but he thought there can be a relation with the "excessive" pressure on rolling. I think it makes sense.

Let me have a clear idea of you say about your new rolling tip:

I do the same steps 1&2 that you specify, and that means that I end having a long and "thin" rectangle (in the first roll-outs, not in the last one, were I roll in vertical and horizontal).

If I understand it good, you also roll only in vertical in the first folds, don't you?

I'm trying a new recipe to see what I get. I will practice as well to "move forward" and make less pressure. In two days I will let you know my results here. Will read your croissant blog if you make it!

Thank you

Jaaakob's picture

If you're only rolling away from yourself, turning the dough 180 degrees + doing the same thing "upside down", you're doing exactly what I do already. I do not roll horizontally, only vertically. So I end up with a long rectangle just like you. Sorry for being unclear, some things are hard to express in text (and very easy to show IRL/with pictures). It's sounds like you're doing the right thing when it comes to your rolling procedure. 

I can recommend trying to focus on forward movement instead of pressure, I think it makes a difference because you can use a little less pressure, and the butter has less time to warm up (so it probably stays colder). I'm repeating things here, but I really think you should try to give your dough more rest time before the final roll-out. 

I'll be excited to hear how it goes :)

lotaoto's picture

Well, here are them.

It is more airy, I don't think this can be considered a success, but it is another step on the path! I'm still having the butter pool on the oven, that I didn't use to have on the begining :( I've read it is maybe because of a butter was to cold during the rolling.

LOL... new things every day!

Things I've changed today:

1. Followed a recipe that has more butter (it has 55gr more, but I forgot 30 of them :D so it's only 25 more)... Because I read this on txfarmer's blog:

"The less butter to use, the thinner the butter layers are, which means easier for the butter to melt into the dough or leak out. I have increased the roll-in butter ratio to 55% of the flour weight, about 30% of dough weight, which gives me much more consistent good results". 

2. Used only strong flour.

3. Focused on the forward movement instead of pressure (that was difficult, combined with the strong flour)

I'll try in a few days again returning to a half portion of bread flour and adding the butter that the recipe said.

I searched for the Hakan Johanson recipe you told me, but could'nt find it. Even looking with words like "recepten" "croissanter"...


Jaaakob's picture

Hey, give yourself some credit! What you have there is a really big step towards the croissants you want to make. 

Håkan Johansson hasn't published his recipe only, and I'm not comfortable posting the exact recipe I have. What I can tell you is that the %'s look like this:

Flour (100%)
Water (53%)
Sugar (11%)
Sea salt (2%)
Fresh yeast (~4%)
Butter block (~62% of flour weight)

He doesn't use milk at all, nor does he have butter in the dough. So, this was kind of my point: the recipe can look different in many ways but still produce what you want. However, I think there are some things that can't be changed much without the "wrong" results:

1. Dough needs to be around 55% hydration, and needs to have the gluten developed at least a little. Some develop it even more. I would guess it gives you clearer layers if you can handle it, but it would probably require more resting time.
2. Butter needs to have 82% fat content, and be 30+% of the dough weight. 

Seriously, if you want to learn as fast as possible and be less frustrated with your training you should make two (smaller?) doughs + butter blocks every time you make croissants. If you make two doughs and do everything the same way except for one or two things, you can be sure to know which one was more successful in the end! Yeah, I know it might sound over the top, and it might cost you a little more to buy ingredients, etc. But I bet it makes the learning much easier. 

Don't know what could have caused the butter pooling, to be honest. I'm not good enough at making these to be able to tell...

Good luck!

lotaoto's picture

Thanks :) Yes, this crumb was a big step! I was frustrated for the pool only :( 

Here are my next steps:

- Try with the last recipe I made (which is almost the same as Hakan's recipe!!) and divide it in two portions to change things.

I'll share it here. 

Thank you Jaaakob!

Jaaakob's picture

Here's a pic of a batch I made fairly recently, that turned out better than several batches before it. I think you're ahead of me! Mine are more on the bready side. Still, I can see honeycomb crumb potential (even if it's far away). For the coming bakes I think I'm going to change my flour first, keep most other things the same. Perhaps I'll knead the dough a little more (not just a couple of minutes like this bake). I've been using a rather weak flour (around 8-9% protein) so I think it might make a difference to simply swap it with something around 11-12%.

lotaoto's picture

Yes, I can really see the honeycrumb potential too in your croissant :)

I will like to know how does it go this flour change for you. Did you do the blog? The baker in my city that is more famous for his croissants kneads the dough until it achieves the windowpane test, although I've read that we can let the gluten develop a little bit as well during the 1st resting and it's not necessary to have it completely developed with the kneading. He also uses a flour with around a 11% of protein (a mix of bread flour and strong flour)

We are on the way! 

My last atempt was with more butter, in total a 61%. It didn't make a pool in the oven, it was a more open crumb than the first ones of the post, but they definitely...didn't taste as great as the other ones! LOL, everyday a new change... For the first time there were some of them left the next two days, and nobody was especially interested on eating them.

Good sunday 

Jaaakob's picture

... for the encouragement :) I snapped a pic of one that I think turned out better, though of course, I can't exactly remember what I did differently. I know I divided the dough in two equal parts before doing the final roll-out + shaping. It's possible that I did the final roll-out with a little resting in the middle with this one. That would explain why the layers are more separated. 

It's pretty fun and frustrating at the same time to try all these different things. Right now I'm practicing rolling pin technique to get the dough to be rectangular instead of getting those round edges. It's hard!

BTW; I haven't gotten started with the blog because I haven't had the time to make croissants in weeks, but I'll notify you when I do. Swtiching the flour to a stronger one is change #1 to make, I think it will make a big difference.  

lotaoto's picture


we are close to it!

At least this one that you show is. 

I didn't even think about the round edges, jojo...

When we learn alone at home (with the help of lectures and forums) maybe we walk a long way to arrive to a place that maybe it was very close from where we began.

When you try with the strong flour post it here if you want, I think it will make a difference! I haven't done croissants since my last post too. Weeks of hard work.

Good morning! 

Jaaakob's picture

I agree completely about learning at home, and being "nearly there" with the results! You worded it very well. Practice, practice, practice, just to make a few small changes that are only a little different from what you did in the first place. Then again, one time in a hundred, you change something and everything just clicks. Let's hope for the best and prepare for the worst, haha! Most of the time we can eat our "failures", that's a plus.

I'll post here when I've tried the strong flour and let you know how it goes. Like you, I haven't had that much time for baking the past month. Good luck, whenever you find the time to bake again!

Jaaakob's picture

Just started my blog:

I'll try to keep it updated at least once a month.

Here's a video with a great tip for keeping the edges straight when you roll out: 

(the video itself:)

(the great tip specifically:) 

As you can see, he presses down with the rolling pin in the middle of the dough. I tried this myself, and it really keeps the middle of the dough from getting too long before the corners. It's much easier keeping the dough square if you do this. Just wish I had a heavy rolling pin too. 

tgrayson's picture

"knead until it almost passes the Windowpane Test "

This is a mistake. Croissant dough should be mixed lightly, because the lamination process also kneads the dough. Also, do not use high protein flour. It looks like your gluten is too strong, which is why your crumb is tight.

lotaoto's picture

Hi tgrayson!

I think there is an eternal discussion about this kneading thing. I've tried both ways (not kneading a lot and kneading a lot) and my crumb didn't show big changes. In fact, some people told me that I had a tight crumb because my gluten wasn't strong enough :-/


I use a mix of bread flour (W180) and strong flour (W300) Maybe I'll give another try to not-kneading keeping the other things the same.


tgrayson's picture

Pretty much no one recommends high gluten (strong) or even bread flour for croissants. Usually you see what we in the US call "all purpose" or even pastry flour. Although some artisan type books do say "bread flour", to them bread flour means something in the 11% protein range, which is "All Purpose".

Strong gluten makes rolling very difficult.


lotaoto's picture

Good! But yes, here in Spain "all purpose" flour has 8-9% of proteïn. I think it is too low, so maybe I will mix it with bread flour.

My "bread flour": 10% proteïn. My strong flour: 12%. In the USA you have stronger flours.

A lot of home bakers in Spain follow the instructions of one famous baker in my country. He does excellent croissants, and he kneads to window-pane and uses the same flour as me. That's why I'm doing this.

But maybe I can try it and reduce even more the % of gluten. Thanks!

lotaoto's picture

Hello Jaaakob, good! I'll follow your blog, interesting path. I don't know why I can not see the pictures. They appear as a broken picture simbol :-/

I made croissants the other day, I'm not getting the butter pool anymore. Things that helped: be aware of not rolling with a 'too cold' butter that breaks. Give the dough more time to rest and let them proof more (now they proof around 7-8 hours,and they are not on the limit). I also got a more open dough, but it was not as laminated as the ones on my first photos, it was a liiiittle bit 'bready'.

Unfortunately now it is starting to get hot here, today we can almost wear t-shirt.

Maybe there's one last try for me.

Jaaakob's picture

I was hoping others could see the pictures, but had a suspicion there might be problems. I'll try to get it sorted. 

I write down what I do from one bake to the next in a Google document, it helps when I need to remember what I've done. The thing is that you have to develop a kind of feeling when you bake that you cannot put into words very well, like knowing how cold the dough needs to feel in your hand so that the butter doesn't melt, etc. I guess 'feeling' comes with practice and attention.

lotaoto's picture

Yes! I totally agree with you. Underneath the technique problems, there is the whole learning of becoming friend with the dough and knowing her with 'the body'


Jaaakob's picture

The pictures should be fixed by now (I uploaded them directly to this site instead...)

lotaoto's picture


I didn't knead at all. I made 2 portions with 2 different butters but the same rutine.

I used a weaker flour. I left them more hours to rest between the foldings and on the final rest before the final stretch. 

Not very visible changes from the first pictures I posted here. Is is the same laminated but tight crumb. Anyway, they taste really good and are soft and crunchy. This have some chocolate and nuts :)

keep learning


This is how they look the day after (the ones with no chocolate). And still crunchy on the oustide :)

BetsyMePoocho's picture

carlotta & jaaakob,

The two of you guys are absolutely focussed and it humbles me reading your quest and learning efforts.  

I tried the task once and got my rather large rear spanked.  So,,,, I will follow this post and learn.  Maybe some day I can achieve the level of you rejects…...

Thanks for the great posts and keep going……  Oh, would you consider send out your rejects????

lotaoto's picture

:-D Betsy, thank you!

Fortunately they taste good and each try is still a good snack!  If we lived closer, It would be great to share some with you :) 

Jaaakob's picture

I should say that I turned out some patently awful batches of croissants before I started improving. Truth be told, I baked some of the worst one's shortly after I decided that I wanted to master lamination. So ironic, and so frustrating that I actually threw at least two or three batches straight away.  

Start trying! I'm sure you'll do better than you think. I recall someone much more skilled saying that the quality of the croissant (esp. the crumb structure) has everything to do with your skill in laminating the dough and little to do with specific ingredients. So far it rings true for me. I use Hamelmans formula, it has proven very trusty. By using that same recipe everytime with small adjustments I can tell pretty easily what works and what doesn't. 

Don't hesitate to post your attempts, you're more than welcome to do that in my blog at least. My rejects, however, would have to travel from Sweden to whereever you live and by the time they reach you I'm sure they'd be less appealing!

lotaoto's picture

By now this are the best I've made. Concretely because they are more airy and because of the difference between the soft in the inside and crunchy on the outside (this may be related to the minutes they were on the oven, though). 

In the photo maybe it isn't very visible, but I've cut it when it was still hot and it already has an open crumb.

I've only changed d what we said:

- I've made a first 'fermentation' of only 1 hour in the freezer and 1 hour in the fridge.

- During the lamination I've been very carefull with the cold. I've put some ice bags in my table to cool it and I've but the rolling pin on the freezer during the rests. 

Tomorrow I will bake some others that are from the same dough but that I've let them rest more time on the first fermentation (around 4 hours more) and they will also rest the whole night after the lamination (the ones I baked today rested around 1 hour, more or less, after the lamination).



edit, better view, cut when cold:

lotaoto's picture

I think this will be the last croissants this summer, because today we reached the 30º.

But I still had one butter block on the fridge, and I wanted to try again.

I am almost there :-) :-) :-) this post and our experimentations helped me, a lot.

I will repeat the main things that helped me:

1. First 'fermentation of half an hour in the freezer and 2 hours in the fridge.

2. During the lamination I've been very carefull with the cold. I've put some ice bags in my table to cool it and I've put the rolling pin on the freezer during the rests. 

3. After the third fold over I let the dough rest on the fridge for around 10 hours. 

See you in autumn! 

Shanti85's picture

Hi Carlota,

I have the same problem as you. The crumb looks bready, so I was wondering If you managed to get the nice honeycomb. I am using a flour with high protein and  kneading quite a lot to develop Gluten. However, I am confused as some people say this should be actually avoided. Could you please enlighten me?? Thanks. Pasa buen día, here other Spanish.