Baking Diary – Log 7 – 08.05.2012
Ever heard about bread named “croissant”?
No? Wait, NO? REALLY? Are you 100% sure? O.M.G, poor friend, you just miss the one hidden wonder of our world! Get out of the chair, go to the nearest bakery, and buy yourself a croissant. Please! Then come back here.
Yes? Heard about it? Tried it? Love it? Well, that’s the answer I kinda expected.
What is this little babe that I am so crazy about today? Croissant is a buttery flaky pastry named for its distinctive crescent shape. Have you ever drooled over the heavenly buttery aroma comes out of a bakery a corner café, cannot wait to rush in to buy yourself that little treat? That’s freshly baked croissant’s distinct smell.
And when you really do take a bite on it, chewing, uhmmm, some overwhelming satisfaction are dancing in your tongue: those flaky crusts, and then the buttery cake-like and bread-like at the same time crumb, uhmm, another bite, uhmm, that’s when you know that you are eating a perfect croissant.
There is no fresh bakery in the town I live, at least they do not sell fresh baked croissant. That’s one of the many reasons I have to make it myself. The other reason is that I really want to make a great croissant all by myself.
So after hundreds of times (well, I exaggerated a bit, maybe less than a hundred, maybe about 50 times. That’s more like it) of testing different recipes and trying different technique, below is my revised recipe that I, found most successful, and easy to follow for beginners.
This is a warning: this bread is time-consuming; so spare yourself a free night and a free day to explore this recipe. Another one: this bread is also addictive and a garden of fat and carbohydrates, so do consume with caution.
Why my recipe is suitable for beginner? It is because my dough recipe has higher hydration (liquid percentage) than usual croissant recipe; make it softer, more pliable, easier to handle and laminate than usual croissant dough. It will, however, have little affect on the crumb, as it cannot be as open as store-bought croissant where they have industrial machine to handle dry dough. And the croissants tend to spread out a bit more horizontally than raised 100% vertically. Other than those side effects, the flavor of my croissant is still great, buttery with super soft crumb and flaky crust. Furthermore, my recipe requires less fold and turn than usual croissant recipes, reducing the pain of laminating and the risk of over-handling the dough.
This post may seem a bit long and complicated. But it is just because I want to be as detail and well explaining as possible. The true process is actually quite simple, so keep up with me, OK?
(One batch of this makes about 10 mini croissants that fit on the palm of my hand)
- 200g (preferably bread) flour (all purpose flour is OK too, if you don’t have bread flour in hand)
- 7g fresh yeast
- 120 ml cold milk
- 7,5 to 15g sugar (depends on how sweet you want your croissant to be)
- 4g of salt (3g if you use salted butter in the dough)
- 20g unsalted butter, at room temperature (meaning you should leave your cold butter block out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before proceeding) (If you don’t have unsalted butter in hand, use salted one, but remember to cut back the amount of salt in the dough recipe.)
- 112g cold unsalted butter
- ½ egg
- 1 tbsp. water
DAY 1: On the night, at about 7PM, of day 1, do these steps:
Step 1: Because we use fresh yeast in my recipe, first we have to dissolve the yeast into cold milk. You will have a hard time dissolving in cold environment so you may need to weight and dissolve it first in about 10ml of warm milk, and then pour the rest of the cold milk into the yeast mixture. If you use different yeast like dry or instant, activate it according to the manufacturer instructions, then add them into the remained cold milk.
Step 2: Weight flour, sugar, and salt into a same mixing bowl, give them a whisk or three to combine.
Step 3: Then make a well in the middle and pour in the milk – yeast mixture. Cooperate them using a hand mixer-hook attachment, or stand mixer with a dough hook (like me), or using hand (I’ve been here too, believe me, take a bit more time and the result is the same) for about 3 minutes in low speed (and 5 to 7 minutes by hands), until it come together as a kind-of smooth dough, you don’t want them to be extremely smooth and pliable (technically saying, fully gluten development).
After that, add the soft butter into the dough, bit by bit. The reason why adding butter later, that I have just recently discovered, is that adding fat with other ingredients in the very beginning will make it harder, take longer, but not impossible to knead the dough to sufficient gluten development. So, if you add it early you will find yourself (or your machine) doing more kneading than adding it later. Good for your arm muscle building, but not any good for the bread. Why is that? It is because the action of kneading oxidizes the flour over time, the more you knead, the more oxidized the dough will be, and this oxidization negatively affects the crumb, color and flavor of your hard-worked bread.
What you trying to achieve should look like this picture of mine: medium gluten development dough that can be stretched out to thin sheet but tore quite easily.
Step 4: At this stage, most recipe call for a fermentation of 1 to 2h and then toss it in the fridge. I never have enough time, or patience to wait that long, and my recipe have the dough overnight to proof in the fridge after lamination. Therefore, what I do right after mixing it is that I put the dough on a plastic wrap, spread it with my rolling pin until it reach the size of about 25cmx12cm rectangle, put another plastic wrap on the dough to keep it moist, and place it in the fridge for about 1 hour. It is a very important step, letting your dough rest and chill, because if you don’t do that, the gluten in the dough will not have time to relax and loosen up, it then will fight back very forcefully when you try to incorporate the butter into the dough in the next steps, and you will lose to the gluten strength, miserably, trust me. So please do have patience with this.
Step 5: While waiting for your dough to chill and firm up. Take a block of cold butter out of the fridge. Slice it up 0.5cm thick and weight 112g of it, arrange those slices into a rectangle of 12x8cm on a plastic wrap. Like this.
Step 6: Now is my fun part of the croissant making. Cover the butter with another plastic wrap and use a rolling pin to slam it real hard into a thin sheet of 12x15cm. This is a great stress reliever and a sweet little revenge, just like hand kneading bread dough. Imagine the butter as the face of an annoying person, hold your rolling pin up very firmly, and BAM, BAM, BAM, smash it sincerely with all your strength, please. Who is your Mommy now, huh? Gosh, show some manners! LOL, very bad, bad Rose. But it works, like a charm! After this exercise, you will have a thin sheet of cold butter like this; make sure the corners are square.
Except for the stress relieving effect, this step is very meaningful for croissant dough making because it will plasticize the butter, technically make it pliable, and easier to be evenly distributed in the dough in the laminating process. You know your butter is well plasticized when it is still cold and hold it shape, while you can easily bend it over the bench without any cracking. Like this.
Proceed with the next step immediately. Make sure the softness of the dough and the butter are at the same level.
Step 7: Take the dough out of the fridge onto your working bench. Place the plasticized butter at one end of the dough sheet. Make sure all the corners of the dough sheet and the butter sheet are square and fit onto each other. The butter sheet’s length should be exactly of two third of the dough sheet’s. Like this.
Then, flap the dough part that has no butter on it onto the butter sheet, like this.
After that, flap the dough-butter combo from the other side on top. Like this.
You have just locked your butter inside the dough using English lock-in method. Many other recipes use French method like in this video, but I always prefer English method because it will build up more initial layers for further laminating, result in less turns and folds.
After locking the butter in, seal the dough in every side and corner very tightly, you don’t want the butter to leak out.
Step 8: Now, we gonna start the laminating process. Hole your rolling pin as your weapon. Ready? Here we go, the first turn and fold.
Very lightly flour the workbench and your rolling pin to prevent sticking.
Turn your dough clockwise (or counter clockwise) 90 degree. Lightly pressing the dough evenly to release all the trapped air, if there is any; and also to make the dough and butter layers stick together.
Now start rolling it out, start from one end to another. NO back and forth rolling, one clear stroke at a time, always start from one end to another. Apply even medium pressure in every spot of the dough, not too hard, not too light. And remember, from one end to another. Try handling the dough as quickly as possible. Croissant dough doesn’t like warmth. Now flip the dough over to the other side, both horizontally and vertically. (You keep up with this, right?), this is to present sticking on one side and for more even butter distributing. Now continue rolling, until you achieve a 30x12cm rectangle, like this.
No or very tiny little butter leaking out, Wow, you are doing great! Keep up with great work! I am right here. Let’s continue. Now you will make a double fold, or book fold by eye-dividing the dough into 4 equal, now folding 2 end toward the center, leaving just a tiny space of 0.5cm in between. Like this.
Now folding one end onto the other, like this. Look great, huh, just like folding a book, just like it’s name. YAY! I choose to do this double fold on my recipe because at this time of laminating process, the dough is still soft and the gluten has not developed much, it will not fight back very much, easier for us to stretch it out longer. Further more, double fold will create more layers than a single fold, resulting in less dough handling in the future.
Step 9: You have done your first turn and fold. Congrats! There is 1 more to go, but not yet. For now, wrap the plastic around the dough, and put it in the fridge for another hour. Yes, 1 more waiting hour, but totally worth it! Long time in the fridge will keep the butter cold; prevent it from melting and absorbed by the dough. Furthermore, as explained above, it will help the dough to relax and loosen up, meaning save yourself a little less pain handling it.
Get yourself a cup of tea, check out some news your friends posted on FB, or enjoy a book. Keep yourself busy. One hour will pass by in a minute.
Step 10: Now one hour is up, get the dough out of the fridge. We will perform our second and final turn and fold. Like the last time, flip the dough out of the plastic wrap, longer side toward you. Roll it out, once again, into a 25x12cm rectangle. Remember; no back and forth, always start from one end to the other of the dough sheet.
If the butter leaks out or a bit of dough sheet sticks to your rolling pin or the workbench, don’t panic, it is normal if you try it the few first times! It means that you have torturing the dough quite, and it is now fighting back. Try dusting a bit of flour on it, on the leak, and on your rolling pin. Just handle the dough a little faster to the required size and proceed as below. In worse cases, if the butter leaks out much and the dough springs back, try put it in the fridge for another 30 minutes and then continue until achieve the right rectangle.
Now, last fold. Eye divide the dough into 3 equal parts, fold 1 part toward the center, fold the other part onto it. End result like this.
Step 11: now wrap the dough closely with plastic wrap. Put it in the fridge overnight.
You are done for today. You have done very hard work today! You deserve a glass of red wine and a good movie. I recommend “Music and Lyrics” of Hugh Grants and Drew Barrymore, a romantic love story with many good songs.
DAY 2: In the morning of day 2, at about 7AM, get the dough out of the fridge. It might rise into a balloon of dough; sometimes it might not. In both cases, it is normal.
Step 12: Now deflate the dough by lightly press it down. Roll it into a 36x21cm, about 0.5cm thick rectangle. Cut all the imperfect edges around the rectangle, about 0.5cm wide. Now divide the dough into 5 equal parts of 20×7 rectangles. Use a knife and a ruler. I use my pizza cutter, work like a charm!
Divide each rectangle into 2 triangles. So you have 10 pieces in total. I have more in this picture because i almost double the recipe for this batch.
Step 13: We will shape our croissants now. Use the rolling pin (recommended) or your hand to stretch the triangle out a little.
Roll it up fairly tight, stretch out the tip with one hand when you roll the bottom with the other hand. You should get 3 rolls, and 7 little steps, with the tip underneath. This is to create a straight croissant. You should not make the dough sheet any thinner than this or the crumb cannot have clear honeycomb structure.
If you want a curved one, create a little notch in the triangle bottom, and roll to the outside as you start from the base. Curve the 2 tips toward you, and you have it. The curved croissant indicated that this croissant is made of margarine (Urg!) not butter, which means less flavor but easier to handle dough. (And cheaper, too) So I have never curved my croissants.
Step 14: Place your croissants onto a cookie pan. Now take a picture. Trust me, and take a picture now! These croissants will require fairly long final proofing time until they double in size. If you wait that long with constant observation on the croissant, somehow you will lose track of how much they have rose. So take a picture. Snap! Like this.
And here is another one from the side.
Step 15: Now cover them loosely with plastic wrap; and let them sit in a cool room of about 22 degree Celsius for almost 2 and half hours. Yes, you read it right, 2 and half hours! These babes take that much time to proof! But don’t trust the clock, or your eyes. Take pictures at about 1 hour interval. When the clock say there is 20 minutes left in the proofing time, preheat your oven to 200 degree Celsius.
Those croissants might be ready a bit earlier, or a bit later. Your mind and the clock can fool you, but taken photos never lie. Here is the picture showing that they are ready to go into the oven.
And here is another one from the side. You can see that the layers are clearer.
Step 16: Make the egg wash mixture my combining all the ingredients and stir well until combine. Now apply the egg wash onto your croissants using a pastry brush, nice and evenly.
Step 17: Put the croissants into the preheated oven, middle rack. Bake them for 18 to 20 minutes until golden brown. I don’t know what you gonna do when baking these, I glued my eyes on the oven door and cannot stop watching them raise. Such an eye-opening experience! And that’s one thing I love about bread! They are alive!
Your croissant may leak out bit butter, but it is OK. If your croissants leak out a lot of butter, like pools of them under each croissant, it indicates that your croissants are under-proofed.
After 10 minutes, your oven and your apartment should smell wonderfully buttery. Bear always inhales and exhales pleasantly in this heavenly atmosphere and constantly asks: When will they be ready, honey? I always answer: “Just a bit more, pumpkin!” and he’ll hum like a little boy in the Christmas morning.
After 20 minutes, your croissant is done. It should have rather golden brown color, not just golden. It should expand quite much and feel very light-weighted comparing with its look.
Now, wait for 10minutes until these cool down a bit. You and I have been patient for very long now. So 10 more minutes really doesn’t mean anything. Be patient again this time, please, waiting for the crust and crumb to settle a bit.
5, 4, 3, 2, 1… And enjoy!
Uhmm, first your teeth will break the fragile flaky crust into little pieces, then they will reach the soft, chewy, buttery crumb inside. Nom, nom! You then swallow the little piece of heaven and immediately crave for another. The whole process starts all over, until you finish the whole pan, and you are deathly full. I am not kidding! Do consume with caution. These babes are your belly fat’s best friends.
Now look at the crumb of these croissants. Well, quite clear honeycomb structure, no doughy parts. Great!
I just technically describe to you how to make a croissant: layering yeast dough with butter, rolled and folded several times in succession, then rolled into a sheet, shape and bake.
I used to think, ” Sound easy enough, huh?” and I have failed, desperately.
In the next post, I will review my whole croissant story up to now. By going through every typical case, I will note down all my failures and why it happened, how to avoid my mistakes; my turning point and notes on my own experiences and tips on how to conquer the laminating technique to ensure stable successes in the future.
Sneak Peek: My very first batch of Croissant. What on earth happened to these poor babes?
Well, I must say a perfect croissant is definitely not the easiest one to achieve, but with practice, practice, practice, you can do it! Like me, from above, to below!
My mood today lightens up a bit, mostly because I am too busy running back and forth from the kitchen and my desk to write this post to think much about my problems.
Now I will go back to preparing my thesis. Running away from the problem will not make it disappear, wise men once said. So I have to face my fear now. Wish myself some luck and courage! You are doing fine, Rose.
Anyhow, I decide end my post with another quote that I came across today.
“Don’t be pushed by your problems
Be led by your dreams.”
And a very romantic video, Bear sent me to cheer me up. Honey, I want to grow old with you, too.
Nighty night, everyone.
Updated: I submitted this to YeastSpotting.