- Tried & Tasted -

Friday, 13 May 2016

Home Made Butter Croissants (Maiden Attempt)

I have always wanted to try making home made croissants. It always reminded me of the laminated dough (puff pastry dough) my sis made in her secondary school food and nutrition class. She brought it home and it baked into layers of light and crispy pastry

The down side to what my sis and I have baked, from the dough brought back from school, was that pastry margarine (trans fat) was used to create the laminated layers. It struck me that in the hot (average temperature, 31C/89F) and humid (average humidity 80%) weather of Singapore, the only way to produce laminated dough (without air conditioning kitchen) and not be challenged by the melting fats that the dough encases, would be to use pastry margarine or vegetable shortening. 

Shortenings and margarine have higher melting points, thus eliminating the issue of having to form them in cooler surroundings. Pastry margarine is a form of trans fat and it is unhealthy for our body, especially to our heart. It is one fat I resist using in my baking and cooking. 

Given that it was my maiden attempt at making croissants, I did quite a bit of reading from the internet and baking reference books. While reading and researching, I found a good internet source that will help to explain the making of laminated dough. I have learn a lot from Joe Pastry and also from his interaction with his readers, who have attempted making croissants.
Thanks, Joe!

The difference between puff pastry dough and croissant dough is yeast. Yeast is added to the croissant dough but not to the puff pastry dough. This allows the croissant to have its internal bread like structure.

Making croissant dough was not laborious, much of the time was spent waiting for the dough to chill and prove in the fridge. Heat and humidity are not good friends with this dough, thus speed does matter when you have it out of the fridge to fold the layers.

It is my first attempt in making croissants and the pictures do show that more practice is needed in forming the dough (Hey, it was a fight with time and heat to form the croissants as best as I could). But I think won, not in the aesthetics department but rather, I am rewarded with light, fragrant, buttery and crispy-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside croissants after they were baked. Yummy!

Some of these were transformed into almonds croissants (croissants aux amandes), filled with almond frangipane topped with flaked almonds

Danish Pastry Dough
(makes 8 croissants, adapted from Bake It Great by Luis Troyano) 
62.5g milk, full fat
37.5g water, at room temperature
250g organic bread flour 
5g instant yeast
37.5g sugar
1 medium egg, beaten
1/2 tsp salt
125g unsalted butter, cold (French or Danish butter) + 1 1/2 tsp all purpose flour

Steps to Danish dough
  • Place all the remaining ingredients except the butter in a kitchen mixer bowl. When adding the yeast and salt, place them at opposite sides of the bowl. Add 2/3 of the liquid and begin to mix with a dough hook attachment. Add more liquid gradually until all the dry ingredients are picked up and you have a soft dough. Mix for 6 minutes. You may not need all of the liquid and do not over mix the dough as it will get too tough to roll out during the laminating process. 
  • Lightly oiled a large bowl and place the dough in it. Cover it with clingfilm and place it in the fridge for 2 hours to prove. 
  • While the dough is proving, place the cold butter between two pieces of non- stick baking paper, sprinkle the 1 1/2 tsp all purpose flour evenly on the surface of the butter and flatten it out to 14cm by 14cm square, using a rolling pin - hitting the surface of the butter with even strength.  Place it on a baking sheet and pop it in the fridge to harden again.
  • When the dough has proved, tip it out onto a floured surface and roll it out to a 15cm by 35cm rectangle.

Roll the dough into 15cm by 35cm rectangle

  • With a short edge nearest to you, place the flattened butter on the lower 2/3 of the dough. Fold the top third of dough over then fold the bottom third upwards so all the butter is encased. Press the edges firmly to seal it in.

Place a 14cm by 14cm butter block 
onto the rolled out dough
Fold the dough over the butter block
Pinch the seams of the folded ends together
Pinch the left side of the dough to seal

Lastly, pinch the right side of the dough to completely encase the butter block in the dough

  •  Turn the block of dough 90 degrees and roll it out again to a rectangle 15cm by 35 cm - using the rolling pin in a pressing action at first to make ridges and evenly distribute the butter inside (Pic. 1). Fold the top third (Pic. 2) down and the bottom third up (Pic. 3), wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for 20 minutes to let the butter harden up again (Pic. 4). 
Pic. 1
Pic. 2
Pic. 3

Pic. 4
  •  Repeat the rolling and folding process twice more, placing it in the fridge between folds. 
  • After the last roll and fold let the dough chill in the fridge for an hour or overnight, wrapped up. 
At 1 min, 8 min and 20 min
Baking the croissants

  • Roll the dough to 34cm by 18cm rectangle or till it is about 1cm thick. Trim the edges of the dough down to 32cm by 16cm using a pizza cutter. Then cut the rectangle into 4 equal rectangles of 8cm by 16cm. Using the ruler, cut on a diagonal on each rectangle to form 2 equal triangles. At the base of the triangle, cut a small slit and start rolling the dough onto itself while lengthening the dough by pulling on the tip of the triangle. Repeat the steps for the rest of the triangles.
  • Place the formed croissants onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper and place it in a cool, draft free area to prove for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C/ 400 degrees F. When the croissants have prove, place them in the oven and bake for 10 minutes at 200 degrees C/400 degrees F and lower the temperature of the oven to 190 degrees C/375 degrees F and bake for another 10 minutes, till they are dark golden brown.
  • Let the croissant cool on a cooling rack for 1 hour before consuming.  
  • Do not overworked the dough in the initial stage of forming the dough in the mixer. The more gluten (protein structure) strands you make when you work the dough, the tougher it will be later to roll out the dough to form the folds. If it is hard to roll out the dough to form the folds (the dough kept shrinking back after you roll it out), roll the dough as best as you can gently in an outward direction then let the dough rest in the fridge for 10 minutes (this allow the gluten structure to relax) before trying to roll it out thinner
  • Work quickly.
  • I choose to use French or Danish butter as I find that they contain more milk fat (82% or more) and less water as compared to the other butters that I find on the supermarket shelves. 
  • Due to the humidity and heat in my part of the world, I have to dust the surface of the dough and the rolling pin lightly as and when I feel that the dough is getting too sticky due to humidity. The stickiness will cause the dough to stick to the rolling pin and tear the top layer of dough and thus exposing the butter underneath. That did happen to me and I dabbed the area with some flour and work quickly. If the butter is getting too soft, place the dough back into the fridge to chill for another 20 minutes.
  • The recipe can be doubled for a bigger quantity of dough.

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