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CROISSANT

Updated: Jul 24













FUNDAMENTALS OF CROISSANTS

Croissant is one of the two main pastries that are made through the lamination technique by creating multiple layers of dough and butter giving you that multi layer flaky goodness with a light honeycomb interior.


The trick to achieving a perfect croissant at home is simply through practicing. Unlike most desserts or cakes, this pastry requires the fundamental understanding on how lamination works and through experiencing it with feeling with your hands.


In this post, I will be sharing with you some of the tips and tricks to make your first experience less daunting.





BREAK DOWN OF THE PROCESS OF PRODUCING CROISSANTS


Making croissants are a two day process. To understand the makings of this pastry, here are the breakdown on the process consequently:


Day 1

  • Preparing the Detrempe (Croissant Dough)

  • First fermentation at room temperature.

  • Knock back of the dough and sheeting the dough

  • Rest the detrempe in the fridge at 4 - 5˚C overnight (at least 8 hours up to 12 hours)



Day 2

  • Preparing of the laminating butter (beurrage) - sheeting

  • Lock in of the butter and dough

  • Performing the first book fold

  • Resting of the dough

  • Performing the second book fold

  • Resting of the dough

  • Rolling/sheeting out of the dough

  • Trimming and cutting the dough to triangles

  • Shaping of the dough

  • Final proofing of the croissants

  • Egg washing the Proofed croissants

  • Baking

  • Glazing of the baked croissants




CROISSANT DOUGH (DETREMPE)


The dough, or often referred to as 'detrempe' in French is the first thing that you will have to prepare in making croissant. There are a vast variety of recipes out there in making the dough and the one that I stick by is what I will be sharing with you in here.


Take note that the method of preparing the detrempe will be quite different from if you were to prepare them commercially. Because you are making such a smaller amount domestically, you can prepare the dough at a higher temperature with more yeast to expedite the proofing process.


In this recipe, we will aim for a Final Dough Temperature (FDT) of between 22- 25˚C depending on the ambient of your kitchen, ensuring that it does not go anything above 26˚C. Anything above 26˚C will cause the yeast to activate too quickly and can compromise the desired slow fermentation process, which aims to develop flavour in the croissants. It is not recommended that you prepare this pastry when the atmosphere is too warm as it can make the task rather difficult to achieve.


After the dough is prepared, it will go through the first part of the first fermentation at room temperature until the dough increases 50% of its original volume. Once that is achieved, the dough is knocked back (where you press the dough down to release any additional gas that was produced by the yeast). The detrempe will then be rolled to a rectangle and placed onto a tray, wrapped well and placed in the fridge sitting at between 4˚C - 5˚C for the second part of the first fermentation.


The purpose of the first part of the first fermentation is to give the yeast a kick start in activating before putting them in a colder environment for a slower final part of the first fermentation.




HOW DO I CONTROL THE FINAL DOUGH TEMPERATURE OF MY DETREMPE?


Bakers often control the final dough temperature by working out the factors that contributes to the temperature of the dough and these factors are often referred to as variables. Variables that plays a role in the Final Dough Temperature are:


  • Flour

  • Room Temperature

  • Water &

  • Friction


Out of the four variables, the only one that can be controlled are water temperature since it would be hard to change the temperature of the room that you are working on and the flour temperature where you stored them. The easiest way to change the final dough temperature after mixing of the dough is to control the temperature of the water since they can easily be manipulated by either using colder or warmer water for adjustments.


Friction refers to the temperature increase during the mixing of the dough. When the dough hook hits the dough around in the bowl, it creates an energy that can increase the temperature of the dough.


Desired dough temperature is the temperature that you want your Final Dough to be after mixing.


In the case of the day that I prepared the Detrempe (Croissant Dough), the temperature of the mentioned variables are as below:


Room temperature = 22˚C

Flour = 23˚C

Friction = 5˚C estimation



*Note that the final water temperature can be different from you depending on the ambient of your kitchen and the temperature of your ingredients.


Therefore, to calculate the temperature of the water, you will first need work out your DDT (Desired Dough Temperature) and use the DDT to minus the estimated friction (5˚C), then multiply it to the number of affecting variables (3 - friction, flour & room temperature), and finally use the total to subtract the actual temperature of the room temperature and flour variable, and you should then have the recommended water temperature :


Here is the example for the calculation


DDT is = 24˚C

DDT - Friction

= 24 - 5

= 19˚C


then

(DDT x 3) - (Room temp. + Flour Temp.) = Water Temperature


(19 x 3) - (22˚C + 23˚C) = Water Temperature


57 - 45 = Water Temperature


12˚C = Recommended Water Temperature




BEURRAGE (LAMINATING BUTTER)


In making of the croissant, there are two parts butter. The smaller part of the butter are added into the detrempe and the larger part of the butter is used in the laminating process.


When preparing the beurrage, it is important the you use the right type of butter specifically made for this type of pastry. The butter used for lamination are also often referred to as French butter or fractionated butter. These butter has been manipulated with water content extracted and contains higher fat content than normal butter to ease the flexibility of the butter. Flexibility of the butter is crucial to prevent it from breaking during the laminating process.


When laminating, it is important to understand the texture and feel of the beurrage. The best guideline is to look for the same consistency of the beurrage and the detrempe. The butter that I am using is a French imported butter from Flechard Le Grand Tourage, with 82% fat.


The ideal temperature of the butter during the lamination process is usually between 16˚C- 19˚C. The butter should feel fairly flexible but not melting in your hands for lamination.




GOLD INSTANT YEAST


There are varieties of yeast that you can use in the recipe and my most preferred and recommended by professional baker acquaintance of mine are Gold osmotolerant instant yeast. This type of yeast can withstand environment that are high in sugar or salt concentration and is especially ideal for dough that needs to go through a long fermentation time.


Fresh yeast is not preferred as they break down too easily and loses its properties during the long fermentation process.





LAMINATION AND RESTING OF THE DOUGH BETWEEN TURNS



Traditional croissants often calls for 3 single folds with resting time in between folds. Three single folds often yields a close crumb interior and requires a longer preparation time. To achieve a more open interior crumb and a shorter preparation time, this recipe will call for two double folds with one resting time in between.


It is important to rest the dough in between folds if you are doing this by hand. This is to purpose the relaxation of the gluten as the dough may become resistant in between each fold and make it hard to roll it out to the desired width and length. To prevent from over working and possibly tearing the layers from trying to forcibly stretch the dough, resting is crucial.


During the resting of the dough, it is important to not let it sit in the fridge for longer than 30 minutes. This is to prevent the butter from hardening too much which can shatter when you try to roll them out again, compromising the layers of the croissants.


FINAL PROOFING


Once the croissants has been shaped, it is now time to leave the croissants to final proof until they double in size.


The best atmosphere for proofing croissants is an ambient that are drought free and sitting at a temperature between 24˚C - 26˚C. To control this environment at home, you can start by filling a deep dish with hot water and placing it in the turned off oven with the door close. Monitor the temperature inside the oven before placing the croissants in the oven to proof.


To prevent the croissants from forming skins, grease a cling wrap with oil and loosely place it over the croissants during the proofing process.


Alternatively, if you are proofing croissants on a warmer day with your kitchen temperature sitting around 24˚C - 26˚C, you can simply just leave it to proof at room temperature lightly covered.


Depending on the ambient of your kitchen, proofing time can take between 3 - 5 hours.



BAKING TRAY


I highly recommend that you invest in a perforated tray if you are keen on making great croissants. Perforated trays allows even travel of air flow throughout the product giving the product an even crumb color and rise during baking.



BAKING WITH STEAM


The secret to an open crumb in your baked croissants is highly reliant on a few factors. One of which is air flow in the oven. The second main factor that contribute to a nice rise and open crumb is steam.


My first too many failures with making croissants at home without steam yields a close crumb interior and much to my dismay has a rather bread like texture. I am most certain now that after trying numerous times, that steam plays a major factor in helping the croissant rise better with a more open and delicate interior. A dense interior can also be a sign that you have broken the layers during lamination or if the pastries are under proofed.


So how do you create steam in a domestic oven that does not have a steam function? There are two ways of creating steam in your oven that I can share with you. The first way is by placing a deep heavy baking tray in the bottom rack while you are pre heating your oven. When ready to bake, pour hot boiling water into the tray and this will create steam as the hot liquid hit the hot tray.


The second option, which is my preferred method, is by preheating some lava volcanic rocks in a deep dish in the oven. When ready to bake, pour boiling water over the hot rocks to create steam. Since lava rocks can get extremely hot and don't break down easily and the crevices in the lava rocks also mean that there are more surface area for when the water comes in contact with these surfaces, it generates more steam.

Steam helps elevate the pastries during baking and prevents the crust from forming too quickly which can hinder a high rise of the croissants.




 


RECIPE

Yield: 10 Plain Croissants


CROISSANT DOUGH

500 g 100% Baker's Flour (12-15% protein)

250 g 50% Water

10 g 2% Milk Powder

50 g 10% Caster Sugar

10 g 2% Instant Dried Yeast

10 g 2% Fine Salt

35g 7% Unsalted Butter -

Room temperature


250 g 28% Lamination Butter


Note: 1 double + 1 single turns




EGG WASH

50 g Egg (1 medium egg)

50 ml Full Cream Milk

pinch Salt

1 tsp Honey



SUGAR SYRUP

50 ml Boiling Water

50 g Caster Sugar


 

METHOD



DAY 1


WORKING OUT WATER TEMPERATURE


1. Start by multiplying the DDT to the three variables that can affect the Final Dough Temperature (Room Temperature, Flour Temperature + Friction from mixing of the dough in the machine). Unless you are using preferment for the croissant, the variables will be four variables rather than three. Preferment will not be used in the following steps.


The recommended Desired Dough Temperature is 24˚C.


In the case of the day that I prepared the Detrempe (Croissant Dough), the temperature of the mentioned variables are as below:


Room temperature = 22˚C

Flour = 23˚C

Friction = 5˚C estimation


*Note that the final water temperature can be different from you depending on the ambient of your kitchen and the temperature of your ingredients.


To calculate the temperature of the water, you will first need work out your DDT (Desired Dough Temperature) and use the DDT to minus the estimated friction (5˚C), then multiply it to the number of affecting variables (3 - water, flour & room temperature), and finally use the total to subtract the actual temperature of the room temperature and flour variable, and you should then have the recommended water temperature :


Here is the example for the calculation


DDT is = 24˚C

DDT - Friction

= 24 - 5

= 19˚C


then

(DDT x 3) - (Room temp. + Flour Temp.) = Water Temperature


(19 x 3) - (22˚C + 23˚C) = Water Temperature


57 - 45 = Water Temperature


12˚C = Recommended Water Temperature



Now that we have worked out our water temperature, we is now ready to start making the Detrempe.


In a stand mixer bowl, place the flour, milk powder, sugar and salt and mix to combine. Add in the yeast and room temperature butter. Attach a dough hook attachment and mix over low speed while gradually streaming in the water. Once all the water has been added, mix at speed 1 for 2 minutes or until the ingredients come together to form a dough. Then increase the speed 3 and continue to mix for another 4 minutes. ( I use kitchen aid standard stand mixer)


Roll the dough to a smooth ball. Check the temperature of the dough and ensure that is between 22 - 24C. If the dough above 24C, place the dough covered well in the fridge until it comes down to the required temperature. If the dough is at the correct temperature, cover the ball of dough loosely with a cling film on the bench at room temperature and leave for an hour or until it increases 50% of its original volume. This is the first fermentation of the dough.


Once the dough has risen to 50%, knock back the dough to get rid of some of the excess air then flatten and roll to a rectangle of 20 cm x 40 cm with a rolling pin. If you are unable to roll it to the exact size, do not worry too much as you will be rolling them out again during the lamination process.


Gently lift the sheeted dough onto a tray lined with parchment paper. Wrap the tray really well and place in the fridge (4˚C - 5˚C) for the second part of the first fermentation at a low temperature for at least 8 - 12 hours.





DAY 2


LOCKING IN THE BUTTER

1. The next day, prepare the beurrage (lamination butter) by rolling to 20cm x 20cm. Ensure that the butter is around 16˚C - 19˚C. If it is too warm or feels really soft, place the sheeted butter back in to the fridge slightly. The butter should be flexible and not too stiff for the lamination process.

2. When the butter is ready, remove the dough from the fridge. At this point, the dough should be between 4-5˚C .


Roll the Detrempe to double the length of the butter, maintaining the same width. Place the butter in the center of the dough then wrap the overhanging dough on both opposite ends on top and over the butter. Pinch the two ends of the dough together to adhere. You have now locked in the butter.




FIRST DOUBLE FOLDS


3. Turn the dough around and with the two open ends closest and opposite from you, roll the dough to approximately 65 cm in length, whilst maintaining a 20cm width. During the rolling process, frequently lift the dough off the bench to prevent from sticking and dust lightly with flour if necessary. Avoid dusting too much flour as this can cause the dough to become too dry.


4. Once you have rolled to 65cm in length, trim off the two ends (try not to trim too much to avoid too many offcuts) .


Roll the dough back to 65cm if you have shorten it too much from the trimmings.


Perform a double fold by folding one end 1/4 of the way to the top of the dough, then fold the opposite ends 3/4 of the way meeting the other end. Fold the dough over to half again. Flatten the dough slightly with a rolling pin, wrap well and place onto a flat tray and rest in the fridge for 20 minutes.





SECOND DOUBLE FOLDS


5. Once the 20 minutes is up, remove the dough from the fridge and repeat the process in step 3. & step 4.


At this point, you would have performed two double folds. Wrap the dough well and place it back into the fridge to rest for at least 30 minutes.




FINAL ROLLING AND SHAPING


6. Once rested, remove the pastry from the fridge. Roll the dough to 29cm in width then roll it in length until the thickness of the dough is 4 mm. Start trimming both ends lengthways, maintaining a width of 27cm.


Trim off one ends widthways then mark 4.5cm from the top corner. Join the bottom corner towards the 4.5cm mark then trim off that end. Now mark 9cm on both sides along the length of the sheeted dough. Portion the marked areas to create individual triangle.


*Note: If the pastries starts to feel soft, place the triangles onto a flat tray , cover with cling wrap then place in the fridge to 20 to 30 minutes before shaping. You want to avoid the layers from melting on the bench or your hands.



7. Stretch each triangles gently then shape to individual croissants and place them on a baking paper lined with parchment paper, ensuring that you leave enough space between each croissants to allow them to rise double in size.


Lightly spray a cling film with some oil then place it over the croissants loosely. Leave at room temperature sitting at 24˚C for 3 - 4 hours. or until they double in size and when you gently move the trays the croissants are wobbly.


PREHEATING THE OVEN


While the croissants are proofing, pre heat the oven to 200˚C with a bowl of lava volcanic rocks at the bottom rack of the oven. If you do not have the lava volcanic rocks, you can simply place a deep heavy tray on the bottom rack of the oven.




BAKING

You know the croissants are ready to be baked when you can see the layers in the croissants starts to separate, have doubled in size and when you gently move the trays the croissants are light and wobbly.


Lightly brush the croissants with some of the egg wash mixture ensuring not to pool the egg wash and avoid the layers. Turn the oven down to 180˚C, pour boiling water over the lava stones or into a heated heavy deep baking tray to create some initial steam then place the tray of croissants on the rack above the steaming rocks. Bake for 25 minutes or until they turn dark golden in color.





While the croissants are baking, prepare the syrup glaze by mixing the boiling water with the sugar and stir until the sugar are fully dissolved.


Once baked, remove the croissants from the oven and immediately brush the sugar syrup over while the pastries are still hot.


 


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