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Classic French Croissants: Tips & Techniques


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Does anyone make their own Croissants? If so please post a recipe that you have found to be successful. I personally have never done them but I want to bake some for my wife for mother's day.

Thanks

FM

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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Does anyone make their own Croissants? If so please post a recipe that you have found to be successful. I personally have never done them but I want to bake some for my wife for mother's day.

Thanks

FM

I've made them on about five different occasions recently with differing results from different recipes. The one that seems to work the best comes from Larousse Gastronomique (page 338 in the 6th? edition; it has a grey and yellow cover).

The two biggest problems I have are:

1. It doesn't come out flakey like a professionally made croissant. This is because I don't have the muscles to roll the dough like a machine. It ends up being a little bit chewy.

2. When you make your triangle cuts, go bigger than you think you need to. Mine turned out to be way too small to be anything more than an amuse-bouche even though it looked big when I cut the dough.

3. Okay, there's a third problem. Don't expect it to turn out right the first time, especially if you're not used to making your own puff pastry.

Croissants

1/2 oz yeast (two packets of dry)

1 cup milk, lukewarm

4 1/2 cups flour

1/3 cup sugar

9 oz butter, softened

Blend yeast with milk in a small bowl.

Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl.

Make a well in the center and pour in the yeast and milk. Mix quickly with fingertips.

When flour has absorbed the milk, smooth the dough and cover the bowl with a towel and let it stand for 30 to 60 minutes; depending on room temperature.

Roll dough into an oblong shape and dot with 1/3 the softened butter. (Personal Experience Note: do not smear the butter over the dough or the dough won't stick when you fold it. )

Fold dough into thirds and let it stand for 30 minutes. (Personal Experience Note II: Put it in the refrigerator so the dough becomes firmer. It will be easier to roll.)

Repeat rolling into an oblong shape and dot with another 1/3 of the softened butter. Fold dough into thirds and let it stand for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

Repeat rolling into an oblong shape and dot with the remaining 1/3 of the softened butter. Fold dough into thirds and let it stand for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

Repeat rolling into an oblong shape and fold dough into thirds and let it stand for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

Roll dough into a 18 inch by 6 inch rectangle and cut it into triangles.

Roll triangles up by starting at the wide end and going to the small end.

Place croissants on a baking sheet and bend them into a crescent shape. Cover the baking sheet and allow the croissants to rise for about 45 minutes.

Brush croissants with a beaten egg and bake at 425F for about 10 minutes. (Personal Experience Note III: I think mine went 15 minutes.)

Drink!

I refuse to spend my life worrying about what I eat. There is no pleasure worth forgoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward. --John Mortimera

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I have successfully created croissants using Jacques Torres' recipe on Foodtv.com---but this was only after I learned the technique first hand from Sebastien Canonne at the French Pastry School in his pastries course. Being very careful not to push down on the dough, but instead, roll it carefully yet firmly so as to avoid squishing the butter out of the seams is critical. He also stressed how important it is to use a poolish (a specific type of starter) in order to obtain a more natural fermentation which results in a more developed yeast taste. I have all his notes somewhere--let me know if you are interested. I believe I also have his recipe as well---can i just tell you that the croissants he made were the most unbelievable buttery, tender, flaky things I have EVER eaten. Good god.

Edited by Elizabeth_11 (log)

-Elizabeth

Mmmmmmm chocolate.

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They are difficult to make. I'm never very successful, but hen my flaky pastry isn't that good either. The instant dough in a can gives surprisingly good results.

Basically its making flaky pastry, but with yeast dough. You can approximate by taking your normal sourdough after retardation, and using it as base for flaky pastry. Use half the weight of butter to the amount of flour in the dough. Make sure the dough is cold and the butter warm - they should be about the same texture. Pretend you are making flaky pastry: roll out the dough, and enclose the butter; give it 4 turns, resting the dough in the fridge between each turn. Work softly. Roll the final dough into a strip and cut triangles, which you roll up from the broad end, and shape into crescents. Bake.

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Thanks for all your comments folks. This Julia Child recipe is one of the longest and most detailed I've seen, it is very helpful though.

Elizabeth, I would be very interested in getting any other comments or recipes you might have about this. I can defenitly try making them with a Poolish.

FM

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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I've only made croissants once before, under pretty advere conditions, but they turned out pretty well, so I have hope that anyone's can.

Checking my notes, the ingredients and recipes are similar to Julia's and Larousse's - Really Nice, the salt amount's missing in the Larousse recipe - but there's a couple of major differences in technique.

We used fresh compressed yeast and we barely worked the dough in the beginning - as one would with a puff pastry dough. Just smooth, not elastic. And we were told when using a dry yeast to let the dough rest for 4 to 5 hours before turns. And if using fresh yeast, mix it with the milk and then with the other dry ingredients - you never want the yeast coming in direct contact with the salt or sugar because they will kill it.

And when we use butter for turns it's supple not soft. It holds its shape but when you handle it, but it bends not breaks.

And when doing the turns feel free to add flour to dust to keep the dough from sticking to your work surface, but brush off all the excess - best with an actual brush - before folding and turning so you don't incorporate too much more flour.

When slicing into this kind of pastry - puff type pastry - lift the dough a bit to relax it because when it's rolled out, it's spread and then when sliced it will contract. And we weighed the triangles so they were the right, consistent size - 70/80g each.

Hope this helps. And Really Nice, your last bit of advice is perfect! I'm almost always amazed when these things turn out!

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I've pretty much given up trying to make these from scratch. Now I just buy the frozen ones from Costco :biggrin:

Really nice!, is that a verbatim recipe from the book?

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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Alright here is the recipe from my recipe book I received at the French Pastry School, along with the directions:

80 g water

13.5 g fresh yeast

67 g pastry flour

27 g sucrose

8 g sea salt

116 g milk

37 g soft butter

80 g pastry flour

220 g bread flour

231 g butter for book

-create the poolish by mixing the water and yeast along with a generous pinch of sugar from the overall amount and adjust it to 70 degrees (this is where it's tricky and I'm not certain of the exact temperature the water an flour should be at, but i know the resting temp should be around 70 degrees----can anyone vouch for this number?)

-cover the water and yeast mixture with the first amount of pastry flour and let it ferment until cracks form on the surface of the flour. It is important not to disturb or shake the poolish while it is starting.

-scale the 231 g of butter, shape it into a rectangle and place it in the cooler.

-mix the salt, sucrose, 37 g of soft butter, and the milk in a small bowl so that the salt has a buffer of fat around it and does not kill the yeast upon direct contact.

-then add the rest of the flours, and your salt, sucrose, and butter mixture to the starter. Use the paddle first until it has combined.

-mix with the dough hook in the first gear for 1-2 minutes until the dough is homogenized. Do not overmix. The dough should look somewhat smooth and be coming out of the bowl. It is after this state where it is possible to overwork the gluten, not before.

-place the dough in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. let rise until it doubles in volume in a warm place (24 C/75 F) --proofing it above 31 C/87 F will melt the butter-do not exceed this temp.

-remove the dough from the proofer and press out the first gasses, then place it in a cooler overnight(or several hours).

-in the morning pull out your square of book butter so it becomes plyable (but not too soft; beating it with a roller will do this well.

-roll the dough out into a rectangle, with the middle being thicker than the edges

-place the rectangle of soft butter on it.

-fold the dough down over the butter, (the butter rectangle should not be in the same direction as the dough rectangle. If you were to place the butter rectangle in in the same direction, imagine rotaing the butter about 45 degrees, then fold the points over it. Place it back into the cooler until both are the same temperature. The dough should look like an envelope with the 4 points coming together (more or less) in the center.

-when you start to incorporate the layers, press on the dough with the rolling pin. It is best to press down, lift, and press down again, so you get a more even distribution of butter, instead of rolling on the dough and pushing the butter out to the edges in this initial phase. Roll out the rectangle and give 2 single book folds(turns), always keeping the seam on the right side.(Your dough should be 3 times as long as it is wide when rolling it out. *the butter should not have any hard spots (chunks of butter), and working quickly in small sections up and down the dough is best. Pressure should be firm, pressing more outward than downward.

-place the dough in the cooler and let rest for several hours

-roll the dough to a rectangle again and give one single or double (if it allows you) book fold.

-roll out lengthwise to 1/8 inch, until you obtain a rectangle.

-cut 2 even strips with a knife or pizza cutter, then cut even triangles(each at about 50 g) out of each strip.

-stretch each piece slightly prior to rolling the croissant. at the base of each triangle, cut a small slit, then stretch the 2 slit pieces slightly and roll.

-refrigerate again for a bit, then brush it with an egg wash of milk or cream, egg, and a pinch of salt. Be sure not to coat the sides of the layered dough, only the tops.

-proof again until doubled in size.

My notes do not have an oven temp, unfortunately, but I'm sure the temp. is comparable to the other recipes.

**note: it is very important that, if at any time during rolling, the butter oozes out anywhere or a seam opens up, refrigerate the dough. You cannot roll this dough out if it gets too warm**

Whew, so there are my notes from Sebastien Canonne! Again, this takes a LOT of practice but this recipe will make the best croissant on the planet if one follows the directions. If you have any additional questions, I'll try to answer them as best I can. Good luck!

-Elizabeth

Mmmmmmm chocolate.

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Just wanted to add that when I tried to duplicate this at home, I used the Jacques Torres recipe since I do not have scale (I know, I know, I REALLY need one :blink: ) and it turned out really well. I simply used his ingredients but followed this technique.

Edited by Elizabeth_11 (log)

-Elizabeth

Mmmmmmm chocolate.

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Elizabeth-

Thanks for going through the trouble of posting this lengthy directions.

When u followed Torres' recipe did u make a poolish also?

I do not have a scale either so I will probably follow Julia's recipe and use your technique.

Thanks again

FM

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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Yes, I did indeed used the poolish method when using Jacques' recipe, despite the fact that his directions specify otherwise--still turned out great! Here is the link in case you want to check it out; his does not require a scale and also has a recipe for danish, pain chocolat and almond cream filling as well. :

http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/re...6_20294,00.html

Glad I could help! Have fun, it may seem daunting but after a couple of tries it should become easier. It's not likely that the first batch will be successful, so be prepared for that. The biggest problem is usually butter leaking out of the layers which completely will destroy the flakiness factor. You should be able to slice into the baked croissant and see lots and lots of layers. If you cut it in half and there are large gaping holes, you have rolled out the dough too thinly and the butter has leaked. It's better to do fewer turns, with noticeably less-- but still in tact layers, than it is to push your luck with too many turns and wind up with a buttery, gushy mess resulting in no flakiness. It's pretty much a judgement call as you go with the rolling. You'll know a good looking dough when you see it, and if you can do an extra turn without jeopardizing the butter, go for it! Just my two cents!

-Elizabeth

Mmmmmmm chocolate.

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Elyse, what makes you think 300 well made croissants is too many for 2 people to eat!!! :biggrin: but thanks anyways.

I just went over the Torres recipe and it got me wondering: Why fresh yeast? Elizabeth's and Julia Child's recipes uses fresh yeast as well. Does it really matter. I use instant yeast for everything. What is the conversion ratio?

Sorry for all the questions but despite all odds I am trying to get it right from the first time for this Sunday (fingers crossed). If it works out I'll post some pics.

FM

edit for spelling

Edited by FoodMan (log)

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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I've pretty much given up trying to make these from scratch.  Now I just buy the frozen ones from Costco :biggrin:

Really nice!, is that a verbatim recipe from the book?

No, it wasn't verbatim. I pretty much scribbled down what I needed to do and went from there.

Sorry I left out the quantity of salt, it's 1-1/2 teaspoons added to the flour and sugar in the beginning of the recipe.

I think we're all saying the same thing... pretty much so... No matter what recipe you choose, practice, practice, practice... :cool:

Mmmmm... Costco...

Drink!

I refuse to spend my life worrying about what I eat. There is no pleasure worth forgoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward. --John Mortimera

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I have an odd tip I don't think has been mentionned yet. When you roll the croissants into their final form, use the heel of your hand and press firmly to make a tight roll, rolling towards you. You'll get a tight, many layered roll.

My $.02.

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I don't know if Jacques Torres Food TV recipe is the same as the one in his Desert Circus book, but the Dessert Circus one is the best I'e found and produces excellent results. Bernabuams Pie and Pastry Bible one was the worst, very spongy like a cheap commercial croissant.

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I just baked a batch of croissants from the Sebastien Canonne recipe that Elizabeth 11 posted. I'm so pleased with they way they came out! They are like crisp, flaky clouds. Thank you so much for posting the recipe and directions.:smile: I haven't tired making croissants for many years and never had very good results in the past, but these worked like a charm. Some things I learned during the process:

- Form the butter packet when the dough is cold and you are ready to combine the two. By pounding the cold-from-the-fridge butter with a rolling pin and quickly pressing it into a flat square, it softens the to perfect temperature and consistency to start folding in.

- Be patient when rolling out the dough. It is very elastic, but it will eventually work out.

- A great way of proofing the formed croissants is to place them in a cold oven with a pan of hot water next to, or on the rack beneath them. The hot water keep the air in the oven moist and warm.

- Do not underbake. The crust will soften a bit as they cool just like bread, so make sure they are deep golden brown when you take them out of the oven. Mine were properly baked through, but I would have a liked a slightly thicker, crisper crust.

- Cool completely before eating. I know it's hard to wait, but the structure needs to set before you tear into them.

- They do take a long time to make, but they aren't that difficult, especially if you've done puff pastry. There are also several spots during the process where you can leave the dough in the fridge for extended periods or even overnight and continue when you have time. You can also freeze the dough or the shaped croissants and bake them much later.

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Oh, I'm so happy that recipe gave you such excellent results nightscotsman! All of your tips are great, especially baking them to a deep dark golden color. I remember all of us thinking that they were burned, or ready to come out of the oven when they were a just turning a medium golden, but Sebastien insisted that they weren't done at that point. The final product was indeed a very deep, dark golden color. mmmm croissants! :wub: I'm glad I was able to share Sebastien's knowledge with you :smile:

-Elizabeth

Mmmmmmm chocolate.

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A couple of questions: Nightscotsman and Elizabeth -- did you do the entire process in one day or is it better to allow the dough, after completing all the turns, to rest in the frig overnight?

Secondly, has anyone else ever seen the following done: taking a small bit of the dough and enclosing it in center of the croissant? Is this traditional or simply done to make a fluffier looking end product? I assume it would give you a higher crumb to crust ratio which I would assume, in a croissant, is not what you are looking for.

kit

"I'm bringing pastry back"

Weebl

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A couple of questions:  Nightscotsman and Elizabeth -- did you do the entire process in one day or is it better to allow the dough, after completing all the turns, to rest in the frig overnight?

I made the yeast dough part the first day, let it rise, punched down and chilled overnight. I think this is important to both completely chill the dough, and allow the yeast to slowly proof a second time in the fridge. The next day I added the butter, did all the turns, shaped and baked. I only baked up half the dough, though, and put the rest in the freezer for a later date. It is a good thing to let the finished dough relax for several hours or even overnight to make the final rolling easier.

Secondly, has anyone else ever seen the following done:  taking a small bit of the dough and enclosing it in center of the croissant?  Is this traditional or simply done to make a fluffier looking end product?  I assume it would give you a higher crumb to crust ratio which I would assume, in a croissant, is not what you are looking for.

I read a bunch of directions from serveral book and only one (Baking with Julia) mentioned this technique to "plump the middle". I didn't do it, and the shape seemed fine to me. Several of the recipes mention cutting a notch in the base of the dough triangle before rolling up, which I guess allows the points to stretch out (none of them explaned why you should do this).

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To answer both of your questions Kit, I think it is best to start the process the day before, however it is possible to do it in only one day with plenty of resting time between turns, proofing, etc. We actually completed the croissants in 3 days at the school when I took the course. I found that, when making them at home, it was so much easier to roll out after having been refrigerated for a good amount of time, and that sometimes the turns were too difficult with only a few hours in the fridge. So in short, the more time you have to let the dough rest in the fridge, the better.

Also, Sebastien did in fact use some scraps of dough in the centers of some of them. It does plump them up, but he seemed to only throw them in for the hell of it at the end when he was using up all the scraps. It does work, but it's not necessary, and I think if you have extra dough it's an excellent way to spare wasting it. Hope that helps! :smile:

-Elizabeth

Mmmmmmm chocolate.

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Well thank a lot for all those who offered advise and help especially Elizabeth. My Croissants were also pretty successfull (considering the fact I've never made them or puff pastry before). My wife loved them and had a great Mother's Day, she actually said that she will not eat the store bought ones anymore....lots of weekends spent rolling dough.

I used a combination of Elizabeth's recipe and Julia Child's, I actually halfed the recipe because I did not want to waste too much butter in case it really flops :sad: . I did make a poolish as a starter (using instant yeast) on Friday and baked the finished croissants on Sunday morning. From Julia's recipe I used the idea of adding flour to the butter to absorb the water and I used her detailed turning techniques. What would have been helpful though is if she specified the thickness of the dough in each turn.

Nightscotsman's advise is on the spot, they do take a long time but they are worth it and they require lots of patience. The couple of problems I had were:

- Until I got the hang of it, the first couple of them did not exactly look like croissants.

- Some butter still seeped out during baking, but not too much to where the layers did not form. This seemed inevitable since I cut right through the butter/dough layers when forming the croissants. Or I probably did something wrong??????

They were very flavorful, buttery with a nice crispy crust (after reading the previous posts I think should cook them longer next time though).

I did take several pictures of the process and the finished croissants which I will post as soon as I download from the camera, hopefully tonight.

Thanks again everyone

FM

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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Glad to hear they worked out well, FM, and Mother's Day was nice also.

I think the only reason to add dough before rolling, is to use up the edges, or if you're planning on rolling them loosely. A proper roll will plump them up plenty.

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  • 5 months later...

A couple of my favorite French friends were scheduled to arrive today. So, I ran out to get croissants for breakfast tomorrow. As soon as I got home I received word from them that they missed the flight and now won't be here until Wednesday afternoon. Is there any GOOD way to keep these fresh until Thursday morning?

Thanks,

Deb

Deb

Liberty, MO

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