Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Classic French Croissants: Tips & Techniques


Recommended Posts

Andiesenji, thanks for the book tip, my local library does have it. Do you remember what it was exactly that made you switch Nick's recipe over your previous ones?

To add to my original post, I'm using a cultured unsalted butter. Not sure if it has a high enough fat percentage as the European butters but it's the closest thing I can find.

For the baking, do I want a hotter oven? Say 400+ rather than 350?

Thanks to everyone for all their feedback and help!

Nick was on a PBS cooking show and demonstrated the croissants right after this book was published. He also did a sweet pie pastry which I also use, it contains an egg. I like it because it is virtually foolproof.

I freeze my butter and grate it onto the dough using the large holes on a grater.

When I take the dough out of the fridge I beat it with a rolling pin, first one direction then another until it is flattened about 1/3 of the thickness. For some reason this causes it to relax a bit and makes it easier to roll. The pin I have is actually a piece of a maple hand rail and is heavier than most pins and slightly larger in diameter. I bought it at a hardwood place and a bit of sandpaper was all I needed to clean up the ends.

Nick's recipe calls for baking at 375 and I have had good results with that. Be sure that your oven is right on, if you don't have an oven thermometer get one.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey Plunk!

I think one serious problem is the butter. As you may know the dairy farmers have a protected monopoly on butter production so you can't get butter in Canada above about 32-34% butterfat. You can only import french butter through USA - and Canada customs is not always helpful (I consider this a winter proposition!) This is not "fat" enough and may expain why you are experiencing cracking when you pull your dough out of the fridge - too much water in the butter.

Lots of economy bakers use high ratio fat but it's not butter.

Often with pastry/bread there is a temptation to add more water because the dough seems too stiff to work. I have learned to allow the dough the time it often needs to allow the water to penetrate the gluten -gluten can sometimes seize a little and resist but not usually for long. I hop this helps a little....if I think of anything else I'll write again.

Life! what's life!? Just natures way of keeping meat fresh - Dr. who

Link to post
Share on other sites

We have a spectacular croissant maker and baker, James MacGuire, holding court over at the Q&A this week. MacGuire makes some of the best croissants I have ever tasted (and I have eaten tons of croissants). You might want to ask your question again over on the Q&A thread. I'm sure he'll share some secrets we can all benefit from. :smile:

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a friend in St. Catherines, Ontario, who does a lot of baking.

I asked her and she said that the only butters she will use in baking are Lactantia, made in Quebec and Sealtest.

I will not repeat what she said about the others..........

The first has three types, Sweet, Salted and Cultured, she prefers the latter.

Sealtest is just sweet and salted.

She says that sometimes Costco carries the Lactantia brand and when it is in the store she stocks up and freezes it.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Remember your dealing with a "Rolled in dough" you don't want to develop gluten as they will make the dough tough. Overworking the dough is a culprit for sure. Be sure to use unsalted butter because of flavor, but it stays cooler longer, Salted butter has more moisture. Your Detrempe and butter should always be cold and of similar textures.

Turnip Greens are Better than Nothing. Ask the people who have tried both.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Bernaise!

Yes, I recently learned, after a very futile search, that butter cannot be imported into Canada! Have you been able to successfully import butter from the US? I'm thinking the risk of spoilage is too high for me, but I'm definitely going to bring a cooler with me on my next road trip down there. (Why oh why didn't I think of this when I went down a few months ago..)

I think for my next attempt, I'm going to focus on not overworking the dough and trying to keep the dough and butter of similar texture, and to use a cooled marble board. It seems like the too-hard butter, the overly elastic dough and the warm ambient temperature caused most of my problems.

Andiesenji, Lactantia cultured is what I use for all my baking and the type I used for the croissants. It's pretty easy to find over here in BC, at least in Vancouver. It's good to know that your baker friend approves of it.

For those of us frusterated by our butter up here in the north, here's an interesting article:

http://www.magma.ca/~ca/rawmilk/nationalpost.htm

Edited by plunk (log)
Link to post
Share on other sites
Last weekend I attempted to make homemade croissants and the recipe I used was from Baking With Julia.  I found that the amount of liquid called for in the dough portion wasn't enough to moisten all of the flour so I had to add more.

I've used this recipe and had the same problem, so it is not just you! :laugh:

If it helps... I've had the best luck if I make the dough the consistency of Playdough (the purchased type, not homemade). But I totally agree with mkFradin -- do whatever works for you.

Good luck with your next attempt!

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 year later...

Well this is the first time I've written in egullet. I'm a little intimidated by everyone's skill level so please be patient. I'm trying to get croissants down. I've tried a few recipes, it seems that the traditional amount of butter rolled in is 28% of the detrempe. So far my croissants are flaky and tasty but distinct layers are lacking. When I try to peel my croissant apart ( my preferred way of eating them!) I don't get the really thin layers, instead they seperate where I rolled them up.

Also most recipes say to cut the triangles and then stretch the triangle out further, why is this.

I really want to understand the science of a really good croissant as well as shaping techniques and recipes. Speaking of which has anyone tried the whole wheat croissant from the Pie and Pastry Bible, are they heavy?

Looking for flaky perfection,

Hannah

Link to post
Share on other sites

I hope you are not trying to duplicate at home the commercially baked croissants commonly available in stores. These croissants use a commercial fold-in fat that resembles ghastly tallow in its waxy pliability. Gives you the discreet flakes but I suspect not very good for the health at all. Your home baked croissants did not have this distinct flakes because your fold-in butter blended with the dough. Maintaining your fold-in butter at 60 degrees F will ensure that it is soft enough to roll in between the layers of dough but not too soft to blend into them. Chilling your dough at regular intervals will maintain this ideal temperature and also help it relax which makes for easier rolling. It will also make your rolling easier if you use special high fat butter such as Plugras. Try masterering your favorite regular croissant first before trying the elaborate variations such as danish pastry and whole-wheat ones.

Gato ming gato miao busca la vida para comer

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've made croissants a number of times and after an initial terrific success using a Jacques Torres recipe from Dessert Circus, I've had the same problem with sponginess instead of flakiness in experimenting with other recipes, but have suspected the issue is something in the technique rather than the recipe. I've wondered whether overproofing could be part of the cause. Also, I have been suspicious of recipes that recommend putting pans of water in the oven for steam (ala RLB whole wheat croissants). Intuitively, this would seem to result in sponginess rather than flakiness, but I could be wrong. FWIW, the worst ones I ever made were the whole wheat ones from the Pie and Pastry Bible.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Well this is the first time I've written in egullet. I'm a little intimidated by everyone's skill level so please be patient. I'm trying to get croissants down. I've tried a few recipes, it seems that the traditional amount of butter rolled in is 28% of the detrempe. So far my croissants are flaky and tasty but distinct layers are lacking. When I try to peel my croissant apart ( my preferred way of eating them!) I don't get the really thin layers, instead they seperate where I rolled them up.

Also most recipes say to cut the triangles and then stretch the triangle out further, why is this.

I really want to understand the science of a really good croissant as well as shaping techniques and recipes. Speaking of which has anyone tried the whole wheat croissant from the Pie and Pastry Bible, are they heavy?

Looking for flaky perfection,

Hannah

Hi Hannah! I tried croissants for the first time a few months ago, using the recipe and technique from Baking with Julia. I found the instructions very clear and easy to follow, and I got great results. If you have the book, or can get it from the library, I highly recommend it.

I'm having trouble picturing where you feel you're going wrong -- could you say a little more about the texture you're getting, or better still, take a picture for us?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Could you be turning the dough before it has had enough time to rest/cool?

whenever I rush the turns I tend to get indistinct layers.

I usually have to rely on the feel and firmness of the dough instead of just the time. It takes about 45 minutes to one hour for me to get it cold enough to turn properly. If the dough is turned too quickly, before the butter has time to set, the layers just blend together when folded. Don't rush the turns and be sure the dough is ready even if it takes a little longer.

Link to post
Share on other sites

If you are adding additional flour as you roll out between turns, this will definitely create the spongy texture. Try to use AS MINIMAL flour as possible, just barely enough to keep from sticking to the surface and tearing the dough. I work with the dough and butter very cold, straight from the fridge but pounded out until it is pliable enough to bend. I do the roll-in, and first turn on day 1. On day 2, I do 1 more turn and roll it out, shape it, freeze it.

I also use half AP flour and half cake flour, sifted.

Melissa McKinney

Chef/Owner Criollo Bakery

mel@criollobakery.com

Link to post
Share on other sites

I also rely on pounding instead of rolling and keeping the dough very cold and using as little additional flour as possible.

I use a large Silpat mat laid on a marble slab. If the weather is quite warm, I place several of the blue ice packs on the mable to chill it as much as possible.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello Hannahmontana, welcome to the eGullet Society For Arts & Letters. I hope everyones input has been helpful for you? If you have any further questions please don't hestiatate to ask them...........and please don't feel shy or intimidated.

I've never made croissants. I do seem to recall seeing some beautiful croissant photos from Melmeks bakery..........didn't Anne rave about them?

Link to post
Share on other sites
Well this is the first time I've written in egullet. I'm a little intimidated by everyone's skill level so please be patient. I'm trying to get croissants down. I've tried a few recipes, it seems that the traditional amount of butter rolled in is 28% of the detrempe. So far my croissants are flaky and tasty but distinct layers are lacking. When I try to peel my croissant apart ( my preferred way of eating them!) I don't get the really thin layers, instead they seperate where I rolled them up.

Also most recipes say to cut the triangles and then stretch the triangle out further, why is this.

I really want to understand the science of a really good croissant as well as shaping techniques and recipes. Speaking of which has anyone tried the whole wheat croissant from the Pie and Pastry Bible, are they heavy?

Looking for flaky perfection,

Hannah

I would advise to just keep making them over and over. They freeze well and squirrels love them (as do people at church coffee hours). I have found the most important factors are letting it rest between turns. Thant is, not a rest acording to time but until the gluten is relaxed-poke it. You have to let it sit out for a short while before you turn it or the beurrage will shatter, although you can still make fine croissants if it does. If you keep making them you will begin to get a sense of when the beurrage is plastic and how much pressure to use etc. Only Martha acheives perfection but repetition is how you get there. I have a recipe that works well if you are interested, however, its not so much the recipe as technique.

Good luck. Woods

Link to post
Share on other sites

Oops, I'm a little embarassed, I think I just quoted some one rather than writing a reply, I hope this works!

First thanks for all the replies, they have been really helpful. Practise does help and co-workers will eat anything free. I should have taken pictures of my last batch. They are improving. Someone told me a great trick for the egg wash-strain it and put it in a spray bottle. It works really well.

I think my problem had to do with some hot weather. Summer in Montana can be very hot- it was in the 90's. I've been using the bread bakers guild recipe-Team USA-I believe from 2000.I think I was using to much dough and I couldn't roll it out fast enough before the butter started to goosh into the dough rather than stay in distinct layers.

Mell- why do use 1/2 cake flour and 1/2 AP? Is it to cut back on the gluten?

I also think that I was using a bit to much flour when I was rolling out the dough.

How does everyone feel about shaping croissants. Do you put the noche in the end to facilitate a more crescenty croissant? A lot of books including Julia talk about stretching the triangle before you shape it-why? And what size of croissant does everyone prefer, after baking (either in ounces or by inches)? big as your head ones or little guys?

Thanks again for all the hints help

Hannah

Link to post
Share on other sites

Did I dream it or is this true: that in France, croissants are not curved if they are all-butter, crescent shaped only if they contain at least a percentage of some other fat?

For what it's worth, I don't do the crescent shape.

kit

"I'm bringing pastry back"

Weebl

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Similar Content

    • By Drew777
      I'm a Brit. I'm also a closet Frenchman.  To cap it all, I'm happily retired in Bangkok, the city of a street food culture that's second to none. The Thais are healthy and slim. I'm just this side of alive and far from slim. Lockdown has me fantasizing about my days working in London, Paris and New York, an existence, if one could call it that, revolving around gastronomy of one kind or another. They paid me, not so very much as it happens, to do what I enjoy doing most in life. We all get to do it, but I was one of a fortunate few who made it his metier. Well all that's in the past now, but I still dream of my time in Paris when lunch was a tad short of 2-hours, little-known local bistros remained affordable until the day they were discovered by La Bible (Michelin Guide) and the students were revolting - this was the summer of '68, for heaven's sake. Someone should open bistro here in Bangkok with a table d'hote of Soupe a l'Oignon gratinee, Blanquette de Veau, a stinky Epoisses and Tarte Tatin to finsih with creme fraiche. Ah, it's back to lockdown and pad Thai. 
    • By TexasMBA02
      After batting about .500 with my previous approach to macarons, I came across Pierre Herme's base recipe online.  After two flawless batches of macarons, I've been re-energized to continue to work at mastering them.  Specifically, I want to try more of his recipes.  My conundrum is that he has, as far as I can tell, two macaron cookbooks and I don't know which one I should get.  I can't tell if one is just an updated version of the other or a reissue or what the differences really are.  I was hoping somebody had some insight.  I have searched online and haven't seen both books referenced in the same context or contrasted at all.
       
      This one appears to be older.

       
      And this one appears to be the newer of the two.

       
      Any insight would be helpful.
       
      Thanks,
       
    • By liuzhou
      The rise and fall of French cuisine
       
      interesting read.
       
    • By pastrygirl
      There are two local grocery stores here who I'd like to try to sell chocolate to but they have policies forbidding GMO soy,  Soy lecithin is allowed only if organic or certified non-GMO. 
       
      I use a lot of Felchlin, some Valrhona, a little Cacao Barry. The only mention of GMOs I've found from Felchlin is this note in a brochure: GMO absence:  Felchlin fulfills current legislative requirements regarding GMO absence.  All Felchlin products comply with the Swiss Regulation and the European Council Regulation related to genetically modified organisms in food and feed.
       
      Does anybody know what those requirements are?  Is anything European going to be GMO-free?  Or labeled above some %?
       
       
    • By umami5
      Has anyone come across a digital version of Practical Professional Cookery (revised 3rd edition) H.L. Cracknell & R.J. Kaufmann.
      I am using this as the textbook for my culinary arts students and a digital version would come in very handy for creating notes and handouts.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...