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


 Share

Recommended Posts

My favorite sticky bun from Standard Bakery in Portland ME is 400 miles away. :wub: What makes them special is that they use croissant dough, not brioche. So I've decided to do the deed and make croissant dough for the first time. And I need help. I'm using the recipe in Baking with Julia.

Yesterday I did the first stage, mixing flour, yeast, milk, salt, sugar. As far as I can tell, it hasn't risen at all. Is it supposed to be visibly risen before you do the butter thing? I certainly don't want to go through adding the butter if my base dough won't fly.

I think these are the two possible sources of the problem, if it is a problem:

--My house is pretty chilly. The kitchen was probably about 65f.

--I didn't have any active yeast, so I checked in Beranbaum who suggested subing 2 tsp of instant yeast for 1 oz of the active. When I saw the dough didn't appear to have risen, I did do a sugar water/yeast check to be sure it was alive and it grew foamy.

--I did add the salt and yeast to different parts of the bowl, then whisked it about before adding the milk.

Oh, and one other odd thing, when I was kneading in the KA, the bowl kept "hopping" and jumping off the the spindles that hold it in place. I had to manually restrain the bowl during the kneading period. The resultant dough seems rather dense and hard. Could my flour measurement be off? This recipe doesn't give weight measurements so I used a scoop to fill the cup and then swept it level.

"Half of cooking is thinking about cooking." ---Michael Roberts

Link to comment
Share on other sites

wow.....

It seems you have all sorts of problems. So I guess I'll break it all down for you

Sounds like you added your yeast and salt together too soon. Salt goes in at very end, after you've slightly mixed the dough. Wait until its in large chips.

Also sounds like your dough was too tough. Although i've had to restrain my KA before too.

sounds like you didnt have enough yeast. This is what were looking at. If fresh compressed yeast is at 100%, then active dry is 50% of that and instant dry 33%. So if you need 10 oz fresh compressed, sub 5 oz of active dry or 3.3 oz instant. 33% of 2 oz does not equal 2 tsp. Its more like 3.5 tsp. weight is always your best option.

When using instant dry add it to the flour not the water. Add all your liquid ingredients in the bowl first. Then your dry (flour and yest) mix for about a minute and then add your salt. Finish mixing for however long necessary. Remember active dry and fresh both get added to the water when making dough.

its not too big of a deal what temp your house is, just takes longer to rise. You will see a change eventually. At 65 degrees it will probably take 2 hours to rise. possible a little more.

If you need a more accurate recipe using weights, let us know.

Dean Anthony Anderson

"If all you have to eat is an egg, you had better know how to cook it properly" ~ Herve This

Pastry Chef: One If By Land Two If By Sea

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'd suggest getting your hands on Le Brea's croissant recipe. I can't remember which cookbook it's from but well worth the time & effort to track it down. It's very simple & fast. The dough is wonderful to work with and makes a great morning bun.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'd suggest getting your hands on Le Brea's croissant recipe. I can't remember which cookbook it's from but well worth the time & effort to track it down. It's very simple & fast. The dough is wonderful to work with and makes a great morning bun.

Pastries from La Brea bakery.

But croissant dough is a soft dough (puff pastry is rather dense) so if your dough was dense and hard and the mixer was hopping, it sounds like your measurements were off. After mixing, the dough only needs an hour-long rest before it's ready to roll and it should be a little poofy but not blown up.

You used instant yeast, which should be added to the dry ingredients, not the water.

Lastly, did you scald the milk before adding to the dough?

If you need the recipe from La Brea, let me know. It's wonderful, makes a very pliable but sturdy dough, and is best made within one day.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

wow.....

It seems you have all sorts of problems.  So I guess I'll break it all down for you

Sounds like you added your yeast and salt together too soon.  Salt goes in at very end, after you've slightly mixed the dough.  Wait until its in large chips.

Also sounds like your dough was too tough.  Although i've had to restrain my KA before too.

sounds like you didnt have enough yeast.  This is what were looking at.  If fresh compressed yeast is at 100%, then active dry is 50% of that and instant dry 33%.  So if you need 10 oz fresh compressed, sub 5 oz of active dry or 3.3 oz instant.  33% of 2 oz does not equal 2 tsp.  Its more like 3.5 tsp. weight is always your best option.

When using instant dry add it to the flour not the water.  Add all your liquid ingredients in the bowl first.  Then your dry (flour and yest)  mix for about a minute and then add your salt.  Finish mixing for however long necessary.  Remember active dry and fresh both get added to the water when making dough.

its not too big of a deal what temp your house is, just takes longer to rise.  You will see a change eventually.  At 65 degrees it will probably take 2 hours to rise.  possible a little more.

If you need a more accurate recipe using weights, let us know.

Yes, thanks, it would be useful to have the recipe in weight measures. I think I need to scrap what I have and begin again.

It's really confusing when you are teaching yourself to bake. It would be so much easier if ALL recipes had weights included.

I picked the recipe in Bkg w/Julia because so many here said it was a good one. The recipe says, "Put the yest, flour, sugar, salt, and 1 cup milk into the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook." So I did. I did THINK about the salt/yeast/death issue, but heh, this was a Julia endorsed recipe, so I just did it. Clearly wrong.

About the flour. I understand that a cup of flour's weight depends upon how it is put in the cup. And as I have a scale I could bypass that, but even the question of how much a cup should weigh is confusing. What weight should I use as standard for the different kinds of flour? As nearly as I can tell the Bkg w Julia seems to call for 5 oz/cup, Reinhardt 4 oz/cup, Silverton 4. As BWJ called for scoop and sweep in the intro, that's the method I used. But I suspect there was too much flour.

Yeast? The Julia book does not say how to substitute active dry for cake yeast - though it does say that when substituting SAF for active dry to use 25% less SAF. So I turned to Beranbaum; typically, she has a convenient little highlighted conversion chart: "To convert recipes calling for fresh compressed yeast to instant yeast: Use 0.32 times the weight; or, for 1 packed Tbs (21 grams) fresh yeast, use 2 tsp instant yeast." OK. Was I wrong to assume that 1 oz compressed (fresh) yeast [as called for in the croissant recipe] is equivalent to 1 packed Tbs fresh yeast? Because I did assume, based on Beranbaum, that using 2 tsp of the instant would give me the equivalent of the oz of fresh yeast. It's not that I didn't do my homework, it's that I did it dummy-style, I guess. :sad:

When I go out today I will buy some compressed, fresh yeast if I can find it. But even so, the recipe instructions call for just putting it all in the bowl together. No proofing with sugar in water or milk. Oh, it's all so confusing, so intimidating!

Sugarbuzz, I do have Nancy Silverton's book, but that recipe would have called for making some country white bread so I could use some of that dough in the croissant dough - just absolutely too much for my first try, even though I wouldn't have had to start with the grapes as I have some sourdough starter (thanks Jackal) in my fridge. I've put her on the shelf for a later try. Or could I have skipped making the country white and just popped in some of my sourdough starter after refreshing it?

I think baking and breadmaking are really difficult when you are teaching yourself. Perhaps breadmaking most of all. I used to make a loaf from Joy of Cooking when my kids were young and I've used Jackal's sourdough recipe with an acceptable result. With your help croissant dough will not defeat me.

Edited for typo

Edited by Mottmott (log)

"Half of cooking is thinking about cooking." ---Michael Roberts

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'd suggest getting your hands on Le Brea's croissant recipe. I can't remember which cookbook it's from but well worth the time & effort to track it down. It's very simple & fast. The dough is wonderful to work with and makes a great morning bun.

Pastries from La Brea bakery.

But croissant dough is a soft dough (puff pastry is rather dense) so if your dough was dense and hard and the mixer was hopping, it sounds like your measurements were off. After mixing, the dough only needs an hour-long rest before it's ready to roll and it should be a little poofy but not blown up.

You used instant yeast, which should be added to the dry ingredients, not the water.

Lastly, did you scald the milk before adding to the dough?

Signing off for now as I'm on duty to pick up my GS.

If you need the recipe from La Brea, let me know. It's wonderful, makes a very pliable but sturdy dough, and is best made within one day.

It's confusing because I did follow the ingredients carefully, except perhaps the yeast conversion from cake yeast to instant might have been off. I know the rest was as spot on as a cup of flour can be spot on. I did not scald the milk which was pretty near room temperature, but then the recipe said nothing about scalding milk.

I have the Silverton recipe in her bread book, and comparing it with the BWJ recipe I notice that hers not only calls for a piece of starter dough from the Country White Bread, but it also calls for 4 1/2 cakes of yeast to 2 1/2 lbs (10 cups) of bread flour as opposed to BWJ's 1 cake of yeast to 3 3/4 cups of ap flour (which should be a few oz more than 1 pound as her book equated a cup at 5 oz) - so the formula for Silverton's seems to have considerably more raising power. And she says nothing about scalding the milk either. Am I to take it that scalding the milk is always a good idea whether or not called for in a recipe?

I also notice that neither BWJ or Silverton calls for dissolving the yeast in the milk or scalding the milk.

As a novice bread baker, I tend to follow the recipe rather literally, but it looks as if there's a lot of background these recipes take for granted.

I appreciate the benefit of your experience.

BTW: I took the dough out of the fridge (it had said to rest it there overnight) and put it into the oven with the oven light on and it does seem to be softening up a bit after 2 hours.

It would be interesting to hear how successful others found the BWJ recipe.

"Half of cooking is thinking about cooking." ---Michael Roberts

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You want the croissant recipe from "Pastries from La Brea Bakery" as opposed to "Breads from La Brea Bakery".

I agree with you completely about croissant dough making the best cinnamon rolls. In California they have become known as Morning Buns. I also prefer croissant dough for danish pastries.

kit

"I'm bringing pastry back"

Weebl

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ruth, I think the yeast is alive and cooking as I did do a test with it (after making the dough :blink: ). The fault may be in my conversion from fresh yeast to the SAF.

The dough does seem to have come to life after sitting in the oven with the light on. So I may give it a go after I have a good nap.

Kit, I actually own the Pastries book, but alas it is not in my present possession. When visiting my family in Portland a couple years ago (before they moved here). I accidentally left it behind and it is now buried in some box they have not yet unpacked since moving here. I'd give up and just let them have the book, but the chances of my DIL EVER making pastry is about -100. She in fact has commissioned me to make her a bunch of pate brisee for her freezer.

And, just out of curiosity, Kit. Are you by chance a potter? There used to be a wonderful potter of your name at Wallingford.

"Half of cooking is thinking about cooking." ---Michael Roberts

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If someone here is still in Culinary school.....can ya get a copy of the governments weights and measures from a baking instructor??? Somewhere out there, there is an official listing of how much foodstuff should weigh compared to volume. There are listings for AP flour, cake flour, whole wheat flour, sugars, eggs etc... I lost mine about 15 yrs ago.

Tracey

The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers

Maxine

Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

"It is the government's fault, they've eaten everything."

My Webpage

garden state motorcyle association

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And, just out of curiosity, Kit. Are you by chance a potter? There used to be a wonderful potter of your name at Wallingford.

No, I do actually bake for a living! And am of the female persuasion, unlike the British gentleman Kit Williams, author, artist and clockmaker. Is your potter a male or female Kit?

rooftop: I have a list of (some) commonly used ingredients and their weights (grams and ounces) per cup...PM me if you're interested and I'll forward it to you.

kit

"I'm bringing pastry back"

Weebl

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Reinhardt Has a list in his book of weights. But you have to remember theres a large influence on human error doing that. I suggest going by the scale on everything, becuase atleast then if your scale is off, the ratio amongst all the ingredients will still be the same :hmmm: .

But still, I'll be in school in less than 4 weeks. First thing ill do is try and retreive a list if possible.

heres a CIA recipe.

2lb 4 oz / 1.02 kg bread flour

3.5 oz / 99g sugar

1/3 oz / 10 g instant dry yeast

.8 oz / 25 g salt

30 fl oz /.9 L milk

3.5 oz / 99g butter, soft

Roll-In

1lb 4 oz buttter, cold.

follow procedures I listed above.

Dean Anthony Anderson

"If all you have to eat is an egg, you had better know how to cook it properly" ~ Herve This

Pastry Chef: One If By Land Two If By Sea

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I want to thank you all for your help. I understand when making something, it's a matter of whistling in tune with yourself whatever the key. What's tough for the beginner is that there are so many variables. Sometimes it's dumb stuff, like the fact that Morton & Diamond kosher salt are not the same weight per volume. (And that I seem incapable of remember which is which.)

I'm sure it's a matter of practice, practice, practice.

The potter, Kit Williams is a woman.

"Half of cooking is thinking about cooking." ---Michael Roberts

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If it's any consolation, I made exactly the same recipe with exactly the same adjustments you did a few weeks ago and it was a disaster. Worst croissants I ever made. However my conclusion was that my SAF yeast was too old and I tossed it. Guess I wish this thread had been around then.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Reinhardt Has a list in his book of weights.  But you have to remember theres a large influence on human error doing that.  I suggest going by the scale on everything, becuase atleast then if your scale is off, the ratio amongst all the ingredients will still be the same :hmmm: .

But still, I'll be in school in less than 4 weeks.  First thing ill do is try and retreive a list if possible.

heres a CIA recipe.

2lb 4 oz / 1.02 kg bread flour

3.5 oz / 99g sugar

1/3 oz / 10 g instant dry yeast

.8 oz / 25 g salt

30 fl oz /.9 L milk

3.5 oz / 99g butter, soft

Roll-In

1lb 4 oz buttter, cold.

follow procedures I listed above.

If by "Reinhardt" you mean "Reinhart", he specifies .11 oz for 1 tsp of instant yeast. Not scalding the milk will allow a milk protein to interfere with the yeast. You get around this by using dry milk powder dissolved in the water.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...

I apologize if there is already a post on this topic...Found 5 other bloggers that did a huge cross post on this croissants. Theirs came out fabulous. Mine, not so much. Anyhow...

I have been working with the Tartine recipe. I love the flavor the best. Probably from the preferment. My ideal croissant should be bubbly looking and extremely flaky, dark on the outside, tender and delicate on the inside. Flavor should be not too sweet, but nice and robust with a yeasty aroma. Instead, I've been getting greasy, sometimes too shiny flat but well flavored puckeys.

Here's the recipe:

Preferment:

6 oz nonfat milk

1T active dry yeast

6.25 oz apf

Dissolve yeast into milk. blend with flour. Let sit overnite.

Dough:

1T+1tsp active dry yeast

14 oz whole milk

28 oz apf

2.5 oz sugar

1T+1tsp salt

1T melted butter

Sprinkle yeast over preferment until blended. Add 1/2 of milk and blend until incorporated. Add dry ingredients and mix with dough hook until mass comes together into loose dough, about 3 minutes. Let rest for 20 mins. Resume mixing for 4 mins until dough is smooth and elastic. Add milk if dough gets too firm. let dough rest in cool place until rises by 1/2. punch down and roll into rectangle 2" thick. Let rest in refrigerator for 4-6 hours.

Roll-in Butter:

22 oz, cool, but pliable

Remove butter from fridge 1 hour before laminating and beat with paddle until smooth and pliable (do not whip). Chill for 1 hour before laminating.

Laminate

Roll dough to 28x12. Spread butter over 2/3 of dough. Fold into thirds. (first single fold)

Rotate dough and roll out again 28x12, Fold into thirds (second single fold). Let rest 2 hours.

Roll out again 28x12 and do the third single fold. Let rest in freezer 1 hour. Transfer dough to fridge in evening and form croissants in the am.

To form croissants, roll to 32x12. cut into triangles 4x12. Starting from wide end, roll base to tip, tucking in pointed end so the croissant will stand tall. Proof for 2-3 hours in area with high humidity (75degrees). For example, home oven, turned off with a pan of steaming water at the bottom. Refresh the water half way.

Now for my notes...

1. preferment is pretty easy to master. I'm thinking though...wonder if it's possible to try the preferment technique with another recipe?

2. dough. seems like my dough is too shaggy after only 4 minutes, so I've tried both stopping early (resulting in the dough tearing during rollout) and stopping later (resulting in the dough being too elastic and tough).

3. beurrage. seems difficult to smear the butter over the dough. perhaps it got too cold? last time I incorporated the butter using the butter envelope method, but then I think it got too soft when I did the folds. My most recent attempt, again with the envelope, I think the butter was too cold again. Also in this last attempt, I incorporated 2T flour into the butter...hopefully that will hold back some of the greasiness.

4. laminating madness. Should I expect the dough to feel smooth in the end, or should there be little lumps of butter in the dough? Even though it's lumpy, I'm seeing layers in the raw dough, but not so much when the croissants are baked off. I think I have to be careful when laminating that the dough and the butter are at the same temp. Also, it seems weird that the resting times are more than 1 hour, so perhaps the dough is getting too cold and the butter breaks up during the folds. Should I let it sit out for 30 mins before rollout, or maybe I should only let chill in the fridge 30mins? I know temperature is important, so when I move this into mini-mass production, I'll have to have a system for temperature control in place.

5. proofing. The 2 hour proofing time seems really long. First time, the proofing area was too hot so the croissants melted on the bottom. Thereafter, I got the temperature right, but the croissants seemed over-proofed after only 1 hour. Maybe this will get better if I get a proofer?

6. baking. is it normal for a bunch of butter to leak out when baking. I mean like pools of butter make the croissants seem like they're almost being fried. Recipe calls for 425, but I'm using convection so I do 400.

Thanks in advance for any help and advice.

steph

Stephanie Crocker

Sugar Bakery + Cafe

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Steph

Here's some tips from my limited (but successful) croissant making experience.

Leave the butter cold, don't soften it. Cut the butter for the beurrage into four pieces. Pour out your flour onto the counter and coat each butter block in flour and pound out very flat, recoating with flour as necessary to prevent sticking to the table or the rolling pin. For that amount of butter, you'll need around 3 oz of flour. Stack the four flour-coated sheets of butter and fold them into fourths to form a block. Try to make sure the sheets are uniform size and thickness so when you fold them all together you get a beurrage that is uniform is size and shape.

Form the detrempe into a rectangle, large enough so the beurrage covers 2/3 of the dough and also large enough so there is at least a one inch margin all around. Fold the top 1/3 down to the middle and the bottom 1/3 up to the middle (like an envelope).

Turn the dough counter-clockwise and roll into a rectangle. Follow this by two double turns (rotating counter-clockwise each time).

Rest the dough for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Good luck!

Sean

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't know if I have any advice, but I will say that I have been on the search for great croissant recipes for years. The Tartine one gave me terrific results. I only made it once so maybe it was luck but I wouldn't give up on it.

My only thoughts are: There shouldn't be lumps of butter, although I have seen a sort of fractured pattern in the lamination, and it does sound like the proofing might be too long or at too high a temperature. I vastly improved my breadmaking by proofing for 1-1 1/2 hrs. vs. the 2 normally recommended and I do not have a hot kitchen. While I do get some butter oozing out, it's not like the croissants are frying.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...

I use Pastries from the LaBrea Bakery for mine and they've turned out well every time. And my Baba A Louis (sp?) cookbook, from Vermont's greatest bakery, suggests slicing the butter into 1/2 pieces and laying them out like a mosaic, rather than trying to beat down a big hunk of butter--not very authentic, I'm sure, but I've had luck with this method in that I haven't had butter oozing out through the dough, yet I've turned out rather impressive croissants, if I do say so myself. :biggrin:

Feast then thy heart, for what the heart has had, the hand of no heir shall ever hold.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 9 months later...

I'm new to making croissants and I have been trying different types of butter; that is, 80%, 82% and 85% butterfat content while keeping the rest of the recipe constant. I haven't tried the 85% yet, but the 82% croissants tasted a little bit saltier that the 80% croissants. Is it necessary to adjust the amount of salt due to the decrease in water content in the butter? (or any other component for that matter).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm new to making croissants and I have been trying different types of butter; that is, 80%, 82% and 85% butterfat content while keeping the rest of the recipe constant. I haven't tried the 85% yet, but the 82% croissants tasted a little bit saltier that the 80% croissants.  Is it necessary to adjust the amount of salt due to the decrease in water content in the butter? (or any other component for that matter).

that would depend on whether you're using salted butter or not. most professional recipes use unsalted butter.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...