Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Sep 2011 DB challenge - Croissants
I have placed the first croissants into yeastspotting http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif
Blog-checking lines: The Daring Bakers go retro this month! Thanks to one of our very talented non-blogging members, Sarah, the Daring Bakers were challenged to make Croissants using a recipe from the Queen of French Cooking, none other than Julia Child!
Recipe Source: Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume Two. Julia Child and Simone Beck.
See here for a PDF of the recipe (it has 57 steps LOL LOL)
Wow this month's challenge was so interesting making croissants, croissant pastry is intriguing it is a mixture of "puff pastry" and "yeast bread dough", technically croissant pastry is a laminated dough, that is you basically make a yeast bread dough and then you make a butter puff pastry with it, using four turns and folds. Very interesting.
We were very lucky to have a wonderful member txfarmer she had experimented with croissant over a two month period and her postings in the "The Fresh Loaf" web site were invaluable well worth a look see these links link one, link two and link three.
1457 layered sourdough croissants
Croissants making is all about technique and practice practice and more practice.
I have made croissants a large number of times so I thought I would push myself on this challenge. I wanted to try some new techniques and methods. So I did sourdough croissants using a HUGE amount of butter using six turns in as little time as possible.
Luckily Sydney Australia is having perfect weather for making laminated dough cold cold and more cold. So I could do two turns (almost three!) every 45 mins (chilling the dough in the freezer between turns). The final proof took a long time.
I had some very active sourdough dough on the rise ready to be shaped when the challenge was announced so I used that to make my croissant dough (sorry I didn't use the challenge recipe for this attempt). I used 500 grams of AP (plain) flour (Australian plain flour is about 10% protein) in the final pastry dough and a 500 gram butter-block (since I had to use up the butter today). Using a high ratio of flour to butter makes it much easier to make the laminations in the pastry. Since I have made laminated doughs before and I was using sourdough (which gives good structural strength to the crumb with plenty of tenderness) I did six 'letter' folds (which produces 728 layers of butter and 729 layers of dough or 1457 different layers in total!) and double egg-washed the croissants. Using sourdough makes for a very tender dough (much softer than normal bread dough). I had to chill the dough after each two turns for 45 mins.
The croissants increase in volume about 3½ times. They smell fabulous when baking.
A very long process, but well worth it.
I was very pleased with these 'quick' croissants since the sourdough really helped tenderise the dough and the many turns seemed to work out fine and the HUGE amount of butter stayed in the rolls when baked so overall a very good result.
My list of characteristics of a good croissant
1. good layering of the butter and dough
2. the exterior crust is deeply coloured all over, the crust should be shiny thin and crisp with a slight crackle (the crust should almost shatter) when bitten into
3. the interior colour is even (slightly yellow or creamy white it depends on the colour of your butter) with an open crumb (lots of holes), the interior dough should be moist and soft with a 'pull' when your tear it apart, and the
4. butter flavour should be strong but not overpowering.
A Sunday article in “le Figaro magazine” referred to the nine pillars of pleasure (volupté) for appreciating a croissant. The author of the article asked two well-known Parisian pâtissiers, Pierre Hermé and Laurent Duchêne to “analyze what makes the heart of the croissant beat”
The nine pillars of volupté (pleasure) from "le Figaro magazine" are:
1. The layers (le feuilletage) – look for the layers, lots of space, not flat and smooth; crusty exterior, soft inside
2. The soft interior (la mie) – is light and agreeably honeycombed. When you eat it, it should have crumbs. When you tear off the cornered end, the soft interior should resist a bit. It should not be doughy.
3. What you hear (à l’oreille) – Ideally you should hear the crunch of the crust. It should crackle the whole while you are biting into it. As Pierre Hermé says: “you should hear the croissant suffer!” («On doit entendre la souffrance du croissant!»)
4. What you taste (en bouche) – You should taste the amount of butter rather than the sugar. However, the subtle taste of salt is the crowning point of a good croissant.
5. What makes a bad croissant (et un mauvais croissant?) – Look to see if the bottom of the croissant is whitish; it was not cooked long enough or was poorly baked. Is the croissant flat in appearance and doesn’t seem to breathe or is it oozing butter?
6. The smell (l’odeur) – This can be a giveaway, if the croissant smells of yeast or the metal baking sheet. It should give off an agreeable smell of creamy butter.
7. Shelf life (sa durée de vie) – The croissant has a very short shelf life: five or six hours; outside of this, it becomes stale. Don’t eat the croissant too hot, it loses its taste, its heart, it fades.
8. The ingredients (les ingredients) – The choice of butter is first and foremost. Pierre Hermé uses Viron flour, fleur de sel de Guérande, butter from the Viette (Charente) region, course sugar and of course water. But, mineral water.
9. The season (la saison) – Does the croissant have a season? From the end of October to the beginning of November (this is for the Northern Hemisphere) is not a good time to buy a croissant. At this point the wheat harvests are blended (the old with the newly harvested). The dough is more difficult to control.
When ordering, ask for the croissant made with butter (croissant au buerre). And although winter might be the croissants’ most popular season, they are available all year round.
The sourdough croissant dough has increased three times in volume, it is full of flavour and bubbles
The sour dough punched down
The butter block - I shape the butter block as perfectly as possible
Locking-in the butter into the dough
Use rubber bands on your rolling pin to get thin even layers in your laminated doughs
After the first turn and fold (notice after the 1st turn & fold the dough is the same size as the butter block)
Trimming the final croissant dough after six turns and fold - keeping the dough neat and even is essential
Close up of the laminations in the overlapping sections
Tips and hints
1. One “letter” (also called a 'simple') fold (i.e folding the dough like a letter taking the top 2/3 of the way down and then taking the bottom 2/3 of the way up to form a rectangle), produces 2 layers of fat encased by 3 layers of dough, so two letter folds produces 6 layers of fat and 7 layers of dough, three letter folds produces 26 layers of fat and 27 layers of dough, four letter folds (typical of croissants) produces 80 layers of fat and 81 layers of dough (this type of pastry dough can increase in volume about three times when baked), five letter folds produces 242 layers of fat and 243 layers of dough and six letter folds (typical of puff pastry which can expand eight times in volume when baked) produces 728 layers of butter and 729 layers of dough that is 1457 different layers in total! (this type of pastry dough can increase in volume about eight times when baked)
2. About the type of flour (low or high gluten) to use – I have checked a lot of websites and my extensive collection of cookery books and there seems to be two camps; the high gluten camp that uses bread flour (high gluten 13%+ protein), and the low(er) gluten camp that uses some (or all!) cake flour (low gluten about 8% protein). Oddly French recipes seem to about 3/4 bread and 1/4 cake on which flour to use. High gluten strengthens the structure of the bread but also toughens the crumb and can be hard to roll out, while low gluten gives a tender crumb but with compromised strength. In the end it is a juggling act between tenderness versus strength. Low gluten flour gives a light open textured crumb but there is a tendency for the croissant structure to collapse, while high gluten flour gives a tighter crumb more like normal bread but the croissant structure is much firmer. My 10% protein sour dough produced a light open crumb with good volume increase I think this was due to the chemical/baking effects of the sour dough and not so much about the amount of protein in the flour. I think a lot of the bread flour recipes are really for machines and not the home baker.
3. Sour dough takes a very long time to proof as compared to normal bread.
4. Here are the major pitfalls for this recipe; warm butter, warm dough, the butter and dough aren't the same consistency which encourages the butter to run out or crack in the laminated layers, untrimmed laminations, uneven final sheeting (the layers of alternating dough and butter should be even).
5. Make paper cut-outs (templates) of the rolled-out dough shapes, the butter-block and the croissants the templates really makes rolling out the dough so much faster and easier.
6. I like to add ½ teaspoon of fresh lemon (or lime) juice per three of cups flour, the acid helps to tenderise the dough's gluten, also the juice intensifies the taste of the butter I feel. Be careful too much lemon juice will result in a dough that is too soft therefore hindering oven spring (the amount the dough springs up in the first few minutes of baking).
7. Use a “French” rolling pin if possible (French rolling pins have no handles and are the same width over the length of the pin they look like a large dowel length) or a very long traditionally shaped rolling pin.
8. Try to use the best quality butter you can afford for your croissants. “European” butter styles have a lower water content (<10%) than normal supermarket brands (about 16%) also top quality brands of butter are more pliable (than low cost butters) when cold. That is low-water/ high-fat content butters make for the highest quality croissants. In France you can buy 'dry' butter (i.e. extra low water content and extra high fat content butter) especially made to be used in croissant making. I used a Belgian butter called Lurpak $16/kg. I was surprised how easy the dough was to layer with the butter block. After each turn and fold I let the dough rest in the refrigerator for about 1½ hours. I have found Aldi's unsalted butter about $6/kg works fine. You can buy butter sheets (butter spread out in thin sheets wrapped in plastic) these make the layering of the dough and butter a lot easier, but they are hard to find try good foodie shops and suppliers to major hotels and restaurants.
9. Most recipes use 45% butter to flour weight I find for the home cook using a lot more butter makes the rolling and turning much easier, increase the butter to about 55-65% flour weight. I did 100% butter to flour weight since I needed to use the butter up and I wanted to experiment what would happen. No leakage at all since I proved the rolls for a long time!
10. To use unsalted or salted butter? I like using unsalted butters since they have a higher fat content than salted butter and I feel that unsalted butter tastes better. But I think it is a matter of personal preference.
11. The butter block has to be made cold and kept cold. You want pliability, NOT softness.
12. The optimal temperature for the butter is 60°F (15½°C) at this temperature it will be pliable and not break into pieces when rolled out.
13. Make sure that the butter block and the dough have the same consistency especially for the first 2 turns, leave the cold dough out on the counter until the butter is the same consistency as the dough. A dough that is softer than the butter will be forced to the sides by the firmer butter; a dough that is too firm will force the butter out the sides.
14. After four turns the dough is beautiful and silky.
15. Remember to let the dough warm up a little (a few minutes) if it has been in the fridge for a long time (over 2 hours) recall you want the butter and the dough to be the same consistency when you roll out the laminated dough.
16. Laminating takes a little practice. Mainly, using the rolling pin as evenly as possible for the turns, keeping the dough rectangle so that the laminations are tight and even, and finally trimming the ends.
17. When rolling out the dough. Always roll in a square or rectangular shape regardless of the final shape. Roll in one direction. Begin with your pin on the edge closest to you and roll toward the far end; do not roll sideways. Do not press down when rolling or the layers may stick together and the recipe will not rise properly. Decrease the pressure as you roll toward the edges to avoid flattening them and compressing the layers. Evenness of rolling is essential so there is even rising. The upper part tends to lengthen faster than the bottom, so turn the dough over occasionally to keep the seams and edges even. Make sure you place the dough so when you resume rolling you do so over the previous rolls and in the same direction. Be neat. Don’t roll it side-ways. Always roll it length-wise. Use as little flour as possible when rolling out the dough so that the dough doesn’t get too tough. Roll it thinly and evenly so that the layers are even when baked. The straighter your rolled dough, the more uniform your puff pastry.
18. Make sure the corners are at a 90-degree angle. This is so the layers are lined up properly for the greatest puff during baking.
19. Rolling to 1/8-inch thick is good for most pastries. For tartlets, roll to 1/16-inch thick, and for larger pastries, such as the Gateau St.-Honore, 3/16-inch thick.
20. Unless you are a professional puff pastry maker and have a home sheeter (a machine that rolls out pastry sheets – a dream of mine) then limit the number of turns for croissants to a maximum of four. For the normal home baker (three or) four turns will produce the maximum lift, further turns will result in smaller and denser croissants. I did six turns since I was using sourdough and I have been making laminated doughs for a long time and can make a good dough with even thin layers that are aligned very closely to 90° to the dough edges. Usually I do four turns but since this is a challenge I thought I would do six to experiment.
21. If some butter escapes you can add a very thin layer of flour to the butter and proceed as normal.
22. You can place thick rubber bands on the edges of the rolling pin the bands make rolling out even thickness dough's much easier. Or you can use flat thin bars of metal laid out on the table as your rolling guide for your rolling pin.
23. Trim the parts that do not expose laminations (like the long edges of the dough.) You do not want 'dead' areas in the laminated dough these dead areas will not rise and bake correctly, so be neat and keep straight edges on your dough when rolling it out. DO NOT put the trimmings in the dough
24. Always brush off the excess flour after turning and folding, this unincorporated flour can cause toughness in your final baked croissants.
25. Get the dough out and back into the fridge as soon as possible between lamination steps.
26. Proving the shaped croissants takes much longer than normal bread...2 to 2.5 hours (even longer if using sour dough) until they are fully puffed-up and jiggle when they are done. It is this final proofing that produces large light puffy croissants and stop the butter from running out of the rolls.
27. The melting point of butter is very low (90°F/32°C) and it has a spreading consistency at room temperature. So if the ambient room temperature is well above 77°F/25°C proof your unbaked croissants in the fridge (this will take about 8-10 hours).
28. Egg washing immediately after forming the croissants keeps them moist! Egg wash again just before baking. This double egg washing produces a lovely deep shine on your croissants.
29. Remember to egg wash the tops of the laminated dough (not the edges that have the laminations) in the shaped croissant, since the egg wash will stop the croissant laminations from rising correctly.
30. Remember the croissants will increase in volume about three times so arrange the unbaked rolls on your baking sheet with plenty of space between them.
31. Rotate your baking sheets half way through the bake.
32. Add a little steam (an ice cube or two in a shallow pan in the oven with the croissants is fine) when starting to bake the croissants this moisture produces thin crisp crusts.
33. The oven temperature is very hot (475°F/240°C/gas mark 9) for this recipe I baked mine for 15 mins and the colour on the croissants was perfect. Remember to preheat the oven for about 20 mins at the correct baking temperature, this long preheating ensures marvellous oven spring and a deep colour on the croissants.
34. The colour of the croissant should be brown all over even where the pastry overlaps.
35. If after 15 mins in the very hot oven you need more colour reduce the temperature to moderately hot (400°F/200°C/gas mark 6) and bake until you get the colour you want.
36. To see some WONDERFUL croissants (with loads of tips and hints) see these links from Txfarmer's postings in The Fresh Loaf website. http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/24534/double-chocolate-croissant-sourdough-starter-can-bread-be-mysteries-and-sexy http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/22677/poolish-croissant-pursuit-perfection http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/23342/croissant-sourdough-starter-txfarmer-vs-tx-summer
I did another batch using the new updated challenge recipe, I used plain (AP) flour (10% protein), I double egg-washed the rolls and I made sure that I proofed them until soft and wobbly (about 4 hours since it was cold here). The interior crumb was a marvellous honeycomb.
A nice honeycomb pattern
A crisp shiny crust yum yum
Comparison of the crumb from my first batch (sourdough croissants) and this batch, the final proofing is very important to get a light airy interior in your croissants.
Pain Au Chocolat Noir
The shiny lacquered crusts of the pain au chocolat noir
I made up some dark chocolate dough (by replacing 4 tablespoons of flour with dark Dutch processed cocoa powder in the challenge recipe) to make pain au chocolat noir, I used dark chocolate chips in the rolls to give an extra chocolate hit. This shape for the rolls minimizes waste and also you can place some extra chocolate along the entire width of the pastry. These where a smash hit with my guests also I really like these a lot not too sweet with a great mouth feel, the best ones so far (it is hard to beat chocolate).
The layered chocolate and butter layers in the croissant dough, this is after three turns and folds
Loads of pain au chocolat noir
Interior shot of the chocolate crumb and dark chocolate filling
A small stack of pain au chocolat noir
Cherry Ripe Croissant Bread Pudding
I love how it looks like a lava explosion rippling with chocolate yum yum!
I love the flavour of cherry ripe (that is a combination of cherry, coconut and chocolate) so I thought I would make a bread pudding from the 'leftover' chocolate croissants I had from yesterday. (To be honest they weren't leftover I stashed them away (LOL LOL) so I could make a bread pudding from them today.) This dessert is rich, decadent with a lusciousness that boarders on the sublime, and it looks so tempting and inviting. The topping is oozing with dark chocolate goodness while the interior is soft melt-in-your-mouth coconut egg yolk custard which is full of hidden ruby red treasures of cherries. Too good to share really this amount feeds 12 people with ice cream.
Bread pudding is basically ripped stale buttered and jammed bread that is baked in an egg/milk/cream custard usually along with soaked dried fruit like raisins etc.
So for this decadent croissant bread pudding I used this recipe
The unbaked cherry ripe croissant bread pudding (this had soaked overnight)
The baked croissant pudding
Cherry Ripe Croissant Bread Pudding
For each two medium-sized chocolate croissants ripped into 1 inch (2½ cm) inches pieces use; one cup of custard liquid (¼ cup coconut cream, ½ cup cream and ¼ cup milk) whisked with 2 egg yolks, and the filling ingredients of ¼ cup brown sugar, ¼ cup dried cherries soaked overnight in rum or cherry brandy or orange juice, ¼ cup dark chocolate chips. Line a baking dish with the ripped croissant pieces, add the custard liquid and the other ingredients stir gently. Cover with plastic and place a light weight on top and let soak for at least one hour (or overnight is better). Preheat an oven to moderate 180°C/350°F/gas 4, remove the plastic from the pudding add some more chocolate chips (do not add soaked fruit they will burn) and place the baking dish into a larger baking pan place enough boiling water to reach about half way up the pudding dish and bake for an hour. The centre should be slightly wobbly. Let cool to warm (about 45 minutes) and serve with vanilla ice cream. Marvellous warm but better at room temperature the next day.
So oozy with deliciousness
What to do with the left over trimmings of the croissant dough?
After so many batches of croissants I have lots of trimmings, (a lot of long trimmings and short trimmings) so I thought I would share what I make these them. Scrolls are always good to make with the long lengths of trimmings, Danish pastries and pain au chocolat are great when you have a lot of shot trimmings just roll out and fill as normal.
Scrolls made with the long lengths of trimmings - on the left the filling is soaked raisins and the other is filled with stewed apple pieces
Crumb of the pain au chocolat roll