Everything you have heard about making homemade croissants is most likely true. Yup, it has lots of butter and yes, they are time consuming and a tid bit difficult to make. So let me start by saying- strive for improvement each time, not perfection.
On my baking journey, I am striving to teach myself at home how to make some of the most challenging pastries (even for professional pastry chefs). In fact, French Macaroons were my first endeavor almost two years ago. It took ALOT of patience, trial and error, time and well, almond flour. But after I finally made the perfect batch and shared with family to see their reaction, I was reminded that it was all worth it.
And so, on to my next challenge. These melt in your mouth puff pastries known as the Croissant! I must say, it was the first time in a while that I truly felt challenged. These require time, a lot of folding of the dough, the right eye and touch for the temperature of the dough, the perfect rolling of the dough and you have to work fast!
These are some of the tips and tricks I learned from The Art and Soul of Baking by Sur La Table and Cindy Mushet.. Hopefully this will help you at home to bake croissants with some ease and success!
Flour- it seems to make the most sense to use pastry flour because croissants are a 'pastry'. However, they require more gluten formation than other pastries. All-Purpose Flour or Bread Flour are higher in protein than pastry flour and when combined with liquid, gluten is formed.
You may also use a combination of bread flour with cake flour. Bread flour will have the highest amount of protein, while cake flour has more protein than pastry flour but less than All-purpose flour. Make sense?
Make sure to brush off any excess flour when folding the dough. You don't want unnecessary gluten to form and create a tougher dough than desired.
COLD Butter - the butter must always be cold. If after rolling the dough, it becomes soft (because it has become too warm) stop there and place it in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or until cold again.
The butter block simply put…..is a block of cold butter. No need to add additional flour to the butter block. The easiest technique to produce cold but flexible butter, needed in order to fold in with the dough block is to wrap the COLD (this is critical) butter block loosely in plastic wrap. Now for the fun part! Use a rolling pin to beat the butter until it is malleable. it will have a somewhat flat and even surface.
Folds- its super easy to lose track of how many folds you have done. Keep track! Too many folds will prevent the layers from rising (therefore, it will not bake those beautifully layered crust).
Make sure to line up the edges and square off the corners when folding the dough. This will give you more perfectly even layers with the butter generating a more perfectly flaky and high rise when baked.
Make Dough Ahead of Time- you can make the dough, incorporate the butter block, and folds then refrigerate for up to 24 hours before using the dough. You can also freeze the dough for up to 2 months. For the longest preservation in the freezer- wrap 1-2 times in plastic wrap and add to a freezer bag. Or take it one step further and precut the dough to make baking that much easier.
Importance of Temperature- the temperature in the room will affect the time it takes for the dough to rise. Its a hot summer day but you have the A/C cranking? Your kitchen is most likely at an optimal temperature (65-70 degrees) to allow the dough to rise. A hot summer day and no A/C? Probably not a good idea, place in the refrigerator and wait for it to cool down.
Chill Dough Before Baking- remember, cold butter! This will produce the best rise AND give you that flakiness you worked so hard to create.
Make it Your Own- the most traditional fillings are chocolate and ham and cheese. But be creative and make your own variation!
Hello! I'm Candice and I love baking. This blog is dedicated to all things sweet, exploring your passion, staying inspired and encouraging you to Eat More Cake!