*See April 2008 update below
Oh good, I overcame the fear of croissants induced by my last failure, and made this pretty batch.
I used Pierre Hermé's recipe, but increased the water significantly. His recipe specifies 200g (even suggests you start with only two thirds of this amount), whereas I believe I used 320g this time.
Perhaps it was a little too much water. I think the texture of the croissants could still be a little improved*(See the update below). The first time I made this recipe the croissants seemed more flaky, with large crunchy flakes just peeling off the tops, whereas this time they didn't make as many and as large crumbs. Could too much water reduce the flakiness? There must be a reason why the recipe cautions you to start with less water and add more only if you need it.
Or maybe they didn't proof enough*(yes! see update below). I defrosted the frozen raw croissants overnight in the fridge, then left them at room temperature for three hours before baking. But it was chilly (what's with all the snow we've been having for Easter?) and they still seemed a little firm when I touched them before putting them in the oven.
The insides that came out as I pulled on one end are fluffy, but the outside should break into more crunchy flakes or large crumbs
Still, the croissants came out OK, break out the Champagne!
Some process photos and comments
I rolled out the butter between two sheets of plastic wrap, cutting and pasting in places so it would cover about two thirds of the rolled out dough. When the plastic stuck too tenaciously to the butter, I put the whole thing in the freezer for a minute, after which the plastic peeled off easily.
Folding the dough after placing the butter block. I sealed the edges carefully, but made sure there was no air trapped with the butter
Rolling out the dough to make the croissants seems impossible at first. It springs right back to a smaller size. I did my best, then covered it in plastic, folded it once (to fit in the fridge) and put it in the fridge for at least half an hour, if not more. After this long rest, it rolled out quite easily. I cut triangles 22cm tall and 12cm wide. 20 or 18cm tall would have been enough, but that was the width of my dough strip. Lift the dough off the table to make sure it is relaxed before you start cutting triangles. Otherwise these can shrink as the dough retracts. If they do, it's not really a problem, but the shape of the croissant might be a little off.
The second half of the dough is waiting to be rolled out. See -- if you can, given the lighting -- the butter layers. Each half gave about 9 or 10 croissants, plus small bits of dough for minis. I froze the croissants on a tray after shaping them, and once they were frozen placed them in a tupperware box. It's good to know I still have about 8 of these in the freezer!
*Update April 2008
I can't believe I'm still writing about croissants... Rather than create another post I'll just update this one. The 8 frozen croissants mentioned above turned out much better than the ones originally posted about here, because this time I remembered to proof them in the microwave oven, with a glass of boiling water to create humidity and warmth. If you make many croissants, you can use your oven to proof them, but make sure it is completely cool. If the temperature gets too high the butter will leak, make a mess, and the croissants won't be light and fluffy.
I was much happier with these. It's all in the proofing!
A well proofed-croissant. How do you know the croissant has risen enough? Touch it. It should feel spongy, not at all firm.
Proper proofing somehow made the croissant taste more buttery, though it was made from the same batch as previously
Stretchy insides (click to view larger image)
* * *
Summary of my croissants endeavours
I've written a total of four posts about croissants (yes...), so here's an overview:
- First attempt, recipe from Le Pétrin
This post provides the first recipe I used, a lot of process photos, and links to many other croissant resources.
- Second attempt. The recipe from Hermé is included in this post. This is my current favorite recipe, provided the water is increased.
- Third attempt, and total failure, still using recipe from Hermé.
This shows what happens when the dough is too dry (yuck)
- Fourth attempt, (this post) using recipe from Hermé.
Good croissants. Increasing the amount of water and improving proofing made a huge difference. Some process photos.