Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Croissants, Recap of Trials and Tribulations

*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.


Jessy and her dog Winnie said...

Looks great! Nice job.

Thrumze of Michigan said...

Astrid ces croissants sont superbes et ont l air tres appetissants. ca y est j ai mis quelques photos des miens sur le blog, c etait une reussite et personne n en a laisse une miette (d'ailleurs ils n'avaient pas interet....)

GingerbreadGirl03 said...

Hi! The look It's great!
But where is the last recipe?!

Anonymous said...

Hi La Cerise,

My name is Shannon and I'm the editorial assistant at Foodbuzz.com. I am very impressed with the quality of your posts and to that end, I’d like to invite you to be a part of our newly launched Foodbuzz Featured Publisher program. I would love to send you more details about the program, so if you are interested, please email me at Shannon@foodbuzz.com.


Shannon Eliot
Editorial Assistant, Foodbuzz.com

Aran said...

That's wonderful that you keep making croissants. I'm jealous of that marble countertop I see in the photos. That's fantastic. I have no countertop space and the little I have is some bad material and a hot kitchen so it's almost impossible for me to make croissants. These ones look good too!

farida said...

mmm, love croissant! Yours look so cute! And pictures are mouthwatering! why on earth did I skip my breakfast this morning!!:)

Eileen said...

Love your blog. I'll be back often!


(passions to pastry)

Aran said...

Hi Astrid! I have an award for you at my blog., Read here and scroll down to the end of the post. http://cannelle-vanille.blogspot.com/2008/04/matcha-lemon-and-chocolate-opera-cake.html

CupcakeLady said...

Yummy! Those are great pictures. I remember going to France last year, and I loved the croissants!

Peabody said...

They look good to me!

farida said...

Astrid, I just awarded you with 2 awards! Please check my blog for details. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the detailed adventures in croissant making! I will attempt them at least once, but it will probably take me all week to do with all the preparation steps. My sister loves chocolate croissants (that is, croissant dough filled with chocolate chips or grated chocolate before baking) but good ones are hard to find, and it would be really great if I could make some and ship her the frozen dough so she could simply let them rise and then bake them herself :-)

aran, I don't know what to do about your hot kitchen, but as far as a good place to roll any doughs out on, I made my own special rolling board and cloths. I cut a 24" diameter circle out of 1/2" thick plywood (OSB actually, cheaper than plywood), and made a cover for it out of reasonably heavy weight muslin. Make sure you wash the muslin in hot water and dry it on high heat first to shrink it as much as it will go before cutting and sewing. The cloth extends about 4" to the underside of the board where it is held taut with an elastic hem. Rub flour generously into the cloth and add more as needed. I also use a storebought rolling pin cover which is a soft, ribbed knit material and also keep that well floured. If you're desperate you can use a clean athletic tube sock -- cut a tiny hole in the toe and force one handle through it -- then stretch sock over the pin and thumbtack it to the other end :-) These have really helped me with sticky doughs. At the end of a rolling session I shake the excess flour out of the cloths outside, and then store them in plastic bags in the freezer. I made the rolling board when I started making a lot of lefse, a Norwegian flatbread made from notoriously soft, sticky dough made of potatoes, flour, cream and butter. (I wrote a "how to" on amazon.com if anyone is interested.) If you can easily roll out lefse, no other dough will ever give you much trouble :-D

Karen in northern Idaho, USA

Anonymous said...

Hi La Cerise

Thanks for sharing your experiences making croissant. I tried the recipe using 300g of water and they turned out ok. The only problem I had was the final proofing - who would have guessed that the temperature here in June would not get about 22 degrees! Last time I rely on the weather forecasters.

Peter Northern California

Astrid said...

Peter - Sorry I only saw your comment now. Thanks for giving feedback on the recipe. Yep, proofing is critical. Did you try putting the croissants in a closed space (turned off oven, microwave oven, plastic bag) with a bowl of very hot water? That helps when it's chilly out.

Astrid said...

Karen - Thanks for sharing your tips on how to master sticky dough!

distinctlyuniform said...

I have tried making croissants 2 weeks back to back and have come to conclude that French genes (even if its part French ;) ) are a must!
My croissants (if I may call them that) were more like buttery buns - heavy and not-flaky enough. Dont know where I went wrong - tried my best to follow your 'take two' blog (with the excess water). Next time you make these, could you please post more pictures of the dough in the process or may be even videos...