Croissants are one of those wonderful French pastry creations that we love so much but don’t think twice about the process it took to make them.
Croissants fall under a section of pastry that utilises laminated doughs. A laminated dough is basically a dough that has been folded over and over and over. Examples of these doughs are Danish pastry, croissant pastry and puff pastry. Technically you could make laminated layers with phyllo pastry and melted butter but it wouldn’t be a true laminated dough.
How is laminated dough made? Well firstly the initial dough (which is made first and separately) and the secondary folding butter have to be at the same temperature. Your butter can’t be too cold nor too warm. Cold butter will cause lumps … which leads to uneven pastry and therefore funny looking croissants. In between each fold you need to place the pastry in the fridge for about 30 minutes. You’ll do this 3 times. Always turn and fold the pastry in one direction.
The reason croissants, pies and danish have that airy crisp flake is because of the butter in between the sheets of dough. When it melts whilst baking it creates some steam which pushes the layers apart. Making this pastry is a tedious process but one that fills you with pride when you see the final product after baking. Many restaurants and hotels buy this pastry in.
This process requires hand on training or detailed pictures. I have borrowed the awesome picture guide used by finecooking.com, please have a look at it so you understand what I’m going on about.
1. Milk 225g
2. Dry Yeast 5g
3. Sugar 15g
4. Salt 8g
5. Unsalted Butter 40g
6. Cake Flour 200g
7. Bread Flour 200g
8. Unsalted Butter 225g
– Heat the milk til hot, cool to lukewarm and add the yeast to it and dissolve it (makes sure the milk isn’t too hot. If it’s hot it will kill the yeast)
– Add the remaining ingredients except for the last unsalted butter on the list above (number 8)
– Mix into a smooth dough, but don’t over mix it as this will cause gluten to format resulting in dense croissants
– Proof the dough in a bowl in a warm place, allow it to raise until double in size.
– Roll the last butter as flat as possible in between wax paper and follow the process explained here: Step by step pictorial guide how to fold the butter in properly
– Make up and rest the croissants (you make long elongated triangles and roll each one up from the thick end until the thin tip)
– Once the croissants have proofed egg wash them and bake at 200°C