Sourdough Croissant Experiment

As you’re aware I’m on the quest for Sourdough Bread, Croissant and Pastry Perfection. I am on the path, farther than I was when I started….but nowhere near where I’d like to be!

But it’s a journey and NOT a destination.

I decided on this last batch to test a couple hypothesis:

  1. I have too much straight dough in my batch and not enough butter contact
  2. There are too many layers (if that were even possible)
  3. The dough is too warm when I bake

To test the first hypothesis I decided to trim my dough as I folded rather than my trim at the very end before cutting and rolling my croissants.

RESULT: I lost about 25% of my overall yield. Instead of getting 12 croissants I ended up with 9! Ouch! That said, I did bake the trimmings. Not as satisfying as a croissant!

What I’m going to try next time: Slice the folded dough edges and not “trim it off”. I’m going to try to expose the layers and allow the butter to move all the way to the edge.

To test the second hypothesis I decided to fold less by doing only two “letter” folds.

My method to this point has started with two butter layers when I added the butter block into the dough. In essence, the butter rectangle was 2/3 of the dough rectangle at the beginning. I’d then do three “Letter” folds. That would be 2 x 3 x 3 x 3 = 54 layers. Sometimes I did and initial “Book” fold so it was 2 x 4 x 3 x 3 = 72 layers. This time it was going to be 2 x 3 x 3 = 18 layers.

RESULT: Better lamination / separation on my cross-cut was much better. Much clearer separation of the layers than on a previous batch.

I liked the direction this path is taking me. Next time I’m going for 12 layers. I’ ll start with a single block of butter inside the dough, perform a “Book” fold and then a “Letter” fold (e.g. 1 x 4 x 3 = 12 layers).

Thirdly, I thought that the lack of separation may also have been because my butter was too warm (I baked immediately after my proofing). I thought I would prove first THEN put into the fridge overnight and bake the already proven croissants!

RESULT: Butter all OVER the pan. Took waaaaaaay too long to bake resulting in my bottoms being done before the tops. Additionally, the insides was “doughy” and moist (see pic above).

What I learned is that I will NOT be doing that in the future! The croissants were too cold and it was hard for them to get baked all the way through. Next time I’m going to roll the croissants and place into the fridge overnight. I’ll THEN take them out and prove them for about 2.5-3 hours at room temperature, add an egg wash and then bake.

OVERALL RESULT: I was able to test my hypothesis and learn. I’ve a direction for where I want to go next. I’m further down the path than I was at the start. Success!

Oh… and they are STILL delicious! The one in the cross-cut pictures above fueled this post!

Published by Jim Hayden

Enterprise Transformation Consultant by day; Baker by night! Learning all the time! Iterative and incremental improvement always!

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