You thought you knew this traditional pastry? Rediscover this great classic as if it were the first time. This croissant offers a rich but airy texture, a distinct taste of fermented dough, butter and hazelnut, a crispy base and a generous consistency. This exquisite recipe gives a lot of taste as well as a fleshy substance in the mouth as opposed to the very airy and void-filled puff pastry, with a discreet taste and therefore no pleasure.
I developed this personal recipe with a lot of diligence and multiple tests until I was completely satisfied. The croissants are prepared in 36 hours with slow fermentation. The best result uses the fermented dough technique where 1/3 of the dough is prepared in advance to ferment well and the remaining 2/3 is made on the day of production.
The croissants are excellent and of superior quality, rich in flavour with an ideal texture and crumb. Everything is detailed so that you get them right the first try.
In brackets: 1/3 used to make the fermented dough + 2/3 used to make the rest of the dough.
- 250 g (83+167) of organic T65 flour (more taste) if possible with 11 to 12% protein (more regular puffing, better and richer texture and better fermentation),
- 40 g (13+27) blond cane caster sugar, add 10 g for a sweeter taste,
- 40 g (13+27) quality butter with taste, and soft (between 18 and 20°), add 10 g for a deep buttery taste,
- 6 to 7 g (2+4) fine salt,
- 10 to 12 g (4+8) fresh yeast or 4 to 5 g (2+3) dry yeast (see quantity required for 250 g of flour), (part of the yeast dies if the croissants are frozen raw: first make the fermented dough normally, but, instead of using the remaining 2/3, add the entirety, i.e. add 1/3 of yeast in supplement),
- 117 g (39+78) cold spring or filtered water without the chlorine from tap water which destroys the yeast (if the air is dry with a humidity level of less than 60 % and after 2 minutes of mixing there is still dry flour, add 2 to 3 g of water to the mixture; add less with a more refined T45 or T55 flour),
- 25 g (8+17) egg white, to give a more airy crumb or when the flour lacks protein. Pour this egg white into the cold water of the dough, the rest of the egg will be used for egg wash,
- 125 g butter for lamination; choose it with 60% saturated fatty acid, hard to the touch when cold at 5°. At 12°, it is plastic when spread out, stretches and stays smooth, does not break, flatten it with a roller to soften it,
- 3 g honey diluted in 3 g of water to coat the dough before putting the butter plate on.
- Glazing: mix an egg with a pinch of salt (0.5 g) and wait 5 minutes before applying. Or just take some milk. To give a sweet touch, make a light icing, mix 10 g of sugar with 5 g of water, heat to 50°, immediately after removing from the oven, spread with a very light and superficial brush on the hot croissants and immediately put back in the hot oven at 180° for 2 to 3 minutes.
Professionals make croissants with constant quality. They have tools and materials that balance out and correct the hazards and variations (flour for pastries, various additives, butter for lamination, rolling mills, leavening closet…). Sometimes the croissant has lost its taste and texture. To rediscover this, this excellent recipe can be made in 2 days or in 36 hours, due to the long periods of rest. Several batches will be needed to master all the techniques without the professional's tools and products. Select the right ingredients whose characteristics are specified in the list and, above all, don't change them! With each change, the result will be different and it will take several tries to adapt the technique.
Challenges are in the temperatures control and making a plastic dough for lamination (it stretches and keeps its shape) but not an elastic one (it stretches and shrinks).
Course of the recipe:
The day before, weigh the 1/3 of the dough ingredients and mix in the same way as the dough below. Put the dough in a bowl, cover, allow it to leaven at room temperature for 6 to 12 hours (or more) so that it doubles in volume and begins to develop a slightly tart or sour odour in addition to the normal fermentation odour. Then store in the refrigerator for one day. The next day, take the fermented dough out of the refrigerator and leave it for 30 minutes to 1 hour to warm it up.
Weigh the 2/3 of the remaining ingredients. Work at room temperature between 18 and 22°. If it is too hot, place the ingredients in the refrigerator for a few hours. In a large bowl, knead with a hook mixer. Pour in flour, sugar, salt, crumbled yeast and mix for a few seconds, stir in the soft butter (between 18 and 20°) for a few more seconds. Finally, pour in the cold water and the egg white, mix until the dough forms a coarse ball, and leave to rest for 2 minutes so that the water can hydrate the flour. Knead for 8 to 12 minutes first at low speed and then at medium speed for the last 3 to 4 minutes (depending on the machine, and the hook). After 2 minutes of mixing, add the fermented dough and continue kneading. It can be kneaded by hand for about 20 minutes (with a 5-minute rest every 10 minutes or so). As soon as the dough has a uniform texture, firm but supple and smooth, can stretch twice its length without tearing, peeling away from the edge of the bowl without tearing (image 1B), stop kneading. Its temperature should be between 22 and 24°. Each flour requires a different method and time of kneading: too short or too long, it will give an unsuitable dough. It is better not to knead enough than too long, because shaping the puff pastry prolongs the kneading process. Give the dough the shape of a flat rectangle (important for the following), wrap it in film and let it rest 1/2 hour at room temperature to start leavening and 1 hour in a cool refrigerator (between 2 and 5°) to stop the fermentation.
To shape the butter for lamination, take a 30 × 30 cm baking paper to be folded like an envelope or pocket with a folded size of 12 × 12 cm, and flatten the cold but slightly soft butter with the rolling pin. The folded edges prevent the butter from escaping when you tap it. Harden the flattened butter in the refrigerator a few hours in advance, still in its baking paper (image 2).
Remove the butter rack from the refrigerator 8 to 10 minutes beforehand. When folding, the butter should not be too soft, it should be flexible and supple around 15°, if it breaks under the dough, it is too cold.
Lamination and folding tire the dough. The resting time in the refrigerator after folding is essential to recover an ideal dough temperature of around 12° and to relax the strong tensions when the dough has been stretched. The dough is weakened by this stretching. It is necessary to work quickly to keep a cool temperature while practising this operation with as little handling as possible at the risk of tearing the surface of the dough with the roller, making the lamination butter penetrate into the dough and transforming it into a brioche dough, without puff pastry. If the room is too hot, place 4 to 6 cold accumulator briquets under a large metal plate covered with a silicone tablecloth on which the dough will be spread, so that the dough will always be cool when it comes into contact with the plate.
Lightly flour the worktop. Take the dough out of the refrigerator, form a dough rectangle of 25 L × 12 l cm and 8 mm thick. Using a brush, coat the entire surface of the dough with the liquid of 3 g of honey and 3 g of water, allow absorbing for 1 minute. Place the soft butter square at 15° to one half of the rectangle and cover it with the dough (image 3). Be careful, close well and seal the four edges together to trap the butter in the dough and prevent it from bleeding. And without waiting, to take advantage of the ideal temperature of the dough, make the first fold.
Lightly flour the worktop. Rotate the dough by a 1/4 turning (fold to the left and opening to the right). Make a rectangle of 35 L × 15 l cm and 7-8 mm thick (respecting the thickness is more important than the length). Always work the dough in the same direction. With the rolling pin (image 4), press down the lower and upper edges of half the thickness of the dough, do the same in the centre and then between the centre and the lower and upper halves, and make intermediate marks by pressing down on the bumps. Then, in a single motion, roll from the centre upwards and from the centre downwards to smooth and lengthen. In this way, the dough stretches with very few gestures and remains rectangular. If the dough resists stretching, do not force it. Remove excess flour with a brush so that each fold can adhere.
Fold the dough in half where the 3/4 joins the remaining 1/4. The edges should stick together. Readjust the thickness and fold in half (image 5).
Wrap the dough and allow it to rest for 1/2 to 1 hour in the refrigerator to relax it as it has been stretched very much, and cool it down ideally around 15°, but not lower. Otherwise the butter will be hard, less plastic, it will break and give a brioche croissant. At the same time, folding and laminating heats up the dough, activating the yeast which will swell the dough. Therefore, you need time to relax in the cold to loosen the dough, bring it to the right temperature and avoid the beginning of fermentation.
Lightly flour the worktop. Rotate the dough by a 1/4 turn (fold to the left and opening to the right) and make a rectangle of 35 L × 15 l cm and 7 mm thick again (respecting the thickness is more important than the length) with the same technique of rolling out the dough with a roller (image 4). Always work the dough in the same direction. If the dough resists stretching to the right size, do not overwork it. Fold the dough in three, 1/3 over 1/3 over 1/3 (image 6).
Wrap the dough and allow it to rest for 1/2 to 1 hour in the refrigerator to relax the dough which has been stretched out very much and cool it ideally to 15°, without starting fermentation.
Slicing and shaping of croissants:
To be done quickly to keep the temperature cool. Several methods exist (dimensions, thicknesses, cuts, stretching) that will influence the final appearance. Lightly flour the worktop. Place the dough, the fold towards you and the opening in front of you. Stretch the dough to a length of 23 cm to form the length of the croissant. Then turn the dough by a 1/4 turn (fold to the left and opening to the right), form a rectangle of 35 L × 23 l cm and exactly 5 mm, use wooden wedges of this thickness and place the rolling pin on it (image 7).
If, at this final stage, the dough is elastic (shrinks) instead of plastic (keeps its shape) either the kneading time of the dough has been wrong or the resting times after kneading have been too short. With a very sharp knife, cut the edges of the rectangle to even out the shape and unveil the layers. With the offcuts, make trimmings of 5 cm long and 5 mm wide. Slice triangles of 10 to 13 cm in base and 20 cm long, with a maximum weight of 75 g (heavier, they will be flatter) to make 6 to 8 croissants. Make a 3 cm cut to widen the base of the triangle (image 7). Lay the triangles on a plate and leave them to rest in the refrigerator for 1/2 hour. To shape the croissant, take the base of the triangle with your left hand, then, with the thumb of your right hand, press gently and slide from the base to the centre of the triangle to make it a few centimetres longer, without ever touching the edges. Stretch the base of the triangle that has been cut to lengthen the “ears” of the croissant, like an Eiffel Tower. Shape the right-angled triangle into an isosceles triangle. Lay the dough, with the tip pointing towards you, with the base of the triangle in front. Place a trimming underneath the cut of the triangle to increase the thickness. Take the two tips from the cut, wrap the trimming while stretching the two tips outwards so that the tips meet the edges of the triangle (image 7). Wrap up, touching only the “ears” (the ends). Never manipulate the central area, as this may cause the layers to seal together as they must unfold. The tip of the triangle is underneath on the bottom so that the croissant does not unroll when baking. With a brush, first glaze the croissants without touching the layers with milk or egg wash (image 8). If glazed with egg, glaze a second time after 10 minutes, or better, just before baking.
For 5 chocolate rolls (or chocolatines) or 10 minis: slice the rectangle of dough as for the croissants. Cut the dough into strips of 8 × 20 cm (or 8 × 10 cm for the minis), place a line of chocolate of 7 × 0,5 cm at 1/2 cm from the edge, roll up one turn, place a second line of chocolate, roll. Moisten the final edge with water to stick it to the dough, this edge will form the underside, the bottom of the pastry.
You can freeze the croissants now (as long as you have added the extra yeast), first on a plate to keep their shape and then transfer to a freezer bag once hardened. They will keep for 3 weeks in the freezer. The older they get, the less they will leaven as freezing destroys some of the yeast and breaks down some of the plasticity of the dough.
To serve them for breakfast, 3 methods:
1- keep them raw in the refrigerator overnight then leaven them up early in the morning just before cooking. Leavening the croissants at 22 to 25° for about 2 to 2.5 hours, ideally in a damp environment and always below 27°, otherwise the butter will melt and leak. They should at least double in volume. (best solution for beautiful croissants).
2- freeze them at least for 1/2 a day, take them out in the evening around midnight, leave them overnight to defrost, they will leaven and be ready to bake in the morning (image 9), either at room temperature (20 to 22°) for 6 to 9 hours maximum or in a cellar (14 to 16°) for 8 to 11 hours maximum. They should at least double in volume. Protect them from drying out by covering the baking tray with aluminium foil, plastic wrap (to be coated with a thin layer of oil so that the plastic wrap does not stick to the dough), a damp cloth or under a lid so that they do not dry out when they rise. (the easiest solution). Freeze also the remaining egg wash, defrost overnight in the refrigerator and apply the second layer before baking to achieve crispness.
3- do method #1 during the day, then freeze them after cooking. They have such a quality that they can withstand freezing. They thaw quickly in 1/2 to 1 hour, then dry them in the oven at 100° for 10 minutes.
Whichever method you choose, put them immediately on the baking tray and on baking paper, as they will never be able to be moved once they are soft and swollen. Space each of them at least 4 cm apart (image 9).
The leavening step must be mastered, it is at this stage that will give the final shape to the croissant. Indeed, they will have reached their final size because they will not rise much more in the oven. Everything will depend on the elasticity of the dough. During this second rising or fermentation, if they rise too much, the dough will be perforated, carbon dioxide and water vapour will escape during baking and they will become flat. They must at least double in volume. Fresh yeast is quicker to activate than dry yeast (2 to 3 hours late, for the time it takes to hydrate and wake up), but non-activated dry yeast is more resistant to freezing (which kills the yeast).
The oven preheated to 240° for 15 minutes, with the baking tray at the lowest point of the oven (near the bottom), 9 to 12 minutes at 240° in a convection oven (the proteins will coagulate and create a rigid structure, the croissant will keep its puffy appearance), then 3 to 5 minutes at 180° (image 10, the best choice, as the croissant will be the best cooked and the bottom will be very crispy). If the oven is very hot, as it is already in use, reduce either the temperature by 20° or the baking time. Or oven preheated to 180° in a fan-assisted oven, baking plate in the middle of the oven, baking time 18 to 20 minutes.
Proper baking is a matter of preference and requires several trials. As soon as the melted butter no longer makes bubbles, the end of the cooking time is reached in the last 2 to 3 minutes. It can be browned and crisped for a few more minutes in the oven, but the inside will become drier. A crumb that is still slightly moist is richer in taste, retains more flavour and has a denser texture.
Let the croissants cool on a wire rack for about an hour before serving.
Like all pastries, they do not keep for more than 12 hours in the open air, otherwise dry them in the oven at 100° for 10 minutes.
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