My maiden attempt at one of the most time-consuming pastries ever….
It looks okay doesn’t it? However, all is not well in croissant-land. Due to a possible case of over-handling and under-rolling, the inside is not as light and the structure did not have the desired “honeycomb look”. I was disappointed, but it was expected, since I had so much trouble handling the dough.
The recipe I followed was from Bourke Street Bakery. I found the recipe at Milk and Honey and followed it as best as I could. Croissant making will always be difficult for me because of weather and because I do not have an air-conditioned kitchen or work area. We have a humid and warm weather all year round, so there is no escaping or putting this off until winter period. It is warm all the time! Even when it rains, it is not cool enough. We’re lucky if the temperature ever drops to 24 C.
Kneading the dough by hand was difficult, because of the quantity. I doubt my poor mixer could stand the amount of dough either. I needed the exercise anyway, so I decided to use manual power. By the end of the entire process of making croissants, my whole body ached like mad. What a good work-out!
Laminating the dough took me a whole day. The butter kept poking out of the dough. I did the best I could and just sprinkled flour on the bits poking out and continued the turn and roll and fold. Baking was done in 2 batches. The first batch, I proofed the dough for 1 hour and baked it in a 190 C preheated oven. Preheating was done perhaps 15 minutes before placing the croissants in. The results were not stellar. See picture below. The insides were somewhat clumpy and looked like the dough didn’t rise very much.
For the 2nd batch, I rested the shaped croissants in the fridge overnight. I read on the net that steam helps the dough to rise further and become lighter and flakier. Hmm. Worth a try. What was recommended was to spritz some water into the oven during preheating and just before the croissants went in. It was also mentioned to preheat the oven for a while before placing the croissants in.
So this round, I placed a small amount of hot water into a stainless steel bowl and placed the bowl at the bottom of the oven. The oven was preheated to 200 C for half an hour before the croissants went in. The results yielded croissants that were slightly better in terms of flakiness. The crust was crispier and the insides, though it looked somewhat the same, was not as “doughy” as the first batch in taste.
Using the sides cut out during shaping, I made some chocolate croissants by rolling in some 55% cocoa chocolate. These, of course, tasted divine. How can one ruin anything filled with chocolate? 🙂
There are 3 variations from the Bourke Street Bakery croissants recipe that I can find on the net. Some may be typo error,whilst others differ in the amount of milk used.
For my second attempt, I followed the recipe from thelittleloaf, which uses less milk, halved the recipe and used salted butter. But I made a mistake of letting the dough proof outside for an hour before placing it into the fridge. This resulted in a tough dough. The butter was literally coming out from the tough dough no matter how long I rested the darn thing. I huffed and puffed and perspired (not into the dough, of course) my way through 3 folds and the end result was not good. Sob.
By now I am getting pretty tired of rolling and butter squeezing its way out of everywhere.
This time I fall back to the recipe from the first attempt above and halved the recipe. Instead of using hand kneading, I used my KA mixer. Definitely faster and less taxing, though I miss out on the workout. Ha!
I stuck the dough in the fridge without proofing and left it overnight. It was definitely an improvement in texture and made rolling so much easier. The next morning, I locked in the butter using an English lock-in method and did a book fold, as read on Faraway from Home. I then did 2 more folds before rolling it out for shaping. Yes, I over-folded. Ahhh!
The result is this floppy dough that separated easily and shaped into the ugliest croissants ever seen. 😦
But, the plus point is, at least the insides are softer and more bread-like in texture with some slight (very slight) honeycombs. Ah well. I think I’ve had it with croissants for a while. It is not easy making these in a country blessed with warm weather throughout. Even though I made sure to chill the dough between rolls and folds, it was still a nightmare handling the dough. I must have used up my entire collection of cursing and swearing vocabulary (silent type, of course, or else will get the smack in the mouth from Mother) during the making.
There is still much room for improvement.
Croissants can be made at home and the ingredients are simple. But the process is long and exhausting, particularly if attempting these in warm weather and without an air-conditioned kitchen or work area. The results may not be what you expect but it is challenging and satisfying (because you will curse and swear).