The croissant is a classic pastry made by encasing butter in a yeasted dough and folding it multiple times to create layers. This process is known as laminating and yields a flaky texture while the yeast adds large air pockets. Thereby you are left with a pastry that is buttery and rich but light and crisp all at the same time. The experiments described here explores the basic croissant recipe and common pitfalls as well as exploration into additions to the dough and fillings.
What should I know about making croissant dough
For a plain croissant, the recipe used in any of the tests works extremely well. Be sure to refrigerate often and when in doubt, always return to the fridge. Keeping the butter cold will ensure that you get very distinct and beautiful layers.
How do you create two toned croissants?
This is surprisingly easy. For each batch of croissant dough, I created a quarter batch of the yeasted dough without the butter folded in. This dough can be colored as you please with some gel food coloring and then rolled out on top of your final dough before cutting into the desired shapes.
Can I add freeze dried fruit into my dough to add flavor and color?
The short answer is no. The freeze dried fruit will absorb water quite strongly and dry out the dough. It also seemed to impede yeast growth and killed the elasticity of the dough. As a further deterrent, though it did add some flavor, it wasn’t the vibrant flavor I was hoping for and neither did it give a very bright color.
Can I freeze the dough after shaping but before the final proofing?
YES! When you take the dough out just be sure to allow sufficient time for the dough to thoroughly defrost and then proof as well. This took roughly 3 hours for me at room temperature.
Can I add fillings to my croissants?
You can but you need to be mindful. I think we’re all familiar with pain au chocolat which has a chocolate filling. This works well because chocolate is very low in moisture. Any sort of wet filling will inhibit the rise of your croissant. I did some tests with jam which yielded an underbaked and flatter croissant. From my research it sounds like creams are often added after the croissant is baked and injected into the air space created.
What shape can my croissant dough take?
Of course I tried the classic shapes for croissant as well as the roll used in pain at chocolat. Both are great and with the two toned dough can be very eye catching but I felt like I wanted to see what else this dough can do. Turns out, it’s just a dough and can be shaped in so many ways but you need to understand how this dough behaved. Firstly, it will expand tremendously. I’ve seen this dough quadruple in size in the oven. Secondly it likes to make these great big air pockets. Think very puffy puff pastry. I wouldn’t use it for cream horns for example thought I haven’t tried it to be honest. I did use it in these very pretty danish type of pastries. I’ve also seen this dough used very successfully in muffin tins to make knots.
Basic Croissant Dough: Test 1 – The most basic and difficult
Basic Croissant Dough: Test 2 – Getting better all the time
Two-Toned Croissants: Test 1 – Freeze dried strawberries
Two-Toned Croissants: Test 2 – Gel food coloring
Jam filled croissants: Test 1 – You’re going to have a bad time
Jam filled croissants: Test 2 – Good news everyone!