Jam filled croissants: Test 2

This round I’m testing a jam filling that is much lower in moisture in order to not impact the bake of the croissants while still retaining the spirit of the initial goal to have fruit as the filling.
Total Time5 minutes
Print Recipe
Yield: 12 croissants

Equipment

  • Rolling Pin

Ingredients

  • 1 batch of basic croissant dough
  • 1/4 cup strawberry jam
  • 2 Tbsp freeze dried strawberry powder
  • 2 Tbsp ground walnuts
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 Tbsp water

Instructions

  • After the major fail of test 1 I was brainstorming how to get jam into my croissant without the detrimental effects of the extra moisture. After my experience with how drying freeze-dried strawberries can be from my two-toned dough experiment, I thought this might be the exact effect I need for the jam filling. I mixed my jam with the freeze dried strawberries and for a little extra texture and to mellow out the flavor I also added some ground walnuts.
  • For this test I made the croissants in a roll shape by cutting out my croissant dough into 3 x 6 inch rectangles and adding about 1 Tablespoon of filling into each one.
  • The croissants were treated the same as in the Basic Croissant Dough: Test 2 and allowed to rise for 2 hours and slightly jiggly, coated in egg wash made from beating 1 egg with 1 Tablespoon of water, and baked at 390°F for 22 minutes.

Results

This time the jam filling worked so well! The strawberry flavor was enhanced by the freeze dried strawberries and the mixture was almost creamy due to a thicker texture. The walnuts were mostly drowned out but I think it still helped in mellowing out the flavor and tartness of the strawberry mixture. If you really want some jam inside of your croissants, I 100% recommend adding some freeze dried fruit to reduce the moisture. The croissants baked great and had great flavor.

References

Exploratory Kitchen

Parent Notebook

Croissants

Jam Filled Croissants: Test 1

I really wanted my croissants to have a filling. I knew this wouldn’t be very straight forward based on the type of fillings I usually see inside but I wanted to experience first hand what happens if I just add some jam to my croissants.
Total Time2 minutes
Print Recipe
Yield: 12 croissants

Ingredients

  • 1 batch of basic croissant dough
  • 1/4 cup strawberry jam
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 Tbsp water

Instructions

  • This was a simple test to see if I could add some jam to my croissants and have them still bake well. I tried to add the jam in two ways. For the first, I rolled out my croissant dough and cut out my triangles. I placed about a teaspoon of jam at the base of the triangle before rolling it into a croissant shape. Definitely the first issue I ran into was how little jam a croissant can handle while raw.
  • For my second test I spread the jam across the whole triangle of croissant dough before rolling it into a croissant.
  • The croissants were treated the same as they were in the Basic Croissant Dough: Test 1 and allowed to rise for 2 hours until slightly jiggly, coated in egg wash made from beating 1 egg with 1 Tablespoon of water, and baked at 390°F for 20 minutes.

Results

These tests did not work out though I’m not socked. The jam added too much moisture and resulted in a poor rise as well as a poor bake. Do not do this! I still really wanted to get some jam in these so I’m thinking already of some ways to reduce the jam moisture.

References

Exploratory Kitchen

Parent Notebook

Croissants

Two-Toned Croissant: Test 2

After failing test 1 with the freeze-dried strawberries, I decided to step back a bit and try a simpler version in which the basic croissant dough, sans embedded butter, were colored with simple gel food coloring. This test was significantly easier with results that were much more satisfying.
Total Time1 hour
Print Recipe
Yield: 12 Croissants

Equipment

  • Rolling Pin

Ingredients

  • 1 batch of basic croissant dough
  • 125 g all-purpose flour
  • 35 g water
  • 35 g whole milk
  • 14 g granulated sugar
  • 10 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 g active dry yeast
  • 3 g salt
  • Gel food color

Instructions

  • To a large bowl, I added the flour, water, milk, sugar, softened butter, yeast, and salt. the mixture was incorporated gently and then kneaded by hand until it was smooth and elastic. As I was forming the dough I added some gel color until I achieved the desired brightness. I wasn’t using high quality food coloring and ended up having to use more gel then I would normally have liked. It did add a bit of moisture to the dough but I ignored it as it wasn’t significant enough. That said, I recommend using better quality gel food coloring is possible as it will be easier to work with and produce better color.
  • When the croissant dough was ready, I simply rolled out this colored dough to about 1/4 inch thickness before pulling the croissant dough from the fridge. The colored dough was placed on top of the croissant dough so that the croissant dough was fully covered before rolling them both out and shaping as desired.
  • The colored dough, once rolled over the basic dough, was treated the same as the basic croissant dough. The baking time and instructions were not altered for the two toned croissants. Aside from the addition of the colored dough layer, the croissants were shaped and baked as described in Basic Croissant Dough: Test 2.

Results

The basic premise of the two-toned croissant is very simple. Crete a small batch of the croissant dough and color it. Add this dough over the laminated croissant dough and roll out as usual. This experiment resulted in a vibrant colored dough which retained its elasticity. I have never seen it create the same air pockets as the rest of the croissant dough but I suspect this is because I don’t fold any butter into it or laminate the dough. I suspect the extra moisture from the low quality gel food coloring didn’t do the dough any favors either. 

References

Exploratory Kitchen

Parent Notebook

Croissants

Two-Toned Croissant: Test 1

This project was my first venture into how bakeries make those beautiful two toned croissants with that pretty swirl of color running through the interior. Turns out the concept is not complicated, a second colored dough is simply rolled on top of the basic dough. Here I attempt to create color and flavor using freeze-dried strawberries because jumping into the deep end is the only way I know to learn to swim.
Total Time1 hour
Print Recipe
Yield: 12 Croissants

Equipment

  • Standing mixer
  • Rolling Pin

Ingredients

  • 1 batch of basic croissant dough
  • 125 g all-purpose flour
  • 35 g water
  • 35 g whole milk
  • 14 g granulated sugar
  • 10 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 g active dry yeast
  • 3 g salt
  • 17 g freeze dried strawberries, ground

Instructions

  • To my standing mixer, equipped with the dough hook, I added the flour, water, milk, sugar, softened butter, yeast, salt, and strawberries. Then I let my mixer run on low speed for 5 minutes. Because of how little dough there was, the mixer was not effective and I switched to hand kneading. To counteract the extra flour required and the dried strawberry powder, I added a bit of water to the dough as I worked it.
  • When the croissant dough was ready, I simply rolled out this colored dough to about 1/4 inch thickness before pulling the croissant dough from the fridge. The colored dough was placed on top of the croissant dough so that the croissant dough was fully covered before rolling them both out and shaping as desired.
  • The colored dough, once rolled over the basic dough, was treated the same as the basic croissant dough. The baking time and instructions were not altered for the two toned croissants. Aside from the addition of the colored dough layer, the croissants were shaped and baked as described in Basic Croissant Dough: Test 1.

Results

The freeze dried strawberries were not ideal for this purpose. Though they did produce a lovely color and had a please albeit mild flavor the resulting dough was a failure. It was a great proof of concept for creating this effect but, unfortunately, the strawberries were strongly hygroscopic, meaning that they strongly absorbed water. This left the dough tough and it lost its elasticity. What I was left with was a dough that cracked as the croissants rose. You can clearly see this in both the raw and cooked photos above. I would also add that the flavor added was not significant enough to make further testing really worth it.

References

Exploratory Kitchen

Parent Notebook

Croissants

Basic Croissant Dough: Test 2

Croissants are by no means an easy bake but they are worthy of their time and effort. This is my second round of working with the croissant dough. This time I’ve tweaked the refrigeration time, changes how I cut the dough, and how I baked the final pastries.
Total Time3 days
Print Recipe
Yield: 12 croissants

Equipment

  • Standing mixer
  • Rolling Pin
  • Parchment paper
  • Paring knife
  • Ruler

Ingredients

  • 500 g all-purpose flour
  • 140 g water
  • 140 g whole milk
  • 55 g granulated sugar
  • 40 g softened unsalted butter
  • 11 g active dry yeast
  • 12 g salt
  • 280 g cold unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg

Instructions

Day 1

  • To my standing mixer, equipped with the dough hook, I added the flour, water, milk, sugar, softened butter, yeast and salt. Then I let my mixer run on low speed for 5 minutes. The only thing to keep in mind in this step is that over-mixing your dough will make it less elastic which will make stretching and folding later on more difficult. This is why I kept the kneading to 5 minutes or less on low speed.
  • Once the dough was ready, I turned it out onto some plastic wrap, wrapped it tightly, and refrigerated it. Because I did this, you guys now get to know that this is a bad idea. Yeasted dough expands, do not wrap this dough in plastic, instead put it into a large bowl with a lid. This will give it space to expand while keeping it from drying out.

Day 2

  • This is definitely the most work intensive day for this project and you need about 3 hours of time. I started by taking out my butter from the fridge or even freezer and weighing. The butter I use is very soft (Kerrygold) due to its high fat content. If you’re using a store brand butter, it will be hard to work with straight out of the freezer.
  • Once I had the correct amount of butter ready, I start slicing it into half inch thick slices. I tried hard to keep them the same width to make it easier later. I arranged these slices into a square roughly 6-7 inches wide on some parchment paper to make the butter easier to handle. Don’t over think this part because you’re going to be rolling this out and cutting it anyway.
  • I then rolled my butter out to about 9-10 inches between two sheets of parchment. At this stage my butter chunks fused into a large slab. I cut the edges to make the slap more square and Placed the cut bits back on top and reroofed. I used the parchment paper and my fingers to shape it as well. Do whatever you can to get this thing mostly square and roughly 9 inches on each side.
  • Once my butter was a shape I was happy with, it went into the fridge while I worked on rolling out my dough. I fished out the dough from the previous day which should have puffed a bit overnight.
  • I rolled this dough out into a 13 to 14 inch square on a very lightly floured surface. Try to use only as much flour as is necessary to avoid toughening your dough as you repeatedly Rolls it out. If you want advice on how to Roll a square successfully, I’m sure there are good YouTube videos out there. I am still mastering this skill myself but essentially I found that a combination of things gives decent results. When you put your dough on your surface it will be rounded. Use your rolling pin to indent a cross in the dough and then rolling from the middle out towards each corner. This will get your shape started. Shape it with your hands or bench scraper as you go and try to roll mostly from the middle. Binge watch some of Great British Baking Show, they have examples of this every so often and it’s a great show!
  • Once I was happy with my dough square, I got that butter out and put it so that the corners of my butter were against the sides of my dough square. Like a buttery diamond on my square dough. Then I folded the corners of my dough to the middle so the butter was fully enveloped
  • My butter encased in dough was then rolled, still from middle out, along just one axis until I had a long sheet that was about 30 inches in length. I then folded it into thirds like a letter and placed it on a small cutting board. It was then covered in plastic to keep it from drying out and placed int he fridge for 1 hour.
  • After an hour, the dough was brought out again and rolled out again To roughly 30 inches. I like to keep my open ends facing up and down and rolling it out towards the open ends. This way each time I fold, fridge and roll, it is rolled in a different direction. This dough is rolled out so much that resting the dough, relaxing the gluten, and the rolling direction are very important.
  • Again, the dough was folded in thirds and refrigerated for an hour.
  • Steps 7 and 8 were repeated one more time and left the dough to rest in the fridge overnight. If you’re following along with the math, this will results in 27 butter-dough layers.

Day 3

  • Finally, this is the day when I got to shape and bake my croissants. Get ready to tap into those geometry classes. The dough was removed from the fridge and rolled out to a 1/8 inch thickness. As I rolled the dough and handled it, it continued to proof and thicken. This is expected and nothing to worry about but I aimed for a thinner dough this time to avoid the oversized croissant issue I had in Test 1.
  • I trimmed the sides of the dough so that I had straight edges. For my second attempt I decided to get more creative with my shapes. I made the same rolls as I did in the first test but I cut them to 3 by 6 inches this time. I also tried these fancy square pastries that I topped with fruit which were 4 x 4 inches before cutting and folding the corners over.
  • These for made for an event for which I knew time would be tight. Previous testing has shown that once formed, this dough freezes very well and so I tightly wrapped the formed croissants in the baking sheet with plastic wrap. On baking day I defrosted them for 2 hours before proofing. This whole step is completely optional though.
  • Once the croissants were formed and arranged on the baking sheet, I whisked together the egg and about half a cup of water to create my egg wash which I strained and added to a spray bottle. The croissants were sprayed with the egg wash to prevent the dough from drying during their long rise. I recoated them as I felt necessary to keep the croissant from drying out and once more just before baking.
  • The croissants were left to rise for 1 hour. You can tell when they’re fully proofed when the croissants are a bit jiggly when you poke them. Unfortunately I ran out of time and they were slightly under proofed but they seemed to still be good. A full 2 hours proof would have been better.
  • To reduce the browning on top which was severe in Test 1, I moved my croissants to the lower third of the oven. Keep in mind that this might be a requirement specific to my oven but do a test batch and see how your oven works for you. To ensure they are fully baked they were baked at 390 for 22 minutes.

Results

These were very successful. The flavor was good, they did not expand as much in the oven though that may be in part to them being under-proofed. Despite the time constraint, they came out quite good and very close to what I would expect from a real bakery.

References

Parent Notebook

Croissants

Croissant Dough Pastries

Introduction

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.

Experimental Findings

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.

Tests

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!

Basic Croissant Dough: Test 1

This is my first attempt at working with a croissant dough and getting an understanding for the techniques involved.
Active Time3 hours
Cook Time22 minutes
Total Time3 days
Print Recipe
Yield: 12 Croissants

Equipment

  • Standing mixer
  • Rolling Pin
  • Parchment paper
  • Paring knife
  • Ruler

Ingredients

  • 500 g flour
  • 140 g water
  • 140 g whole milk
  • 55 g granulated sugar
  • 40 g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 11 g active dry yeast
  • 12 g salt
  • 280 g unsalted butter, cold
  • 1 large egg

Instructions

Day 1

  • To my standing mixer, equipped with the dough hook, I added the flour, water, milk, sugar, softened butter, yeast and salt. Then I let my mixer run on low speed for 5 minutes. The only thing to keep in mind in this step is that over-mixing your dough will make it less elastic which will make stretching and folding later on more difficult. This is why I kept the kneading to 5 minutes or less on low speed.
  • Once the dough was ready, I turned it out onto some plastic wrap, wrapped it tightly, and refrigerated it. Because I did this, you guys now get to know that this is a bad idea. Yeasted dough expands, do not wrap this dough in plastic, instead put it into a large bowl with a lid. This will give it space to expand while keeping it from drying out.

Day 2

  • This is definitely the most work intensive day for this project and you need about 3 hours of time. I started by taking out my butter from the fridge or even freezer and weighing. The butter I use is very soft (Kerrygold) due to its high fat content. If you’re using a store brand butter, it will be hard to work with straight out of the freezer.
  • Once I had the correct amount of butter ready, I start slicing it into half inch thick slices. I tried hard to keep them the same width to make it easier later. I arranged these slices into a square roughly 6-7 inches wide on some parchment paper to make the butter easier to handle. Don’t over think this part because you’re going to be rolling this out and cutting it anyway.
  • I then rolled my butter out to about 9-10 inches between two sheets of parchment. At this stage my butter chunks fused into a large slab. I cut the edges to make the slap more square and placed the cut bits back on top and re-rolled. I used the parchment paper and my fingers to shape it as well. Do whatever you can to get this thing mostly square and roughly 9 inches on each side.
  • Once my butter was a shape I was happy with, it went into the fridge while I worked on rolling out my dough. I fished out the dough from the previous day which should have puffed a bit overnight.
  • I rolled this dough out into a 13 to 14 inch square on a very lightly floured surface. Try to use only as much flour as is necessary to avoid toughening your dough as you repeatedly Rolls it out. If you want advice on how to Roll a square successfully, I’m sure there are good YouTube videos out there. I am still mastering this skill myself but essentially I found that a combination of things gives decent results. When you put your dough on your surface it will be rounded. Use your rolling pin to indent a cross in the dough and then rolling from the middle out towards each corner. This will get your shape started. Shape it with your hands or bench scraper as you go and try to roll mostly from the middle. Binge watch some of Great British Baking Show, they have examples of this every so often and it’s a great show!
  • Once I was happy with my dough square, I got that butter out and put it so that the corners of my butter were against the sides of my dough square. Like a buttery diamond on my square dough. Then I folded the corners of my dough to the middle so the butter was fully enveloped
  • My butter encased in dough was then rolled, still from middle out, along just one axis until I had a long sheet that was about 30 inches in length. I then folded it into thirds like a letter and placed it on a small cutting board. It was then covered in plastic to keep it from drying out and placed int he fridge for 30 minutes.
  • After half an hour, the dough was brought out again and rolled out again To roughly 30 inches. I like to keep my open ends facing up and down and rolling it out towards the open ends. This way each time I fold, fridge and roll, it is rolled in a different direction. This dough is rolled out so much that resting the dough, relaxing the gluten, and the rolling direction are very important.
  • Again, the dough was folded in thirds and refrigerated for an hour.
  • Repeat steps 7 and 8 one more time and leave the dough to rest in the fridge overnight. If you’re following along with the math, this will results in 27 layers.

Day 3

  • Finally, this is the day when I got to shape and bake my croissants. Get ready to tap into those geometry classes. The dough was removed from the fridge and rolled out to a 1/4 inch thickness. As I rolled the dough and handled it, it continued to proof and thicken. This is expected and nothing to worry about.
  • I rolled the dough to roughly 10 by 24 inches. The long sides of the dough were trimmed so that I had straight edges. I was aiming this first round at creating classic croissant shapes and so cut my dough into triangles about 3 inches wide at the base and 8 inches long. They were then rolled up and placed on a baking sheet lined with parchment. I also made some simpler rolls similar to those used in pain au chocolat. These I made from 4 by 8 inch rectangles.
  • Once the croissants were formed and arranged on the baking sheet, I whisked together the egg and about 1 tablespoon of water to create my egg wash. The croissants were brushed lightly with the egg wash to prevent the dough from drying during their long rise. I recoated them as I felt necessary to keep the croissant from drying out and once more just before baking.
  • The croissants were left to rise for 2 hours. You can tell when they’re fully proofed when the croissants are a bit jiggly when you poke them.
  • They were baked at 390°F on the middle rack of my oven for 20-22 minutes.

Results

In my original testing I combined this test with a few tests for filling and two toned dough options. Most pictures reflect these tests but the main croissant dough is clearly visible.
For the roll, the croissant puffed to nearly 3 times its original size while baking. The dough was not rolled thin enough maybe and 4 by 8 may have been too large. This also meant that the croissant didn’t bake through as much as I would have liked.

References

Parent Notebook

Croissants