It’s 11:38 on Tuesday night and I am writing this with buttery flakes all over my fingers and shirt. What a wonderful life! Being late, I’m eating them alone. Let’s pretend I only going to eat this one.
OK. Its now Sunday and I’m rushing out this weeks’ post despite the ample time to wright it again. Since so many of you clicked the link to the book I blamed for my procrastination last week, here is another.
This weeks’ batch had flaky tops but was way under baked. I used the convection oven approach from the base recipe but the timings are way off for my oven. A friend and reader recommended that I try to measure the temperature of my oven to make sure my oven temp is as advertised. I plan to do this before batch 5.
A lot of the improvement came from using the convection oven and using slightly warm butter when rolling it out. These two seem like must dos for those of you reading this and considering taking a stab at baking some yourself. In Batch 5 I plan to focus on how I’m proofing and baking them, so look for thoughts on the convection oven then. For the “slightly warm butter” tip, look no further than the in depth section of this email as it’s lamination week!
Expert rating: 7 out of 10
Expert review: Crispy and flaky on the outside, still a bit squidgy on the inside.
Since salt has been an issue, I asked Cate if this week there was enough salt. She said: “I think so”.
Oh! Also, as a follow up to my mention about jigs last week, here is my jig to take the photos of rolling out the dough that make up the gif later on.
Call for feedback and advice
Thanks for all the tips kind notes that you sent in last week. I tried to reply to everyone, but I fear I missed one or two. Sorry if I did!
One thing I’d love more advice on is proofing. The croissants aren’t raising as much as I want them to and I can’t seem to get my oven to not get too hot (80 degrees) while being hot enough to get the yeast to activate. One thing I’m worried about is that maybe the yeast is dead, but its definitely doing some stuff in the days leading up to the proof… IDK, so please share any tips or links.
OK. As a recap in the last two emails I’ve talked about making enriched dough, and rolling butter and dough into squares. Today I’m going to cover how to fold the butter and dough together in a process called Lamination.
Step 1: Make a butter sandwich
To make your butter sandwich, you first take the dough and the butter out of the fridge and remove the wax paper that you wrapped them in. Then, on a well floured surface with a well floured rolling pin, you gently roll the corners of the dough out. This helps thin them out for when you fold them on top of each other in a second.
Next you put the butter, turned ninety degrees, in the middle of the dough. What you should have should look something like a square of dough with a diamond of butter in it.
Before we fold the dough over and encase the butter in it, we need to make sure our butter is warm enough to roll. To do this, stick your finger in the butter. Does it feel like it will roll out nicely? Does your finger come back from the butter clean? If you answered yes to both of these your butter is in the Goldilocks zone, get cracking! If it doesn’t feel like you can roll it out, wait 2 minutes and check again. If your finger comes back with anything more than a slight sheen, stick it back in the fridge quickly, we don’t want the butter to melt!
If you have more questions about butter and rolling temperatures, I’ve really enjoyed this blog post.
Once the butter is just right, fold the corners of the dough to the middle of the butter, seal the seams by pinching the dough and you have a butter sandwich.
To help push the butter to the edges of your dough casing, gently push the rolling pin down on the butter sandwich, but do not roll. Rolling makes the dough get bigger, pushing down removes air gaps.
The butter and dough shouldn’t need to go back into the fridge before we continue on to the first fold. That said, it’s better to rest and rewarm your butter than work with too warm of butter. So if something happens and time escapes you, put the dough back in the fridge and let it cool down. In step 3 I’ll talk about how to let your butter warm up after being in the fridge.
Step 2: Roll out and fold
Once the butter is spread out, roll the dough out until it is about twenty-six inches long. To do this I often roll a few inches and then sprinkle some more flour onto the top off the dough before flipping the dough over. This moves the flour side to the counter and helps keep the mess under control. The main thing here is that you want the dough to always be moving on your counter top. If it starts to stick or stay still, you run the risk of breaking the dough and letting the butter escape. This matters more on later turns, but it’s good to start seeing how the dough moves when well floured.
Once the dough is twenty-six inches long, fold the top third (about eight inches) down and then fold the bottom third up. This should result in an eight inch square of dough. Don’t worry too much if it’s not just right, but also try to make sure its an equal three layers. Once it’s ready, wrap in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge.
Step 3: Rest and repeat
You now have three layers of butter between four layers of dough resting in the fridge. You have laminated dough! After the paper jig, this is my favorite part of making croissants. It blows my mind a bit to think about how butter and dough will stay separate things even when I smash them into each other into thin layers. But three layers isn’t enough. We want the classic twenty-seven layers.
To get twenty-seven layers, you will need to do two more turns. The first turn makes our one layer into three layers. The second turn makes our three layers in nine. And the last turn makes our nine layers into twenty-seven. 3 * 3 * 3 = 27.
To do another fold though, we need the butter to cool down. If it warms up too much, the water and oil that make up butter will start to separate from each other and they will be absorbed into the dough. We don’t want that. To ensure it is cool enough, I let the dough rest of forty minutes in the fridge and then ten minutes on the cold stone counter. These times will vary for you. If I make croissants this summer, the times will vary as well. Use what I’m saying as a baseline and then experiment to find the right combo.
Once the dough is ready for the second turn, roll it back out to twenty-six inches, stretching the dough in the opposite direction this time. Then fold it in thirds and rest, wait and repeat for a total of three turns.
After the third turn, you are done. You have twenty-seven layers of laminated enriched dough. A purist’s croissant is just some shaping, proofing and baking away.
Ingredients and some final product shots
Thanks for reading. See you next week!
Matthew Chase Whittemore