It's getting harder to keep track of the variables. We've now looked at
so many recipes, modified recipes, combined recipes, that I hardly
remember what we're doing. This time we went to the library and checked
out _Mastering the Art of French Cooking, volume II_. The idea was to
follow the recipe in there exactly, but we ended up forgetting the salad
oil in the dough from the start, and we didn't proof the yeast as other
recipes say it's unnecessary. We used less butter in the butter square.
The trick seems to be to get good at rolling it out to create the
layers. The amount matters less. Also, we used 2 packages of yeast
instead of the 1.25 teaspoons which seemed like too little.
I said once before that the nice part of making croissants is that you
can make every mistake and still come out with nice bread.
We switched to all purpose Gold Medal flour this time which is supposed
to have a lower protein content than all purpose King Arthur. We used
the higher amount of yeast. The croissants look super-puffed. Room
temperature is cooler by about 10 degrees than it was last time. It's
hard to say how that affected anything. The biggest change was in doing
the timing so we could have them for breakfast. We started last night
and left the last turn and final rising for this morning. It's hard
(but fun) working out the timing just so.
When it comes time to eat them, we both like plain and almond
croissants, but we couldn't resist experimentation, so much so that we
were fighting over the dough as to who got to shape and fill it. We
decided that half of it would go plain croissants. One quarter went to
braided almond croissants. That's filled with the frangipane recipe
from _Baking Illustrated_ except we were coming out with too much,
should have halved the recipe, and I let Jim do it. He played with the
amounts in the recipe and came out with something more runny than it's
been in the past.
Of the remaining quarter of dough, Jim took a half, and I took a half.
He filled his with almond and chocolate, put more frangipane on top and
sprinkled almonds. They're big, oozing, over-puffed, glorious monsters.
I made tiny danishes filled with jam (cassis for one, raspberry for
the other) and one with jam and ground almonds.
At the last minute before putting the glorious monsters in the oven, I
realized that one of the pans wasn't buttered. I pointed this out to
Jim, offered to remove the oozing mess and butter it, but he thought
that the croissants were made with enough butter such that it wouldn't
matter. Those are in the oven now. We shall see.
We've now tasted the plain ones. As always, I'm delighted. These taste
really good. Next time we use less yeast. As long as the dough is
allowed to rise twice and punched down, the flavor is good. I think the
timing of the turns matters less. We seem to have mastered the layering
(or, by happy accident, the layers have been coming out well. We're
Since beginning this post, we've now taken the monsters out of the oven.
The one on the unbuttered sheet didn't stick as badly as I feared.
Goal for Croissants V: A consistent recipe and consistent product.
Re: Croissants IV- proofing yeast question
Early croissant recipes ask you to dissolve the yeast in a little warm
water for a few minutes until it becomes bubbly, then add the mixture to
the flour to make the dough.
Later croissant recipes just have you add the yeast along with the other
ingredients straight into the mixture, skipping the proofing step.
We've now tried it both ways and can't tell a difference. We've also
been changing other variables so if one batch tastes better than
another, we can't pinpoint which change caused what.
Is proofing the yeast only to make sure the yeast is fresh, live, and
working? If that's it, we can skip the step. We're sure we're using
Does proofing also have an effect on flavor? If that's it, I want to
keep doing it. I know I was surprised by what a difference letting the
dough rise made to the flavor. When we didn't let it rise, we got nice
airy croissants, but they didn't seem to taste right. (I'm also curious
as to what happens chemically to make the taste difference. I mean, the
ingredients are the same.)