Croissant pastry

Croissant pastry

By
From
The Tivoli Road Baker
Makes
1.4 kg pastry
Photographer
Bonnie Savage and Alan Benson

Our croissant dough is 25% butter, so be sure to use the highest quality you can find. The block of butter used for laminating needs to contain at least 82% fat – a cultured European-style butter is ideal, if you can get it. It will make a world of difference to the flavour of the finished product, as well as to the performance of your dough.

You also need a high-protein bakers flour to get more volume and more pronounced layers. I’ve added spelt for its nutty flavour, and also because it’s more extensible than wheat, which will give you a more elastic dough. If you can’t find spelt flour, use bakers flour.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient

Ferment (optional)

Quantity Ingredient
40g bakers flour
25g water, at 26°C
pinch fresh or dry yeast

Dough

Quantity Ingredient
50g spelt flour
550g bakers flour
60g soft brown sugar
14g salt
175g water, at room temperature
175g full-cream (whole) milk, at room temperature
18g fresh yeast
60g ferment (optional)
250g unsalted butter, chilled, 82% fat and preferably cultured, for laminating

Method

  1. Combine the flour, water and yeast in a small bowl and mix well. Leave the ferment at room temperature for 6–8 hours before using. It can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
  2. Combine the flours, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Stir briefly to combine, then add the water, milk, yeast and ferment (if using). Mix on a low speed for at least 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic, and coming away from the sides of the bowl.
  3. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured bench and knead it gently for a couple of minutes, then shape it into a rectangular block about 4 cm (1½ in) thick. The dough should be shiny and stretchy, not wet or tacky. Place the dough in a container with a lid, or wrap well in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  4. On a lightly floured bench, roll your dough into a rectangle roughly 20 × 40 cm (8 × 16 in), with the long edge towards you.
  5. Fold the left-hand third of the pastry into the middle, and then the other third over that, as if folding a letter. Put the dough back into the container or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
  6. Remove the butter from the fridge and leave at room temperature for 30–60 minutes, until it’s malleable but not too soft. Lay it between two sheets of greaseproof paper and roll it out into a rectangle about 13 × 16 cm (5 × 6¼ in), and 1 cm (½ in) thick. Wrap well in plastic wrap and return it to the fridge with your dough for at least 2 hours.
  7. Remove the butter from the fridge and leave at room temperature for 30–60 minutes, until it’s malleable but not soft. When you laminate, the temperature of the butter is very important – if it’s too cold it will crack and won’t fold nicely into the dough; if it’s too warm it will leak into the dough, creating a doughy, buttery mess when you bake it. Ideally, it should be between 14 and 18°C (57–64°F), to ensure better lamination and butter fat plasticity. Check it by gently pressing into the surface with your finger; it’s ready to use when the surface offers slight resistance.
  8. Remove your dough from the fridge and lay it on a lightly floured bench. Roll it into a rectangle 20 × 30 cm (8 × 12 in), with the long edge towards you.
  9. Lay the butter vertically up the centre of the rectangle so that the short edge of the butter block is towards you. Fold the sides of the dough over the butter block so that it is completely covered, and the edges of the dough meet in the middle. This is called ‘locking in’ your butter.
  10. Gently press down on the pastry to encase the butter and then roll the pastry vertically, with the joined ends running up the middle of the block, until you have a rectangle of even thickness, roughly 45 cm (18 in) high × 20 cm (8 in) wide. It is important that the consistency of the dough and butter is similar, so you maintain distinct layers while laminating. If the butter is too hard and you feel it start to crack, cover the pastry block loosely with plastic wrap and leave it on the bench for 10 minutes to let the butter soften. If the butter appears soft and is starting to seep out the ends, wrap your pastry with the butter locked in, and return to the fridge for 10 minutes before trying again.
  11. Trim the short ends to neaten up the corners, saving any trimmings to use as ferment for your next batch. Fold the top third of the rectangle down into the centre of the pastry sheet and then cover with the bottom third, as if folding a letter. This is your first single fold. Wrap well in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20–30 minutes.
  12. Repeat the rolling and folding process twice more, each time beginning with the spine of the ‘letter’ on the left, so that the block is rotated 90 degrees each time you perform a fold. Rotating the block of pastry ensures that the dough will not become tight, and will produce a more even lamination throughout the block. Cover and refrigerate for 20–30 minutes between each fold.
  13. After the third fold is complete, cover and return to the fridge for at least 1 hour. After an hour, the dough is ready to be rolled out and shaped into your viennoiserie of choice (see recipes to follow).

Bakery notes

  • This recipe takes a couple of days. On the first day you will prepare the dough and the butter for lamination, and on the second you will laminate the dough. Lamination is the process of rolling and folding the butter into the dough, to create very fine distinct layers of butter and pastry. This is what creates all those lovely flaky layers when baked.

    The ferment in this dough contributes additional flavour, but the recipe will still work without it. You can make a simple ferment as detailed in the recipe, keeping it in the fridge for one to three days before you want to start.

    I prefer to use the paddle attachment when I mix croissant dough; others prefer the dough hook. Try both and use whichever you feel more comfortable with.
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