Hand Laminated Croissants with Levain and Poolish
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Although croissants can seem daunting, the rewards are well worth the effort. There are two key things to keep in mind: First, is quality ingredients. Try to find 84%BF butter, as lower butterfat butter contains more water and will not create the same defined layers. Try using a good, all-purpose flour. Bread flour will create too strong of a dough and make rolling it out by hand difficult without overworking it. Second, is temperature control. The dough and butter need to be kept at the same consistency – cold but pliable. If they’re too cold, the butter layers will crack; if they’re too warm, the butter will be absorbed into the dough. Keep the room as cool as possible to extend your working time. To facilitate hand rolling, this recipe uses poolish, and also minimizes the bulk ferment (first rise) to keep the dough from developing too much strength. If you find the dough too hard to roll out easily, return it to the fridge for 20 minutes before continuing. A long rolling pin (20”) which can cover the whole width of the dough will also help you roll out the dough more easily.
- 140 g Anita's Organic All Purpose Flour
- 140 g Room temperature water
- 1/8 tsp Instant yeast
- 140 g Anita's Organic All Purpose Flour
- 140 g Water
- 17 g Mature sourdough culture
- 665 g Anita's Organic All Purpose Flour
- All of the poolish
- All of the levain
- 250 g Whole milk (cold)
- 20 g Fine sea salt
- 1 Large egg (cold)
- 50 g Sugar
- 8g (2 tsp) Instant yeast
- 40 g Unsalted butter (soft)
- 1/2 tsp Diastatic barley malt (optional)
Butter for Roll In:
- 450 g Unsalted butter (82-84)
- 1 Egg
- 1 Egg yolk
- 2 tbsp Cream
- Dash of Salt
Morning Day 1:
- 8 hours before you plan to mix the final dough, mix the ingredients for the poolish and for the levain. Cover and leave at warm room temperature.
Afternoon Day 1:
- Mix the ingredients for the final dough, including the poolish and levain, in a stand mixer mix on low speed (KA 2) for 4 minutes, or knead by hand for 4-6 minutes until fully incorporated.
- Roll the dough into a roughly 10x16” rectangle aiming to keep the edges as square as possible. Trim the sides if necessary, laying the trimmings across the dough and rerolling to ensure the dough is squared.
- Wrap the dough in plastic, or place in a large food safe bag, place on a cookie sheet and refrigerate over night.
- Place the butter in between 2 silpats, sheets of thick plastic (from a food bag), or sheets of parchment (parchment tends to rip so this is the least desirable option). Using a rolling pin pound the butter out into a rough rectangle, approximately 8x6”.
- Roll the butter out (still between the sheets) into an 8x10” rectangle, aiming to keep it an even thickness and the edges as square as possible. Peel back the top sheet and use a scraper to cut the edges square. Place the trimmings on top of the block in the thin spots.
- Place the sheet back on top and roll the block out to a 10x12” rectangle. Remove the top sheet and use the scraper to square the sides. Spread the trimmed butter across the block to even it out. It is very important for the block to be square and an even thickness.
- Place the butter in the freezer for 5 minutes to firm it up a little bit (10 minutes if it has gotten very soft). Do not over chill the butter at this point. It must still be pliable.
- Remove the dough from the fridge and roll into a 12x20” rectangle. Make sure the edges are very square.
- Place the butter block on top of the dough all the way to one side. It should cover exactly half of the dough.
- Fold the dough over the butter and press the edges to seal it. Flip the dough and make sure it is sealed all around. You want as little excess dough around the edges as possible, so trim and square up the edges as you need to.
- Lightly flour your work surface and the top of the dough. Roll out the dough to approximately 10x20” flipping it from time to time to ensure it doesn’t stick. It’s important that the edges stay square, so trim as necessary.
- Brush off as much flour as you can from the dough and fold it along the long edge, like a letter, into thirds. This is called the first turn and you now have 3 layers of butter. Wrap the dough and place it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- Repeat step 8 and 9 two more times. (The second turn will give you 9 layers and the third turn will give you 27 layers of butter.) Increase the resting time in the fridge to 45 minutes between turns if you find the dough needs to be worked too much to roll out.
- Once the dough has received three turns, wrap it in plastic and refrigerate it over night.
- Roll out the dough until it is 12” wide and 6mm (1/4”) thick. The overall length of the dough will vary depending on how much you’ve trimmed in the folding process and how much the dough has increased in volume due to rising.
- Work quickly at this point so the dough stays cold. Using a yard stick and a pastry cutter, pizza cutter, or sharp knife, trim all of the edges to square up the dough. You should be left with about 11” of width.
- Along the long edge of the dough, mark every 3 inches. On the opposite side start at 1.5” and mark every 3” from there. Using a pastry cutter or large chef’s knife, use the markings to cut the dough into triangles (3” at the base and 11” long).
- Make a small cut in the middle of the 3” side of each triangle. Using your fingers, roll up each triangle, spreading the base a bit as you roll to increase its overall width. Place each rolled croissant on a cookie sheet lined with a silpat or parchment with the tip underneath so the roll doesn’t come undone during rising and baking.
- Brush the smooth parts of the croissant (avoid the layered sides) with egg wash, cover loosely with plastic (or place the whole tray in a large food safe bag), and allow the croissants to rise until doubled in size and jiggly when lightly shaken in a warm place (24-26˚C). This will take 2-4 hours depending on the final temperature of the dough and the temperature of the room. Do not place them somewhere warmer than 26˚C as the butter may melt out from the layers.
- About 30 minutes before they are ready, preheat the oven to 400˚F convection, or 425˚F conventional.
- Carefully brush the croissants again with egg wash, and bake them on the center rack of the oven for 20-25 minutes until they are a deep golden brown. Reduce the oven temperature after 10 minutes to 350˚F convection or 375˚F conventional to extend the bake and ensure they get a nice crispy crust.
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