Revisiting some of Ian Lowe's formulas, I tried some of his croissants using a liquid levain. Between good sourdough and a clear read of Ian's concise directions, I achieved success. Though it was a three day process, and a 4 a.m. wakeup to bake them, all worth it!
What's the difference with cornetti and croissants? Well, cornetti have more sugar than typical croissants They can also be baked substituting lard for butter. And lamination can sometimes make cornetti less layered and flaky In general, cornetti are cakey in texture and, more than croissants, it is common to fill them, making them either savory or sweet.
I tried to make a lighter version using lievito madre (at 40-percent hydration), and organic 00 flour (from Molino Grassi). Basically I did a cold ferment through the bulk ferment,lamination, and a final proof in my cold oven at 12-hours. Basically because the sheet pan didn't fit my proofer! The finished cornetti were quite nice in color. The crispness was marvelous. Here they are!
My initial intention with the croissants below was to use grano arso. But realizing I had misplaced it, instinct led me to try substituting Japanese matcha green tea. Go figure! Well, my instinct worked. While these fully levain croissants led to some worry - as my previous batch seemed inactive - my mantra was "keep it cold once rolled." Again, good instinct. Proofing them in a cool kitchen for six hours, poof and proofed, the results were great. And though I could have used only bread flour, I opted for all-purpose. The inner crumb was a bit odd, but overall the batch was flaky,airy and very matcha..
Having failed to attain ideal uniformity in a recent batch of croissants, I searched for guidance via YouTube, finding help from a Breton baker who shares the name of a 20th century cowboy novelist. Louis Lamour is a French baker who shares his own terrific stories, albeit of a different genre, drama and tension. Namely tales of baking bread. And Louis is not just wise, he's generous, offering great video coaching and email advice.
According to Louis, I had handicapped my efforts by using a 50/50 mix of white and white whole wheat flour. He suggested sticking with the basic white flour, along with taking more care with timing and temperature. So I did. The results? Spectacular. Merci, Louis, merci!
After some clients asked for fresh-baked croissants, I made a small batch. While the layering looked promising, the final product was disappointing. Trying again, I got a crumb that was more cakey then open.
So I put the unused dough in my freezer for a few days. Then putting them in my proofer, the results were great. It may have been due to freezing the dough, but my bet is that croissant success (like much baking) is all about proper fermentation. More testing ahead.
This past Thanksgiving weekend, I had a batch of leftover yeast croissant dough in my freezer. Defrosting it, I split it in half. On the first batch, I slept through the bake. The croissants came out with a cakey crumb, no distinct layers, but were crisp and had a flavor that was pleasant but unremarkable.
I ended up using the croissants for sandwich bread.
On my next batch I didn't nap. The results showed. You snooze, you lose.
No better time than autumn to try out another sourdough version of croissants! What began on a Sunday with making detrempe, it sat overnight for a cold ferment, then led to folding layers the following morning with butter on Monday just before work. Later that evening after my shift, I went about cutting and shaping. then with the cool, October temperatures overnight, I left these croissants to proof six hours, then baked them. The crumb might have benefited from another 30 minute proof, but they weren't bad. Satisfying and lovely to eat as well as eye.
For a long time in proofing croissants, I've used levain rather then adding commercial yeast. Call it purity or foolishness, I call it a challenge. If you don't remember, here's proof of the batch that blew open the doors to my fermentation nirvana. And if you don't want to click, let's just say I ended up with the most perfect croissants in human history. Okay, they were the best I had ever personally made.
Subsequently, my success failed to replicate itself, with me repeatededly proving incapable of remaking magic. It was as if I had forgotten some critical step. Was it underproofing, excessive acidity, weak mixing? It was a mystery, leaving me in a tail spin of croissant insecurity, despondently facing the fact that there would be no matrix of layers for this baker.
To cut to the chase, I dug in and researched and rolled and even thought of throwing in my baker's towel. Was it back to commercial yeast for me? Almost, but first I decided to seek counsel from Aidan Chapman and Dirk Braeckman, both of them bringing up the idea "everything cold," meaning from fermentation to butter. Between the big chill and the big bang hot oven, voila... sproink! My layers returned, just four the fourth of July holiday weekend.
Failed sourdoughcroissant efforts have thrown my Viennoisserie prowess back to the drawing board. I made up a batch of hybrid dough,(yeast and sourdough) with 30% durum semolina.The dough sat 15 hours in a refridgerated bulk ferment, a method I got from Ben Rogers in Sussex England at Flour Pot Bakery. The end result was a nice network of layers and flavors. Perhaps using French butter helped. I will make another batch trying a higher percent of durum. And maybe I'll try goat butter, giving it a southern Italian cornetti flare!
I'm still aiming to use a grano arso flour mix to use with laminated dough (particularily croissants), but Domenico isn't convinced that French croissants are the answer. That may be due to a sort of Italian chauvanism, but there's also the question of whether I'll even able to extract the flavor of grano arso within layers of fat.
Anyway, I set about making cornetti with spelt and evoo, and here I substituted grano arso. Not a bad effort this time. I should of allowed a longer proof, yet they tasted good, and hada nice crunch. The grano arso is evident in color, but its taste isn't that noticeable.