Saturday, June 6, 2009

Croissants - Rose Levy Beranbaum Bake-off

I love the forum bake-offs on RLB's site. We are given a category and each baker gets to choose a recipe under that category that is new to them. We post pictures on RLB's site and share the lessons learned along the way. With her busy schedule, Rose still finds time to give us supporting comments and praise. How sweet is she?

The first time I thumbed through"The Bread Bible" (Christmas 2007), the Croissants caught my attention and I knew that I would make them one day. Rose's writing style takes the most complicated recipe, breaks it down into do-able steps, sprinkles in a little food science and with each step she builds your confidence to try and succeed .

After mixing the dough and chilling it overnight, I squared the dough and rolled the corners out to create flaps.

I placed 8 oz of Plugra butter in the center and pulled the flaps over the butter, sealing it well. I wrapped this in plastic wrap and placed it back in the refrigerator for a 30 minute rest.

The first turn went very well. It took only a little time and coaxing to roll the dough/butter to a 16 x 7 rectangle. I gave it a business letter fold, wrapped it in plastic wrap, then put it back in the refrigerator for 40 minutes. So far, so good.

By the end of turn two, I was sure I was a natural croissant maker. I didn't have any of the horrible butter break throughs I have read about. I was feeling pretty darn smug with myself.

Then reality kicked in at turn 3.
After turns 1 and 2, I threw away a lot of flour so I decided I didn't need to use as much (I am, after all, a natural croissant maker by now. I was running low on flour)

You guessed it, I had butter break-through a third of the way through rolling the dough out. I also ran out of flour covering up the butter break-throughs so I grabbed the white whole wheat flour I had in the freezer. Big mistake. It's coarse texture set me up for a real mess in turn 4.

While I waiting for the dough to rest between turns, I checked RLB's site. She had made a comment that we could use unbleached bread flour. I wished I had read that before I grabbed the jagged wheat flour.
I used the bread flour for turn 4 but it was too late. The dough was harder to roll out and the wheat flour I used during turn 3 was cutting through the layers. (and my heart). I heard squishing noise with each roll of the pin. At this point I just kept dumping flour on it and hoping for the best. I wrapped in back up in plastic and let it rest in the refrigerator for 5 hours.

I rolled the dough out for the final time and cut it into triangles.

I shaped them and let them rise.

Then baked them until they were golden brown, cooled for 20 minutes and took my first bite. My husband and I were pleasantly surprised by the splintering crisp crust as we bit into them. Obviously, Rose’s recipe is fool proof because these came out a lot better than they should have considering all the extra flour I used. I really didn't expect these to be edible.

Lessons learned:

  1. Shape the dough into a square after the first rise before refrigerating it overnight.

  2. Don't use wheat flour to roll out your dough. The sharp edges breaks the glutton strands and causes butter break-through.

  3. Be patient. The dough is harder to roll out in turns 3 and 4. Don't be too aggressive or use downward pressure.

  4. With Rose's recipe, you can't go wrong no matter how hard you try. :-)

Here's a video of Pino Ficara making croissants. I found it very helpful to watch.

Things I'm going to try next time I make them:

I'll use bread flour in place of the all-purpose; I heard the higher gluten content allows the layers to rise higher.

I'll mix the butter with some flour and chill it. I heard it really helps keep it malleable but manageable.


  1. Excellent photos Tammy, and again, so nice that you post links to other helpful sources!!!

    I can almost taste them!

  2. Thanks ButterYum. I like to share what I find helpful.

    I can't wait for our bake-off with Rose's new book.

  3. You are really inspiring me to make some croissants! Great job!

  4. Ahh, the butter break-through. That happened to me when I made my first (and last, so far haha) danish. Despite the problems, you produced beautiful, delectable-looking croissants. I really want to make croissants, but I'm not sure I want to go through the process again. At least, I would have to do fewer turns.

    Great job!

  5. Tammy, these look sooo delicious... I'm heading off to a bakery right now to find me some!

  6. Thanks Memoria. They were yummy. I can't wait to make them again.

    Thanks Marian! You are too funny.