Pain au chocolat (chocolate croissants)

Pain au chocolat
Pain au chocolat

Our niece came to stay for the weekend and one of her favourite things in the world is pain au chocolat, or chocolate croissants.

It was very exciting, and as a result I was the super-cool Auntie, to be able to go to the freezer and bring out a portion of croissant dough in order to make my own pastries.

The dough, made last week as part of my first foray into croissant making, defrosted really well. The main problem is the temperature in Brisbane at the moment because halfway through the shaping, the butter was melting and starting to stick to the bench.

I persevered and tried the traditional pain au chocolat shape which can also be used for fillings such as almond paste and spinach/feta.

I tried cooking them by Michel Suas’ instructions hoping for a lighter, flakier texture inside (196C for 13-15 minutes) and also proofed them for 1.5 hours.

They were really good, but I think the dough itself might be the key to perfecting the croissant. Maybe I didn’t laminate it well enough, but there’s plenty of room for practice and improvement.

Next I wanted to try danish pastries, which I didn’t realise needed a different dough. However, I’m thinking I might skip ahead to non-laminated doughs while it’s this hot.

Either way, I’ll be making more viennoiserie next week 🙂

Advertisements

Croissants

Croissants
Croissants

It’s been about five hours since these came out of the oven and I’m still basking in the glow of my success.

Seriously, for something I was so nervous about making I can’t believe how well they came out!

Big time kudos to Michel Suas and Joe Pastry who talked me through the process which was pretty confusing for a beginner.

In my opinion, there are two things you need to know when making croissant dough – basic steps and timings.

Basic steps

To me, it seems like making laminated dough is a bit of a dance between ensuring your dough is proofing/rising and making sure the butter is the right consistency.

For this reason, you seem to go from fermenting/proofing to retarding, back to fermenting and then retarding again.

Michael Suas says the six stages are:

  • Mixing – creating your dough
  • First fermentation – an hour or so to prove, then an hour to cool
  • Lamination – process of preparing the beurrage (aka flattening butter into a sheet), enclosing the butter into the dough, sheeting the dough (rolling out), folding the dough (as per puff pastry, different folds, some of which require you to return to the fridge to cool)
  • Make up – dividing and shaping the dough
  • Final proof
  • Baking

I’m not going to go into every step in detail, but highly recommend that you check out Joe Pastry’s brilliant posts about croissants – http://www.joepastry.com/category/bread/croissants-and-pain-au-chocolat/ and http://www.joepastry.com/2008/how-to-laminate-dough/

This may sound like a cop out, but seriously he knows his stuff and who am I to try to teach anyone else?

I also used Joe’s recipe which can be found – http://www.joepastry.com/2008/croissant-dough/

Timing

This took a fair bit of planning because nobody seemed to be able to tell me what to do when.

I plotted it all out based on serving croissants at 9am on a Sunday but you can re-work the timings as appropriate.

Saturday
3pm – mixing
3.30pm – first fermentation (2 hours)
5.30pm – lamination (first two folds) then return to fridge
6.00pm – lamination (final fold)
6.15pm – in fridge overnight

Sunday
7.00am – dividing and shaping the dough
7.30am – final proof
8.30am – bake

I was so chuffed by the result! If I’m super critical (which I always am on myself) I would say that the centre of the croissant maybe was a big doughy. I’m not sure if this was because I didn’t allow long enough for the final proof or if I should have baked a little bit longer. Any ideas?

I should also say that this quantity of dough made eight croissants so I’ve frozen the rest and plan to use it for future pain au chocolat and Danish making.

Introduction to viennoiserie

Technically I’ve spent the past two weekends away in Tasmania on holidays which explains my lack of posts.

But you could say that I’ve actually been cowering in a corner dreading this next part of my curriculum – viennoiserie.

I’ve realised I can’t go much further with confectionery without investing in a fair bit of kit like moulds, etc. plus it’s now 25C in Brisbane and my pastry dough window is rapidly closing.

Viennoiserie originated in Vienna and is a type of bread that was originally made exclusively for the monarchy – think Marie-Antoinette who brought croissants from Vienna to France.

Michel Suas describes it as the meeting place between pastry and bread, usually referring to yeast-raised products that are sweetened with sugar and enriched with butter and eggs.

There are two main classes of viennoiserie:

  • Laminated dough
  • Non-laminated dough

Lamination involves creating layer upon layer of dough and butter which results in a light, crisp pastry. Think croissants, danishes and pain au chocolat.

Examples of non-laminated doughs  include brioche, cinnamon rolls and Gibassier.

There’s a whole load of theory sitting behind viennoiserie that I’m going to have to get my head around including folding, fermenting, proofing, shaping and that’s before I attempt to make them look good.

Wish me luck for the coming weeks!!