Croissants: Disaster in The Making?

The croissants are in the oven, and I have a terrible feeling about them. They hardly rose during proofing, even though I painstakingly tried to recreate the conditions Chef Claude taught us last week.

So now they’re baking, and I confess that a lovely smell is starting to emanate from the oven. But my little croissants are scrawny and underdeveloped, and I fear they are going to be hard as rocks.

What did I do wrong?

One theory: It wasn’t me, but the dough. I took home leftover croissant dough that I and my fellow students made in pastry class at L’Academie de Cuisine last Monday. Some folks gathered their things and left without remembering to take their leftover dough; Chef Claude told the rest of us that this dough would be thrown out if we didn’t take it. So I took a few clumps, thinking it would be great practice to make more croissants. So my theory is that perhaps it was overworked. Having been rolled out once already and re-clumped, maybe it was just too worn out to rise again for me.

Another theory: That I didn’t roll out or shape the dough properly. Entirely possible, since I’m brand new at making croissants. I tried hard to do it just as we did in class last week. First I rolled the dough out into a big rectangle:

And lovingly trimmed the edges…

… so I had two nice long strips to work with:

Then I cut long skinny triangles like we did last week:

… and I made a little notch in the base of each one:

I folded over that notched edge…

… and started rolling toward the tip, stretching the dough out as I went, and pressing toward the outside with my fingers. I made two trays full of the little guys:

(And yes, you did spot a pain au chocolat in there. I had one rectangle left from my dough-cutting, so I used chocolate chips to make one.)

I set up a proofing box, as close as I could get to what we did in class (see here for a reminder). I turned on my oven to its lowest temperature (170) and shut it off before it got very far. My oven thermometer said it was about 100 in there. I poured boiling water into a big saucepan and set it on the floor of the oven. Then I put my two trays of egg-washed croissants in.

You can see the pot of hot water in there:

I poured out the water and poured in more boiling water every 20 minutes or so during the hour of proofing.

Then I took the trays out and preheated the oven to 400 while I gave my little babies a second egg wash.

The sad thing is that they looked only a teensy bit bigger after an hour of proofing than they did when they started. Ugh.

That said, while I’ve been writing to you, they came out of the oven looking pretty glorious:

And they are pretty flaky inside:

So maybe I didn’t screw them up completely. But it does bug me that they didn’t rise well enough.

Tomorrow I will take one in to class and ask Chef for his analysis.

In the meantime, even the scrawniest croissant will make a lovely bedtime snack.

‘Night, everyone.

  1. Kathy
    They may not have risen but they still look tasty!
  2. matthewcibellis
    As usual, a great post about what I'd normally consider an esoteric pastry thing. Like that wonderful post about the chocolate batons, I just had to keep reading to the end. I've reposted to all my followers on FB and Twitter. Great stuff...and they hit the spot this morning... xo www.alunchboxblog.com