Croissants and Danish Pastries are the new baguettes. FACT. We made a shed load of them last week as we finally got stuck into laminated doughs.
Laminating doughs with butter is one of the key skills of Viennoiserie, and it can be pretty tricky. Get it right and you end up with beautiful, flaky, buttery pastry. Win. Get it wrong and you can end up with greasy products or a clogged up sheeter. Lose.
As before, the doughs are yeasted and mixed in a very similar way, but the new techniques came into play after the initial proof. One of the most important things with lamination is to keep everything cold. You want your butter and dough to be almost frozen with a ‘plastic’ like consistency. This enables you to sheet the dough thin and ‘lock in’ the butter over a series of folds creating alternating layers of pastry and fat.
It’s been pretty hot here in San Fran recently, so this has made the whole lamination process a lot tougher. We’ve been heavily relying on the blast freezer to quickly chill our doughs in between folds so we can work on them without the butter melting, or the dough getting too soft.
I won’t bore you with all the details, but once you’ve got lamination down (not that I’m saying I’m quite there yet), you’ve got a whole host of tasty shizzle at your finger tips based around croissant and Danish pastry formulas.
We made a range of different croissants both with and without pre-ferments. Plain ones, whole wheat ones, ham and cheese ones, almond ones, and pain au chocolat, all different kinds of Danish, lunettes, bear claws, snails, a CRAZY Breton pastry called koign-amann which contains enough butter and sugar to kill an army, and thats just the tip of the iceberg.
In creating all this new sweet stuff, we’ve learned a bunch of new techniques. Using the sheeting machines, different types and styles of shaping, making fillings for the pastries. It felt a bit like we took in enough information for a month, let alone a week.
Oh and it wasn’t all lamination, lamination, lamination. A special shout has to go out to an AMAZONGGG cake that we made at the end of the week. The mighty Bienenstich or ‘bee sting’ cake. It’s a brioche based dough, filled with diplomat cream and topped with a molten mixture of honey, sugar, butter and almonds that sets hard. Properly delicious stuff. If you ever see it on sale, buy it. You’ll thank me.
Next week we’re finishing up Viennoiserie, finishing the week with a two day practical. Wish me luck.