With Mother’s Day just around the corner Sydney and I have had numerous requests to teach a class on Pâte à Croissants (Croissant dough). To be honest I was not ecstatic at the thought of conducting a culinary class on croissants without having taught a beginner bread and pastry class.
Pains sucré or sweet bread dough has caused calm sane people to revert to a two year old having a tantrum. However a good friend of Sydney’s wanted to learn the method and technique to prepare croissants for a Mother’s day brunch she was hosting; her mother had just finished a long painful battle with breast cancer and this is going to be their first Mother’s Day without chemotherapy. I could not in good conscience refuse.
The small “catch,” as Sydney’s friend explained, was her mother also had celiac disease (she needed a gluten free diet), croissants alone are difficult to master, but gluten free… I began pulling my hair out at the thought.
You can almost smell the buttery goodness!
Sydney and I decided six students would have to be the limit, three students per instructor seemed appropriate. In theory the recipe has few ingredients yeast (fresh or active dry), flour, liquid, sugar and salt. As I mentioned earlier, jumping into creating flaky light buttery croissants without any previous knowledge of yeast breads seemed a recipe for disaster. Sydney and I began brainstorming a successful, flourishing, and enjoyable pains (bread) class. Since croissants can take a minimum of 12 hours to a maximum of 3 days,depending on the method used, we concluded it would be advantageous instead of only teaching croissants to teach a pâte feuilletée (puff pastry), pâte à brioche (brioche), and pâte à croissant (croissant) class both with and without gluten over a 5 day period.
Croissants are, in my opinion, a cross between pâte à brioche and pâte feuilletée. Both puff pastry and croissants need the détrempe and barrage at the same temperature, rest in the refrigerator between rolls, and use the same method of rolling, folding, and turning. Brioche and croissants each use yeast to rise the dough, and need to be proofed more than once.
After we completed a schedule for the week, we were ready for our group of students, the only prerequisite I asked was that each student needed to have an understanding of yeast breads. We prepared six syllabuses, recipes for the puff pastry, brioche, and croissant, and each student received a mini food processor. When Monday arrived we were ready and motivated.
Since my intention is not to bore you with the details of the entire week from here on I will only be referring to the croissant portion. I must admit, for the most part, the class went rather smoothly and all had a tremendous time. I will start with same line I said as we began the croissant portion, “please take a deep breath and release slowly.” If you are confident, the dough will submit to your will.
Prior to beginning anything prepare your mise en place
We used fresh compressed yeast (also called cake yeast), but active dry yeast works fine and I have given both versions.
Pâte à Croissant Dough 1:
244 grams/ 1-cup whole milk, warm about 35 degrees C/ 95 degrees F
110 grams/1/2-cup heavy cream, warm about 35 degrees F/ 95 degrees F
29.9 grams/ 1.3 ounces fresh yeast or 13 grams dry yeast/ 1 Tablespoon, plus ¼ -teaspoon
4 grams/ 1- teaspoon sugar
18 grams/1 Tablespoon salt