After many, many failed attempts at making my own puff pastry, and unimaginable amount of wasted butter, I finally decided I should get professional help. And recalling the pleasant experience in the macaron class at Palate Sensations cooking school, I decided to sign up for their puff pastry class.
And, for the first time:
– the pastries were not bathing in melted butter in the oven
– I didn’t have to deal with torn pastry sheets until the very last fold, and only very slightly, which the chef helped “rescue”
– the texture was light and flaky (I reckon the lack of the honeycomb structure was due to the lack of proofing rather than a problem with the dough – we were more than 2 hours later than the stipulated class duration and everyone just want to get the pastries in and out of the oven)
Makes approximately 10 large and 14 mini croissants
For the poolish
100g bread flour
100g room temperature water
6g dry (instant) yeast
For the puff pastry
400g bread flour
14g dry yeast
100g cold milk
3g dry malt (or substitute with 5g honey)
300g dry butter (min 80% butter fat)
1) For the poolish, add the yeast and water together and stir. Add in half the flour and then sprinkle the rest of the flour on top.
2) Leave aside until the flour bubbles or cracks at the top.
3) For the puff pastry, take the poolish and add into a large mixing bowl of a stand mixer.
4) In the order of the ingredients, add each ingredient in separately and then mix using the dough hook before adding the next ingredient until all has been added in.
5) Mix until a smooth dough forms (this will take about 10 minutes). Dough should be soft and supple.
6) Roll out into a rectangular shape and wrap in cling wrap. Refrigerate overnight.
7) On the next day, ensure that both the dough and the butter are both at approximately 12C.
8) Enclose the butter in the dough and wrap the dough around the butter. Ensure that butter is fully enclosed and lightly pound on the dough using the rolling pin and spread into a long rectangular to prepare for the folding process.
9) Make 3 letter turns, letting the dough rest at least 30 minutes in between each turn.
10) Rest the dough for 30 minutes and cut into croissant shape, stretching as long as you can without breaking the layers.
11) Rest until the shaped dough has doubled in size, in a dry and warm place away from direct sunlight.
12) Brush the tops with egg yolk and cream and bake in a 175C convention oven until golden brown.
I don’t know if I was just too hungry, since it was way past lunch time, but the pastries were super yummy. We made both croissants and pain au chocolat. For the first time I actually liked pain au chocolat!
Looks like the one big point I have missed out in my past trials is not ensuring that the butter and the dough were at the same temperature when they were first put together. Done right, the baking tray was almost dry out of the oven, a sign that all the butter was absorb by the pastries instead of leaking out. I suspect I probably didn’t spread the dough thin enough during the folding process too. Also, I think I will need to lower the temperature at my work space as it felt much colder in the classroom compared to my apartment. I can’t wait to try this out at home.