Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Lamination Nation!

I love making laminate doughs... they're like the definition of pastry for me. The oooh! factor of seeing your literal effort in keeping those layers intact produce a spectacular rise and flake -- it's the stuff of wonder and internal fistpumping.

There's puff pastry -- old-school and lovely for sure, but kinda meh in terms of producing things to eat warm (with the exception of turnovers. but that involves filling-fiddling). No, I'm talking croissants. Yeasted, tangy with sourdough and wrapped around your heart-attack-inducer of choice, butter. Plus eating one is such a nice thing to do for yourself, with the fine buttery crispness and warm chew spreading its loveliness over your palate and fingers.
The dough I like (similar, but slightly tweeked, to this one from Karen Bornarth and Roger Gural) is made from milk, malt, mother and a combo of whole wheat and AP flour, with some salt to keep the gluten in shape, and just a little butter and dry yeast; chill it nice and cold, preferably overnight, so it can rise low and slow, and helps keep the butter block cool as well. It's then rolled and folded and rolled and folded, like a business letter 4 times with a rest/chill in between.

Yep, because of the layers... you want to keep the magic. So no, there are no scraps when I make croissant (both classic and filled with almonds or ham and cheese) and their cousins pains au chocolat, because every bit of dough and every opportunity for rise is precious. For Pains au chocolat, rectangles:

Be sure that the seam ends up on the center bottom, or else it will flip over from the rising and unroll.

For croissant, a trapezoid

 that is then triangulated and rolled, either around a filling or not: 

then a short stint to let the yeast beast do its thing, producing an almost-unimaginably light balloony wobble, before being washed and baked: 

 sprightly and beautiful emerging from the oven, shattering with a good amount of chew right in the middle. 

Oui, you betcha they're worth the effort. And needless to say, so are you.

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