Earlier this year I was fortunate enough to a take a class on Croissants and Danishes hosted by Provence. It was mostly a behind the scenes look at a commercial bakery, but I got some good tips for the home baker, plus lots of pictures! Check back on Monday for Amy’s recipe for danishes you can make at home and see if any of the tips below help.
Also, if you are in Nashville, be sure to check out Provence. In addition to providing pastries, bread, and more to a number of area hotels and restaurants, they have a few retail bakeries in the area offering their tasty breads, pastries, and cookies, plus breakfast and lunch options like soup and salad. There is even an airport location! And everything I’ve had from them is good.
Back to the class! We started with croissants. Provence’s croissant dough takes 3 days from start to finish, so we used dough that was in various stages of the process. First, we did some laminating with this huge roller machine.
Laminating is creating layers of butter and dough, so yes, that big chunk in the middle of the dough is pure butter! You roll and fold and roll and fold over and over so that there is a thin layer of butter in between each layer of dough.
Tip 1: Get a roller machine. Just kidding! Just know that croissants require a lot of work. Here is an at home tutorial. Be warned. It’s A LOT of rolling.
Then you get to cut and shape. We made basic croissants and chocolate croissants.
Tip 2: The key to both is rolling them really tight so they don’t unwind as they rise. For a good sandwich croissant, tuck the end under to make a tight circle. That way the croissant is round when it’s done baking.
Then we rolled out some danish dough and made some danishes. The key here seemed to be creativity. The guy who led the class showed us some shapes like the pinwheel, but it was fun to create some of our own and fill them with sweetened cream cheese, raspberry puree, apple cinnamon compote, even ham and cheese!
After rising, the dough was sprayed with egg for a glossy finish before going in the oven.
Tip 3: You can brush your egg on with a pastry brush, but if you are doing several batches or some other large scale project, using a small spray bottle is a great time saver! Just add your egg and a bit of water or milk.
Tip 4: Humidity in the oven right at the beginning is also key and helps the dough rise a bit more. To duplicate this at home, open the door a tiny bit and spray some water on the oven sides. You want it to dry out though, so don’t be too vigorous with the spritzing.
Once the croissants were out, they got another spray with apricot glaze. This doesn’t add much taste, but gives them a nice shine.
Tip 5: The glaze can be duplicated at home using a pastry brush dipped in watered down apricot jelly.
Then decorate with melted chocolate, glaze, or powdered sugar!