Experiments with bread and pastry making

Hello everyone,

After so many years I am posting here. It is not that I have stopped cooking/baking but it is difficult to log in and make notes for all the recipes I try. But still I would like to give it a go again.

Earlier when I started this blog I was learning to cook so I would scour through food blogs, take prints of recipes and cook precisely sticking to the recipe. Now I do the same but I also use Pinterest, my cookbooks and miss-mash of everything I read online but I do not stick to the recipe to the T. With great(!) cooking experience(10 years) comes a concept of recipes. You get the rough gist, you know how it might turn out, you know what to watch out for and you know how to rectify it…if it goes wrong.

I have been on a baking/cooking spree lately. I made 3 breads and croissants(By Toutatis! By Belenos!) in the last one week. Also I have started on a sourdough starter but it is not yet completely active.

Salvaging a croissant dough

1) Refrigerator is your best friend. If butter starts to leak when you roll. Just chuck it in the fridge for 1 hour till it is solid and work again. When in doubt..(dough is tearing, sticking, leaking etc etc…) just put it in fridge.(Don’t forget to cover it)

2) You can go beyond 6 folds I think. I did more because my first few folds were very bad and the butter was just leaking(good lumps of it!) everywhere. I started putting it in fridge for one hour and did proper folds after that. Sure enough it was easy to work with later.

3) After cutting the pastry, shape it immediately. Do not put it in the fridge. I tried to shape it later after chilling the dough, the dough started to tear and it is a bit hard to shape too.

4) Proof the croissants on the counter for a good hour or more till the dough looks spongy. Do not rush them into the oven. I rushed my first batch and I got the tiniest ones. They tasted great but there was no volume. After all the work…you need to see the layers right!

5) Preheat your oven for a long time. Maybe 20 minutes. A good hot oven gives a nice colour to the croissants. Egg wash helps too but I used Milk wash. I might try basting with butter next time.

6) Also work in parts..Use half of the pastry first (to cut and shape). Put the rest in fridge. Once you are done with the first half, work on the second half. Slightly warm dough is very delicate to cut and shape. Fridge makes it solid and hard so that you can roll it easily.

Phew!! I hope these tips helps someone in the future…I couldn’t find many tips online when I was doing it.

This post really helped me with my croissants. Check it out.

Tips on Sourdough starter

I know I don’t have one yet to give advice but speaking from an earlier failure.

  • Be patient. It takes a lot of time.
  • A clear glass jar helps. Really. First time I did it in a metal bowl and I couldn’t judge the yeast activity at all. My bread was a brick. A clear jar helps.
  • Also use a marker. When you mix it just mark the level. That way you will know whether it is rising or falling etc. You think you will remember the levels but it helps to have a clearer picture. I even mark the time and date so that I know the number of hours it takes to rise fully.
  • If the starter is moldy anywhere then take a spoon or two of it into a fresh clean jar and chuck the rest. Feed the starter in the fresh jar.
  • Do not assume. Since I live in India, I thought it is too hot for yeast and it will work fast etc but no..My current starter is in the fifth day and it still hasn’t doubled yet. It is very slow. My kitchen might be cool..I think.
  • Go by the smell. Since my 4th day it started smelling fruity and nice. It didn’t double but I think this is the nice yeast coming up. The first three days it was awful.

Verdict:

My family loved the croissants and chocolate croissants. I also made a cinnamon sugar straw and cinnamon sugar rolls with the same dough. They tasted amazing(well with the amount of butter!! it had to!!).

My Inferences:

Next time when I make them I want to use unsalted butter. With Amul butter they tasted like khari biscuits rather than like true croissants.

Well…the breads deserve another post.

Till the next post…

C’est votre coquette!!

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