Baking School Part 6: Croissant, Puff Pastry and So Much Butter!

Julie Miguel is a digital content producer with a specialization in food media as well as an active food blogger located in Toronto, Canada. The focus of her blog, Daily Tiramisu, is to empower home cooks to be fearless in the kitchen and she does this by taking traditionally difficult recipes and making them easier to execute.

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When I add a croissant or a turnover to my coffee order, I never gave much more though to it than wanting to eat the pastry as soon as possible.  After the past few baking classes, I have developed a heightened appreciation for croissant and puff pastry.  I really had no idea how much work and skill was involved in the process.  I have heard some pastry chefs say it takes all day to make croissant dough or puff pastry, but until recently, I didn’t believe it.
Baking School Part 6: Croissant, Puff Pastry and So Much Butter!
We live in a world where convenience is king and making croissant doesn’t always fit into the schedule.  I wouldn’t usually attempt something that would take me all day long but now that I’ve made croissant and puff pastry, and seeing how rewarding the whole process is, I would certainly take a whole day to make them again.  Rolling out the dough multiple times is very therapeutic.  How zen does the below picture make you feel?  (Maybe I’m the only one who feels zen because I’m the one who rolled out the dang thing).  This is croissant dough that has been folded and rolled three times over.  It’s almost ready to be cut and turned into perfect croissant–how exciting!
Baking School Part 6: Croissant, Puff Pastry and So Much Butter!
Laminated dough.  That is what you call croissant and puff pastry dough and it means a dough with butter incorporated and folded into it to make layers of dough and fat.  There are two components: the dough base and the butter wrap.  You can actually see what I mean in the thumbnails below.  The fat is locked into the dough and then it is folded and rolled multiple times.  During the folding and rolling out process, the butter is getting encased by the flour so it doesn’t just melt in the oven and create holes in your product but instead creates beautiful, buttery layers.
I’m going to apologize for all the photos but I guarantee you that you will have a heightened respect for croissant after seeing all of this!  Here is everything, from dough to croissant.

What did I tell you?  Every action has a purpose.  Example, the little cut made at the bottom of the triangle before rolling up the croissant is there so that the croissant could expand.  Little details that make all the difference!
The Pain au chocolat are made with the same, croissant dough, however, the make up is different:

They are still rolled but with chocolate inside of them and they are rolled using a square shape instead of a triangle shaped piece of dough.
We made a puff pastry dough as well which is similar to pie dough.  There is no yeast in puff pastry like there is in croissant dough.  There’s something called long flake or short flake when you are referring to puff pastry or pie dough.  The term refers to the size of the chunks of butter that are incorporated.  Long flake means larger chunks of butter which gives you a longer flake.  There’s some new found baking knowledge for you so you can share with your baking friends the next time you’re talking flakiness (which I’m sure is often).  Long or short — pie and puff pastry is always delicious!
Baking School Part 6: Croissant, Puff Pastry and So Much Butter!
A pastry wheel is used to cut the shapes of croissant and puff pastry because you don’t want to seal the layers or else you will lose your rise.  Same goes for when you do your egg wash on top, you want to make sure it doesn’t seal the edges of your product and prevent the rise.  This tip was more of a reminder to myself to pay attention and not rush the process…especially when it comes to pastry!
Baking School Part 6: Croissant, Puff Pastry and So Much Butter!

Lastly, a turnover is scored to allow for steam to escape so you don’t burst a turnover.  However, if overfilling a turnover is wrong, I never want to be right.
Even the scraps don’t go to waste!  We made cheese twists with our scrap croissant dough.  I love all of the ideas and tips the Chef gives us about using up waste.  All those years working in successful kitchens has certainly paid off!
Baking School Part 6: Croissant, Puff Pastry and So Much Butter!

Baking School Part 6: Croissant, Puff Pastry and So Much Butter!
My grades for the past few classes: 78% and 79%!  Documenting my account of baking school at Centennial College and trying to do well in class at the same time has not been easy but I am so happy that I have done this.  The other students are getting used to me pushing my way to the front of the demo crowd so I can get all these great pictures, too!
I mentioned in an earlier post that we get to take home what we bake.  I froze my croissant and turnovers and I am so glad I did because after looking at all of these photos again, I am having the worst craving for a turnover right now!  A lot of pastry chefs say they can’t eat sweets anymore —  I really don’t know what they mean when they say this.
Baking School Part 6: Croissant, Puff Pastry and So Much Butter!
I was so thrilled with my end products that I literally couldn’t stop photographing them.  They are so beautiful to me, more so because so much effort went into making them instead of just ordering them from a coffee shop.  This is, above all, my biggest lesson learned throughout my baking school journey: it’s so easy to just go about life taking advantage of every convenience possible but actually making baked goods from scratch — literally scratch (these started as flour, water, yeast, sugar and butter) has made me develop an appreciation for baked goods and the process of baking in general.  It truly is a science, but very logical at the same time.
I always come back to the point about being present in a moment and appreciating what it’s offering to you (maybe this is the extra yoga classes I’m doing to offset the extra pastry consumption, talking).  From now on when I’m eating that freshly baked croissant from my local coffee shop, I’ll be thinking about the labour of love that went into making it.  A heightened experience with food — all from just making it myself.  I have no plans of opening a bakery, nor do I ever plan on running the pastry department of a busy restaurant, but I know that the knowledge I’ve obtained and the experiences that I’ve had in baking school will be with me in everything that I do from now on.
With Love,
Baking School Part 6: Croissant, Puff Pastry and So Much Butter!
*The above post was created as part of a paid partnership between Centennial College and myself.  However, and as always, all opinions are my own.

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