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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Baking Artisan breads - Croissants, Brioches and Danishes

After a long break, I decided to restart my blogging experience. While I was thinking what to write, I found a good reason to write - not about arts and crafts but about a similar interest I keep - cooking/baking. I always wanted to learn the technique of baking french pastries and  finally got a chance to learn.

I shall say it is an elaborate process. We started this process yesterday by mixing the dough and then layering it with butter. And several steps of folding these two layers and then freezing the dough. After repeating 3 times, I had to leave it overnight. The dough has a different mixing process for croissants and brioches. For brioches we had to mix all other ingredients first and after a window test, we had to add butter bit by bit while for croissants everything was added at once and mixed in the stand mixer. Few things I learnt was weighing ingredients was very important to the accuracy of +/-2 gms. Also freezing the  dough between each fold was important too so yeast can work its magic uniformly.

Window test was a process of spreading the dough until you can see through the dough without making holes while doing that. If you are able to do that, that means the dough reached gluten development stage. Then there are some new terms I learnt too. One is proofing - which is keeping the croissants in a hot temperature about 80F proofing device to let the dough rise. If you do not have that, one option is to put the croissants in an oven with light on and put some hot water at the bottom of the oven.
Danishes

Brioches
Croissants

Those are the croissants and danishes before they went into the oven. Look at the fancy shapes we made for danishes. Pinwheeel shapes, diamond shapes and chocolate filled danishes etc. We had a lot of fun making these. The dough is very much the same as croissants. Danishes are much more forgiving than croissants however. Brioches had more moist and silky elastic kinda texture, which was different from croissants.

Danishes after baking.
 Some of the other students used peaches blueberries as toppings on danish along with pastry cream while I used pastry cream due to my fruit allergies. The pastry cream, I learnt is nothing but custard we make at home but made from corn starch and eggs instead of ready made custard mix. 

Croissants

 Brioches
Look at all the golden brown french pastries. They are just melting in my mouth. This is how I packed and brought them home. Yummy !! We requested our teacher to teach us some macaroons next spring. Hoping to learn some of those techniques too.