Isn't it funny how life goes, sometimes? When I began on this croissant journey just a few weeks ago, I assumed it was one and done. I had beginners luck (or so it seemed) with the traditional croissant recipe using yeast and progressed to a gluten free version a few days later per request/challenge. When Sandrine Perez of Nourishing Our Children requested a sourdough version, I took it on, assuming (again) that I'd need to fiddle around a bit to get things to work, but was able to replicate my initial successes fairly quickly.
Here is where things get funny. People who know me, know that I really don't enjoy baking. Do you know why? Because successful baking requires patience, measuring, and following an exact process; three things that I am not great at/don't like to do. Isn't it funny then, that the thing I am fairly good at is something that requires all three? Maybe this is life's way of developing my weaknesses into strengths.
After I developed the sourdough recipe, I was curious if I could incorporate some ancient grains into the mix. One of my favorite home-bakers uses only ancient grains in her breads, and so, from listening to her, I had an idea of where to begin. After a quick search of ancient grains and their properties, I decided to begin with Khorasan Wheat (Kamut is a specific and well known brand).
Not knowing how this grain would handle, I decided to try using 1/2 and 1/2; Khorasan Wheat and pastry flour. These turned out very much like a typical yeast croissant; flaky and airy. If you have made croissants before and know the process and how the dough handles, but want to work in some ancient grains, this is where I would start. You can find that recipe here.
From there, I went ahead and made an entirely ancient grain version using the just Khorasan wheat. I ordered and used this flour that is bolted which means that some of the bran is removed, but some remains. These croissants took me two full days to make and the results were beautiful and delicious. Since it is a rather heavy flour in comparison with pastry flour, the interior structure of the croissants looks a bit different; not the perfect honeycomb shapes that happened when I used pastry flour. That being said, my bread-maker friend mentioned that there is a white, wheat khorasan flour. My next experiment with croissants will incorporate some of this to see if I can accomplish that interior structure of a typical croissant.
That all being said, the 100% ancient grain croissants were the favorite with my children. So far, I've allowed them to try one croissant from each batch as they do not hesitate to tell me the truth. I was surprised that these ended up being their favorite, but it is flour and butter so really, what could go wrong. One final note about these is that, from what I can tell, they are best when eaten fresh. The other versions I have been able to leave on the counter for a couple of days and then freeze whatever was left. These are are best eaten on day one. If you are looking for one that freezes well, I'd suggest making the original sourdough recipe or the 50/50 recipe.
Below is a step-by-step of my process. I photo documented every step since that is helpful to me, but please don't let the number of steps overwhelm you. Most of the time spent is on turns and waiting for the croissants to proof.
*This post may contain affiliate links. Your purchases via these links may result in compensation for me. The cost remains the same for you, and I get to keep blogging. Win-Win!*
*Sourdough Starter (I used whole wheat)
*Khorasan Wheat (I used this)
* 3/4# butter
*Please note that a few of these photos are from my 50/50 recipe. For some reason, some of the shots I took of this process did not turn out.
1. Feed your starter.
2. Make your sponge.
Combine 240g or 1 cup starter with 1 cup warm (not over 100°F) water. I test warmth like you would a baby bottle. Liquid should feel neutral when sprinkled on the wrist. Add 2 TB honey and stir gently until combined. Add 120g or 1 cup sifted khorasan wheat. The result is called the Sponge. Cover with a towel and allow to rise until 1.5-2 times its original amount. It took mine about 8 hours to reach that point. I have a very cold kitchen, and your time may be different than mine. Just be patient.
Step 3. Make the dough.
After sponge has risen, add 160g or 1 1/3 cup sifted khorasan wheat and 1 tsp salt and stir gently. Turn dough onto floured surface (I used pastry flour for this). Add enough wheat flour so that dough is soft and pliable and not sticky. Using rolling pin, shape into a small circle. Wrap in plastic and place in the refrigerator. I place my wrapped dough on a cookie sheet or cutting board to keep it flat.
Step 4. Prepare the butter pack.
I have been learning so much about using the right butter in croissants. The best option has a high percentage of butterfat, at least 80%. I used Vital Farms butter for this reason. This helps with rise and when rolling into dough, the golden color ensures that you notice when some is poking through so you can correct the mistake.
Slice butter into equal pieces and place on parchment paper. Place another piece of parchment paper on top of butter. Pound and roll butter until it is pliable and does not break when bent. Shape into a square, about 5"x5".
Step 5. Roll out chilled dough.
Remove dough from refrigerator, place on floured surface, and roll into a long rectangle, about 10"x16".
Step 6. Wrap butter pack into dough.
Place butter pack in center of dough. Fold butter into dough by folding top flap down, bottom flap up, and side flaps over.
Step 7. Your first turn
Pinch seams of dough together. Using rolling pin, and beginning in the middle of the dough, gently roll out dough/butter until you have a rectangle. This step can take some time to perfect. You want the butter to be warm enough to be pliable but not so soft that it comes through the dough. If you do see some poking through, don't panic! Use some extra dough to cover the butter and keep rolling. For even pressure, I suggest using a rolling pin like this.
Fold the dough into thirds, wrap in plastic, and place in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes- one hour.
Step 8. Your second- fourth turns
After the dough has chilled, remove from fridge and allow to rest for 10 minutes. With short end parallel to you, again roll out the dough to a rectangle. Fold the dough into thirds, wrap and chill from 30-60 minutes. This is your second turn. You will do this 3 more times. After the 5th time rolling, folding, and wrapping, chill the dough for 4 hours or overnight. I prefer to let the dough chill over night since the next steps will include rolling out, shaping, proofing, and baking. The proof time can vary so much, that I don't want to risk missing my window.
Step 9. Final roll out
After dough has chilled for 4 hours or overnight, roll out into a long rectangle about 18"x 10". I didn't used to measure this, but like any developing artist, I am beginning to prefer the look of a very uniform output, so I do measure now. Using a ruler, score the dough every 3".
Step 10. Cut each rectangle into triangles.
Using a ruler and pizza or pastry cutter, cut each rectangle from corner to corner to make 2 triangles.
Step 11. Shape the Croissants
You made it! Now on to shaping the croissants. First, using the rolling pin, roll each triangle out just a bit from side to side and from base to top. Next, make a small cut at the base, and roll up, shaping as you go. Place shaped croissants on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
Step 12. Apply egg wash.
Beat one egg with one teaspoon of water. Using a small pastry brush (I used a paint brush because I could not find mine), apply egg wash to croissants. Be sure not to seal layers of dough.
Step 13. Proof
Cover croissants with a greased piece of parchment paper, plastic wrap, or a cotton cloth (this may stick) and proof until croissants are 1.5-2x their original size. It took mine about 5 hours to almost double in size.
Step 14. Apply egg wash
Apply egg wash again, and place croissants in the fridge while oven is preheating.
Step 15. Preheat oven to 390°F
Step 16. Bake croissants for 12 minutes at 390°F, then lower temp to 325°F and bake for an additional 10 minutes until golden brown.
Did you enjoy this recipe? Please consider sharing!