Croissant academics, please respond
I recently started making croissants. I had a buy if beginners luck at first, then I've been getting worse results with each bake.
My method is basically as described in TX farmers sourdough croissant post on this site, but basically here's what I do:
1. Make the dough. It's a pretty basic ceoiddant dough with a sourdough pre ferment added. I mix it by hand to incorporate the loose flour, then 2 minutes on speed one if my stand mixer, 2 minutes on speed 2. I'm getting a dough with well developed gluten. After it's made, I pop it in the freezer for 20 minutes or so to stop fermentation, then into the fridge overnight. I do not ferment the dough as many recommend.
2. Make the butter square. Pretty straightforward, I make the square, make sure it's nice and even then into the fridge overnight as well.
3. The next day, I take the butter square out of the fridge for 45 minutes. Bruno Albouz recommends this time parameter, and it seems okay. After 45 minutes, I roll out my chilled dough and lock in the square. Then I roll out the dough/butter to the required parameters, which for my recipe is 6×16 inches. I do the letter fold, then back into the fridge for 30 minutes. I repeat this twice for 3 folds. Then the dough goes into the fridge overnight, or at least 8 hours.
4. Final roll out. I roll the dough out into a 9×18 inch rectangle. It usually takes 2 or 3 goes, with me putting it in the fridge to relax for half hour between attempts.
5. Cut and shape croissants. I'm doing it the way I see it done and hear it described. Though I may be doing it too rough. After shaping, I proof them for 3 hours at room temp 75 degrees or so.
6. Bake, 375 degrees for 15 to 18 minutes.
The problem I'm having is dense, doughy croissants. When I look at the proofed croissants, there are layers, but I don't see butter. It's like it's just layers of dough. Some if not all of my croissants come out hollow with dense centers where all the layers are smashed together
I have my theories on what's going wrong:
1. Over developing gluten. The pros develop the heck out of the gluten, as I do, but they also use a sheeter. Me with my humble French pin, I might need a weaker dough so the roll out can happen faster and with less force, so the butter doesn't warm up, and I don't smash the layers
2. Butter too warm/soft. The first time I made croissants, I used butter straight from the fridge, and it fragmented into hard clumps between layers of dough. I thought this was a bad thing, and in a sense it was, because I couldn't get the butter rolled out evenly between the dough. However, this cold butter made the best croissants I've made to date, which are in my profile pic. Looking at them now, I realize they're not perfect either, some of the layers look smashed together. But they're a LOT better than what I've come up with since.
3. Bad shaping. I think I use too much flour on the final rollout, and the croissant doesn't stick to itself during shaping. So I have to press harder. I think that's what's making the middle dense. The croissant not sticking to itself causes it to unravel during the bake.
4. Underproofing. I live with... well let's say several large people who set the thermostat too low. Sometimes the three hours pass, and my instincts tell me they're not ready, but I have to go to work soon, and I don't want them to over proof waiting for someone else to get home. This could account for the density, but it's my least favorite hypothesis.
Well that's it, my analysis as of now. I'm interested in those who can describe the characteristics of the butter, and the rolling technique. I've heard people say to be very gentle during roll out, not applying much pressure at all. TX farmer said she didn't have enough arm strength to accomplish the first roll out in one go. So I'm confused.
Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance guys!
Ps: sorry no pics, I angrily fed this batch to my dogs.