The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Buttermilk Preferment Croissants and Kouign-amann

foodforthought's picture

Buttermilk Preferment Croissants and Kouign-amann

Having always been envious of the incredible loft of the humongous croissants at Pavel's Backerei in Pacific Grove, California, I challenged myself to see if I could approach Pavel's great result for post-Turkey breakfast. I made several deviations from textbook croissant dough including buttermilk (instead of milk) , a poolish (instead of pate fermentee) and liquid sourdough levain in my 2.7 kg dough batch. I've been kicking the tires on the unexpected(!) steam injection function that came with a newly installed German oven so I baked the croissants with an initial burst of steam. The results were quite good though, in retrospect, I could have proofed for 3 or even 4 hours instead of just 2 1/2 to coax maybe another 1/2 inch of loft from the dough. The new oven's proof function was a huge improvement over my usual counter proofing which goes much slower since our kitchen tends to run to 65-68 degrees in cool weather.

Half of the dough went into a dozen croissants so I used an average of about 110 g of dough per croissants. I suspect Pavel is possibly getting as much as 150 g into one of his. Will have to ask next time we visit the Monterey peninsula.

With the other half of the dough I made a dozen Kouign-amann, which are constructed of danish dough rolled out in a lot (as in 25% of dough weight!) of sugar for the last lamination fold. The result was quite good, caramelly and a bit sticky, though the dough browned more than I would have liked. Rose Levy Beranbaum uses no milk in her tediously meticulous version which I have followed in the past...apparently to avoid this browning problem. Not wanting to prep multiple doughs, I took the path of least resistance and still came out with a decent product, but I now better understand her caution. I think this dough could have also benefitted from a longer proof than the 45 minutes suggested by RLB, though I'm not sure that the sugar content does not inhibit dough rise. Weill have to test that next time around.

Altogether a fun Thanksgiving distraction. And if you have the good fortune to visit Monterey, don’t miss Pavel’s for great croissants and beautiful artisan breads.


rgreenberg2000's picture

Both of your creations look amazing!  I am partial to the croissants, as I remember my mom making these when I was a kid, and what I remember most is the amount of time it took! ;)  We don't make it to Monterey often (up in Redwood City), but I'll file away Pavel's on the "must do" list when we go next.

Thank you for sharing these!


foodforthought's picture

For the record, I've got croissant prep down to maybe 2.5 hours on day 1 since most of the dough proofing time is in the refrigerator overnight. Poolish, pate fermentee and levain takes some day-before (day 0?) prep but not a whole lot.  Shaping takes 20-30 minutes on day 2, then it's a long proof and baking. Gotta start early if you're serving with breakfast. So, not a huge time commitment and not too hard on someone who regularly gets going at 4:00-ish. Definitely takes some planning...plenty of logistics, refrigerator space, etc. And at the end, there's croissants and plenty of crumbs on your shirt (the true measure of excellence).


Benito's picture

These all look wonderful, well done.


happycat's picture

I choose flavour over loft any day. We have enormous croissants made in the neighbourhood that look very pretty but don't taste like much. If you can do both, you'd got bakeries beat!

If that's smucker's orange marmalade, a half lemon's worth of juice mixed in does wonders for toning down the sweetness. Homemade preserves during citrus season are even better :) Just need juice and citrus seeds for pectin.

Isand66's picture

I can imagine how wonderful these must taste.  What did the buttermilk add to the flavor profile?  I’ve used it in bread which I like a lot but not in pastry.


foodforthought's picture

I had the buttermilk since I was planning to make Buttermilk White Sandwich Bread (King Arthur's Classic White with buttermilk in place of liquid component) and the stuff seems to hang around forever in the fridge  for months if I don't use it right away. As far as I can tell, the buttermilk doesn't do much in terms of flavor, at least to my palate. It might possibly make the crumb a bit less delicate, but given the layer-thinning effects of the lamination, I don't notice any significant textural issues, at least in the warm bread state. I wouldn't be surprised if the cold state might seem less airy, but, alas, no leftovers to test that...