Monday, August 25, 2008

Laminated Dough

Wednesday we made two different Danish pastries – croissants and regular danishes. Okay, I’m having a little trouble remembering because this was last Wednesday, but I’ll try my best.
For both, you use a sponge method to make the dough, and soften 20 oz of butter for rolling into the dough once it is ready. It was our threesome again, and again Chef asked us to double our recipe. I guess we’re consistent? Whatever, we’re happy to do it. I didn’t actually do more than make the dough – Tennessee and Irish both did the rolling out and cutting of the doughs. If I remember correctly, I was really tired, but mostly it was that I was grossed out by the amount of butter necessary to make these breads. Seriously. 20 oz. That is 1 ¼ sticks of butter. Rolled into the shape of a flat sheet. Gross.
The dough was made Wednesday, cut Thursday, and baked Friday, so I missed the baking part. After it has proofed, roll the dough to the size of a half-sheet pan, then rotate 90 degrees, and roll out again to the size of a half-sheet pan. Lay butter on half of the dough, then fold the other half over. Seam the edges. Roll out again to the size of a half-sheet pan. Tri-fold the dough, and mark one thumbprint – this process will need to be repeated twice more, and the thumbprint helps you keep track of how many times you have completed the process. Allow to relax in fridge for about 15 min – you want the dough to be cold when you do this process (see below).
There are two ways to cut croissants – the traditional rolled shape and the Pain au Chocolat. The rolled shape actually has it’s own cutter that makes a triangle with a tiny v cut into the top. Then you stretch the dough and roll from the v, tucking the seam underneath. Make sure the dough is rolled to about ¼ in – otherwise these will be too thick. I was really tired, so I think mine were closer to ½ in. Pain au Chocolat – bread of chocolate – take strips of dough, place one strip of chocolate, roll over, one more strip, roll over, and close seam. We used professional chocolate that is only available to commercial kitchens, but Chef said chocolate chips will work well here also.
Danish can also be cut in multiple ways. We rolled the dough out to ¼ in thick, and cut into ½ in strips. Fold in half, then twist and roll to form a spiral, tucking the end underneath. Press down in the center – this is where jam will go. There is also a figure 8 style, and I’m sure others.
Eggwash, and then bake.

I brought in my extra brioche to work Wednesday, and shared with a couple of frie
nds – I don’t think there was a need for me to eat any more of that buttery buttery bread… They loved it! I’m pretty sure that’s what I’ll do with the sweet/buttery stuff we make – I don’t really want it in my house, and I’m happy to share with friends!
Ummm and I have no idea why the photo is rotated this way - I am way too tired to figure this out at work.

Lessons Learned:
Danishes are considered “laminated doughs.” This means that layers of dough and butter are created by rotating and folding the dough multiple times before baking. The butter cooks off and creates steam. That is how you get the thin layers and air pockets you see in croissants. Be careful not to tear the dough, and if your kitchen is around 88F like our’s is, butter will poot out of the dough. That’s okay though – just pack it back in, pinch the dough, and cover with flour. It’s okay, it even happened to Chef. Or you could actually just have an air conditioner that works… ah, professional kitchens – so hot!

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