A Sourdough Croissant: 4 days of love

A Sourdough Croissant: 4 days of love

Why are croissants so difficult to make... and sourdough croissants even harder?

Sourdough Croissants are made without any commercial yeast and only rely on natural yeasts in sourdough starter for the rise of the dough.

As Chef Dominique Ansel, the creator of the famous Cronut and owner of Dominique Ansel Bakery, says: “Making croissants is a labor of love and dedication—a lifelong baking project.”

This humble French pastry is all about mastering time-intensive techniques to produce perfect results.

Baking French croissants is an intricate, multi-day process.

Follow along as Pastry Chef Bonnie takes you through her 4 day sourdough croissant making process. 

Croissant Making Technique: 

STEP 1 • DAY 1: Building the Levain (Sunday around 4pm)

The first day of a croissant's life starts with mixing the sweet levain. Part of our starter, Jude, gets portioned with more flour, water, and a little sugar, to make the sweet levain for all the croissant dough. This all gets mixed together, and then left to sit and begin the fermentation process. 

The sweet levain sits for 15-17 hours at room temperature (preferably around 70 degrees) until it then moves to the second step. 

STEP 2 • DAY 2: Mixing and Lamination [Monday morning] 

The croissant dough gets mixed. In french this step is referred to as détrempe.

It is a combination of the following ingredients:
Special bread flour, Butter, Salt, Sugar, Milk, Eggs, Levain, Water, leftover croissant scraps. 

Our current recipe currently includes eggs, but many traditional recipes do not. We are going to begin to explore testing without eggs. The eggs mainly provide a depth and richness of flavor. 

This dough gets mixed, and then it undergoes what's called "bulk fermentation" for 3 hours.

Then the dough gets divided into its appropriate portions, and chilled 2 hours.

STEP 3 • DAY 2: Lamination [Monday Afternoon]

Once the dough is chilled, now we begin the lamination.

By simple definition, lamination is the process of folding and rolling butter into dough over and over again to create super-thin layers. These layers, which alternate between butter and dough, are what give croissants their signature honeycomb interior structure and their fabulously flaky texture. 

Here at voyageurs, we do what Bonnie calls a "double book fold". This refers to how the butter gets folded into the dough, and the technique of the folding. 

In croissant making there are single book folds and double book folds. We do the double book fold as it creates more layers. 

The dough gets rolled out to a 4mm thickness, then the butter block, or in french beurrage, gets folded into the dough. The beurrage is 30cm x 40cm, and weighs 1 kilo.

Bonnie (or her team) do the first double book fold, then chill in the cooler for one hour. After it's chilled, then they complete the second of the double book folds. 

With the help of a large piece of equipment called a sheeter (pictured above), the dough is rolled out to a 4mm thickness before doing the double book fold.

These books then chill and relax in the cooler over night. 


STEP 4 • DAY 3: Roll & Shape [Tuesday morning]

On the beginning of the 3rd day of the life of a croissant, it gets rolled out, and shaped into a croissant.

If we are making danishes, or other laminated pastry features, this is also when we will cut and shape according to the pastry.

Once cut and shaped, they sit on baking sheets and proof for 18 - 20 hours depending on the season. 

A unique part of our rolling & shaping process is that we focus on zero wastage by putting old croissant scraps back into the dough.


STEP 5 • DAY 4: Baking & Finishing [Wednesday morning]

Now it's time to reach the finish line, bake these lovingly crafted pastries, and eat them too!

Some of the specialty pastries get finished with fresh fruit or other toppings (torched meringue, powdered sugar, jam etc.), and this will all be done once the pastry is baked and cooled. 

So now you can see why most people decide to buy laminated pastries instead of make them. It truly is a craft of love. 

Special bread flour (King Arthur), Sugar, Salt, Sourdough Starter (Flour & Water), Eggs, Milk, Butter.


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