When Sourdough Surprises asked us to make sourdough croissants this month, I was delighted. I recently took a great Craftsy online class called Classic Croissants at Home taught by Colette Christian. The class was full of great tips and techniques and I have been wanting not only to try the recipe from the class but to try it with my sourdough starter instead of the commercial yeast.
Unfortunately, since the recipe comes from a class, I can’t publish it here. I can, however, tell you how I converted their recipe to use my sourdough starter and show you how I made the croissants. I highly recommend taking the class if you love to bake and want to try this recipe. I have made croissants before, but not as successfully. These come the closest to store-bought croissants that I’ve ever produced. I also like the sourdough flavor I was able to get in the dough and I think it goes especially well with the Pan au Chocolat version.
At Colette Christian’s recommendation, I made an overnight sponge using what she referred to as a “20% build”. The original recipe called for 16 ounces of water and a little over 2 lbs of flour. To make the sponge, I used the full 16 oz of water and mixed it with 16 oz of the recipe flour and 3.2 oz of my (active) starter.
After 12 hours, when the sponge was very bubbly, I mixed up the dough for the recipe as written, omitting the commercial yeast. I let this dough rest overnight in the refrigerator both for my time constraints and also because I was hoping that more sourdough flavor would develop during the slow rise. The next day, I rolled out the dough, enclosed my butter block and made my first turn.
After letting the dough rest in the refrigerator, I made the 2nd turn then another rest in the refrigerator and then the final turn.
The next step was to roll the dough out and cut it into triangles for the classic croisants and squares for the Pan au Chocolate which were shaped and allowed to proof at room temperature. The proofing took about 2 1/2 hours, much longer than it would have with commercial yeast.
The croissants were then egg-washed and baked until a dark golden brown on the outside and light when picked up.
I have to say that while this was a very time consuming process, none of the steps were actually difficult. The tips and tricks from class definitely helped, as did having a good recipe, but croissants are entirely doable! The hardest part? Not eating 12 freshly baked croissants in one day…