For the past few months, I could not get bicolor croissants and their close cousins – pain au chocolat – out of my mind. As you may already know, I tend to get obsessed about things. That means that two bad batches in a row did not prevent me from trying again. They were heavy and doughy, with almost no lamination. You probably won’t find a detailed recipe in cookbooks, but youtube videos (some not in English) promise to show you how to succeed in a home setting. Keep in mind that for the most part, these are made in patisseries by bakers who have those incredibly efficient rolling machines (sheeters) at their disposal. Fear not, I am ready to share a recipe and a method that worked well for me. My main advice: do not rush it. This is not the type of recipe to try and adapt for a tent-baking situation. Take your time. Keep the dough and yourself cool at all times.
BICOLOR CROISSANTS & PAIN AU CHOCOLAT
(adapted from many sources)
for main dough:
490g all-purpose flour
10g osmo-tolerant yeast (or regular instant yeast, same amount)
300g full-fat milk
70g butter, melted and cooled
for butter block:
340g butter cut in pieces, cold
(unsalted Land O’Lakes *see comments)
Batons of chocolate
1 egg for egg wash
simple syrup (water and sugar, equal amounts by weight, dissolved by boiling and cooled)
Make the dough the day before. Add all ingredients except butter to the bowl of a KitchenAid type mixer with a dough hook. Process for about 3 minutes, then add the butter, and mix for about 4 minutes longer, at low-speed. The dough should feel smooth and elastic.
Remove from the machine, knead by hand a few times, place in a bowl coated with a little butter, cover and leave at room temperature for 1 hour. Remove 110g of dough and add a few drops of red gel dye. Wearing gloves, knead the color into the dough, adding more if necessary. It will take a little while, the color will resist mixing at first. Make sure it is totally incorporated throughout the little ball of dough. Reserve both doughs in separate bowls, covered, and place in the fridge overnight.
Make the butter block. Add cold butter and flour to the bowl of a KitchenAid type mixer fitted with the mixing blade. Process for about 2 minutes. Make an envelope for the butter using parchment paper. Fold 24-inch length of parchment in half to create a 12-inch rectangle. Fold over 3 open sides of rectangle to form 8-inch square, creasing the folds very firmly. Unfold parchment envelope, add the butter/flour and refold the envelope. Roll gently until the butter is uniform in thickness and forms a perfect 8-inch square. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
Roll the main dough (with no color) over a lightly floured surface to a rectangle about 9 x 16 inches, so that you can set the butter square in the center and fold the top and bottom parts over it, with a seam in the exact middle of the butter square. Gently glue the open sides of the dough so that the butter is all cozy inside. Turn the dough so that the seam is vertical now, perpendicular to you. Roll again to the same general dimension (9 x 16 inches). Make the first fold: divide the dough in three pieces (eye-balling is fine). Bring the top third down, and the bottom third up, in what is known as the envelope fold. Place the folded dough in the fridge covered with plastic for 45 minutes, transfer to the freezer for 20 minutes.
Roll the dough again to the same dimension (9 x 16 inches). Make the second fold, exactly like you did the first. Place the folded dough in the fridge, covered with plastic for 45 minutes, transfer to the freezer for 20 minutes.
Roll the dough again to the same dimension (9 x 16 inches). Make the third and final fold. Bring the top part down and the bottom part up to almost meet at the center, leaving a small space between the edges, so that you can fold the dough right there in the center. That is known as the “book-fold.” Refrigerate for 1 hour and freeze for 20 minutes.
While the dough cools, it’s time to roll out the red dough. You need to make it thin and a little bigger than the dimension of the folded white dough, so that it sits on top of it. When the dough is out of the freezer, moisten it very lightly with water, place the rolled out red dough on top, and gently roll them both together (you can flip the dough to place the red one at the bottom after rolling a few times).
Roll both doughs together to a final dimension of 9 by 20 inches. Ideally, roll slightly bigger than that, then cut neatly to that final dimension. If for some reason some parts near the edges do not have the red dough on it, do not worry. Just proceed with cutting the pieces, it will not hurt the final look.
I used half the dough to make croissants and half to make pain au chocolat. To make the croissants, I cut a 9-inch square from the dough and eye-balled triangles from it. With the rest of the dough I cut rectangles that were about 3 1/2 by 4 1/2 inches. Shape croissants and enclose two chocolate batons per pain au chocolat, placing the red dough at the bottom in both cases.
Right after shaping the pain au chocolat, make parallel cuts with a razor blade on the red dough to expose the plain dough underneath. Some scraps from the dough I used to shape as a little flower. Allow the shaped pastries to proof for 2 and a half to 3 hours.
Heat the oven to 350F (higher temperatures will affect the red color). Brush the pastries very lightly with egg wash, and place them in the freezer for 15 minutes to allow the butter to solidify a bit. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on a rack. If desired, brush the surface with a simple syrup while they are still hot for a little shine.
to print the recipe, click here
Comments: I used all-purpose flour and American butter, not the fancy 82% or higher fat butter than many recipes recommend. American butter has slightly more water, it resists better the rolling and pounding without incorporating into the dough, and it laminates well too. Particularly with the two-color dough, I felt it gave a lighter and better laminated final product. European butter made the croissants doughy and a lot of butter leaked during baking. It is possible that I need to improve my technique before using a higher fat butter with the two-color dough. If it works well for you, go for it. Freezing the dough before baking is a nice additional step that I learned in Artful Baker and decided to incorporate in the recipe.
In theory, there are two ways to incorporate the red dough on the plain one. You can do what I did, or you can roll both doughs to the final dimension (9 by 20 inches) and place the red on top at that time. I tried both ways, and prefer the method I shared here. It is quite tricky to roll the red dough by itself as a large sheet and it is not as efficiently “glued” to the main dough since you simply place it on top and proceed to cutting the pieces. I should also mention that Philip, Baker Extraordinaire, makes a colored dough that does not contain yeast and it works very well. Check his method here. I am going to try that next time.
On shaping. As you roll the croissants or the little pain au chocolat, it is important to make it tight, by stretching a bit, generating tension as you roll. I was a bit worried about the layer of red dough and got too gentle with the shaping, so the pain au chocolat was not as tight as it should have been. Most were already unrolling during proofing. So that is definitely a detail to keep in mind.
Overall I am pretty happy with these babies. My previous attempts were heavy and dense, with no open structure at all inside. These had a nice crumbly crust, good butter flavor (even using American butter), and felt pretty light when handled. All I need to do next is optimize the shaping. And perhaps explore a different color scheme… Orange? Black?
ONE YEAR AGO: Lemon-Blueberry Entremet Cake
TWO YEARS AGO: Walk Strong3: A review of Jessica Smith’s latest workout program
THREE YEARS AGO: Pork Medallions with Black Berry Compote
FOUR YEARS AGO: Indian-Spiced Chicken with Chickpeas and Spinach
FIVE YEARS AGO: Curry Cardamon Cookies
SIX YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, March 2014
SEVEN YEARS AGO: Boeuf Bourguignon for a Snowy Evening
EIGHT YEARS AGO: Chickpea Salad
NINE YEARS AGO: Soft Spot for Chevre
TEN YEARS AGO: Roasted Onion and Asiago Cheese Miche