This method for making puff pastry is widely considered the most traditional. It blends and then laminates two components détrempe (or water dough, from the French for ‘soggy’ détrempé) and berrauge (butter paste). Détrempe is started with ingredients close to 0ºC (32ºF) - I chill my flour and the water!--mixed together at room temperature before they can warm completely. The détrempe is allowed to rest and cool while one prepares berrauge starting with room-temperature butter and flour.
- 20 oz Bread Flour
- 1/4 oz Salt
- 12 oz chilled Water
- 20 oz room-temp Butter
- 2 oz Bread Flour
Add flour and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook attachment in place. Lower hook into flour and start on the lowest speed. Slowly add water over the course of a minute. Let the mixer run until the dough forms one ball with a few crumbs in the bottom, about 5-8 minutes. Stop mixer and press the dough against the bowl to pick up loose pieces, flip dough over. Lower hook, turn mixer on low again and let run another minute. (No mixer? Follow the same pattern using a large mixing bowl and a sturdy mixing spoon or spatula.)
Lightly dust work surface with flour. Turn dough out of bowl onto work surface. With lightly floured hands, curl the dough in on itself in a ball until dough becomes soft and supple. Lightly dust with bench flour as needed during the process. When the dough feels smooth and will not incorporate more flour, lay it on the floured work surface and begin rolling it into something approximating a 30cm square.
When rolling the dough, start from the center and roll to one edge without reversing motion. Scrape up from the edges gently--scrape in a few inches from one angle, then then from another adjacent angle, working your way around a circle--to turn the dough when necessary. If the rolling pin is picking up bits of dough, rub flour all the way around its surface. When the desired size and shape is reached, scrape the dough from the surface without breaking it, folding it in half before lifting it from the work surface. Wrap 15cm x 30cm folded dough in plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to rest.
While the dough rests, it’s time to prepare berrauge. Wipe the mixer bowl to make certain it’s free of bits of dough -- washing is not necessary. Replace the dough hook with a flat beater blade, not the whisk.
Place the butter in the mixer bowl, no need to cut it into pieces. Sprinkle on the flour. Lower blade into the mixture and turn on at the lowest speed. Let the mixer run 4-5 minutes until the flour seems fully incorporated and evenly distributed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed while mixing. The goal here is not adding volume to the butter: the incorporation of flour into the butter will make berrauge easier to manage during the lamination process that follows. Set berrauge aside and retrieve the rolled and cooled détrempe from the refrigerator after its 30 minutes of rest.
Keep détrempe wrapped and allow it to warm slowly on a counter for 30 minutes. Unwrap détrempe and lay it still folded on the dusted work surface with the length running from left to right. Roll the dough until it is a little bigger than 25cm x 50cm, trying to keep the ratio of length to width the same. Scrape the dough from the surface, folding in thirds lengthwise. Dust the working surface with flour, and unfold the dough. Now the real fun begins!
Spread the berrauge onto the surface of two-thirds of the dough evenly to form a 1-2cm deep layer that stops 2.5cm from the outer edges of the dough - -it can run right up to the inside edge adjacent to the “no berrauge” one-third. Fold the untouched third over the middle third, then fold the remaining third over what was the underside of the untouched third.
Turn the aseemblage a quarter turn to the left or right and gently but evenly roll it back out to original size (25cm x 50cm) on the dusted surface. You have now done a three-fold, and you almost certainly have berrauge to spare--hold on to it! Scrape up, fold in thirds again loosely, wrap and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.
NOTE: As you work with the dough, it may appear dry, in which case you should feel free to lightly sprinkle water on it to bring it back to life. Also, if the dough should tear allowing butter to seep through, sprinkle flour over the exposed butter before making the next fold.
Bring cold dough out and let it warm up for 30 minutes, unwrap, unfold onto dusted surface. Spread any remaining berrauge on two-thirds of the surface as before. Fold in thirds as done before, turn one-quarter turn, and roll back out to original size. You now have nine layers of flaky goodness before you, but don’t stop there.
Scrape up, fold loosely in thirds, wrap, refrigerate, allow to warm, and roll out twice more for an ideal 81 layers of amazingness. If you’re pressed for time or on making your first go at the recipe, stopping after just one more set of operations will yield 27 layers for croissants or other goodies.
When you’re ready to make croissants, refrigerate the dough and roll it out to a 25x50cm that is a little less than 1/4-inch thick and cut out your croissants and shape them. I roll out my dough and cut it with a sharp knife into 15cm strips then cut them into triangles, 10cm wide at the base of the triangle. Stretch these triangles again 20cm long, then place on the work surface. Roll the triangles up towards you starting at the wide end and place them 2 inches apart on a parchment lined sheetpan (about 1” deep) with the tip tucked under and the ends slightly curved in to make a crescent shape. Whisk together one egg and 1 teaspoon milk and brush the croissants with this eggwash. Place the rolled croissants in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes under moist paper towel covered with plastic.
Position racks in the top and lower thirds of the oven and heat it to 425°F (or 400°F convection). Brush the croissants with egg wash a second time, if egg wash remains. Put the sheets in the oven. After 10 minutes, rotate the sheets and swap their positions. Watch the croissant puff up as the butter melts -- yes, you’re going to have butter all over the bottom of your pans. Continue baking until the bottoms are an even brown, the tops richly browned, and the edges show signs of coloring, another 8 to 10 minutes, but let the color be your guide. If they appear to be darkening too quickly during baking, lower the oven temperature by 10°F. Let cool on baking sheets on racks.
May your end product look something like this.