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My croissants look good and they taste fine but they have an extremely flaky/hard exterior, it is like a biscuit even though they are light in weight and have the bee caves inside as supposed. I would like to have the one that is really flaky but not toasted.

I use

  • 2 cups of bread flour
  • 2.5 tsp active dry yeast
  • 2.5 tbsp sugar
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tbsp of butter inside the dough
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1/2 cup of water

I knead it long enough and then I leave it to chill overnight. The next day, I place butter slab, make 3 simple layers with 15 minutes freezing in between, and finally let them chill for the last time for 1 hour plus in refrigerator before I shape them and let them proof for 2 hours at room temperature. I bake them at 400F for 10 minutes and at 370F for another 10 minutes.

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2 Answers

this is a technique that might help with the shell issue:

I suspect your croissants are losing humidity during proofing, possibly freezing the butter block, and possibly baking resulting in a harder shell. If you have a humidity controlled proofer and oven, then those parts may not be your problem. Otherwise, read on:

Peter Reinhart in The Bread Baker's Apprentice suggests pouring boiling water in a flat pan/container and placing in the bottom of the oven during the baking (of breads) in order to keep up the humidity. This Link has the recipe published with Peter's permission. Notice how the freezer doesn't come into play (freezer is a dehydrator and pretty good at it, too) although some recipes call the freezing part a must.

Croissants are lighter than bread loafs so they may require a different humidity profile than breads during baking (as noted by commenters). However, for proofing humidity levels should be high and the temperature around 80F or 27C.

To achieve that, for the proofing period keep the dough in a turned-off-oven and turn on the oven light a long with a the boiling water method. This usually prevents 'the skin' formation and a dried out crust. It also helps with getting a better rise during baking. The oven light bumps up the temperature but if you're room temperature is close, don't bother.

You may wish to read this piece on humidity and baking and generally the Maillard Reaction. Here's an excerpt that might explain the problem:

"Under dry oven conditions, the dough will have rapid evaporation of the water from
the exposed surface. This will cause premature formation of a dry inelastic outer shell
on the bread surface"
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@SAJ14SAJ citation please. the main suggestion here is 2-hour at room temperature might dry the shell. Though, Peter suggests humidity in baking (as noted). I do see the 1000 daily croissants at our french baker protected from drying, though I've never walked in at 4AM to see the oven settings. –  MandoMando Mar 22 '13 at 19:08
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baking911.com/quick-guide/how-to-az/bread-get-good-crust This was just the first hit on google, but they have the core of it. Moisture in the proof box yes, but in the oven, steam helps promote crust development. –  SAJ14SAJ Mar 22 '13 at 19:13
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@SAJ14SAJ first hit on google? I know you can do better. humidity contributes to crust colour, not thickness. Here is the piece you want to read: "Under dry oven conditions, the dough will have rapid evaporation of the water from the exposed surface. This will cause premature formation of a dry inelastic outer shell on the bread surface" –  MandoMando Mar 22 '13 at 19:41
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@MandoMando- Steam in the oven also promotes expansion per your link but it causes gelatinization of the starches at the surface of the loaf producing a crisper crust. It is steam that makes the characteristic crispy crust on French bread. I don't know how it would effect croissants though. I'm at work and don't have my books available to prove it. –  Sobachatina Mar 22 '13 at 19:52
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@RibalDhaibi I've moved it here from below the question: "can you verify the butter amount? The equivalent recipe from The Bread Bible calls for 12tablespoons of highfat butter." –  MandoMando Mar 23 '13 at 17:30
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I am not a croissant expert, but it's worth a try.

Do the same thing you have done before but:

  • proof the croissants
  • chill the croissants for 15min in the freezer
  • bake

You can also try to use a lower temperature; I have seen some recipes that call for 15 - 20min at 350F.

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