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I followed this video recipe for croissants, but whereas the video shows a soft, silky dough that proofs beautifully, I ended up with a dense, dry dough that has not risen appreciably after 90 min. I measured with a scale and proofed the dough in a warm environment, so I'm confident that neither of those is the problem. I did substitute dry yeast for fresh, but I also used yeast from the same package to make bread just the other day, so I'm confident that the yeast is healthy and active. What else could be going on?

1. Recipe

  • 500g flour
  • 70g sugar
  • 10g salt
  • 20g fresh yeast (which I converted to 8g dry yeast according to a website that claimed the correct multiplier is 0.4)
  • 125g water
  • 125g milk
  • 350g butter

Combine dry ingredients; combine water, milk, & yeast; combine the two mixtures; knead in stand mixer 12 min.; proof until doubled in volume...

Obviously the recipe goes on from there, but that's the relevant part.

2. Further details

  1. I did use a scale.
  2. I have not verified the accuracy of the scale.
  3. I proofed the dough in the oven, with the light on. I did not measure the temperature in there, but I'm going to say 30C/85F.
  4. I proofed the dough for 90 min.
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  • I appreciate the additions...and am trying to help, but it's still hard to tell what your process was. Are you saying that after mixing those ingredients for 12 minutes in an electric mixer that the dough was dense and dry? Also, your recipe states that the dough doubled, but your question says it did not. How did your process differ from the recipe?
    – moscafj
    Dec 19, 2020 at 19:21
  • also...I doubt it would made a drastic difference, but he used 50g sugar, not 70g.
    – moscafj
    Dec 19, 2020 at 19:27
  • @moscafj I do appreciate the help. Yes, after 12 min. the dough was dense and dry (and it looked dry from the start -- I was wondering whether there was enough liquid). The recipe says to proof until doubled, but that never happened, even after 90 min. Good point about the sugar; the recipe also appears elsewhere as a graphic, which is what I referred to when working, so that may be relevant.
    – crmdgn
    Dec 19, 2020 at 19:51
  • What type of dry yeast did you use, and what was the temperature of the water and milk when you put the yeast in? If you used active dry instead of instant yeast, you may need to warm up the water and milk to about 110F first and let it sit for a minute before mixing it in with the dry ingredients. May 19, 2021 at 15:24

4 Answers 4

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I am afraid that you will never know the answer. At least, from your description, there is no obvious cause for failure, and there is just no way to guess what exactly went wrong this one time. The recipe and your process seem fine and should work in principle.

Typical causes can be:

  • You didn't wait enough. You say you only waited for 90 minutes - yeast doughs can easily need more, and I would wait for at least 6-8 hours before I pronounce a yeast dough dead. While this shouldn't be the case at 30 C, your estimation for your oven's temperature at this setting might be wrong. Or maybe the dial was visibly turned to this setting, but due to some mechanical problem, the oven didn't actually turn on.
  • The opposite of my last sentence may have happened - maybe the oven turned on to one setting higher, and you warmed the dough enough to kill the yeast.
  • You may have been distracted and made a wrong measurement without noticing.

If you are accustomed to high-hydration doughs, then this dough can be expected to feel on the dry side for you, it is at 60% hydration. Or maybe the original recipe assumes that people will proof the live yeast in some water additionally to what the recipe calls for.

The "stiff" part is likely because you apparently kneaded it for exactly one interval of 12 minutes with a stand mixer. You should have let it relax when you saw it becoming stiff. Also, consider transitioning from kneading for some amount of time to recognizing what properly kneaded dough looks like and stopping when it's done.

Anyway, neither the low hydration nor the unrelaxed gluten should interfere with rising. You eithr made a mistake (wrong measurement, wrong temperature or waited too short a time as explained above) or it was some weird fluke, these happen too.

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It could be that his posted amounts of liquid are incorrect. When looking up various croissant recipes online, I see ranges of 280 grams of liquid (the lowest I found) to 360 grams for 500 grams of flour. ...and that is just with some cursory searching. His indicates 250 grams, and while that is a small difference between his and the "driest" recipe I quickly found, with the additional sugar, that might account for your dry dough. I would say that if you immediately felt it needed more liquid, your hunch was probably correct, and you might want to cross-reference this recipe with several others that are easily accessible with a quick on-line search.

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The hydration looks very low. With only 250g liquids to 500g of flour, that makes for 50% hydration. When I make croissants I typically use about 60-65% liquids. (Which also makes for a fairly stiff dough - but it needs to be fairly stiff for the lamination to work.)

(Also - if this is the first time you make laminated dough, I would start with less butter. Layering in that much butter can be quite messy.)

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I'm a very experienced home baker, but have yet to have great results with croissants. I just made Julia Child's recipe -- followed it to a "t" -- and although the croissants tasted good, they didn't rise as they should have (the dough did rise and double, initially). Here's what I can suggest:

  1. Use the right flour. Julia's recipe calls for unbleached pastry flour, although she does give substitution adjustments.
  2. Use a thermometer for the water temp for the initial yeast proofing. Julia says "no more than 110 degrees F".
  3. The water itself can make a difference; try good quality bottled water vs. tap water (some tap waters are mineral heavy and can make a difference in the proofing).
  4. Make sure the dough is left to rise in a warm enough place. You can create a low temperature "warming oven" if you don't have a warm place inside your home.
  5. Patience. Let that dough rise, rest, chill, for as long as it takes to create the right rise.

Best of luck!

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