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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Croissant with Natuaral Starter - the new PB

Another winning recipe from Suas’s Advance Bread and Pastry cookbook, Croissant made with Natural Starter (sourdough starter). So far, I have made croissants using four different formulas; one with preferment, one with poolish, whole wheat croissant and the latest into the repertoire, croissant made with natural starter.

I considered this batch my new PB (personal best) as it gave the most wonderful and flavoursome croissants, and the best looking ones tooJ. Contrary to what you might be thinking, that sourdough starter will produce sour taste croissants. This is not the case at all. The amount of starter was small enough not to give the acidic taste, but in the meantime, it was enough to enhance the flavour. If you have sourdough starter, I encourage you to give this recipe a go. Though there is a little extra step to prepare the starter dough (using natural starter), it is very well worth it.

Because Suas’ book gears towards professional, adjusting the recipe to a domestic batch size involved some math works. The recipe also didn’t include roll-in butter (for lamination). Converting the recipe to the homemade batch size resulted in tiny amount of egg used in preferment and half-egg in the final dough mixing. I omitted the egg in preferment altogether and used half of one egg in the final dough and the other half for egg wash.

The dough was a breeze to work with in the rolling and laminating departments. I'd like to believe that having sourdough starter and preferment contributed to the pallable and strong dough. Making croissants might sound daunting and involved but it is achievable and the results are truly rewarding. Fresh homemade croissants will beat any great commercial croissants. It made the perfect weekend for us and I'm sure it will make yours.

Recipe note:

Making this croissant requires one extra step in preparing Italian levain formula (or I'd like to call stiff-levain built). This was what I did to have the croissants on the weekend: 

Thursday 6pm (arriving home from work): Prepared the Italian levain (stiff levain built)
Friday 7 am (before going to work): Prepare the first dough by incorporating the the stiff levain
Friday 9pm (arriving home): Mixing the first dough, bulk ferment and retard overnight
Saturday AM & PM: Started the dough lamination, shaping, final proofing
Saturday late PM: Bake, also reheat some leftover on Sunday AM for breakfast

I omitted the small amount of egg in the first dough (preferment). The final dough used half of an egg. I used the leftover half as an egg wash.

The original recipe calls for osmotolerant yeast, which I didn't have access to. I used instant dry yeast and increase the amount by 20%.

Croissant achieved great volume which could have been the result of sourdough starter in addition to dry yeast.

Croissant with natural starter Recipe
adapted from Advance Bread and Pastry by Michel Saus
make 15 croissants


Italian levain formula
Bread flour 3 g
Water 2 g
Active sourdough Starter 3 g

First dough formula
Braed flour 45 g
Water 23 g
Milk 6 g
Egg 2 g (you can omit it as I did)
Sugar 6 g
Butter 2 g
Levain 8 g (all from above Italian levain)

Final Dough      

Bread flour 450 g
Water 135 g
Milk 113 g
Egg 23 g (half of large egg)
Sugar 63 g
Instant dry yeast 10 g (approx 2 ½ teaspoons)
Salt 10 g
Malt 6 g (approx heap 1 teaspoon)
Butter 18 g
First dough 90 g
Roll-in butter 230 g (used for laminating the dough)

Egg wash
Half of large egg
1 teaspoon milk


Make Italian levain dough - mix all ingredients together until well combined and becomes a dough ball. Cover and leave at room temperature for 12 - 14 hours.

Make first dough (pre-ferment) - mix all ingredients together in a bowl until it becomes a ball. Knead it for about few minutes. Cover and leave at room temperature for 12 - 14 hours. 

To mix the final dough, divide the pre-ferment into 8-10 small pieces, mix it together with all other ingredients, except roll-in butter, in a mixing bowl until a dough ball is formed.

Transfer the dough ball to a bench and knead for 10 - 15 minutes (by hand) until the dough become smooth and elastic, and doesn't tear when stretched gently. If using electric mixer, using dough hook, mix on low speed for 3 -4 minutes, followed by high speed for another 2 minutes.


Put the dough in a bowl covered with plastic bag or cling wrap and ferment at room temperature for one hour. After fermentation, refrigerate the dough for one more hour or retard overnight.

Preparing roll-in butter for lamination:  Remove the butter from the fridge. Pound the butter with rolling pin between two sheets of baking paper into neat even rectangle or square with 5-mm thickness. If the butter becomes too soft, store it in the fridge for 15 minutes before using.

Take the croissant dough out of the fridge. Flour the working area well. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough out into twice the size of butter block (roll-in butter). Place the butter in the centre of the dough and fold the dough over the top. Seal the edges of the dough together to ensure the butter is completely enclosed in the dough.

Flour the work area and rolling pin well. Gently and carefully roll the dough out into a rectangle three times longer than the piece you started with. Mentally divide the rectangle into three equal sections, top, middle and bottom. Fold the top section over the middle, and fold the bottom to the middle, like folding a letter. This is the first turn.

Wrap the dough in a plastic bag or cling wrap and refrigerate for (at least) 30 minutes.

Take the dough out of the fridge and rotate the dough 90 degree so that the dough will be rolled in opposite direction from previous fold. Repeat the rolling, folding, and resting process as above two more times. There will be three foldings and rollings (the term is “three turns”) altogether and you need to rotate the dough 90 degree with each rolling.

After the final rolling and folding, store the laminated dough in the fridge for 40 - 60 minutes before shaping into croissants.

Make the egg wash by mixing all ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.

Take the laminated dough out of the fridge and roll it out into a rectangle about 25 x 50 cm with 5-mm thick.

I cut the dough in half so that it can be rolled and fit my work bench

Trim the edges of the dough so that it becomes a neat rectangle (the scraps can be made into chocolate croissants).

Cut the dough into triangles with 9-cm base and 21-cm height. Stack triangle sheets on baking sheet/papers and chill for 10 minutes.

Take the chilled triangles out of the fridge and shape into croissants. Gently pull the tip of triangle to make the triangle longer.  Make 1-cm incision at the base of triangle. Pull away two corners at the base and roll it towards the tip. Make sure that the tip is tucked underneath the croissant.

Doesn't it resemble Eiffel Tower?
Place shaped croissants on trays lined with baking sheet or paper.

Note: Shaped croissants can be retarded in the fridge overnight and bake the next day. Take them out of the fridge next day and follow the proofing and baking steps as below.

Brush the surface lightly with egg-wash. Cover the tray with tea towel.  Let it stand at warm room temperature (25 c -27 c) for 2 hours until it almost double in size. 

Before and after the proofing
Note: it is important that croissants are fully-proofed before baking. Fully-proofed croissants are soft, wobbly like jelly. The laminated layers will also be seen clearly.

Preheat the oven to 240c.

Brush the surface of croissant with egg wash before baking. Reduce oven temperature to 190c and bake for 20 - 25 minutes until it is deeply golden brown.

Submitting this post to YeastSpotting.


  1. I'm contemplating aking croissants haha..don't have real butter at home though, nor the money lol, my pockets are empty..hmm do you think low fat margarine will work? but it'S kinda squeezy not really gets hard hmm

    look I made macarons! :)

  2. I think margarine will work. In fact it would be more workable than butter as they not melting. However they won't be as nice as butter.

    I'm traveling at the moment but will check your post out soon. The flavor sounds great. I love to try making on with violet too.

  3. hi sue, i must say that you're really very knowledgeable in all these bread making and croissants. I love all your rustic looking breads and i would like to try making sourdough breads one day. Sue if you dont mind,can you tell me which post of yours should i refer to for basic sourdough making?

  4. Thank you Lena. It was very sweet of you to say.

    The post below is a good start for plain sourdough, it's also a simple and flavorsome bread. If you prefer all white flour, you can omit wholewheat and replace them with bread flour. Susan at WildYeastBlog also posted a good collection of posts about sourdough making. It's worthwhile to check it out.

  5. Hi Sue

    Chanced upon your blog through YeastSpotting. Really tempted to make the pear danish after viewing your pics, provided that I succed in the croissant dough first...Will be on my to-do list! ;p

    Miss B

  6. Thank you Miss B. I so so encourage anyone to try their hand on making croissant. They are not as hard as they are made out to be....

  7. Sue, these look amazing. Soon I will try and make Heavenly Morning Buns with this croissant dough. With your great explanation it will work. Thanks

  8. Sue, I did bake Tartine's Morning Buns and off course my first croissants with your great explanation. Thank you, they were delicious and looked beautiful.
    Now I'm ready to post about the croissants. Your recipe is so great, can I use it as it is and off course give you all the credits? As I would anyway. Or should I re-write it using my own words?

  9. Hi Connie,

    Glad to hear that your attempt on croissant went well. They were such delights, weren't they?

    No worries, blogging is about sharing...I'm happy for you to repost with the paraphrasing and credit/link back to this post:)....

    Feel free to send me the link once it's posted too...I would love to check your croissants out ^_^

  10. Hi Sue, Thanks for sharing this great description of another great recipe. You can find my croissants on:
    Off course all credits go to you. Your blog is a place full of nice recipes and beautiful baked goodies.

  11. Thanks Connie for kind words. Yours looks great for the first attempt.

    Now, I feel motivated to bake croissants this weekend after been off it for a long while...thanks for th motivation:)

  12. Hi Sue,

    Thank you for the lovely recipe, just wanted to ask what is the purpose of making pre-ferment into 8-10 small pieces? is it for adding it one by one with the final dough ingredients ?

    Thank you


    1. Hi Koco...
      Dividing pre-ferment to smaller pieces ensures that they will be even distributed throughout the final dough.