Reflections on Laminated Doughs

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You may be thinking it is strange I am writing about laminated doughs only in the end of my pastry program. Back in September I took time away from school and went to Brasil to teach at the São Paulo Sugarcraft Show and because of that I missed two weeks of classes when we covered the topic of Lamination. After finishing the regular schedule of the program I was inserted into a new class for two weeks, to have the opportunity to learn about puff pastry, croissant and Danish doughs.

I was inserted into a ESL class, which reminded me so much of when I came to Canada for the first time. Most of my classmates were Chinese; there was a woman from the Philippines, me representing Brazil and the instructor from Austria. Back in my original class, I would make people laugh every time I referred to the pastry sheeter because of the way I pronounced sheeter. I could swear I sounded just like everyone else but apparently not. In a way, this class was the most accommodating for everyone’s accent. It was fun for me to see the dynamics of a new class, and learn with them. The only downside was taking classes in the afternoon. Funny because I have complained about having to be in school at 7am for most of the past year, but taking classes in the morning still allowed me to have lots accomplish in the afternoon.

As for lamination, I had seen my other classmates making croissants every time they were given the choice of products to make. Because I had not covered the same topic with them, the process of making croissants for me looked so complicated. I also tried using puff pastry in one of my plated desserts and I could not understand why it didn’t rise properly. Now I know that I probably let the egg wash drip on the edges and didn’t pay enough attention on how I was cutting and handling the dough, so the reason my puff pastry didn’t puff was lack of knowledge.

During the first week of lamination, we made puff pastry croissant and Danish dough, and used them to shape various products. Despite knowing that it would be easier to handle the dough, not only until the made all the doughs again and left them refrigerated overnight we actually saw the difference. It became easier to produce more and better products, since the dough was firmer to handle.

During the course we also had adjusted the croissant recipe to incorporated 10% of flour into the butter to be enclosed, as the butter in North America contains too much water in comparison with the European butter. It was nice to see the difference it made in creating flakier and drier croissants.

Differently than puff pastry, croissant and Danish doughs contain yeast and therefore need proofing. The temperature in the proofer need to be colder than if we were proofing bread, otherwise the butter layers enclosed in the dough would melt, and the products would lake flakiness and would be greasy after baking. We all had our share of failed products in the first week. But during the second week our production increased, as did the quality of our products.

When we were not able to finish baking the production on the same day we would freeze the products for the next day. Puff pastry products can go in the oven almost right away from the freezer, while the yeast laminated dough products need to be thawed and proofed before baking. And for any laminated dough products, the temperature of the oven should be high, around 200°C. In that way the water in the dough can be transformed into steam before the butter totally melts, and then also contributing for the rising of the dough.

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