I love grains. I love whole grains. I love to convert standard white flour recipes to 100% whole grain, while maintaining all the goodness that imbued the original product. Going from 0-100% works sometimes, for some things, but whole wheats are tricky. Yeasted, flakey, or laminated doughs can be problematic with whole grain flours. How I tire from excitedly finding recipes called Whole Wheat This, only to discover the amount of actual whole wheat is 25% or less of the total flour used. That is not a whole wheat cookie or scone or croissant! Whole grain flours typically result in a heavier baked good. The germ & bran resident in the flour are tough, make the flour heavier, and can act like tiny needles, popping those bubbles of gas in the bread dough. Increased liquid in, and more time for, a whole grain recipe can work wonders. Changes in technique can be a boost too. Gently folding a high-hydration dough rather than conventionally kneading, using a smaller amount of yeast so the dough takes longer to rise, gives the germ/bran extra time to soften can both result in a lighter loaf.
This day I decided to take on the croissant. Traditional white flour croissants are light as air, flakey, crispy, melt-in-your-mouth delicious. But they are also white flour. White flour with nothing to offer nutritionally that wasn’t artificially added back in after milling. White flour that was a status symbol, food for the elite while the poor ate its nutritional counterpart. White flour so ubiquitous that millions now suffer from the inability to easily digest it. White flour that triggers the body’s insulin response faster than table sugar. White flour indeed.
There are those making 100% whole grain croissants but I decided I would work my way up to that goal. I made these:
Clocking in at 62.5% white whole wheat, 37.5% white unbleached flour, and 70% hydration. I used the same dough folding technique that I use for my sourdough: every 20-30 minutes of 2 hours, lifting the 4 corners, one at a time, of dough in a bowl, and draping that dough over the mass, leaving the dough to rest between.
I sandwiched the cold butter between layers of this raised, well-rested dough, and rolled and folded and chilled for a number of turns. The final shaped croissants were plastic protected then refrigerated overnight before a morning bake. What a treat!
This first attempt thrilled me. They weren’t as light as air because they actually contained nutrition. The layers were evident, the flake palatable, and the butter? Grass-fed and rich. So rich and delicious were these that I’ve taken a break from further testing to let my overindulging self recover. Another month of cardio and I’ll be back to increase the ratio to 80/20.
Delicious food doesn’t have to cause trauma for our bodies. Why don’t more bakeries try their hand at adding more whole grain flours to their croissants, sables, and cakes? It’s maybe more expensive and there might be a learning curve, but what a service to provide. In the mean time, I’ll continue my efforts in this tiny kitchen, documenting what I try, what works, what fails, what has to be repeated. With love & butter – Lisa