2012-04-21

Focus for May 2012: Yeasted Pastry + Laminated Dough

The next "Taste-and-Tell" event with Chicago Amateur Bread Bakers is Sunday, May 20. Please visit our meetup page to join the group and RSVP for the event.

Both laminated dough and yeasted pastry contain high amounts of fat. Butter is the baker's fat of choice, for its tender mouthfeel and the superior way it delivers flavor to the palate. Professional bakers refer to these breads as viennoiserie.

High amounts of butter or other fats can interfere with the development of your dough's gluten. To compensate, one can strengthen the gluten network before incorporating the fat(s) into the dough. (Techniques for strengthening the gluten network are autolysis, kneading, mixing, stretching and folding, and long fermentation.) These techniques are used for a wide variety of yeasted pastries, such as cinnamon rolls, sweet or savory tarts, and danish.

Another technique is to laminate the dough, which means to alternate thin layers of dough with thin layers of butter. Here's our favorite video demonstrating the lamination technique, often used for croissant and cornetti.

Recipes and formulas for yeasted pastry and laminated dough often call for high amounts of sugar and eggs, in addition to high amounts of butter. Keep in mind that sugar also interferes with gluten development and slows fermentation (because it draws needed water away from yeast). To mitigate these effects, while kneading you may consider adding sugar to your dough a little at a time. The proteins in eggs, on the other hand, tend to toughen dough.

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