At Gérard Bakery, we take immense pride in the craftsmanship that goes into each and every one of our pastries. Our commitment to delivering the finest baked goods is more than just a mission – it's an art form. Today, we invite you on a delightful journey behind the scenes to witness the magic that happens in our atelier, where Sébastien, our master baker, meticulously handcrafts our beloved croissants.
As the first rays of the sun gently kiss the city of Brussels, our atelier comes to life. Sébastien is already hard at work, orchestrating an early morning symphony of flour, butter, and passion.
The dough balance
The process begins with two types of flour. The combination gives our croissants strength but keeps them fluffy inside. Making croissants is just a balance between the ingredients and the temperature whilst also playing with the different types of butter. In any stage of the process temperature is key. We keep our water in the fridge so it is cooled when we add it to the flour. Whilst mixing the dough will heat up due to the friction. That is why we keep track of the temperature at all times. After mixing the dough, it goes to rest for 16 hours in our fridge.
The Buttery Layers
What sets our croissants apart is the buttery goodness that defines each bite. Sébastien's technique for incorporating layers of butter into the dough is a masterclass in precision and patience. We cool down our whole atelier for the lamination part and take out our butter from the fridge 2 hours in advance so it can warm up to room temperature. Here again, temperature is key. If the butter is to cold whilst merging it with the dough it will not stretch out and create some sort of a marbled lamination where the butter is not spread evenly over the layers. If your dough is to hot, you will melt the butter and you will end up without any lamination. Skills and experience our thus very important in this stage.
After incorporating the butter we fold the dough. By folding it in different ways we create the multiple layers we need. There are two types of folding. A book fold and letter fold. The letter fold will create three layers at a time. You roll the dough out and fold one side to the half, then the other side over. The book Fold creates four layers by rolling the dough out and folding both sides to the half, then pulling one side all the way over. You will see the different techniques in the movie below.
The Shaping of Dreams
Shaping happens after the lamination, here we measure twice and cut once. The butter is very expensive so we don't want to make any mistake in the cutting process. The roller knifes we use are not meant to cut, as it would press the layers together. So we only use it to mark the same distances over the whole dough. After we make diagonal cuts to end up with triangles. To roll the croissant it is very important to roll tight but also soft enough so the layers have space to grow during the proofing. Keeping the pointy end straight in the middle will make the difference. Every small detail of not rolling perfectly straight will be 10 times more visible when proofed and baked
A spray of egg wash and ready for proofing
Before proofing the croissants we will spray them with egg wash to make sure they don't dry out but it also gives that famous shiny touch when they come out of the oven. We will proof our croissants slowly for 4 hours on 24 degrees. We know they are ready when they look like to explode. You can always do the finger test. Press slightly in your croissant and if it bounces back you know they are not over proofed. Again the proofing is a balance act. To fast and you will lack taste and a to hot temperature will make the butter melt ( never go higher than 27 degrees).
Ready to bake!
Before baking Sébastien will preheat the ovens on 180 degrees. When ready we put our trays of beautifully proofed croissants in and leave them baking for 16 minutes on 170 degrees with the fan on. We leave them to rest for 5 minutes so the can develop a nice crunch on the outside before packaging. A hot croissant in a box will become soft fast.
Enjoy the behind the scenes movie below
At Gérard Bakery, we believe that great food is not just about taste; it's about the love and dedication that goes into creating it. Sébastien's artistry and commitment to perfection are the secrets behind every croissant that graces your table. We hope this behind-the-scenes glimpse into our atelier has deepened your appreciation for the craft of baking.
Next time you savor a Gérard Bakery croissant, remember the passion and care that went into its creation. It's not just a pastry; it's a work of art, a testament to the dedication of our team, and a delight for your senses. Enjoy every bite, and thank you for being part of our Gérard Bakery family.
Order your croissants today and have them delivered at your doorstep on Saturday, Sunday or Tuesday in Brussels and Leuven. Give us your feedback and for sure try to make some yourselves. We are always happy to help if you have any questions!