Croissants: Michael James

No serious bakery-pâtisserie is complete without house-made buttery, flaky viennoiseries – and few are as popular as the croissant. South Yarra’s renowned new bakery, Tivoli Road, rates croissants amongst its best sellers. Australian Baking Business catches up with owner-baker Michael James to see the recipe in action.

After purchasing MoVida Bakery and reopening as Tivoli Road last year, Michael and Pippa James’s commitment to producing handmade, artisan goods has earned them a strong following amongst loyal Melbourne foodies.

Michael, who has worked at a number of renowned bakeries throughout Melbourne and Sydney – including Bourke St Bakery, Baker D.Chircio and MoVida – is proud of the range of bread, pastry and savoury items baked daily.

“We have about eight different doughs, using a long fermentation process, as well as locally-milled organic flour. The sourdough, soy and linseed, olive dough, spelt and honey, multigrain and fruit bread are very popular. And, on weekends, we have things like Turkish bread, soda bread, whey and honey and rye – different breads and flours we experiment with,” he says.

Tivoli Road’s savoury range includes mouth-watering pies and sausage rolls, along with sandwiches, soups and salads – all of which are available for patrons to enjoy at one of the bakery’s 16 seats.

Nonetheless, the store’s biggest sellers are its sweet treats.

“As MoVida Bakery we became known for our doughnuts, so we have continued that line. Croissants are our most popular item though – it’s a part of the business that is just going up and up. Recently, we sold about 160 croissants on Saturday alone,” Michael says.

“We bake a plain croissant, pain au chocolat, Danish, almond croissant, and ham and cheese croissant. The almond, and ham and cheese croissants are made using leftovers from the previous day.

“All our jams and chutneys, which we serve with fresh croissants, are also house-made and available to take home.”

Tivoli Road is open seven-days-a-week, serving breakfast and lunch, as well as espresso and cold drip coffee from North Melbourne’s Small Batch Roasters. The brand’s breads and pastries can also be found at local farmers’ markets a few times each month.

“We also offer organic juices and refreshing house-made sodas,” Michael says.

“You can look out to the tree-lined street, or watch the bakers as they take the next batch of bread from the oven. It’s a very relaxing environment.”

IRRESISTIBLE CROISSANTS

WHAT YOU NEED

2.4 kg organic bakers flour
590g water
590g milk
80g fresh yeast
55g salt
225g soft brown sugar
250g ferment

WHAT TO DO

Note: It takes about 48 hours to make good croissant dough and, once made, croissants are best eaten fresh.

1. The first thing you need to do is to mix the dough, which we do for about 6-8 minutes. Knead the dough until it comes together and you’ve reached the stage of low-to-moderate gluten development. Shape the dough like a disc before you allow it to rest, so it will be easier to roll into a square shape. Allow it to rest in the fridge, wrapped up, for at least four hours (or overnight, for best results);

2. After it has rested, pin the dough block out to about size 12 on the dough sheeter; this is when we incorporate the 1kg butter sheet (we use butter at about 6-12°C). Don’t use too much flour, otherwise it will be incorporated between the layers, which will ruin the end result;

3. Once the dough block is rested and rolled out, the butter goes into the middle. Encase that butter in the dough and complete three folds – two single folds straight away, rest for an hour, then one single fold. Rest for one hour again – this will happen over about two hours;

4. Once the folds are in, pin out the dough on the machine. In our bakery, croissants get pinned to about number six on the gate of the dough sheeter;

5. Using a croissant cutter, complete two lines (each croissant should be about 90g each). If you do not have a croissant cutter, you can use a ruler and pizza wheel to make diagonal cuts, starting from the top corner down to the bottom, in the shape of triangles.

6. Once cut, rest the dough for 20-30 minutes;

7. Shape the croissants by pulling the cut dough into a triangle, then roll it up to get the final croissant shape. (Pull the dough quite long and straight, and fold up the end of the short triangle and roll straight down the middle – not too tight.);

8. Separate each croissant on a tray – you should get about 12 per tray. Make sure you leave enough room so they will not touch when proofing and baking;

9. Allow the croissants to prove for about 45 minutes (in a warm, humid place, if possible) until they have risen by half, the croissant has a slight wobble and layers are visable;

10. Give the croissants a thin coating of egg wash;

11. Bake the croissants at around 170°C for roughly 12 minutes. Turn your oven down if you think browning is happening too quickly. You will get a good idea of the ideal time and temperature for your oven after you have baked a few batches;

12. Take the croissants out of the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes, before transferring to a cooling rack.

TIP: First time croissant bakers should consider choosing a cold day with a room temperature below 20ºC. This will give you more time to carry out each step and less chance of your butter being absorbed by the dough.

The key is to keep the butter solid between the layers of dough – this is what gives the croissant its flaky layers.


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