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Melted butter in croissants?

So I've recently begun my croissant making quest - attempts 1 and 2 were abject failures, attempt 3 created something delicious that was not a croissant (serious leakage problems, but eating dough fried in butter isn't so bad).

Now, let me first say that attempt 4 went pretty okay. And it's because in addition to water, yeast, milk (more on this below), salt, and sugar, i added two tablespoons (for a batch of twelve croissants) of melted, cooled butter. My problem for attempts 1-3 was that the dough was SUPER elastic - difficult to roll even at the start, becoming even more difficult as the process went on.

Now, I've been very good about being patient - each attempt chilled my dough an hour after forming (bulk rise), another hour after locking in butter and turn 1, another hour after turns 2 and 3, another hour after turn 4, and then three hours proofing, back in the fridge for another 15 min or so, and then egg wash and in the oven. I've also been using AP flour, even though I thought that bread flour would produce the type of croissants that I prefer. I've done all this in the name of keeping the dough extensible but at the end of the day, something seemed very wrong until try #4 with the melted butter.

So I've got two questions for you gurus out there:

1) Is there some reason that my dough would be so elastic? I see a lot of croissant recipes out there - plenty use lard/melted butter in the dough, but just as many don't. So I feel like even though I am moving in the right direction, I would like to understand why my first three attempts were so problematic.

2) WIth respect to using milk in croissants - versus just water - is this to aid extensibility, i.e., the fat content of whole milk? Is there some other purpose? I imagine it would make the croissants come out a bit softer but I like my croissants flaky and crispy. So I'm wondering if this is just a matter of taste, or if milk is actually supposed to make the process easier and/or more reliable.

Thanks in advance, appreciate the help! Attempt #5 to come shortly...

Dec 04, 2012
jsg52 in Home Cooking