Croissants are some of the foods many of us take for granted. They seem like a lot of work, so we just buy them at the bakery. Yeah. That is unless when you are vegan. No croissants for those butter despisers, right. Because croissants need butter.
Actually they don’t. I used to make them with margarine all the time. And look how they turn out! If you use the right kind of margarine (In Germany that is Alsan) you won’t even miss the butter.These days I don’t use margarine any longer. I bought a package to make croissants again and I still think commercial margarine will give you better results than any other fat.* It has the right mixture of fats that will melt at different temperatures. And it has water, which is so important for the croissant layers to form. (The water will evaporate during baking and leave little air pockets.) Coconut oil just won’t do that which makes the croissant layers merge into each other.
But that doesn’t mean that coconut oil croissants are not possible. They will have weaker layers and they will look more like a roll made from regular enriched dough. But even though they aren’t that perfect, they do taste great!
Very sadly my first few batches of coconut oil based croissants ended up in the bin. These layered crescents are not for novice bakers anyway, but working with coconut oil makes them even harder to produce. That is, if you follow the instructions for regular croissants, which involve a lot of refrigerating. And that won’t work with coconut oil.
Coconut oil is 100 % fat. It has no water and the saturated fats it contains make it turn into a solid block at low temperatures. And believe me, it will turn into that block faster than you can blink. But croissants usually have to be colled a lot so that the yeast dough and the fat have the same texture. The same texture is necessary for easy rolling and folding. Nobody wants bumps or holes in their croissants. It will ruin them. But if you store a coconut oil filled dough in the fridge that has to end in a disaster. You won’t be able to work with a rock hard piece of fat that is wrapped in a soft dough. You can’t roll it out properly. You will apply too much pressure and your dough will tear.
But of course, in the name of
my belly research I didn’t give up until I had found the perfect method to make croissants. Which is a method I didn’t come up with. I have (and want) to thank the wonderful Lagusta for her amazing blog post on how to make great vegan croissants with coconut oil. And that blog post has been out there forever! I should probably use a search engine once in a while.
Tips and tricks
The trick to the ultimate vegan croissant made with coconut oil is not to chill your oil. Instead you need to whip it until it is light and fluffy. Also between rolling and folding you should not refrigerate your dough. Keep it at room temperature and just try to work fast. But not too fast. Use a rolling pin and roll gently. Don’t press and do let the dough rest for a couple of minutes if rolling it out gets too difficult. The gluten will relax and then it’s easier to roll again.
Another thing I should probably warn you about is that even though this is one of these handy “only six ingredient” recipes, it is not one of the “under 30 minute” wonders. First of all croissants are bread. And bread needs time. Period. You can always go with shortcuts of course, but most of the time you have to compromise the flavour for your time savings. For a flavourful croissant it is necessary to start a day in advance and prepare your dough. Make sure to use as little yeast as possible. That will guarantee a slow rise and it adds more flavour.
In my book a croissant with a strong yeast taste is not a good croissant. And if you use a whole package of some miraculous quick rise yeast, your croissant are probably going to taste awful. I think the best yeast to go with here is fresh yeast. In Germany it is available in tiny 42 grams blocks in every supermarket. But since I have no idea how available fresh yeast is in other countries, I will include a variation with instant yeast, too.
In part two of this post I’ll give you the actual recipes for the margarine and the oil based version. And I will include a step-by-step guide with pictures and dravings (!). So stay tuned until tomorrow when the post goes up.
*I know you can make your own vegan margarine by using Mattie’s fabulous recipe. But I guess my diligence ends at making my own croissants. Adding another step by also making my own fat is not my thing.