Croissants are one of the great breakfast treats especially of the continental kind ! It belongs to the Viennoiserie group of baked goods, distinguished by having either a diamond or crescent shape. It is composed of fine layers of yeast-leavened dough interleaved with similar butter layers, rolled and folded many times to create a sheet – a laminate, similar to puff pastry. They come in various levels of quality. The diamond shaped variant is often associated with all-butter composition and better quality ingredients than those in a croissant shape.
♦ Kept at room temperature – just up to 3 days !
♦ If kept in the refrigerator, about 7 days.
♦ When frozen, use within 2 months as leaving them longer encourages a pasty-like, soft texture on thawing.
It’s quite noticeable that there is only a limited shelf-life for a croissant. Kept too long, they become stale and dry. Methods to extend the shelf-life have involved developing frozen forms that can be thawed before consumption, others have sought preservatives or added fibre to extend shelf-life.
As well as the use of oxidising flour improvers which oxidise cysteine residues in proteins to form disulphide links, the use of other cross-linking agents has many benefits. One interesting additive is that of microbial transglutaminase. Its addition appears to improve the strength of the laminated dough sheets. The enzyme catalyses the formation of covalent cross-links in various proteins (Nonaka et al., 1989). As well as improving bread quality it had the benefit of improving the volume of the croissants even after freeze-thawing (Gerrard et al., 2000).
The addition of the enzyme glucose oxidase also improves cross-linking specifically of the water-soluble fractions such as albumin and glutenin (Rasiah et al., 2005). Some studies claim to marginally improve volume but this more associated with breads where the enzyme is used more effectively.
The addition of skim milk and whey protein mixtures are also possible but require careful proportioning to achieve shelf-life improvements. FoodWrite, as well as improving the shelf-lives of other baked products has been checking various dough formulations and flours with a local bakery to reduce rapid drying and improve shelf-life in croissants. The idea is to test different flour types including whole meal in bread makers to produce a dough which is then formed into a laminate for puff pastry but can be applied to other baked goods.
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Gerrard, J. A., Newberry, M. P., Ross, M., Wilson, A. J., Fayle, S. E., Kavale, S. (2000) Pastry lift and croissant volume as affected by microbial transglutaminase. J. Food Sci. 65 pp. 312-314.
Nonaka, M., Tanaka, H., Okiyama, A., Motoki, M., Ando, H., Urneda, K., Matsura, A. (1989) Polymerisation of several proteins by Ca 2+-independent transglutaminase derived from micromicroorganisms. Agric. Biol. Chem. 53 pp. 2619-2623.