When Chris and I traveled full time during 2018, I took a break from baking croissants. Now that I am baking them again for Moss Mountain Inn, some updating is in store and it is all good news! First, it is much easier to find unsalted, organic, European style butter than it was just a few years ago and the domestic brands are fresh and vibrant. My favorite is Organic Valley.
I have changed butter block techniques a number of times over the years, but I have stuck with the method outlined below for awhile now and results have been uniformly good. I have switched over to a marble rolling pin which is kept in the refrigerator between use and the weight of the pin and coolness of the marble has made laminating the dough much easier. Precut parchment paper helps keep the size of the butter square uniform from batch to batch.
Regarding the sponge, for a better rise, I now use dry milk instead of fresh and have increased the amount of yeast slightly. 28% whole wheat adds texture and a pleasant nutty flavor without adversely affecting the dough. The dough is quite hydrated at 84% but handles easily with refrigeration between steps.
I prefer a croissant that is quite thick in the middle and tapers off quickly to the ends. To achieve this classic look, I always keep a constant tension on the dough being rolled; enough tension to lengthen the dough triangle out significantly, but not so much that the dough tears.
Keep in mind that this is a double batch of dough, making 36 or so croissants. Halve the ingredients and halve the size of the butter block and rectangles if you just want to do some experimenting, it will still be plenty of dough. The easiest way to make croissants is to work with the dough in a stepwise fashion over a period of three days, with day 3 being the day of baking and serving, day 2 for dough lamination, and day 1 for making the dough. Stretching the process out to three days, of course, helps develop the flavor of the dough also.