Elevate Your Croissants With Sourdough Starter

The rich, flaky layers of a perfect croissant are a thing of beauty. This challenging baked good is the epitome of French baking and mastering its many buttery layers is a true test of skill. But that doesn't mean it can't be upgraded.

There are plenty of ways to add flavor to a croissant (such as adding chocolate), but one unconventional method is to use a sourdough starter. MasterClass says that using sourdough in a croissant recipe in place of commercial yeast is a great way to add unique, tangy depth to the classic pastry. BBC reports that sourdough is a common term used for a combination of flour, water, wild yeast, and good bacteria used to replace commercial yeast as a leavening agent in baking. It's well loved for its tangy, unexpected flavor notes and for producing a crisp, crusty exterior on breads.

Much like croissants, though, there are plenty of mistakes to make when working with sourdough. Still, while combining these two techniques might sound like a daunting task, you'll have a tray of delicious sourdough croissants in no time with the right tips.

How to make sourdough croissants

One key to working with sourdough comes down to timing. As Baking Sense points out, you'll need to start with an active sourdough, which means that enough time has passed since its last feeding that there is a thriving population of yeast bacteria in your starter.

MasterClass recommends feeding your sourdough the night before to ensure that you'll be able to start working with it in the morning. Baking Sense says you can also use the "float test" to check how active your starter is. A small portion of starter should float in a few inches of water if it's ready to use. This will ensure that you have a dough that is fermenting actively and give a proper texture while folding the many layers. It's also more important to stick to your recipe's timeline with sourdough than commercial yeasts because it ferments more slowly and trying to rush it will result in failure.

MasterClass also recommends using a high-hydration levain, a mix of starter, flour, and water, when making croissants with sourdough. Croissant doughs are usually stiff, or dry, and so adding your starter to a mix with more water than flour will help the sourdough thrive while giving a balanced percentage in the final mix.