Dough. Heat conductor. Pastry. And why baking often calls for a marble or stainless steel countertop.
Croissants! Egg tarts! When it comes to the East and West, there is one place where they do meet: the best croissants and egg tarts all have deliciously flaky outer layers.Creating them consists of encasing a thin sheet of cold butter in the dough, then rolling it out and folding it repeatedly to achieve multiple layers of fat and dough.
This process is called laminating the dough. When the dough is baked, the heat makes the butter melt and the water in the butter turn into steam. The steam pushes up and separates the layers as the dough bakes and hardens, leaving the famous flaky layers.
For this to work, the butter must not melt too soon or quickly (find out why European butter is great for this in the 1-Minute NomNom “Oh, Paris pastries, you have that je ne sais crois-sant“).
Another way is to use a marble countertop (see above and cover photo) when rolling and folding the dough. Marble is a good conductor of heat. It conducts heat 5x better than water, 30x better than wood, and 100x better than air.
Marble thus helps to conduct any heat away from the dough quickly, keeping the dough cool and preventing the butter from melting prematurely. That is why we see marble countertops or kitchen islands in many bakeries or homes where a lot of baking is done.
If marble is great, stainless steel is a even better conductor. It is almost 7x better than marble (and 210x better than wood)! It is however much more expensive and hence less affordable and common.
So if you are a serious baker, it might be butter… better to get a marble or stainless steel countertop!
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