I began researching the use of seaweed in, and as a, food in 2015. I started by reviewing Japan’s consumption of seaweed (the highest, per capita, in the world, with the lowest incidence of obesity and cancer). I introduced new Irish seaweed baked products to customers and colleagues and examined how seaweed could be integrated more efficiently into the western diet. The western diet and food culture differ greatly from that of Asia, so different approaches are required to encourage greater consumption of seaweed – which is high in naturally-occurring iodine. Bread and baked products are consumed by most western countries. Adding dried seaweed to flour or in butter for baked goods, or in health drinks, are considered the most appropriate models for achieving this, and indeed yielded encouraging results (Griffin, 2015: ii).
The addition of seaweed to croissant pastry can be achieved in many ways
- Added as a dough ingredient
- Added to the butter in advance of lamination
- Added in a filling after baking
I conducted many test bakes using a product named Noribake (now called Smrt Bake) which is available in health food shops nationwide in Ireland, or by contacting the company via their FaceBook page of the same name. The dry seaweed tended to puncture the dough when directly incorporated into it, reducing the volume of the croissants in a similar way that wholemeal flour does not yield the same volume as white flour when baking bread or pastry. Following many test bakes, the most beautiful and tasty croissants were made by blending the laminating butter with the seaweed one day before lamination, and using a 3-4-3 system to process the croissants.
As seaweed has a strong flavour, the quantity that should be added to the lamination butter should be at 60g per kg of butter. The dried seaweed is simply mixed with the butter in a machine with a beater until blended, then a seaweed butter block is made, chilled and the croissants are made up in the usual manner. The 5-4-3 laminating sequence also produces an excellent seaweed croissant which is delicious when used with various seafood fillings such as prawn, crabmeat or smoked salmon.
The full recipe and more tips are available in my book, The Art of Lamination: Advanced Technical Laminated Pastry Production.