Now I’ve moved to the UK, I’ve been hunting for croissants and I’ve noticed how hard it is to find a prefect example. I’m talking of the plain, butter croissant for breakfast, none of the fancy varieties stuffed with ham.  Here is what I look out for:

  • You can see here the differences in size and colour.

    Look in the window of the shop, usually one that specialises in pastry rather than bread. The smaller the size of the croissants, the better.  Less is definitely more!

  • Price: I usually pay is £2/$ 4.60 for a croissant, i.e. the middle market where croissants range from 95p to £3.
  • Appearance: first impressions are very important, as follows:
  • Colour: Is it tempting and golden? If pallid it will be soggy, if too dark and over baked it will be dry.
  • Layering: can you see how the croissant has been constructed, a glimpse of the tale-tale layers which make up the structure of croissant is always reassuring.
  • Shape: it is lop-sided in the structure/in the bake. Note that in France a straight rather than a crescent shape indicates the use of margarine (and a lower price).
  • A good rise: if a croissant looks deflated, it has not been proved (i.e. left to rise) enough, or it has been over proved ? the latter problem is common in hot weather.
  • Is the point well sealed and tucked under the rolled croissant before it is shaped as a crescent on the baking sheet? If not, the dough will unravel as it rises in the oven and the croissant will collapse.
  • A sketch to show how the point is sealed.

    Texture: this is that moment when you tear your croissant apart:

    • Lightness: if sticky, the croissant is under baked.
    • Aroma: when you break open the croissant can you smell the butter and heady, yeasty dough?
    • Holes: big holes indicate dough that has risen too long before baking.
    • Chewiness: a good baked croissant is chewy without being tough.
    • Fluffiness: not a good sign, the dough was poorly kneaded.
    • Flavor: should be buttery with only a whiff of yeast. Having the right, generous amount of butter is key. A true French croissant has a delicious taste which is hard to match outside France. The flour is different and so, above all, is the butter.

I hope this description has aids you all in this challenging search. All that is missing is a steaming café crème.

Bon Appétit