The Importance of Butter: Cafe Retreat’s Croissant

Throughout my discussion of cookies, croissants and other dessert items, I’ve realized that there is one essential ingredient that can make any dessert sing, or fall flat on its face.  Butter.  Butter is the key.  When something is made with quality butter you can taste it, even if it isn’t the star in that given food.

Obviously, if butter is the star, than it better be present and eager to take centre stage.  A croissant, which is really just a vehicle for eating copious amounts of butter, needs that buttery-lightness in order to be worth eating.  As I’ve discovered, English croissants don’t seem to be too eager on paying homage to butter.  Perhaps it’s too French?  Pret may have greasy down pat, but I’m willing to bet it was made with Flora instead of Lurpak.

When deciding where to get my next croissant, I set my sights on a cafe that I had walked by numerous times, but never stopped at: Cafe Retreat on Whiteladies Road.  It looks charming and generally has quite a few people sitting outside on nice days, enjoying sandwiches and coffee.  But the real question, could they make a croissant?

Technically, I’m going to bet that the answer is no.  I highly doubt that the croissants they were selling, at a ridiculous £1.25, were made in-house.  Or if they were, they were several days old.  But, let’s analyze this for a moment.

When I walked in, I didn’t immediately see any croissants.  Well, my eyes obviously weren’t drawn to the saran-wrapped pastries sitting on the counter.  My mouth dropped open for a moment and I seriously considered walking out of there in fear and eating some granola for breakfast.  That was safe, I knew what that would taste like.

Then, I reminded myself of the challenge I had before me.  Try Bristolian croissants.  Find the best one, leave no croissant unturned.  I had a duty to try it.  While I am pretty sure they duped me with the price (it wasn’t listed), I payed the £1.25, hoping they might be able to use the profit to pop over to Sainsbury and buy some yeast.

I was scared.  As I walked home, I devised a back-up breakfast plan in my head.  This was going to be horrible, I had myself well convinced by the time I sat down at my tiny-dinky dining table with a mug of wild berry tea.

I took a bite.  The texture was stale, though it might benefit from a pop in the microwave.  After twenty seconds it was a bit more moist.  I took another bite and I realized something.

This was the best croissant I have found yet in Bristol.

Shocked?  I’m not surprised.  The texture was horrible, it was most definitely stale and needed to be microwaved, but the taste that was there was butter.  A croissant, to be worth eating, needs to taste of butter.  I smelled it.  Yes, it did indeed smell of butter.

So, what was the lesson we learnt this week?  Even an ugly croissant might be worth your time.  And butter is king.

No, really.  Butter is awesome.

What do you think is the most important ingredient when baking? What flavor do you look for when eating?


2 thoughts on “The Importance of Butter: Cafe Retreat’s Croissant

  1. Danielle

    I love this ode to butter! I’d definitely agree it’s most important in baking although I’ve also found a pinch of salt to be essential. As far as the flavor I’m seeking, it depends on the whether I’m eating sweet and savory. Sweet: cinnamon, vanilla, or chocolate, and always buttery goodness; Savory: spice (any one) and comforting sustenance.

    Found your blog via Snackface and so glad I did. Happy Monday 🙂

    1. Emilia Post author

      Happy Monday to you as well!

      I definitely agree that salt is essential for baking, Dorie Greenspan’s world peace cookies being the prime example (then again Baked’s sweet and salty brownie is quite epic). That being said, I probably don’t use salt to its full potential in my baking, definitely something to start doing!


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