Making my own croissants was an experience I’ll never forget. Working with the dough, with the yeast, with the butter and with the rolling pin gave me an entirely new appreciation for everything that goes into the crescent shaped pastries. It’s a lot. A lot of time and, hopefully, a lot of love.
When making them at home, for myself, my family and my friends, I don’t really worry about timing. You accept that you’ll probably have them for dessert instead of breakfast and move on. I guess you could work out your schedule to be able to enjoy fresh croissants on Saturday morning—if anyone has, I salute you and can you give me some pointers—but it would most likely involve reorganizing your schedule in a way that’s a bit impractical. 2 am wake up call anyone? It’s not for the recreational home cook.
Who is it for then? Bakeries and cafes. Those are the groups that should keep their eye on making fresh croissants. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always seem to be the case.
A while back I was reading a thread on chowhound about the best croissant in New York. While people were hashing out the merits of Patisserie Claude over Ceci-Cela, one astute commenter suggested that having a warm croissant was always better than having a supposed high-quality specimen. In some respects, I agree, a warm croissant can save those sub-par ones and enhance the butter flavor, but I’ll take a croissant from Almondine any day over a a mediocre warmed up croissant.
This thought jumped back into my mind as I ate my pain au chocolat from Clifton Cakes on an exceedingly windy morning. I could tell there was a good, if not excellent, croissant hiding in there, but it was entirely masked by staleness. The layers were pronounced, the buttery flavor was trying to creep through, but the texture was completely off. Staleness removed any distinction between the crispiness of the outer layer and the lightness of the inner layers. They blended together to create an almost doughy sensation.
I wanted to say I liked it—the cafe itself was so cute—but I decidedly did not. Surely, a local cafe should understand the importance of quality and freshness? Surely they should strive hard to create a product that drives people back?
I might check another time, perhaps a Monday instead of a Saturday, to see if anything changes, but I’m not keeping my hopes up. They might be able to have a contender for Bristol’s best croissant, but if they keep making croissants on their own schedule, they won’t.
The cappuccino on the side? It was like getting one from Almondine. In fact, it might have been a bit better.
Do you appreciate getting freshly made meals? When does convenience trump freshness? Does it ever?