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Would the real French croissant please stand up?

By Maryann Mussared 24 September 2017 23

Would the real French croissant please stand up, because I am having trouble locating you! I want something I can tear apart and dunk in my early morning coffee, then close my eyes and think of France…

Autolyse in Braddon (and before it Cornucopia) was one of the few artisan bakeries in Canberra that could bake a passable croissant. The closure of both bakeries is still mourned by many. Recently I have been on a hunt in Canberra to see who else is making a good croissant. This particular French pastry (supposedly originated in Turkey as a ‘crescent pastry’ is richly layered with butter and rolled from a triangle of dough) came to France via Austria. A croissant can be simply described as golden and flaky, a bit salty, buttery and should melt in your mouth. A good croissant should be all about the taste, the smell, the crunch of the crust and the softness of the heart.  Bakers who battle to reproduce this delectable French pastry – so beloved of the French for breakfast – blame baking difficulties on the availability of suitable flour, the fat content of Australian butter, and even the weather.

Golden buttery flaky traditional French-style croissants from Canberra’s favourite old French-style patisseries – Croissant D’Or

First stop was a very old favourite in the Sydney Building in Civic – the Croissant d’Or. It has been around for decades, has had more than one owner and has fought the challenges of liquidation and closure due to a fire. Their croissant was a nice size, glazed and not too crunchy, and at $2.80 the cheapest one I encountered (prices across Canberra range up to $4.00). I was starting to feel quite optimistic about my mission.

Another contender for the title of real French croissant – from Le Bon Melange, Gungahlin

I stumbled on Le Bon Melange located in a sunny corner of Gungahlin, just behind the Town Centre by simply googling “French patisserie”. It is fairly new and this little bit of France in Gungahlin is already a great favourite with the locals. The bakery had a delicious aroma and their croissant rated well in terms of flakiness, was slightly salty and quite light.  I was also very impressed with their full range of French patisseries and petits fours and will be making a return journey very soon!

Le Bon Melange is located on a sunny corner near the Gungahlin Town Centre and has outside tables and room for canine friends

Dobinson’s Bakery and Cafe is a perennial Civic favourite and serves up a large croissant that has a texture a bit more like a brioche, therefore slightly lacking the flakiness and butteriness that true Francophiles crave. However it was fresh, golden and crunchy and in the absence of the real thing, was great for dunking in coffee.

Dobinson’s croissant was a generous size, golden and crunchy

7th & Bake Patisserie and Cafe at Kingston Foreshore is busy from early morning as assorted joggers, bike riders and later the morning coffee crowd call in or sit outside on the sunny terrace. Their croissant was just a little bit dry, not particularly flaky, but it was slightly salty with a soft centre and did the job with my morning coffee and some homemade jam.

7th and Bake Sunday croissant

I was too late for a croissant at Ricardo’s, Jamison Centre, but I was persuaded to try an almond croissant. This pastry confection was delicious with loads of toasted almonds, a light creamy custard in the centre and quite frankly, big enough to share. Despite the distraction of the almonds and icing sugar, this was a pretty good croissant.

If you are too late for the straight croissant, try the next best thing – an almond croissant, and Ricardo’s version was good

I was completely distracted by Ricardo’s display of cakes and I can see why it is such a popular Northside cafe too.

Ricardo’s display of cakes

Silo Bakery in Kingston is a challenge on any Saturday morning, but the orderly queue was served quickly. Despite my concerns that the last of the croissants would be sold before I got to the counter, I was in luck and really pleased I could also stock up on some of Silo’s excellent walnut sourdough bread. This pastry was neither sweet nor salty. You can always tell when a croissant has been rolled traditionally from a triangle (as was Silo’s) as there is a tell-tale swirl of bread in the heart as you pull the croissant apart.

Silo croissant ready to dunk

It is difficult to say which was the best or most authentic croissant. I prefer mine fairly small and buttery enough to eat without butter, but I know others who feel let down if the croissant isn’t big enough for two. The less said about those who consider cutting one in half and stuffing it with ham and cheese, the better.

There are lots of good artisan and independent bakeries that bake croissants and other delectable pastries in Canberra.

Do you have a favourite? Please share your favourite in the comments section below.

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23 Responses to
Would the real French croissant please stand up?
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amaninder singh 5:59 pm 28 Oct 17

Try Knead Patisserie at Belconnen fresh food markets.

dungfungus 9:58 pm 03 Oct 17

The way the cost of butter is going up croissants could soon become a luxury.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-02/butter-price-spark-concerns-for-australian-food-producers/9004194

Maryann Mussared 2:56 pm 30 Sep 17

pllplld said :

Breizh Cafe in Ainslie is a wonderful cafe and the croissants are good, but could be better. It is a little bit of northern France in our bush capital city and well-worth a visit.
There’s a bakery which has a small stand at the farmer’s market on Saturdays and the Old Bus Depot market on Sundays – I’ve forgotten the name, but they have excellent croissants and other French pastries.
There’s a French chef who worked at the Front Cafe and Gallery in Lyneham for awhile and he makes his own croissants – he’s now got his own cafe (Gang Gang cafe) at the new Downer shops in Frencham Place and it’s worth a visit.
But on a family visit back to Europe in August the three things at the top of our list were the croissants (a coffee and a croissant for under €5!), good authentic pizza and good ice cream for a reasonable price. The last two are almost impossible to find in Canberra.

Thank you pllplld for your croissant suggestions. I have been meaning to visit the newish cafe at the Downer shops and this is a really good reason. I will check out the pop-up baker at the Old Bus Depot Markets tomorrow. I suspect I have tried one some time ago and just forgotten when I started to think about this article. My obsession with a true French croissant is driven by the memory of my very first authentic croissant. It was in Paris and it was a long time ago. As many of us remember important events in history, I remember my first crunch of a croissant in a little hotel in Paris aged 10. My increasingly infrequent holidays to France are well-planned and absolutely focused around authentic food experiences! I remember a near riot in a small hotel because some hearty hungry backpackers had made the breakfast buffet early and cleaned out the croissant basket despite the large notice stating only one croissant per person!

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