Dubai: How are you celebrating National Croissant Day?
Take a bite of the buttery, crescent-shaped delicacy, a symbol of French gastronomy, which is increasingly getting popular, globally
Each year on January 30, the foodies, chefs, bakers and more, get together to celebrate the croissant. Yes, the day is dedicated to the buttery, crescent-shaped French pastry (bread or roll, if you call it so) that are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. To start with, let’s understand the origin of the National Croissant Day. It is linked with Marie Antoinette, the Austrian queen, who lived at Versailles, and is said to have introduced the pastry to France over 200 years ago. Of course, over the years, the world fell in love with the croissant, which owes its origin to Vienna, and is not really a French invention, though is now very much a symbol of French gastronomy. Well, for it’s said that whilst you can find a croissant is found everywhere, it is more charming when indulged in France. As writes author Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau in her book, Kisses and Croissants, “I’m sure you’ve had croissants before. You can get them pretty much anywhere. They usually taste fine, a little bland, maybe. But when you come to Paris, the croissants are unlike anything else you’ve eaten before. They’re warm and soft, golden and buttery. Like baked clouds. Deliciously decadent clouds. They may look the same as the other croissants but they are far superior in every single way.” We celebrate the croissant, with local experts, eateries and more.
Why is the croissant a global favourite?
As stated in the latest 2023 report by tastewise.io, the fastest rising consumer need for croissants is snacks. The report, Croissant consumption trends, analysis and statistics 2023, further states the most popular croissant dishes in restaurants are Porchetta, Crispy Chicken Sandwich, Hoagie, Samosa, and Fat Bomb. Another just-released study, State of the Baking Industry, conducted by Cypress Research, stated 42% of retail bakeries now carry croissants – a higher percentage than donuts or bagels. “Crispy, flaky on the outside and fluffy on the inside. What can be better than that?” asked Marie-Laure Martin, International Communication Director, CNIEL (French Dairy Board). She added, “French butter, has less water and is higher in fat (minimum of 85%), gives the croissant a nutty, creamy flavour with an unbeatable texture!” A part of a homage to the croissant on its special day and as part of Butter Stories, a campaign developed by the French Dairy Board and the European Union showcased dairy butter as the key ingredient in croissants, offering shoppers the chance to taste artisan butter croissants at Spinneys, Umm Suqeim, yesterday (Saturday). “Like 88% of French people, who buy and eat croissants every morning, we wanted to create a truly authentic experience, so visitors can enjoy butter croissants from a pop-up designed to look like a traditional Parisian Bakery,” added Martin.
Croissants are one of those items that only get better as you make your way through them! The first bite always tastes good, but the inside only gets better and better. It’s no wonder they are a global favorite. There are few simple items in the world that can delight customers throughout the entire journey of the dish – and croissants are one of them.
— Nizar Zeitouni, Head Pastry Chef, Yamanote
"The buttery and flaky pastry is hard to resist with its crunchy texture and irresistible taste. Whilst the ingredients are simple, the baking process is a complex craft. You can describe it as a hybrid between bread and a pastry. It has a delicate crispy texture on the outside and airy bready-ness on the inside," said Kelvin Kelly, Head Chef & Managing Partner, One Life Kitchen & Café, Dubai Design District and Jumeirah Village Circle. At Yamanote, the chefs claim the secret recipe croissants only get better as you dive into them, including their signature Yamanote croissant, "Tasty at first bite, but even better at the second — thanks to the mixture positioned in the inner circle of the croissant," said Nizar Zeitouni, Head Pastry Chef, Yamanote, an artisanal Japanese bakery and café, with outlets across Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Croissants are one of the most popular pastry items in the world. The french staple has an irresistible flakey texture with the perfect balance of salt, sugar, butter.
— Matthew Jones, Founder, Bread Ahead
"The buttery taste and the simultaneous crunchiness and softness of the texture are a few of croissants' absolute delightful and winning elements, hence the global love," said Guy Claerhout, F&B Director, Mondoux. Chef Dimitri Esposito, Head Pastry Chef, Jumeirah al Qasr, noted, “The key to making a good croissant is good butter. Sourcing the right butter will enhance the end product and ensure a better taste and experience. You can also taste the whole philosophy behind the butter and its origins. The soul of the ingredient gives the croissant its unique taste.”
The shape of the croissant is part of its attraction. It's distinct and makes the croissant easy to eat on the go with your hands, in addition to being served on a plate, with a knife and fork.
— Guy Claerhout, F&B Director, Mondoux
Everyone likes to eat it differently
"It's a super versatile food item. It can be sweet. It can be savoury. You can enjoy it with chocolate, tomato and avocado, cream cheese and salmon, et al. Not to mention, it's perfect for breakfast, lunch and dinner,” said Claerhout. "The indulgent pastry is reminiscent of a romantic Parisian scene. When people take their first bite into a fresh, crunchy croissant, there’s a sense of nostalgia as you’re transported to the streets of Paris, with the smells of the bakery and a warm cafe latte, listening to accordion music playing in the distance," said Matthew Jones, Founder, Bread Ahead. You may remember Bread Ahead from Expo 2020, the bakery is set to open in Dubai at Mall of Emirates in February. As per tastewise.io, the trending croissant is vegan, interestingly enough. Yamonte’s signature croissant is a mixture of savoury and sweet, a home-baked layer of croissant wrapped around a combination of custard and Kiri. “People around the world have transformed butter croissants in their own unique ways. It can be sweet or savoury, with an endless amount of fillings or sides that it can be enjoyed with,” said Martin. One Life Kitchen & Café's offerings is your temptation to turn a simple croissant meal into a lovely, more filling breakfast, with choices such as The Morning After, a plain croissant stuffed with veal sausages, charred red pepper, feta and fried egg; Babak is Back, a vegetarian plain croissant stuffed with grilled halloumi, sliced tomato and fried egg, et al.
For most people around the world, a croissant is the ultimate breakfast pastry known in French cuisine. What makes it so tasty and special are the quality ingredients used, especially French Butter making it so irresistible to many. This golden ingredient is made of natural dairy using a traditional recipe that has remained unchanged for centuries.
— Marie-Laure Martin, International Communication Director, CNIEL (French Dairy Board)
What is the best way to eat a croissant?
"There are so many ways to enjoy a croissant! My personal favourite is to rip it apart and dip the pieces in chocolate!" said Claerhout."The best way to eat a croissant is alongside one of specialty coffees such as our Aeropress, Chemex, V60, Cortado or Piccolo," added Zeitouni. “Eating a butter croissant with a cup of coffee is the ultimate way of enjoying it,” agreed Martin.It is all about freshness, there is no better way to eat a croissant than enjoying it directly from the bakers oven," added Jones. At One Life Kitchen & Café, the team swears by croissants freshly baked in the morning with a cup of single origin, speciality grade and roasted in-house coffee by Machete, their coffee roastery.
People love croissants for their simplicity and the wonderful aroma that fills up a room when being baked and the irresistible buttery taste. It’s no surprise that it’s one of the most successful pastry items in the world. The croissant is a reminder to appreciate refined simplicity in life.
— Kelvin Kelly, Head Chef & Managing Partner, One Life Kitchen & Café
This piece was first published in Khaleej Times.