We’ll get to today’s tip in a minute or so. But here’s what inspired it.
Frenchly.us is a website for Francophiles in the U.S. that covers news, arts, culture, style and all things French.
Which includes food.
In the past, the website sponsored a Best Baguette competition in different cities, naming some 15 finalists from the best in bakeries the city. Buy a ticket, and taste them all in one place.
This year it was the Best Croissant competition, which we attended recently. If you’re a croissant lover, imagine being in a venue with the city’s 15 best croissant bakers, who bid you to sample as much as you’d like.
More than 700 eager eaters went from station to station in a Manhattan location, eating as much as they desired. How many croissants do you think you can eat?
We’d be stuffed at two…although we calculated that if we only ate two bites of 15 croissants, that would be about three croissants.
But the bakeries brought more than their classic croissants. They brought almond croissants, chocolate croissants (pain au chocolat), specialty flavors like pistachio, along with muffins, fruit breads and rustic loaves.
Plus unlimited coffee, tea, jam, butter, and other French delights like pâté.
What’s a taster to do?
For one thing, don’t order the optional brunch. You won’t have room to sample the cornucopia of croissants.
The competing bakeries are shown in image #3.
While every bakery’s products were of the highest quality, participants were asked to vote for their favorites.
And the winners are…
Coordinate your own Best Croissant competition. Ask friends and family to bring the best from their neighborhoods.
You can do this with any food, from brownies, chocolate chip cookies and éclairs to non-baked, savory foods like bagels and chicken wings.
Our friend Cricket has an annual Super Bowl event where everyone brings their favorite wings for a wing-off.
Croissants are French breakfast breads, served with jam and butter, and coffee.
They belong to a category called Viennoiserie, “items of Vienna.”
Viennoiserie are typically made from yeast-leavened dough. As opposed to bread and puff pastry, Viennoiserie has additional ingredients: eggs, butter, milk or cream, sugar. They thus have a richer, sweeter flavor profile, approaching that of pastry.
Viennoiserie includes such favorites as brioche, cheese and other flavors of danish, chausson aux pommes (apple turnover), chouquette (dough sprinkled with pearl sugar and sometimes filled with custard or mousse), pain au chocolat, pain au lait, pain aux raisins, and others.
The Original Croissant
The original croissant (croissant is the French word for crescent) was plain laminated dough. Puff pastry yeast dough alternates with layers of butter—many layers, a process known as laminating.
Subsequently, bakers created what have become standards: the almond croissant, filled with frangipane and topped with sliced almonds; and the chocolate croissant, correctly called pain au chocolat, baked with a piece of dark chocolate in the center.
Others have soft fillings, such as lemon curd, jam, coffee crème.
There are also pretzel croissants, which are not laminated dough, but adapt German soft pretzel dough into the crescent shape.
Stories that the roll was made in the shape of the crescent of the Turkish flag, after the defeat of the Turks in the Siege of Vienna in 1683, are a perpetuated myth.