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Much a ‘dough’ about croissants

India too is seeing modern, innovative avatars of the ubiquitous croissant as it moves beyond a popular viennoiserie

Kimchi Guava Croissant at ARAKU Coffee in Bengaluru.
Kimchi Guava Croissant at ARAKU Coffee in Bengaluru.

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If you have been scrolling through your Instagram feed of late, you have probably come across the suprême croissant at Lafayette Grand Café and Bakery in New York City that has been going viral on the internet—one which pastry chefs and cafés around the world have been recreating. Its round, spiral shape is probably its biggest appeal, coupled with the fact that it is stuffed with flavoured pastry cream and glazed on the outside for added effect, making it one of the most trending desserts currently. Its popularity soared on social media platform TikTok initially, followed soon by Instagram.

Be it dipped or glazed, stuffed with sweet and savoury fillings or shaped into different forms, the croissant’s versatility is far-reaching.

In 2013, New York-based pastry chef Dominique Ansel gave the world the cronut—a cross between a croissant and a donut that was the start of the croissant getting an inventive makeover. The cruffin, a stuffed croissant in the shape of a muffin, originated at the Lune Croissanterie in Melbourne, Australia, in 2013 and went on to gain popularity in India, with bakeries like Mumbai-based Mag St. Bread Co. and Delhi-based Suchali’s Artisan Bakehouse making it a staple on their menus. At the newly-launched coffee shop in Mumbai, Grounded, too, cruffins are a signature.

Mumbai-based Love Crummbs, the bakery arm of the experiential restaurant The Lovefools, has just launched its own version of the suprême croissant, calling it the pinwheel croissant. In fact, the bakery already has options like an inverted croissant, which enable you to get a mouthful of filling in each bite, rather than just the dough.

According to chefs Sarita Pereira and Aniket Sawant, co-founders of Love Crummbs, customers are no longer eating the croissant just as a breakfast staple or a light bite with their coffee. Instead, they look forward to eating these stuffed and swirled versions as a post-dinner dessert or treat.

Talking about the pinwheel croissant, Pereira says that with the distinct round shape, the layers are very visible. The croissant dough is crispy outside and buttery and pillowy inside, and the circular shape allows for it to be spongier. Love Crummbs is currently offering the pinwheel in flavours like chocolate, pistachio, and mixed berries.

Pinwheel or spiral croissant at Love Crummbs in Mumbai.
Pinwheel or spiral croissant at Love Crummbs in Mumbai.

One of the other places that has been quick to jump on to this trend is BlueBop Café in Mumbai, which is launching its version of the spiral suprême croissant in flavours such as tiramisu, chocolate, and red velvet.

Flavours and forms

When Mumbai-based TwentySeven Bakehouse launched last year, chef Rachelle Andrade, who heads the kitchen, created a croissant cube which quickly went on to become one of their signature bakes.

According to Aditi Dugar, restaurateur and founder of TwentySeven Bakehouse: “When we were brainstorming ideas for the menu, we were keen on trying something different than just the traditional croissant. People are much more well-travelled and the discerning customer wants to try something new and innovative. That’s how the idea of doing a croissant cube came about.

“It’s also exciting for customers to get their hands on something that’s trending and Instagram-worthy. Taking something traditional like the croissant and doing an innovative version of it elevates the experience,” she adds. The cube’s flavour changes monthly, with options like tiramisu, peach and thyme, strawberry cheesecake, etc.

In Bengaluru, ARAKU Coffee makes its croissants with cultured white butter sourced from a local cheesemaker, instead of using imported French butter, and creates square-shaped versions in sweet and savoury flavours. According to the head chef of ARAKU Coffee, Rahul Sharma, Indians love buttery flavour profiles and using croissant dough to innovate fits the bill. “Everything about the croissant is rich and indulgent.” Some of his renditions include a spring onion and mascarpone croissant with charred spring onion cream and sesame punch (made with chilli oil and sesame seeds), burnt lemon croissant, even a guava kimchi croissant using locally-sourced guavas.

So, what is it that makes the croissant so wildly popular and versatile to innovate with? According to chef Daniel Trulson, co-founder and head chef at the Puducherry-based Bread & Chocolate, president, Subko Bakehouse, and co-founder of the Mumbai-based Subko Coffee, the croissant itself makes for a great vehicle to experiment with flavours and fillings. “At Subko, we have experimented with stuffed and filled croissants and cruffins in flavour profiles that range from mithai-focused ones to classic chocolate or coffee versions.

“Given how temperamental the dough can be and how it is subject to ingredient and temperature changes, croissant dough, if made well, is a brilliant pastry dough to work with,” he says, adding that it has wide global appeal. And if it wasn’t so technical to make, it could become just as popular as the pizza, he notes.

Frenchman Maxime Montay, executive chef at the Delhi-based Monique Patisserie, makes an interesting analogy. Pointing to the origins of the croissant, which can be traced to Vienna, Austria, as the kipferl, he says that when it reached France, their version, known as the croissant, became widely popular as a breakfast staple and a practical, on-the-go pastry. “Just like it was reinterpreted in France, today we are seeing bakers around the world reinterpret the croissant in their own ways.”

Arzoo Dina is a Mumbai-based food and travel writer.

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