What makes a great croissant? Daniel Le Grand, industrial director at Bridor’s flagship bakery located in Servon-sur-Vilaine near Rennes, France, didn’t need a translator. In fact, he answered the question without saying a word.
Taking a knife into his hand, Mr. Le Grand gently sliced a croissant in half — first to hear the crispiness of the egg-washed crust and then to show the symmetrically honeycombed yellow layers of the pastry’s interior. He then gestured to his guests to breathe in the sweet, buttery aroma before inviting them to taste it and experience the pastry’s array of flavor and texture for themselves. (Click for a slideshow of photos from Bridor's bakery).
Despite the silence in the room, the message was loud and clear. A classic croissant must engage all five senses.
“The difference starts with the ingredients, and the time that we take to make our products,” he said, this time through a translator. “We start with the best ingredients — high-quality flour —and the croissants are always made with butter.”
Typically, authentic French croissants contain 25% butter — much more than what’s found in croissants sold in the US. And the butter is different. It’s much higher in butterfat and contains a balance of sweet and sour notes that make the authentic French croissant so distinctive.
“The second important factor is the respect for the dough,” Mr. Le Grand said. Specifically, that means providing four to five hours of pre-proofing and fermentation to develop flavor and texture properly. Makeup, he added, should be on low-stress production lines to ensure the sizes and shapes of the croissants remain consistent.