Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Almond Croissant Taste Test – Looking for the best Almond Croissant in Perth

Mmmm (made after taking a bite of croissant), Mmm Mmmm (additional approval), Woah, heya (hello!), Hmmm (contemplative), uhuh (yes, interesting).

This is what an almond croissant taste test sounds like. 

 (Almond Croissant taste test set up)

An almond croissant taste test that involved 6 different bakeries and a total of 18 croissants (3 from each bakery), which were consumed by 5 almond croissant appreciators on a Saturday morning. Eating around 3 croissants each (half of each of the 6 croissants) on a Saturday morning is heavy going, especially a week before Christmas when one should be pacing food intake. We all loved almond croissants but yes, we did all feel just a little bit sick afterwards - it affected my ability to drive properly and others reported having a 4 hour nap afterwards. But some questions demand answers. We just wanted to find out where you can get the best almond croissants in Perth. So someone’s got to do it right?

We decided to take on the challenge – We were:
Originally we bought almond croissants from 5 bakeries – Le Galette de France (Nedlands), Barrett’s Bread (Nedlands), Choux Café (Swanbourne), Jean Pierre Sancho (CDB) and Brioche Bakery which is a stall at the Subiaco Farmer’s Market. Then a coffee expedition by @KCrusader to La Papillon Patisserie (Northbridge) during almond croissant tasting led to another addition to the tasting plate.

We sampled from 6 bakeries, just a small selection of what Perth has to offer compiled from previous experiences, things we had heard and recommendations. We narrowed down the bakeries to around the inner city area, to places that would be realistic for us to travel to for an almond croissant fix. I’m sure there are other bakeries that could have been in contention, notably Chez Jean Claude Patisserie (Subiaco) which @maxpolitation claims to have the best almond croissants in Perth but was not open on the weekend, @jrrdrbb had heard of a bakery in Dunsborough which is famous for its almond croissants (does anyone know the name of this bakery?) and Abhi’s Bread in Fremantle is supposed to be good as well as Tammy’s Bakery in Victoria Park. West End Deli (West Perth, Leederville) is my personal favourite for almond croissants but I recently found out that they were no longer  making them. 

 (Paper bags filled with almond croissants in the back seat of my car)

I did the almond croissant bakery run on Saturday morning and 1.5 hours later I had 5 paper bags with 3 croissants each sitting in the backseat of my car. At 10am we all met up at Hyde Park for the almond croissant face off. Once we had settled down on our picnic rugs, we got down to the serious question of what criteria we would use for judging. The first criteria was easy, it had to be the filling – without the frangipane filling it would not be an almond croissant. Controversially, it’s the frangipane that makes some people have a distaste of almond croissants with the offence being almond essence. I like my frangipane to be made with real almonds, anything made with almond essence can also be a turn off for me. I am not a fan of almond essence. The second criteria had to be the croissant itself, in terms of the texture – crisp vs soft, how good were the buttery layers of puff pastry? A score of 5 for the filling, 5 for the texture and then something else. Another criteria was needed to allow a score for what made one almond croissant different from the rest. @KCrusader suggested that we look at its X Factor. The final criteria was a score out of 5 for the almond croissant’s X Factor which could be anything - ranging from it’s appearance/aesthetics, to the overall mouthfeel/taste, a feature that made the croissant different from the rest and should be allocated bonus points for. A score out of 15 would be given to each almond croissant by each judge, with a total score of 75 possible.

Please note: Out of the 6 bakeries we tasted, I had personally only eaten almond croissants previously at one of them – Choux Café. It was a blind taste test for everyone except me as I knew which bakery the croissant came from as I did the almond croissant run in the morning.

Here are the results.

Coming in at 6th place was the Brioche stall from the Subiaco Farmers Market. Most thought that it was not bad as a sweetbread but just didn’t tick all the boxes of what we wanted in an almond croissant. The filling was minimal and a citrus (lemon) element in the flavour of the croissant was noted, which we all found a little unusual. The texture of the croissant was soft and not as crispy on the outside as others. It was an almost croissant, not quite an almond one but had potential.

 (Brioche Bakery stall at Subiaco Farmers Market)

The almond croissant from Barrett’s Bread certainly had an X Factor about it. One bite and we were all like “Hello!” I think this almond croissant taste test has suddenly become a party as the frangipane filling woke us up with an alcoholic shot. The frangipane filling was soaked in alcohol which we concluded to be brandy – it was a highlight for some but others thought that a little less brandy would be more ideal. The filling also resulted in a more soggier base than others but it contained almond flakes inside which was a nice touch, whereas the others generally had almond flakes scattered over the top.  The taste of the croissant was good but the texture was soft and it was also the least appealing out of all the croissants to look at. Someone commented that it looked like a facehugger from the movie Aliens (note: this was a joke and not critical feedback!). The almond croissant from Barrett’s Bread was nicknamed boozey Barrett.

 (Barrett's Bread, almond croissant)

The almond croissant from Le Papillon was a late addition to the almond croissant taste test. It came after all the others had been sampled and @KCrusader went on a coffee run while the results were being tallied. Le Papillon had the advantage of being still warm from the oven which was rewarding to eat. It rated favourably on texture but the area it was marked down on was the filling, which comes down to a personal preference. The frangipane filling tasted like it had almond essence in it, similar to the flavour of marzipan. Some were fans of it and some weren’t. 

 (Le Papillon Patisserie, almond croissant)

The almond croissant from Jean Pierre Sancho was very pleasant to eat, overall it was much lighter and not as sweet as the others. It was the croissant that people could eat more than one of. However, the frangipane was more like a thick glaze and we noted little black spots of vanilla bean in it, so it had a more vanilla flavour. The look and texture of the croissant was really good and put in competition with the texture of the croissant which took out first place, but after trying the croissant of the first place winner again (there was one half leftover which was divided between three people) and comparing it with the croissant of Jean Pierre Sancho, the first place winner one was still the favourite.

 (Slicing up Jean Pierre Sancho, almond croissant)

(Jean Pierre Sancho, almond croissant)

The almond croissant from Choux Café came a very close second, it was only 1.5 points away from taking the top spot. The exterior of the almond croissant worked to complement the interior, there was less disparity between the outside and inside of the croissant – it all became one. It had an X Factor that was different from the rest - some commented that it was like eating an almond cake or almond sandwich. The almond croissant from Choux was rich and decadent, a croissant that you would not be eating everyday but as a special treat now and then.

 (Choux Cafe, almond croissant - don't be deceived by it's flattened look, it has been double baked between two trays and the result is delicious)

(Choux Cafe, almond croissant sliced open)

As the almond croissant from Le Galette de France was being carved up for tasting we all oohh and aahhed at the look of it. Le Galette de France won the X Factor for appearance. It was the best looking almond croissant of the day but it wasn’t just pretty on the outside, it was delicious on the inside. The frangipane filling was real smooth with a great flavour and a touch of alcohol (maybe rum?), but the alcohol was not too noticeable, it just lingered in the background to provide depth to the taste of the frangipane. The texture of the croissant was a standout too, with the outside baked till crispy and it had a lovely caramelized taste to it. 

 (Slicing up almond croissant from Le Galette de France)

 (Le Galette de France, almond croissant)

Le Galette de France won as a holistic eating experience, it ticked all the boxes of the criteria we were judging on.  

So there you go, Le Galette de France has the X Factor


 (Le Galette de France, Nedlands)

 (Almond croissant taste test aftermath)

Would love to hear about others experiences of eating almond croissants and what people think is the best almond croissant in Perth. Are there any bakeries that we should have included in our almond croissant taste test?

La Galette De France Nedlands on Urbanspoon

Choux Cafe on Urbanspoon

Jean Pierre Sancho on Hay Street on Urbanspoon

9 comments:

  1. Mmm, almond croissants... Thinking of doing something similar with sourdough in the next month or so.

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  2. You are fan of almond croissants Lau? Would love to read about a sourdough challenge. Would it be served it with anything like butter? I imagine you'll be spoilt for choice in Sydney.

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  3. great post! I still feel a little sick looking at all those croissants though!

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  4. Oh you totally need to include almond croissants from Patisserie La Vespa in South Freo. It's the only one I break my pastry embargo for :)

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  5. Thanks for the recommendation Monica. All croissants tasted were North of the river, maybe I will have to organise an almond croissant taste test for bakeries South of the river. Sounds like there are a lot of good bakeries in Fremantle, Abhi's Bread is supposed to be really good too.

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  6. I definately agree with Chez Jean Claude - they make the best!! They have a shop in West Leederville as well. I always get a little one when I go there!

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  7. Just ate an almond croissant & remembered this post! Was hoping to see if New Norcia Bakery Subiaco featured on your list. I recommend them as a contender for Round 2!

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  8. Hi Blue Apocalypse, this review has resulted in me calling up my girlies and making a chocolate date at San Churros tonight…there goes the diet! Why can't I read about naughty treats without immediately needing to eat some - and what a fun experiment might I add! I was wondering if I could maybe get some help? I’m working on an app atm, and a part of the app will have bloggers recommending 5-10 places in their city to check out, I was wondering if you might recommend maybe a few places you love? I will put links up to your blog on the app and so far we have 2,000 signed up to download the app you can pop on here – https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dG93enNmdHRPOTVuUWVqOFJMUElibnc6MQ or email me on lauren@heylets.com xxx

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