John Bear, La Patisserie Francaise – Dough chef
One bite of a La Patisserie Francaise croissant will instantly transport a person to an outdoor table at a Parisian cafe.
But as recently as the 19th Century, according to the Smithsonian Institute, the French viewed what is arguably one of the most quintessentially French pieces of pastry as a foreign novelty. The crescent-shaped breakfast staple we all know and love is inspired by the kipfel, first made in 1683 to celebrate the the Austrian victory over the Ottomans at the Siege of Vienna in 1683. For a long time, they were only available in Viennese bakeries in Paris.
Even if they aren’t technically French, croissants are awesome, and bakers at La Patisserie put their heart and soul into the craft. Only a dozen or so people in Colorado know how to make croissants, so we know what we do is special.
We make our dough in 63-pound batches specially formulated to yield the best results in the higher altitudes of the Front Range. Our ingredients are simple — flour, milk, butter, salt and yeast measured out perfectly and mixed together with varying but precise amounts of water. We watch the amount of water that goes into a batch of dough down to the tablespoon. That’s important, because flour behaves differently based on how much it rained where it was grown and other variables.
Once the dough is mixed on two speeds for about 15 minutes total, we cut it into nine seven-pound portions called Paton in French. The Paton are covered in plastic and allowed to proof for about two hours. While that happens, we take some already made dough and roll it out to make butter, chocolate, almond, spinach and feta and ham and Swiss croissants.
When the dough is nearly done proofing, we take 18 pounds of slightly softened butter and pound it flat with a large wooden rolling pin. The bakery fills with the “Boom, Boom, Boom” of the rolling pin the baker swings it up and down onto the butter. If anyone is wondering, yes, this is a highly effective stress relieving technique.
The flattened butter is combined into two-pound pieces and folded in the Paton. The mixture is then folded together and run through an industrial size rolling machine in a process called laminating. This will give the final product it’s buttery, fluffy, flaky and slightly crumbly texture. Each Paton gets two passes through the rolling machine and, later on, one more before it is rolled out and cut into croissants.
The cut out and rolled up croissants are given another chance to proof before being given a coating of egg wash and baked in our large oven until they come out with that perfect, golden brown tint. We make them fresh every day we are open. That’s when they are the best.
Then it’s up to you. A butter croissant can be eaten plain or topped with bacon and eggs or ham and cheese, pretty much any sandwich topping one could desire.
We make our own cream that goes in our almond croissants. Our chocolate croissants are every bit as good for breakfast as they are for a late night snack. It’s not unusual for a construction worker to stop by for a hearty ham and swiss. As for our spinach and feta croissant? Who says eating your greens can’t be delicious?
We put a lot of work into our croissants at La Patisserie. We think it shows. Come by and try one for yourself.