A decade in the past, for those who wished a very good croissant on this metropolis you had the alternative of solely a handful of locations.
In the present day, the options are endless.
Lately, throughout a social gathering a foodie buddy was raving about her latest journey to Paris, and all the the foodstuffs she loves about the metropolis of affection and romance.
“The desserts, the ice lotions, the pastries!” she stated, recounting plenty of visits to favorite viennoiseries the place she swooned over the croissants — a flaky, crescent-shaped deal with.
My fellow pals, heat with jealousy, rapidly interjected in unison: “The place in Toronto is your favorite croissant?”
A rhythmic tirade of praises adopted. All of us had our favorite GTA patisseries, from shiny boutique outlets to small mother and pop locations hidden away in quiet neighbourhoods.
There was a mixture of old fashioned favourites like Rahier, Bonjour Brioche, Petite Thuet and Thobors. And there have been some new locations I had by no means heard of.
After spending an hour fiercely debating why our favourites have been higher, we agreed that the solely solution to actually reply that query is by internet hosting a tasting.
Croissants a fancy course of for bakers
Even skilled bakers will inform you that the croissant — which has roots going again to Austria in the 1600s — is certainly one of the most tough issues to grasp.
It is a complicated strategy of proofing, cooling and manually folding dough in repeated steps, all whereas sourcing the best components — butter and salt are key — and doctoring the percentages to get the proper consistency.
A terrific croissant is puffy, with a skinny crust on the exterior and a golden brown lacquer. The croissant ought to have a slight bounce while you gently press it, and it ought to crumble simply.
While you pull the croissant, or chunk into it, there must be a stringy texture with a satisfying stability between the airiness, butteriness and fermented taste — with only a trace of salt. It should not have any residual dry or scratchy sensation in the roof of your mouth. As a substitute, the pastry ought to just about dissolve in your tongue, leaving you with only a trace of the style of butter.
The search for the excellent croissant begins
My meals blogger buddy, Jen Chan, stepped in to assist manage what would grow to be certainly one of the most complete, cross-city croissant comparisons we’ve got hosted thus far.
In the previous, we have completed related style exams with canelé pastries and mangoes, however this proved to be a logistical problem as a result of nature of how lengthy croissants can keep contemporary.
Croissants have a brief life span, drying out in a short time and tasting stale inside hours. We have all had a nasty croissant, with a rock onerous dome and dry inside that may make you to scramble for a glass of water to clean out the drab.
With a view to discover the best one we determined that we wanted to separate up and pickup croissants from numerous elements of the metropolis, and produce them to a central location for one grand tasting.
22 of Toronto’s best. <a href=”https://t.co/Rc18kdCose”>pic.twitter.com/Rc18kdCose</a>
Our group of 9 initially selected 5 areas, which then ballooned to 10 and ultimately we selected 22 of the GTA’s best pastry outlets, all over the place throughout the metropolis from Richmond Hill to Riverdale to Bloor West Village.
Lastly, one Saturday morning a number of weeks in the past, all the croissants have been gathered for a tasting.
First we judged primarily based on appears to be like. Was the lacquer too darkish or underbaked?
We then engaged the “pull check” to look at every croissant’s flakiness, stringiness and general construction.
Subsequent got here the blind tasting of all 22 croissants to guage the general flavour and expertise.
Absolutely conscious of how geeky all this appears, the tasting was a blast. It was additionally a research in how rapidly the high quality of the pastry scene in the GTA has advanced over the previous few years.
Studying from the ‘outdated guard’
Every of the prime three croissants we selected have been from bakeries which have been working for lower than six years. They usually all got here from a brand new technology of bakers — a Japanese pastry chef, an Ukrainian interest baker, and a Chinese language dessert grasp.
A decade in the past, if I wished a terrific croissant, my prime three selections have been Rahier, Bonjour Brioche and Petite Thuet.
Rahier, the 22-year-old Leaside bakery, is the brainchild of Belgian-born Francois Rahier, who fell in love with baking at an early age due to his mom.
Many occasions I’ve waited in line at his bakery for tiny lemon curd tarts, apricot pastries and, after all, croissants. For years it was the gold commonplace, in my humble opinion.
Like different cooks of his technology who’re sometimes called the “outdated guard,” Rahier was additionally a extremely revered mentor. He has coached and impressed a complete technology of pastry cooks on this metropolis. Two of the winners in our prime three staged below him, they usually have created croissants that resemble Rahier in its basic model, however have managed to excellent it even additional in style and texture.
The runners up
401 Jane St, Toronto
Japanese pastry chef, Azumi Kimura, runs a small pastry store on Jane avenue, simply north of Bloor.
Kimura, together with Canadian-born Walter Sallese, run the neighbourhood favorite, which options an array of French desserts, from eclairs to fruit tarts to extremely scrumptious mille feuille.
Kimura’s croissants have been a gaggle favorite. They have been gentle and ethereal, with honeycomb construction and a contact of saltiness.
540 Parliament St, Toronto
In true “blink and you may miss it” style, Tasso is a cubicle-sized bakery in Cabbagetown that produces a few of the best croissants I’ve had on this metropolis.
Owned and operated by Mike and Olyana Tasso, the bakery nearly completely options croissants.
Mike and Olyana decide to a 3 day course of to make tiny batches of croissants, and because of this are solely open Friday to Sunday.
All the things runs out in a number of hours, and there’s all the time a line. Should you’re going, get there early and be ready to attend.
Their croissants have an ungodly quantity of butter. They’re fluffy with a skinny, shiny crust. Biting into one is like having clouds in your mouth.
The winner for us for best general croissant is from Duo Pâtisserie & Café, a dessert store on the border of Markham and Richmond Hill.
Duo is the brainchild of Eric Chen, a pastry chef that labored his approach by Toronto pastry outlets, together with a protracted stint at Rahier Bakery.
“Francois was my mentor. He was the mentor to many bakers. I discovered so much from the years I spent at Rahier,” he stated.
Chen’s pastry store is heaven for anybody that has a love for effective pastry or desserts.
Because it opened practically three years in the past, it has rapidly grow to be certainly one of my favorite candy outlets, displaying a stage of consistency and deftness with pastry that’s hardly matched on this metropolis.
That is the sort of bakery the place you may discover it unimaginable to determine what to strive, and discover it unimaginable to depart with out ordering a takeout field for later.
My private favourites right here embody the chestnut-rich montblanc cake with almond cream, the stuffed pate a choux with fruit filling, and the decadent hazel — a chocolate mousse with a hazelnut praline shell.
There are over 50 gadgets to strive at Duo, from miniature muffins and candies, to croissants and different kinds of effective pastry
With regards to the croissant, Chen has mastered the strategy of layered pastry. His croissants have a definite honeycomb inside — an ideal stability between air pockets and buttery strands of pastry.
Regardless of all the geekery and science, Chen has captured the childlike magic of having fun with a croissant. The exterior has a lovely shiny sheen, and it crumbles into skinny flakes while you chunk down. The inside melts in your mouth — it is easy, it is buttery and it dissolves nearly immediately.
I requested Chen the place he acquired the inspiration to open a French pastry store and he responded: “We might not be French, however we grew up obsessing over French pastry.”
“I wished to study it, and I wished to showcase it.” he defined.
The new wave of bakers
Like Olyana and Kimura, Chen is a part of a brand new wave of bakers which are taking pastry to new heights on this metropolis.
They don’t seem to be French, however their obsession with the craft has raised the bar for croissants.
In the present day, a terrific croissant shouldn’t be far-off, it is in practically each neighbourhood of this metropolis.
Throughout a latest dialog recapping the croissant hunt, my buddy Michael stated it completely.
“All it takes is one expertise to foster many. The college students have grow to be the masters on this case. And it is reflective of the metropolis’s numerous and evolving meals tradition.”
Suresh Doss’s weekly meals phase airs each Thursday on Metro Morning. Watch for video of his jaunts throughout the metropolis on CBC Toronto’s Fb web page.
Are you aware a GTA restaurant that Doss ought to go to? Tweet us @metromorning or ship us a message on Fb. And for those who strive any of the locations he options, we need to see photographs!