A decade in the past, in the event you needed a very good croissant on this metropolis you had the selection of solely a handful of locations.
Right now, the options are endless.
Lately, throughout a social gathering a foodie pal was raving about her latest journey to Paris, and all of the the foodstuffs she loves concerning the metropolis of affection and romance.
“The desserts, the ice lotions, the pastries!” she stated, recounting quite a lot of visits to favorite viennoiseries the place she swooned over the croissants — a flaky, crescent-shaped deal with.
My fellow mates, 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 retailers to small mother and pop locations hidden away in quiet neighbourhoods.
There was a mixture of old skool 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 had been higher, we agreed that the one approach to actually reply that query is by internet hosting a tasting.
Croissants a fancy course of for bakers
Even skilled bakers will let you know that the croissant — which has roots going again to Austria within the 1600s — is likely one of the most troublesome issues to grasp.
It is a advanced means of proofing, cooling and manually folding dough in repeated steps, all whereas sourcing the best elements — butter and salt are key — and doctoring the chances to get the precise consistency.
An amazing croissant is puffy, with a skinny crust on the surface 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 ought to 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 within the roof of your mouth. As an alternative, 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 proper croissant begins
My meals blogger pal, Jen Chan, stepped in to assist arrange what would turn out to be one of the complete, cross-city croissant comparisons we have now hosted so far.
Prior to now, we have carried out comparable style exams with canelé pastries and mangoes, however this proved to be a logistical problem on account of nature of how lengthy croissants can keep recent.
Croissants have a brief life span, drying out in a short time and tasting stale inside hours. We have all had a foul croissant, with a rock laborious dome and dry inside that can make you to scramble for a glass of water to clean out the drab.
As a way to discover the best one we determined that we wanted to separate up and pickup croissants from varied components of town, 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 Toronto’s best pastry retailers, all over the place throughout town from Richmond Hill to Riverdale to Bloor West Village.
Lastly, one Saturday morning a number of weeks in the past, all of the croissants had been gathered for a tasting.
First we judged based mostly on appears. Was the lacquer too darkish or underbaked?
We then engaged the “pull check” to look at every croissant’s flakiness, stringiness and total 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 examine in how rapidly the standard of the pastry scene within the GTA has advanced over the previous few years.
Studying from the ‘previous guard’
Every of the highest three croissants we selected had 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 needed an ideal croissant, my prime three decisions had 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 instances I’ve waited in line at his bakery for tiny lemon curd tarts, apricot pastries and, in fact, croissants. For years it was the gold customary, in my humble opinion.
Like different cooks of his technology who’re also known as the “previous 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 beneath him, they usually have created croissants that resemble Rahier in its traditional 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 road, 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 had been a bunch favorite. They had been mild and ethereal, with a very good 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 solely 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.
Every part runs out in a number of hours, and there may be 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 total 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 method by Toronto pastry retailers, together with an extended 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 wonderful pastry or desserts.
Because it opened practically three years in the past, it has rapidly turn out to be certainly one of my favorite candy retailers, displaying a degree of consistency and deftness with pastry that’s hardly matched on this metropolis.
That is the form of bakery the place you may discover it unattainable to determine what to attempt, and discover it unattainable 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 objects to attempt at Duo, from miniature muffins and candies, to croissants and different forms of wonderful pastry
In relation to the croissant, Chen has mastered the method of layered pastry. His croissants have a definite honeycomb inside — an ideal stability between air pockets and buttery strands of pastry.
Regardless of all of the geekery and science, Chen has captured the childlike magic of having fun with a croissant. The exterior has a pretty shiny sheen, and it crumbles into skinny flakes while you chunk down. The inside melts in your mouth — it is clean, 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 is probably not French, however we grew up obsessing over French pastry.”
“I needed to study it, and I needed 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.
Right now, an ideal croissant isn’t far-off, it is in practically each neighbourhood of this metropolis.
Throughout a latest dialog recapping the croissant hunt, my pal Michael stated it completely.
“All it takes is one expertise to foster many. The college students have turn out to be the masters on this case. And it is reflective of town’s various and evolving meals tradition.”
Suresh Doss’s weekly meals phase airs each Thursday on Metro Morning. Watch for video of his jaunts throughout town 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 in the event you attempt any of the locations he options, we need to see photographs!