I’m late to the croissant party thanks to the lack of a Tesco near me, but I feel this is un moment in coeliac history that warrants a blog: The first potentially viable gluten-free croissant on the mass market. I have a torn opinion when it comes to judging GF foods – is a winning snack the one that compares 100% to it’s gluteny alternative? Or one that is good in its own right if you forget what you had BC?
Today I’m frustrated with the fact that is feels like the definition of ‘coeliac’ is ‘to compromise’ so I decided to judge the croissant not just against itself, but against the perfect croissant. If this is to be the only croissant I ever eat again – it better be the best one it can possibly be! So I came over all French with my petit dejeuner and found the 9 Pillars of Volupté as defined by Le Figaro.
Onto le dégustation:
- Le Feuilletage (Layers) - an excellent start – good flakey crisp layers on top.
- La mie (The Crumb) – it tears and crumbs like a croissant – exciting! However, it has none of the lightness I had hoped for, as the familiar heavy, moist cake-crumb of my many GF baking efforts is hiding inside the outside layers.
- L’Oreille (The Sound) - spot on. Crrrrunnnnccchh. “On doit entendre la souffrance du croissant sans gluten!”
- En Bouche (The Taste) – I’m afraid it’s a bit ‘form over function’ and the taste isn’t all I’d hoped- there is butteryness there, but it’s on the edge of oilyness – not luxuriant like a croissant should taste. There’s an underlying tang of yeast, then blandness. A croissant shouldn’t just be a vehicle for la confiture.
- Un mauvais croissant? (What makes a bad croissant?) - The shape looks a little sorry for itself – small and straight; but the colour is very nice and warm-looking after reheating.
L’Odeur (The Smell) - “Mmm, smells of baking in the kitchen” says the GEH. Unfortunately it’s pretty yeasty too, like my bread machine after I haven’t cleaned it properly. It doesn’t make my mouth water.
- Sa durée de vie (The Shelf Life) - Well of course it’s a long life product not the traditional 5-6 hours of freshness -we coeliacs are a minority. As the only coeliac in the house this is a bonus; as is the fact that they can be frozen (as well as heated from frozen).
- Les ingredients (The Ingredients) – well it’s got to be butter, hasn’t it? And butter does feature on the list, but vegetable margarine is higher in the list which would account for the oilyness. With GF products you have to forgive ingredient innovation, but I don’t want to compromise on taste, even for price reasons, with this.
- La saison - I’m not sure this one makes sense for a gluten free croissant as it relates to the wheat season, so I’m going to replace it with ‘la commodité‘ (Convenience) because to be honest, it fails. What you want is to pick this up from the boulangerie on a sunny saturday morning, but to get the best out of this croissant it requires careful reheating according to instructions (I tried a couple of failed lazy variations), which I rarely have time for in the morning. Definitely not one for a speedy breakfast.
Overall it scores 4/9 (half points awarded for The Crumb and Appearance) for me – not the perfect croissant, but it is a nice occasional treat. I would be tempted to take some skiing with me so I don’t miss out when everyone tucks into their breakfast.
This does however leave me thinking that the endless coeliac quest to replicate gluteny snacks at great expense and frequent disappointment is not the most fruitful use of time, when there are so many yummy naturally gluten-free breakfast alternatives to eat! I think I’ll be sticking to my porridge and fruit smoothies for now.