As a child, I would have married a croissant if I could. Yes, I fell in love hard from the earliest of ages and I remember our time together well. Which is saying a lot because, unlike my sister Elena, who can recall what ice cream flavor she ate the day before Easter when she was 3 years old, my childhood is a bit blurrier. I remember loads of playtime, eating anything sweet I could get my hands on and trying my best not to get in trouble because I couldn’t stop moving or talking.
But I do recall the freshly baked croissants with the still oozing, warm apricot jam that my mom bought for me every time we walked by one of the best bakeries in my hometown of Ivrea. It had to be early in the morning though, because if we got there even by mid-morning they would be all sold out and then my crestfallen behind would drag behind my mom until some child-like distraction made me forget my boo-hoo feelings and restored my spirits.
Sadly, I don’t return to that bakery anymore when I go to Italy to visit my parents in Ivrea. I haven’t in quite some time, having tired of the perpetual disappointment I experienced biting into gummy, pasty, insipid pieces of dough instead of the flaky, moist, butter-infused treats of my childhood. Alas, this particular bakery succumbed to what most other bakeries have fallen victim of: industrial progress.
Yes, instead of rolling out their croissant dough every morning like they use to, they now buy their croissants frozen from a supplier and then pop them in the oven, much like we can thoughtlessly do with a pop tart. The indignity!
Not to be a downer, but croissants are an endangered species. I knew this just from visiting my family and experiencing this sad reality first-hand, but articles like Outsourced Croissants Outrage Traditional French Bakers and Croissants ‘Dying Out’ in France drives the point home, or the gavel into the heart, even more profoundly. It’s happening everywhere. Sigh…
But enough sad talk.
Especially when I found a place, right here in my own little food shopping-challenged town of Auburn, that sells delicious, and I mean DELICIOUS, croissants! Yes, thank you Earthfare. Your croissants don’t, unfortunately, contain the apricot marmalade that would shoot me out into outer space in sheer ecstasy, but they are deliciously buttery-tasting and flaky and light and crispy on the ends. Yum. Now I’m salivating…
Of course, the hard part is allowing these little puppies to sit around on top of my refrigerator and get stale for a couple of days. I find myself circling the fridge very much like a shark might circle tasty-looking surfers hanging out on their boards. Only my desire for this croissant bread gives me the strength to leave them alone. It’s hard though. Really hard.
I’ve fallen off the wagon a couple of times, I am embarrassed to say, and have had to get in the car and drive to the market to buy more. I am only human. And they are so delicious just plain.
But sometimes, especially around the holidays, when you may have family and friends staying with you for a few days, it’s nice to regale them with something extra special. And what’s more special than delicious croissants WITH cream and sugar? Hmmmm…..I mean, come on!
Now I will say that, if you are considering making this, croissants sold in plastic containers at your friendly supermarket bakery section unfortunately do not cut it. Not in this recipe, anyway. I know because I tried, and that slightly chemical-buttery taste that I find in those croissants permeated in every bite of this cake. And there are so few ingredients in this recipe that it’s difficult to mask that taste, even if you wanted to try.
But if you are lucky enough to find a local source for croissants that are made with real butter, and therefore flaky, moist on the inside and with that most vexing little crispy crescent point, then this is the recipe for you. Honest engine.
making breakfast croissant bread
Preheat oven to 375°F. Line the base and sides of a loaf pan with parchment paper. Start by measuring out both the length and width of the pan and then cut out pieces of parchment paper to fit the pan.
First like this.
And then like that.
Combine 2 eggs, 1 1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream, and 1/3 cup of granulated white sugar in a large bowl.
Whisk well until thoroughly mixed.
Cut 3 large, stale croissants into approximately 1/3-inch wide slices.
Add to the egg/cream mixture.
Let it sit for 15 minutes or so to allow the croissants to soak it up.
Layer half of the soaked croissants in the prepared loaf pan.
Add 1 oz. of broken dark chocolate pieces (or 1/2 oz. if you’re also making half of the cake with marmalade)
or 4 heaping tablespoons of apricot marmalade (or just 2 tablespoons if you’re also including the chocolate on half of it). I have one baby bear that likes everything chocolate and one that loves everything fruit, so to make them both happy I go both ways on this very difficult, delicious choice.
Cover everything with the remaining croissants, pouring any leftover egg mixture on top.
Place in the oven and lower the temperature to 350°F. Bake for 50 minutes, or until the cake is well browned and you can’t see any liquid custard when you press the top of the cake. Allow to cool in the pan. Makes 8 servings.