May-June 2022 | Food & Drink

What it takes to make a superlative croissant

Sunday Morning Bakehouse has a three-day long baking process to make these buttery, flaky pastries

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Photo by Deb Lindsey

Behold the glorious traditional butter croissant ($3.95) at Sunday Morning Bakehouse, which Caroline Yi opened in North Bethesda’s Pike & Rose development in October 2019: its height, its glistening golden-brown exterior that shatters into buttery flakes when you tear it apart, its airy, honeycomblike interior. It’s a thing of beauty and a labor of love. Make that three days of labor—that’s how long it takes to make them.

Sunday Morning Bakehouse’s Caroline Yi making butter croissants. Photo by Deb Lindsey

Day 1: At 5:30 a.m., Yi (or another baker) makes a poolish, a starter made from flour, water and yeast. After eight to 10 hours, when it’s jiggly and has plenty of visible air bubbles on it, she adds Isigny Ste. Mère butter imported from France, sugar, salt, more flour, water and yeast, and forms a dough. She relaxes the dough for 10 to 15 minutes, rolls it into a half-sheet pan (filling it completely) and covers and refrigerates it for about 18 hours.

Day 2: Between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m., Yi halves the dough and then sandwiches a preformed 2-pound butter rectangle the size of a quarter-sheet pan between the two halves. She rolls out the dough into a long rectangle using a machine called a sheeter, then folds the dough in such a way to create a smaller rectangle comprised of multiple layers of butter trapped between layers of dough. (The precise way she does this is proprietary information.) She repeats the folding process twice over a period of two hours, growing the number of butter and dough layers exponentially each time. (She refrigerates the dough between folds to keep the butter from getting too soft.) The folded dough is refrigerated for two hours, then rolled, cut and shaped into croissants, which are covered and placed in a special refrigerated unit timed to switch to proof mode (80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit) at 2 a.m.

Photo by Deb Lindsey

Day 3: At 5:30 a.m., a baker brushes the risen croissants with egg wash (egg yolks beaten with milk) to create a shiny glaze and then bakes for 24 to 27 minutes until golden brown. By the time the bakery’s doors open at 8 a.m., cooled, freshly baked croissants are stacked at the counter.

Sunday Morning Bakehouse, 11869 Grand Park Ave., North Bethesda, 240-669-8202, sundaymorningbakehouse.com


Photo by Deb Lindsey

Other notable croissants:

Chocolate croissant ($2.50) at La Bohemia Bakery
5540 Wilkins Court Rockville
240-360-3697
labohemiabakery.com

Pistachio raspberry croissant ($5.50) at Lavande Patisserie
275 N. Washington St.
Unit B, Rockville
301-424-6100
lavande-patisserie.com

Cream cheese croissant ($3.50) at Ooh La La Bakery
2600 University Blvd. W.
Silver Spring
240-669-8218
oohlalabakerymd.com