French croissants and Catalan croissants: the truth (finally) revealed

You may have noticed that some croissants in Barcelona don’t quite have the same flavor as ours, or that there are croissants in different shapes, but you never really wondered why? Andreu Sayó, pastry chef at Brunells, winner of the prize for the best artisanal butter croissant in Spain in 2020, reveals the secrets of Catalan croissants.

Nestled in the heart of the Ciudad Condal, right in the middle of Calle Princessa in the Born, the Brunells pastry shop opened its doors in 2020. Although a large number of shops closed at this time, the he brand has decided to settle in an old historical pastry shop over 168 years old with the desire to prolong its heritage. Despite the difficulties linked to the pandemic, Brunells wins the prize for the best butter croissant in Spain thanks to the recipe of Andreu Sayó, and becomes one of the best pastry shops in the city.

A different technique

Unlike France, it would seem that the technique for making the croissant is different in Catalonia. According to Andreu Sayó the dough is not worked in the same way since here it is rolled up 4 to 5 turns (twice more than for the French croissant) in order to obtain more elasticity but also so that the puff pastry is well marked and well distributed around the crescent.

The folding of the dough also changes and the recipe is richer with lots of eggs and powdered milk to give it a more brioche aspect, while the French croissant recipe is more neutral.

Pork fat recipe

At the time, the horny croissant made from pork fat (manteca) was mainly made in Catalonia because butter (mantequilla) was not widely available 50 or 60 years ago and it was also more expensive. Since then, the horny croissant has been part of the Catalan tradition and is found in the majority in all bakeries. Andreu Sayó specifies that the pork fat gives them a more crispy aspect but it does not have this aroma specific to butter which is more neutral and the taste is very different from the croissant that we know in France.

butter croissant

crescent hornThe horny croissant can be a problem for some people with dietary restrictions… so if you have any intolerances don’t forget to ask the question because its composition is not specified in the window.

The secret of a good croissant

In order to obtain a tasty quality croissant, it is therefore necessary to be precise when folding, so that the layers are well marked, and also during the coating process. It is important to pay attention to the texture of the butter or fat, as well as the balance of the dough and the temperature of the oven. The pastry chef explains that the croissant shouldn’t grow just under the effect of the yeast, but rather thanks to the time and the degree of cooking which will give it more volume. A skilful dosage at each stage of the process is therefore necessary to obtain a perfect croissant.

Butter croissant interiorBrunells produces around 300 croissants during the week and 500 at weekends, including the classic butter croissant that won the competition in 2020 and the horny croissant made from pork fat. But that’s not all because Andreu Sayó’s recipe also applies to chocolate croissants and others filled with different sweet and savory flavors as well as pain au chocolat. Between croissants and high quality pastries, this address has become a must in good times ahead.

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