Croissant Clash

Any enterprising home baker can dabble in scones or cupcakes, but the croissant is, for the most part, the province of pastry chefs. What amateur would want to spend the better part of a day spreading chilled butter on dough, rolling that dough out, and folding it back up again, over and over again — a process the pros call “laminating”? Julia Child’s recipe, to cite one example, has 57 individual steps.

It goes without saying, then, that a well-made croissant — flaky, buttery, and delicately layered — is a sign that a bakery or patisserie is serious about its craft. And it so happens that the East Bay is experiencing a resurgence in serious bakeries. So, two other pastry lovers and I sat down on a recent afternoon for a good old-fashioned blind taste-off, for which I’d procured a plain butter croissant and a pain au chocolat (i.e. chocolate croissant) from each of three relatively new bakeries: Uptown Oakland’s Sweet Bar (2355 Broadway), Temescal’s Barkada (4316 Telegraph Ave.), and Berkeley’s Fournée (2912 Domingo Ave.).

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