I love almond croissants. You’re probably thinking, “Said everyone, ever”. But I really love them. So much so, I’ve made a job of writing about them. When I see them lined up like beautiful bronzed sunbathers at bakeries, cafes, markets, or what have you, I’m inspired.
During a three-year stint in Sydney I conducted research so extensive I penned two essays on my favourite subject matter: Sydney’s Best Almond Croissants, parts one and two. When I returned to my hometown of Adelaide a year ago, I had no choice but to embark on a new search.
Alex Crawford of The Sugar Man puts it perfectly: “Almond croissants are the little black dress of the pastry world. They do not need fancy frills or gauche gimmicks.” Hear, hear. So here we have it: Adelaide’s best almond croissants.
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Prove Patisserie, Stepney
My list is in no particular order – apart from this absolute knockout. For me, Prove’s almond croissant is the best of the lot. Made by head pastry chef Megan Bowditch, these twice-baked pastries involve a 72-hour process. The pastry’s made from scratch using local flour, eggs and milk, and there’s no skimping on butter. With a generous serving of frangipane inside and on top, these are a brick of an almond croissant (in a good way). There’s something baklava-like about them, and, texture-wise, eating one is more like biting into bread than a flaky pastry. Perfectly roasted almond flakes seal the deal (if you ask me, almond flakes can make or break an almond croissant). You can taste the labour of love. Since October 2020, Prove – which recently opened its first storefront in Stepney – has sold more than 66,000 of them. If you’re feeling adventurous, try the choc-raspberry version, too. With chocolate batons and a generous serving of raspberry compote, it almost knocks the OG off its gold-medal position.
La Madeleine, Norwood
This almond croissant is so light, the paper bag feels empty when it’s handed to me. But weight is no indication of taste – La Madeleine’s almond croissant is divine. It’s on the savoury end of the savoury-sweet spectrum, more like a plain croissant than an almond one, which makes sense given the croissants are made fresh each morning, (many almond croissants are formed from the previous day’s plain croissants and baked again). “No day-old croissants here,” owner Guillaume Blanc tells me. It has a slight crunch; the outside is caramelised with almond cream, which pools at the pointy ends in a toffee-like fashion. You could eat two of them and still not hit the sugar-high of other almond croissants around town. This underrated French dessert cafe offers other stunning, unexpected croissant variations, including lemon, fig and honey, pistachio and raspberry, cheesecake orange, apricot custard, sultana custard, berry custard, banana peanut and coconut lime custard. It’s “oui” times 10 from me.
30 Acres, Norwood
30 Acres’s pastries and cakes are beautiful, and their diamond-shaped almond croissant is no exception. The ends – where the layers splay like fraying ropes – are especially crunchy, the pastry’s sweet and salty at the same time, and the middle’s soft. They’re on the smaller side, which isn’t a bad thing given how decadent the creamy filling is; it’s made with orange zest and a dash of 23rd Street Distillery’s “Not Your Nanna’s Brandy”. Roughly chopped pieces of almond throughout are a pleasant point of difference. Making them is a four-day gig involving overnight fermentation on day one, and a night in the prover on day two. As with any croissant-making process, butter’s a big part. Bakers Aman and Delvin swear by South Australian Paris Creek butter, despite being told by multiple bakers they should use French. The result is a unique tangy taste that’s simply great. Get there at 7.30am to enjoy one still warm from the oven, and watch this space – they’re currently working on a tangelo and almond croissant cheesecake.
The Sugar Man, Adelaide
This almond croissant is a whopper. It’s as round and heavy as the top tier of a wedding cake, with a chock-a-block crown of flaked almonds sprouting from cream spread thick like that of a cupcake. Oily almond butter oozes with each bite; much like a meat pie, there’s no polite way to eat it. It’s over-the-top, and it’s brilliant – and surprisingly not as sweet as its loud appearance suggests. Alex Crawford is the man behind it. He uses 48-hour fermented dough, starting off the pre-ferment using leftover croissant-dough offcuts (sort of like a master stock), premium SA flour and French butter. The almond is the hero, and it’s Taronga Almonds only at The Sugar Man. After each tray of almond croissants is baked, any super-toasty sliced almonds that have spilled are collected and infused into a caramel, in which the bottom half of the pastry is soaked. The croissant centre’s then filled with a scroll of burnt butter and frangipane. Each almond flake on the crown is positioned by hand. It’s not hard to understand why they – along with tasteful twists including a chocolate-almond number – often sell out in just 45 minutes.
Abbots and Kinney, Adelaide, Croydon, Malvern and Marino Rocks
Abbots and Kinney’s almond croissant – the Pain in the Almande – is as pretty as it is scrumptious. It’s also huge. Here are some words I scribbled down while enjoying one still warm from the oven: custardy, mushy, moist, rich. You could pretty much drink the thing, it’s that oozy. If your eyes were closed, you might mistake this almond croissant for a custard-filled bun. Not that it’s sickly; unlike other bready almond croissants on the market, Abbots and Kinney’s is light and aromatic. Chef Richard Wilson, who took over from long-time owner Jonny Pisanelli, continues to do them justice. He uses freshly made croissants and whips vanilla custard and liquor marzipan together to create a soft filling. They’re then soaked in a liquor syrup before being piped with a secret almond cream. More cream is spread on top to house a mohawk of flaked almonds. They’re then baked again, at a higher-than-average temperature, to give the outside a pleasant crispness while retaining the custardy centre. A heavy dusting of icing sugar makes them risky to eat while wearing dark colours, but who cares when they’re that good. Try the Berry Almond – with dark chocolate and raspberries –
while you’re at it.