Almond croissants do something to me. When I see them lined up behind glass – or still lying on their trays straight from the oven like beautiful bronzed sunbakers – I’m like a magnet to metal.
I started this search with a long list. There were croissants I’d already tried (alright, many), ones I’d been meaning to try for years, and others people told me about along the way. When I crossed one off, two more were added and my list grew like a pyramid scheme. But there was no way these six weren’t going to make the first instalment of this list. My goal was to find a definitive top five, but eliminating one of these was like asking me to never eat an almond croissant again (hilarious).
So here we have it: Sydney’s best almond croissants, part one.
Tuga Pastries, Clovelly
My list is in no particular order – apart from this absolute knock-out. For me, Tuga Pastries’ almond croissant is the best of the lot. Twice-baked, doused in simple syrup, and crammed with almond cream, these beauties perfectly balance every element: the sweet to savoury, the light to dense, and the butter to nuttiness. They’re made of nearly 25 per cent butter, which probably has something to do with it. Owner Diogo Ferreira and his small team (his mum Lucia included) make them from fresh-baked butter croissants, rather than using day-old ones like a lot of places do. This makes all the difference. People travel to Clovelly from across Sydney for these pastries (and for Tuga’s pastel de nata, or portugese tarts) – Tuga sells more than 1300 almond croissants each week.
Find them at Tuga Pastries on Saturdays and Sundays, and just down the road at Diogo’s neighbourhood cafe Village on Cloey daily.
Flour and Stone, Woolloomooloo
Flour and Stone … is there a more beautiful bakery in Sydney? I don’t think so. The technical, laborious process that goes into making its almond croissants is unbelievable. Pastries are made by chief of viennoiserie Mary Johnston, who works in the evenings until around midnight, when temperatures are cool (a critical component of croissant-making so as not to over-activate the yeast). The rest of the team of bakers – including founder Nadine Ingram – arrives from 3am to take over. These almond croissants don’t use up stale butter croissants. Pepe Saya butter (Flour and Stone whips through around 250 kilograms of butter each week), careful temperature control and hours of TLC result in an edible artwork with delicate layers at each end like the pages of an open book. It isn’t intensely sweet – it sits at the savoury end of the almond-croissant spectrum. An egg wash gives it a yellowy-golden colour.
The croissants are available from the Riley Street bakery daily, on Saturdays at the Carriageworks Farmers Market, and bi-monthly at the Northside Produce Market.
This croissant is heavy in your hand and in taste; it’s about as dense as an almond croissant gets. It’s generously filled and topped with frangipane, but it’s brandy and cinnamon that set Brickfields’ almond croissant apart from the rest. It takes three days to make and eating it is a full-on experience in the best way. It doesn’t taste like an almond croissant – it tastes like something different and incomparable. Don’t buy this one as an afterthought at the counter post-brekkie (I recommend the beef brisket sandwich or mushroom-melt toastie). Go to Brickfields specifically for it. It’s a spicy, nutty, buttery, crunchy, doughy, creamy meal – and a bloody great one at that.
Available at the bakery in Chippendale daily, and at markets across Sydney Friday to Sunday.
Rollers Bakehouse, Manly
Rollers Bakehouse creates unexpected pastries with fillings and toppings that shouldn’t work but absolutely do. There are activated-charcoal croissant-slash-sushi rolls, and a pastry involving miso-mushroom bechamel and eggplant topped with Sriracha tahini. All of its pastries are very good-looking, and the frangipane-filled almond croissant is no exception. It stands almost as tall as it is long, and wears a neat crown of flaked almonds. It’s served with a steak knife – which you need.
Lightly brushed with a spiced sugar syrup, like Flour and Stone’s it sits closer to the savoury end of the spectrum. And eating it is just so nice. Rollers also does a chocolate-almond croissant, made with cocoa-laden dough. You can get them every day at Rollers’ pretty pink shop, but best get there before 10am.
Iggy’s Bread of the World, Bronte
Apparently the almond croissants at Iggy’s are still a work in progress, which is hard to believe given how great they already are. The shape of this one is refreshing; if it weren’t for the sprinkle of flaked almonds on top, I’d have thought it was a smooth pain au chocolat. It’s still warm when I buy it. The butter soaks through its brown paper bag in seconds. There’s a subtle sweet flavour in some bites that tastes like honey or maple syrup but is actually raw organic cane sugar.
Getting them ready for Friday mornings starts on Wednesdays and involves a considered ratio of stone-ground and roller-milled flour, Australian cultured butter, freshly made almond and macadamia nut meal, and that cane sugar. Iggy’s almond croissants are available from its Bronte store from Friday to Sunday.
Fratelli Paradiso, Potts Point
The almond croissants at Fratelli Paradiso smell wonderfully like custard and are incredibly crunchy – perhaps the crunchiest of them all. Despite this they stay intact as you eat them. These croissants are all different shapes and sizes. One day you might pick a shorter, fatter one, another day a longer, flatter one might take your fancy. Every bite is different – the creamy mix of almond meal and custard is concentrated in the middle, so some bites have little of it, others are full of it. This makes eating it even more fun than eating an almond croissant already is. These ones are made from plain croissants bought from the Organic Bread Bar, soaked in Luxardo rum, filled, baked, then dusted with snow sugar. They’re out at 7.30am and almost always gone by 10am. Sometimes – and at random – chocolate is added to the mix, which is a pleasant surprise.
This article first appeared on Broadsheet on September 26, 2019. Menu items may have changed since publication.