Home Croissanterie is a dream come true for pastry and patisserie lovers. Crisp, buttery, hand-rolled pastries are delivered across Sydney on the weekends. There are classic butter croissants, potato and sea salt "roses", chocolate buns filled with ganache and whipped chocolate cream or cardamom syrup drenched kouign amann!
Although Home's Benjamin Lai was born in Sydney he only lived here for a year before moving to Shanghai, China for the majority of his schooling so he considers Shanghai home. It was while he was at university in Missouri, US studying computer science that he did a summer stint working at Noma in Copenhagen.
After this, "I was inspired in late 2019 to start my own recipe blog after having worked my way through Maurizio’s “The Perfect Loaf”...I figured it would be pretty neat to have a pastry equivalent. I decided to name my blog homecroissanterie, as it was meant to be a guide on making hand-laminated pastries at home. Certainly didn’t work hard in the blogging game, as I quit after 2 articles," says Benjamin. Since completing his studies he has been working in Sydney as a junior software engineer. At the beginning of 2020 he started to sell his pastries to a cafe called Hattrick. Then once COVID-19 hit in March 2020 he tried to improve his pastry making skills and made his first pastry delivery in August 2020. His dream is to own his own patisserie and cafe.
For his pastries he works with a mix of organic heritage bakers flour and stone ground flour for the croissant dough to create a croissant with more flavour. "I was using whey butter to laminate, but recently swapped to cultured butter (Pepe Saya) to change the flavour profile," says Benjamin. Currently his pastries take 3 days from start to finish as he pushes the dough fermentation to the limit in an effort to try and produce lighter pastries.
The most challenging pastry to make is the plain croissant. "It’s the most naked, but it is for this reason why it is also the most beautiful. A plain croissant tells the hands of the baker who made it, and it is purely up to the ability of the baker. The layering of the lamination and the control of fermentation differentiates one from another. Any mishap during the croissant making process will reveal itself in the final product, and there is a lot that can go wrong. The inside of the croissant should reveal a beautiful open honeycomb pattern - a good sign of proper lamination and fermentation." He strives for a slightly denser style of croissant as that is his personal preference.
Every pastry is hand rolled and laminated using a rolling pin which is unusual and presents its own challenges in terms of keeping the product chilled enough. While he is based in Macquarie Park and delivers these babies on Saturdays, there has been enough demand and enquiry that he has expanded his delivery to other areas outside the North side and CBD. Delivery is $4 for a minium order of 6 pastries and sunday pickup is available at Macquarie Centre for 3 or more pastries. Payment is through direct deposit into his bank account. I ordered one of each of the pastries except the pain au chocolat.
I start by trying the classic butter croissant. I have this habit of cutting a cross section through every croissant that I eat so that I can ogle and appreciate the pattern inside. The flavour of the cultured butter comes through and there's the requisite shattering of pastry crumbs (which brings Mr Teddy Elliott straight into the kitchen hopeful for a buttery crumb).
My favourite is the poppyseed and Gruyere and smoked Cheddar cheese. It's simple, but the perfect balance of filling and crisp and savoury. When these are heated (150C for 8 minutes) up the poppyseeds toast up further for added texture.
I find almond croissants incredibly variable, some don't have enough almond frangipane and some don't have any which is always a huge disappointment. Home's version is a slightly different proposition with a muscovado sugar frangipane with a topping of silky vanilla creme made from creme brulee and whipped double cream and toasted, flaked almonds. It's luscious and I love the lightness of the creme and the crunch from the pastry and almonds.
My favourite sweet pastry is the cardamom croissant which is like a cardamom flavoured kouign amann drenched with a cardamom syrup. It is based on the kardemomme from Hart Bageri in Copenhagen and is made using the leftover trimmings of the croissant. It's buttery and syrupy and very moreish even with the syrupy sweetness.
Then we come to the potato and salt one pastry which is the best selling pastry. It's hard to know where the laminated scroll layers end and the crisp thin potato slices start. The potato slices are first baked until crisp in extra virgin olive oil and salt. Benjamin says, "I definitely think it’s the most aesthetic of them all because it looks the most organic, like rose petals blossoming out of the pastry. Also it reminds people of eating chips."
A pastry that straddles the sweet savoury combination is the maple bacon croissant scroll with a distinctly sweet flavour from the maple syrup. He uses Queen’s Canadian maple syrup and seasoned with smoked sea salt on both the bottom and top. "The bottom of any food is the first thing you taste, so it makes a big difference if it is seasoned on both sides," says Benajmin.
Last but not least is the Chocolate Bun. It is made with an olive oil and butter brioche bun and is filled with chocolate mousse, chocolate ganache, chocolate paste, maltose tuile and a chocolate scented cream. Benjamin uses sustainably and ethically sourced craft chocolate from Meltdown Artisan and is a mixture of the Solomon Islands 70% dark, Peru 70% dark, and Ecuador 56% milk chocolates. The brioche is soft and puffy and there's a wonderful range of textures within each bite with all of the varieties of chocolate textures.
So tell me Dear Reader, do you prefer sweet or savoury pastries? Which pastry do you like the sound of the best?
All of these pastries were independently paid for.
Delivery within 15-25kms of Macquarie Centre for $4. Minimum order 6 pastries. Pick up available from Macquarie Centre for 3 pastries or more.