In today’s world of fancy health trends and exercise fads, the word vegan can be very well mistaken to be a fad. For a fact, I really respect the vegan movement because of two reasons; The health benefits it has on the human body and the cascading benefits it will have on our planet.
And in today’s article, we look closely into another breakfast/ dessert item, the flaky, buttery croissant, and wonder if you can include it in your diet menu if you are a vegan.
What are croissants?
Croissants, a famous French traditional food item, fall under the section of ‘laminated pastry’ 1. This kind of pastry features a dough folded along with a slice of cold butter in between the folds. As they are baked in the oven, the butter creates a nice layer of steam which puffs up the layers so intricately.
At the end of the baking process, you get a flaky, light puffy savory item that melts in your mouth.
Are croissants vegan?
Croissant can be vegan. The traditional croissants you usually buy are far from vegan. Usually, in bakeries and restaurants, you will find non-vegan croissants because the traditional recipe contains a number of non-vegan ingredients.
But, there are many manufacturers (listed below) who produce croissants vegan. Also, if you have time, there is nothing better than making croissants vegan by yourself.
What makes a typical croissant non-vegan?
To make a typical croissant, you need:
- white flour
- yeast for fermentation
- and lots of butter 1.
A layperson who does not know fitness or nutrition can instantly tell that a typical croissant is not vegan. But, is it possible to bake one?
What are vegan croissants made of?
Firstly, you need to get vegan ingredients:
- Nowadays, vegan butter is available in the market.
- Next, you can use bread flour instead of the all-purpose variety. Using bread flour helps add more gluten content into the croissant, helping the flaky croissant develop a better structure, strength and be elastic at the same time 2.
- Almond milk
- Active dry yeast
Homemade vegan croissant recipe
Now use a stand mixer to mix all the ingredients listed above. If you don’t have the luxury of a stand mixer, you can use your hand power as well. But before that, you need to proof the yeast (i.e. mix the yeast in a little warm water and add sugar, and keep the mixture for about 5 minutes). Combine the ingredients and then use the dough attachment in the stand mixer to knead it for at least 10 minutes to get a smooth and elastic dough ball. If you are using your hands, you may need to use your elbows during the kneading time.
If you are a baker, you would know that over mixing should be prevented while preparing doughs for cakes and cookies. In this case, since we want the gluten content to develop, overmixing is preferred.
You then transfer this softball to an oiled container to rest and let it do its magic. In about 2 hours, the ball will double its size. For the next step, you will have to punch it and fold it again, into a rectangular shape. Let the dough stay overnight in a refrigerator. This process helps it to develop more flavor, hydration, and time to develop the gluten structure.
Lamination process: The most important step
The next day, you have to follow a process called lamination. This is a mandatory stage where you have to fold the dough several times layering a slice of cold butter in each step. If done well, you will get a flaky croissant. Make sure the butter is at the perfect temperature, pliable enough to be rolled into a thin layer, and foldable with the dough sheet. At this point, you wish you had a colder kitchen environment that prevents the melting of the butter.
Here is a point to be noted for vegan bakers. You need to ensure that your vegan butter is stored in a slab container and chilled overnight. On the next day, you have to layer butter over the dough and fold its edges, and then layer again and fold over, and repeat the layer-fold process another time.
Refrigerate for another six hours, and then flatten it out (about 10 inches in length and as wide as possible). Cut triangles out of the dough and roll each triangle into a crescent-like structure. Place them on parchment paper, brush the surface with some almond milk, and wait for it to puff up for another 2 hours. You may then bake it in a preheated oven for 10 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and thereafter for another 15 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit to brown the top part 3.
Vegan alternatives for croissants in the market
Making a croissant at home is not everyone’s cup of tea, so here are a few vegan bakeries that specialize in vegan croissants.
- Laduree in Beverly Hills, The Good Good in East Hollywood are some popular vegan bakeries in LA 4.
- L’Artisan Creative Bakery in Florida is also serving croissants plus shipping them within USA 5.
- Bindi bakery in New Jersey also serves vegan croissants 6.
- In New York, you can go to Erin McKenna’s bakery to get sugar-free and gluten-free vegan goodies.
- Lush Life Vegan Bakery in Madison is another option for vegan lovers in that part of the country 7.
And in just a few clicks, you will be served with fresh vegan products, at your doorstep. Many bakeries offer to ship within the country too.
Are vegan croissants tasty?
A croissant is typically tasty because of the generous amount of butter that goes in every layer. The butter also enables the layers to puff up in the oven, giving the croissant its classic look and taste. Since we are replacing butter with a vegan butter alternative, the taste is not compromised. Apart from butter, a perfect croissant is also characterized by the layers it develops. Hence, ensure that you laminate the croissant dough very well. And lastly, this one is a no-brainer. A vegan croissant is yummy when served hot and fresh. No one likes a two-day stale snack, and croissant is the first on that list. Furthermore, the dough must be prepared in advance and allowed to rest and mature for at least a day 8. It is also important to work with chilled butter and a chilled cooking surface during the dough lamination process. This is to ensure the butter does not melt out and ruin your croissant layer. An easy way to do this would be to set some ice packs or an ice-filled baking sheet on the counter, minutes before rolling out the dough 9. Various fillings can also be added to improve the taste.
Tricks to get fresh croissant dough in the morning
Baking croissants in the evening, and serving the next morning is a big no-no. If you want to serve hot vegan croissants for breakfast, you can freeze your dough, and then bake them in the morning. This way, they will be fresh, crispy, and the flavors will be retained 9.
Vegan croissants do exist
Good news for vegan followers. The flaky croissant though is a non-vegan unhealthy snack item, can be baked in a vegan fashion. By changing the ingredients and following the recipe to the dot, buttery, yummy and delicious croissants can be baked. And if that is too difficult for you, you can even place your order and many vegan bakeries are ready to serve you.
My journey with vegan croissants
While I was studying for my Master’s degree, It was a routine to buy freshly baked croissants on my way back from a jog, every morning. I did not realize the amount of butter that went into each layer, but I relished every bite since it was tasty, and I was famished. Had I known the existence of vegan croissants in the bakeries, I would have incorporated that into my diet. Late than never, I am aware of this fact now and will choose the vegan one. What about you?
How many calories are inside a vegan croissant?
A vegan croissant should be considered as an occasional breakfast treat only as it would fill you with 370 calories 10.
Are plain croissants vegan?
Well, the answer is yes… Most of the time. More and more pastry shops in Europe are preparing their croissants without the use of butter and eggs. There are many different types of plain croissants that are perfect for vegans. But you have to double-check with the manufacturer what ingredients are they made of.
Do croissants contain eggs?
Yes, even a plain croissant will typically have an egg wash applied to the top of it. It gives a nice shine and brown coloring to both the top and bottom crust.
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