Genius Recipes

Alex Raij's Croissants a la Plancha

By • May 1, 2013 • 18 Comments

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Every week -- often with your help -- Food52's Senior Editor Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that are nothing short of genius.

Today: You didn't think croissants could get better, did you? They can.

A croissant -- a good one, in its prime -- is a perfect bundle of food. 

Not a balanced or complete food, mind you, like quinoa or goji berries or the symbiosis of beans and rice -- don't be silly! But a flawless spiral of textures and warm scents and good butter. That sort of perfect. It doesn't need to be threaded with chocolate or ham and gruyere, but those give us excuses to eat more croissants, so that's fine.

But even within a few hours, they lose their luster, and become the thing you seek in desperation, when you've missed lunch, or you're running with bag in hand to catch a train, or a barista is staring you down and you're feeling weak. You resort to the lonely croissant by the register, even though you know it will be a faded shell of what it once was.  

alex raij

So it might surprise you to hear chef Alex Raij of La Vara, Txikito, and El Quinto Pino say this: "Buy all the day old croissants you can." 

Why? Sure, they make a mean French toast, but there's an even simpler way, as Raij explains it, "to revive a dead croissant and make it even better than on day one."

More: Turn that croissant into French toast with orange zest and mascarpone.

It's called Croissants a la Plancha (or Plantxa) and you'll find it in bars and cafés across Spain. It's essentially yesterday's abandoned croissant, split, griddled in butter, and served for breakfast with marmalade and a cortado (which is like a baby latte). 

sizzlin butter

When you expose the once-spongy, breathing middles of a croissant, you get a delicate web of pastry that takes very well to toasting on a hot surface. The spindly edges and corners get crackly, like a sfogliatelle just out of the oven, while everything below the surface warms and softens.

"I first had it at a coffee shop in Bilbao," Raij told me. "And thought it was so vainglorious to add even more butter to a croissant and then grill it and serve it with marmalade." Her version steps it up even more with the addition of a honey butter speckled with vanilla seeds (or vanilla caviar, as Raij calls it) -- smoothing the bitter edge of marmalade with sweet, floral vibes. 

vanilla seeds  honey butter

honey butter

So yes, more butter. But I first heard about this breakfast of champions from our Assistant Editor Marian Bull, who also spent a month in India last year doing yoga. So I don't want to hear any excuses about this not being part of a healthy lifestyle. You can have it all.

 

Alex Raij's Croissants a la Plancha

Serves 1

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for the pan
1 tablespoon local honey
1/2 vanilla bean
Salt
1 croissant, split (day old is fine)
Orange marmalade, for serving
Powdered sugar, for serving

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Got a genius recipe to share -- from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected].

Photos by James Ransom, except Alex Raij by George Billard via Glutton for Life

Read More:
9 (Mostly) Make-Ahead Mother's Day Brunch Ideas
How to Brew Better Coffee
7 Ways to Start Your Day with French Toast

Jump to Comments (18)

Tags: Genius, genius recipes, croissant, Alex Raij, Spanish food, breakfast, brunch

Comments (18)

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about 1 year ago LynneT

this is flat-out divine!

Stringio

about 1 year ago Fawzia Vayej

DECADENT

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over 1 year ago Rosa_Mora

Thanks for reminding me my country!
As you have said, you can find this in cafeterias all over Spain with "cortados" :)
This will be my breakfast this weekend!
Cheers!

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over 1 year ago bgavin

Four tablespoons of butter, plus more for the skillet? Wow! Luckily, I don't have day old croissants often enough for this to be a problem.

Miglore

over 1 year ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

The four tablespoons of butter makes more honey vanilla butter than you need, so you can either serve more croissants or store the leftover butter in the fridge for future pancakes, toast, waffles, scones, etc.

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over 1 year ago martinwheaton

I just did something similar for breakfast this morning. We were out of bread but had four leftover, dry croissants. I was feeling very smug when they turned out the be the best French toast ever. I simply used a traditional French toast egg batter. I also like your idea.

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over 1 year ago Cate est la cuisson

I have used this method for all kinds of pastries and breads while baking for my family over the years. I love the just baked "refreshing" (as I have always called it) that allows one to enjoy having a favorite pastry, at its best, for longer than the first day of creation.
An avid baker and cook, I did not like wasting food, and with a spouse who hated 'leftovers' of any kind, I learned early to be creative with what I had in hand. Now, on my own, I still love to bake, and I freeze whatever I can for later. This is one of the methods I turn to in order to recreate that just baked freshness. It is good with slices of day old pound cake, topped with melted berries and whipped cream, done any way you favor them, for when a light dessert is needed in a hurry. Yet, this is so simple, it doesn't seem too much to do in the morning to begin the day just right!

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over 1 year ago cookbooksareforeveryone

Notice how Ms. Raij is smiling. Could it be the more butter is always better twinkle in her eye. Going out to buy croissant and will them into staleness.

Stringio

over 1 year ago Leonor de Yarhi

Yummie yummie!!!!

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over 1 year ago ingefaer

and dip the croissant in egg with a bit of vanilla and you have delectable French toast.

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over 1 year ago AmyRuth

Goodness Gracious!!!! I can't wait to be in a city where there are actually good croissant to be had. Yea, I'll take that poor lowly day old croissant, no worries. Can't wait, I say.

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over 1 year ago Anitac

Oh my goodness! This is exactly how my father made his toast for his morning coffee every day of his life. I love it like this! Makes me miss him!

Me

over 1 year ago Kenzi Wilbur

Kenzi is the Managing Editor of Food52.

I love that all of these comments are five words or less. (And with that, I've broken the trend.)

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over 1 year ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

oh. my. goodness.

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over 1 year ago Diana Pappas

I approve!

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over 1 year ago creamtea

oh, yeah

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over 1 year ago Stitty

Wow.

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over 1 year ago gluttonforlife

sick (in a good way)