Long Reads

Alex Raij's Croissants a la Plancha

May  1, 2013

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.

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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
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

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Maria Siriano
    Maria Siriano
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  • bgavin
I'm an ex-economist, lifelong-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007, before returning to the land of Dutch Crunch bread and tri-tip barbecues in 2020. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."


Maria S. March 9, 2015
I just took a class on homemade croissants yesterday and woke up to this article on Facebook! So, naturally, I used my croissants from yesterday and made this for lunch. Incredible! I stand by my belief that the Spanish have the best food.
LynneT June 30, 2013
this is flat-out divine!
Fawzia V. June 30, 2013
Rosa_Mora May 9, 2013
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!
bgavin May 5, 2013
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.
Kristen M. May 6, 2013
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.
martinwheaton May 5, 2013
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.
Catie B. May 5, 2013
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!
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.
Leonor D. May 5, 2013
Yummie yummie!!!!
ingefaer May 5, 2013
and dip the croissant in egg with a bit of vanilla and you have delectable French toast.
Amy S. May 4, 2013
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.
Anitac May 1, 2013
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!
Kenzi W. May 1, 2013
I love that all of these comments are five words or less. (And with that, I've broken the trend.)
mrslarkin May 1, 2013
oh. my. goodness.
Diana P. May 1, 2013
I approve!
creamtea May 1, 2013
oh, yeah
maye May 1, 2013
gluttonforlife May 1, 2013
sick (in a good way)