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This Bay Area Bakery Is Flattening Perfectly Good Croissants

California bakery Alexander’s Patisserie serves the latest shape in the croissant multiverse: flat.

Flat croissants from Alexander’s Patisserie Alexander’s Patisserie
Dianne de Guzman is a deputy editor at Eater SF writing about Bay Area restaurant and bar trends, upcoming openings, and pop-ups.

“This seems like a crime,” commented one colleague.

That assessment didn’t feel too off the mark. Watching a video of the recently released flat croissant from Alexander’s Patisserie felt wrong. Even with croissant innovation reaching a crescendo last year with cube shapes and spirals and croffles and croissant cones, we hadn’t considered that there was one frontier left to go: namely, flat.

My strong feelings about flat croissants aren’t about croissant gatekeeping. Make those shapes whatever you want! But after talking to at least a dozen bakers over the years about croissant techniques and how they strive to get those perfect, airy, laminated layers, seeing one smooshed to a crisp seemed contradictory to the entire art of viennoiserie.

Flat croissants from Alexander’s Patisserie Alexander’s Patisserie

But as Alexander’s Patisserie general manager Claire Chen explains it, the bakery’s flat croissant isn’t an attempt at chasing viral fame — it evolved out of a customer’s request for a palmier. They approached chef Shu Cao with the idea, and at the time she was already looking at flat croissants that are popular in Korea. So, Cao considered the possibility of fusing the two products together. “The recipe is our own,” Chen says. “We were inspired by these shapes. So that’s how we got this idea — and then she started doing a lot of test runs. The process of making flat croissants is not just flattening croissants. It is a completely new way to make it.”

The process is similar to how the bakery makes its butter croissants. But with the flattened version, the team adds sugar on top — that’s where the palmier influence comes in — to give it a sugary crisp, and crunchy exterior. They then flatten the croissants with “the heaviest tray we have,” Chen says. “It’s equivalent to probably 10 pounds of pressure.”

The result is a flat croissant that Chen says is similar to a palmier, but more buttery. In the two weeks since the flat croissant’s release, the team has experimented with various flavors. The sell a plain version, as well as a flat croissant that’s dipped in mango or strawberry-flavored chocolate. The plan is to create a series of flavored flat croissants, Chen says.

Chen says the bakery doesn’t feel pressured to create “social media-friendly” treats. While Instagram helps share what the team’s working on, as well as to monitor what trends people are into, innovating new pastries is more about challenging the baking team than impressing the internet. “For chef, she found that this is important for her to keep her team motivated,” Chen says. “Rather than making something similar the same time again and again, they actually quite enjoy exploring new possibilities and the opportunity to create something new. And if it becomes successful, that really pumps them up. So we think it’s a win-win.”

Alexander’s Patisserie has locations in Mountain View (209 Castro Street) and Cupertino (19379 Stevens Creek Boulevard, #100).