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Almond Croissant Smackdown

Our intrepid owner/publisher, Tom Mehren, was visiting Vancnouver Island, and experienced a near life changing almond croissant at SHIRLEY delicious in Sooke, B.C. That prompted us to start a highly technical and scientific (i.e, random) competition to find the best almond croissants, twice baked or not, in the Seattle area.

Bakery Nouveau almond croissant

If your favorite was left out, please do not take it personally. As examples, we hit Dahlia Bakery on a day when they hadn't made any almond croissants. We also hit Byen Bakeri right before Thanksgiving when they were totally focused on holiday baking (we could only conclude that almond croissants are not holiday items). Did we call beforehand to find out if they had any? We did not. We will say that once we looked crestfallen at the 'no croissants' answer, no one at either place suggested an alternative. No upselling? Inconceivable!

To resolve the age-old question of who has the best almond croissants, we looked at texture, taste, and other miscellaneous thoughts that popped into our heads.

Technically speaking, no one really won. Or two out of five lost, if you prefer.

We had a split decision on the number 1 spot: Bakery Nouveau and Sugar Bakery.

Sugar Bakery almond croissant (ignore the price)

However, the Bakery Nouveau lover scored Sugar Bakery as the #2, and the Sugar Bakery lover scored Bakery Nouveau and The Flora Bakehouse as tied for second place. The Flora Bakehouse was #3 on the Bakery Nouveau lover's list. To say it more simply, it was pretty damned close between Sugar Bakery, Bakery Nouveau, and The Flora Bakehouse.

This is not to say they are alike.

Bakery Nouveau had a fairly mild almond flavor and was more chewy than airy or flaky. It was twice baked and the paste was a little dense inside. There were finely chopped almonds on the top and some powdered sugar. We are not powdered sugar fans, so this small amount was good.

Sugar Bakery croissants were smaller than the others, a little flakier yet still had a nice crispness to them; dense but not hard. What sent them to the top/near top of the list was the paste inside. Very almondy flavor which was what we were looking for and there was more paste inside than the others we tried. Fewer almond slices on top and no powdered sugar (yay!). They only make almond croissants on Tuesdays and Fridays.

The Flora Bakehouse was a nice cross between flaky and chewy and had a mild almond flavor. There were sliced almonds on top and some powdered sugar, but not overdone.

The Flora Bakehouse almond croissant

In the above three cases, we ate these the day after we purchased them, so they were a day old. And they were still the winners.

Ironically, the two that were at the bottom of the list, and actively disliked, were the ones we ate at the moment they were purchased, in the morning when they should be at their best.

Fresh Flours on Phinney had very little almond flavor, were beyond flaky, and had way too many almonds and powdered sugar on them. Every bite you took, croissant flakes and nuts and sugar rained down around you. They were a mess. If there had been more almond flavor, we might have been a little more forgiving, but they were bland.

Fuji Bakery on Elliott Avenue was potentially the biggest disappointment, primarily because we have never heard anything bad about them. Having never been there, we were looking forward to finding out what all the love was about. Plus, their website description of the almond croissants was mouthwatering. Instead, our hopes were dashed. Almost no almond flavor. The outside was tough. There were lots of toasted almonds on top (and by themselves were delicious), and no powdered sugar (yay!). A lot of other items looked good here, so we're hoping the croissant pasty is just not their thing. We tried a blueberry lemon curd item because it was there. The blueberry lemon curd was killer good, but surrounded by that same croissant pastry, which was bad. Alas.

Another tough assignment. Hmmm, what shall we try next?

SD! Tasting Team/December 2022

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