How long does it take to create the perfect croissant? About 15 months, according to the team behind Banksia Bakehouse.
When Chris Sheldrick, Hannah Kim-Sheldrick, Josh Kim and Aileen Zhang opened their CBD eatery in August, they knew the buttery French pastry would be a star menu item.
Getting the ideal croissant, though, involved 1200 test versions, 30 different recipes and long hours adjusting baking times and and flour types.
It meant leaving the dough conditioners on overnight, so they could walk in the next morning and taste-test a croissant – only to, occasionally, realise they hadn't switched the equipment on the night before and nothing would be ready for sampling at all.
Perfecting the croissant also involved butter. Lots of butter. The pastry usually requires thick sheets of butter to be layered between dough, but Banksia Bakehouse dialled up the dairy further, using 30 per cent more Pepe Saya than usual.
It pays off: the croissant has a crisp, satisfying shell, while achieving the opposite effect inside: a feathery-soft interior. This is especially true of the "twice-baked" almond croissant.
The dark shell and heavily toasted nuts pre-empt a certain expectation: the almond croissant will be a dry, charred husk when you bite into it. But it's surprisingly light and fresh – a cheering revelation.
However, Banksia Bakehouse's team didn't spend 15 months optimising croissants just to make the traditional kind.
November's monthly specials include the Pina Colada croissant, which features diced pineapple compote and pineapple curd layered with yuzu ganache and garnished with coconut chips and meringue kisses.
No straw needed, or bartender small talk required. It's brilliant, fruity, transporting and, like a summer holiday, over too soon.
The s'mores croissant, meanwhile, is another November special, with torched marshmallows and meringue, chocolate shards and Lotus biscuits that are impressively balanced on top. Combined with an ultra-rich chocolate filling, though, it's a bit too much, even if it looks good for an Instagram close-up.
For December, mince pie croissants adorned with butter shortbread stars and a pavlova special filled with mango coconut curd are on the menu.
Don't be fooled into thinking it's all croissants, all the time. The buttery dough also encases brilliant pies, such as the satay cauliflower and tofu flavour and the chicken and bacon boscaiola version that's more like an old-school chicken pie than the pasta dish.
While Banksia Bakehouse has a seated dining area, its corporate setting means it has a grab-and-go focus: bottled juices, batch brews, food you can eat with one hand on the way to a meeting (sandwiches, pies, baked goods).
But don't rush out without giving the pastry counter a good browse – particularly its excellent cinnamon-spiced apple delight.
It's a tribute to Maria Ann Smith, the Sydney woman who gave us the Granny Smith apple. Like the croissants on offer, there's a sweet story behind it.
Where: Grosvenor Place, T4/225 George Street, Sydney, banksia.sydney
Main attraction: Inspired, well-made croissants, not-so-standard pies, giant NY-style biscuits and attractive pastries.
Must-try dish: The almond croissant and the ever-changing pie flavours.
Insta-worthy dish: The Pina Colada croissant if it makes a comeback. Or the fruit-shaped apple delight: slice through its high-gloss chocolate skin to reveal a Granny Smith compote spiced with cinnamon and enveloped in vanilla cream, sitting on an almond-flour base. It's gluten-free, too.
Drinks: From $3.50 for espresso by the Grounds to $5 for cold-pressed juices.
Prices: From $6 for Thicc red velvet biscuits to $15 for mini black forest cakes (celebration cakes, such as a 12-serve $95 dark chocolate ganache cake, are also available).
Open: Mon-Fri 7:30am-4:30pm