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How can you tell if a croissant uses real butter?

I try to avoid transfat in my foods, but I love croissants so I was wondering if there's a way to tell the ones that use real butter from the ones that use margarine.

Also, should I just ask the bakery if there's transfat in their croissants? Seems kind of rude, and I'm not sure if I'd get an honest answer. If possible, a list of any bakeries that is known to use real butter for their croissants in the bay area/peninsula would be appreciated.

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  1. Artificial trans fats have been banned in California bakeries since the beginning of 2011.

    La Farine and Acme never used them.

    1. Asking would be the best way to know for sure. But in my experience, all-butter crossants have a distinctive buttery taste and a richer mouth feel. Crossants made from oil or trans fat don't have the same flavor and are lighter than the real thing. I can easily down a couple of them, but a real crossant makes you feel very full.

      1. Closely related question: are there any all-butter croissants around similar to the ones the Marcel et Henri retail shop used to sell?

        2 Replies
        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          I'm not sure, but weren't those from Bakers Of Paris?

          1. re: poser

            I think they predated Bakers of Paris.

        2. I can tell instantly by taste...the rich butter taste just jumps out.
          If you're buying from a bakery, just ask...I don't think it's rude at all. If you're buying from a supermarket's in-store bakery, just assume that they're not making the real thing (the "in-store bakery" is one of the worst things ever to happen to bread).

          I love croissants, but margarine or hydrogenated shortenings have no place in them.
          Problem is, it seems that only the most dedicated, small bakeries make decent all butter croissants.

          4 Replies
          1. re: The Professor

            Used to be the majority of the croissants in Paris were made with margarine and the butter ones were hard to find.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Boulangerie I visited had one tray of 'ordinaire' and one tray of 'buerre'. One was about 10% higher in price.

              1. re: Markb

                Yeah, by French law, ordinaire have to cost less than butter.

                1. re: Markb

                  And they are normally shaped differently: the margarine ones are curvier (sometimes the points touch to form a circle), the butter ones are straighter (often with no curve at all). As in this photo:
                  http://tartines.fr/croissant/

                  But I wouldn't really expect Bay Area bakers to adopt this practice. Some Americans would probably even complain if their croissant wasn't crescent-shaped.

            2. Easy to tell by the taste. And the quality of the butter makes a BIG difference. Unfortunately, all our favorite croissants aren't available without having to travel:

              #1 - Bay 223 @Sofitel Hotel/Redwood City. French hotel, croissants baked in-house, and they are the best we've had anywhere. The flavor is incomparable. If you can get them hot out of the oven, you'll be tempted to stay at your table and order several more! Any time we are in the area during breakfast hours, this is our stop of choice.
              #2 - Parker-Lusseau bakery in Carmel. Several times a year we drive 120 miles there and then back again. We order when we arrive and when we leave, pick up enough to fill an ice chest.
              #3 - Bouchon Bakery/Napa. The saltiest of the three, good buttery flavor but not as tender as the others - crust is definitely crisper.

              1 Reply
              1. re: jaiko

                oh cool i'm pretty close to bay 223. i'll have to try it someday :) On an unrelated note, does anyone know how the croissants at le croissant cafe in burlingame are?