Australia’s best croissants are coming to Sydney; this is what you need to know
Photography: Marcel Aucar
Lune Croissanterie, the Melbourne pâtisserie where queues form at the crack of dawn each weekend, is coming to Sydney for the first time. Owner Kate Reid will bring her famed croissants across state lines for a one-off pop-up on Thursday 24 August, hosted by Gourmet Traveller. Finally, what many consider to be best croissants in the country, if not the world, will be available to pastry lovers outside Melbourne.
Reid, the founder and master baker at Lune, estimates they receive at least one request every week to take their pastries further afield, whether that's through pop-ups or franchising the operation overseas. "We pretty much say no to everything," she says. "One of the most important things for us is being able to recreate the quality of the pastries we make in our headquarters in Melbourne."
So what was the clincher this time? A combination of logistics and loyalty. "The idea of working with Gourmet Traveller to bring our pastries interstate was something very exciting to us," Reid says. But, crucially, Sonoma agreed to provide the equipment and space essential to making the croissants, which is a three-day process from start to finish.
We're not the only ones who are excited about the pop-up; Reid has won many hearts in Sydney, not least the couple who regularly used their frequent-flyer points to travel to Melbourne to get their pastry fix when Lune operated out of a tiny shopfront in the suburb of Elwood.
Here's what you need to know about the Gourmet Traveller x Lune pop-up.
Where: Paramount Coffee Project, 80 Commonwealth St, Surry Hills, NSW.
When: noon, Thursday 24 August until sold out.
What: The classic Lune croissant in all its buttery glory. There are only 500 so you'll have to be quick.
Update: The first 60 people in line will receive both a classic croissant and a twice-baked almond croissant.
Cost: Every person who shows up with a copy of the September 2017 issue of Gourmet Traveller will receive a croissant. No magazine, no croissant. The magazine goes on sale that morning at all newsagents and major supermarkets. The map below shows the closest retailers (open in new tab to enlarge).
More: Follow @gourmettraveller on Instagram for updates.
What's so special about Lune croissants?
A former aerodynamicist by trade, Kate Reid's eye for precision and detail is evident in every aspect of Lune, from the number of folds that go into each croissant to the fit-out of the Fitzroy store with its temperature-controlled glass cube where the pastries are made.
In fact, it's the series of folds in Reid's croissants that give them their distinctive large flakes and extra crunch. She opts for fewer turns to the pastry than is traditional but, like everything Reid does, it's a deliberate decision informed by her training under Christophe Vasseur of the famed Du Pain et des Idées in Paris.
Then there's the rotating line-up of Reid's mind-bending cruffins, Danishes and one-off creations. One week it might be a Yorkshire pudding-style Danish with rare beef, mushroom duxelles, peas and gravy, the next you could be tossing up between a coconut pandan twice-baked croissant and a PBJ cruffin. Many of her pastry experiments are only available in the Lune Lab, the dessert bar that offers fans three courses of Viennoiserie and a glimpse inside the creative process. Tickets sell out months in advance.
Why do we care?
Long-time fans of Reid's craft, we were pleased to see the rest of the world sit up and take notice when The New York Times posed the question of whether these were in fact the best croissants in the world. Our own writers have described them as pastry perfection. Larissa Dubecki tells us her thoughts on eating her first ever croissant are "unprintable", while our Victorian editor, Michael Harden, recalls, "One bite revealed I was in another croissant league altogether, one where there was a thrilling lightness of touch and where butter had been transformed into another element entirely."
A tray of croissants ready
for the next step.
How is a Lune Croissant made?
Every single croissant goes through a three-day process of folding, resting, fermenting and proving. Bakers at Lune use rulers, thermometers and notebooks - as well as flour and butter - to make the croissants, tweaking the process as they go to achieve the perfect pastry.
The actual baking of the croissants is the quickest step - but none of the steps beforehand can be skipped or rushed.
Reid uses two kinds of butter: Pepe Saya for the dough and Beurre d'Isigny for laminating the pastry. Equal care is taken with the other ingredients: flour from Laucke, Sungold Jersey milk and free-range Villa Verde eggs, while Andrew McConnell's butcher Meatsmith is the go-to for any croissants that use ham or other meaty ingredients. In turn, McConnell features Lune croissants on his breakfast menus at Cumulus Inc and Marion.
How do you take a croissant operation interstate?
The short answer: with lots of extra manpower. To ensure the croissants arrive fresh from the Sonoma ovens on Thursday morning, Kate and brother Cam (also her business partner) will start the process on Sunday morning. On Monday, the hard work happens: all the folding, layering and resting of the dough before shaping it into croissants. Cam will skip his usual Monday off to help Kate make the extra 500 croissants they need to bring to Sydney, on top of the patisserie's 8,000-strong output each week. At the other end, Jordan Miller of Sonoma has provided the Reids with ovens, provers and even staff at his Alexandria bakery.
"We love the way Sonoma run their bakery and how they've grown - that has resonated with us," Reid says. "We really trust bringing our product up to Jordan's facilities."
Did Kate Reid really work on Formula One cars before Lune?
That's right. Reid did a five-year aerospace degree, then a masters in Motorsport Engineering in the UK before landing a job with the Williams team. When she decided it wasn't the career she'd always dreamed of after all, she harked back to the morning croissants she'd enjoyed in Paris while travelling with Formula One teams; in particular she was fascinated with the technique she could tell had gone into crafting each one. Her nose for quality and exacting standards were about to take her down a different path. She approached Vasseur for an internship and went to Paris in 2011 to learn from him, working 10 hours a day to learn the secrets of Viennoiserie.
"It was like living in a movie," says Reid. "I'd walk to work at six in the morning and the whole city would be glowing gold and smelt of butter."
Five years later, Lune sells 1,200 croissants a day, opens to a queue each morning, and continues to experiment with new pastries and flavours each week.
Gourmet Traveller x Lune pop-up from noon on 24 August; Paramount Coffee Project, 80 Commonwealth St, Surry Hills, NSW.