Croissants for breakfast on Christmas day have long been a tradition in my family. My earliest memories of Christmas include my siblings and I tucking in to warm, crisp pastries with jam as my mum feasted on her favourite scrambled eggs and smoked salmon (we children were vegetarians!). Funnily enough, childhood Christmas food memories don’t include any of Christmas dinner – only breakfast!
Even as we grew up and ‘fled the nest’, as teenagers, spending Christmas with my elder sisters and dad, we always continued our Christmas comfort tradition of croissants for breakfast washed down with orange juice. It follows, that Christmas breakfast is an important part of the festivities for me!
This year, I am volunteering at the wildlife hospital on Christmas morning. So, to ensure I don’t miss out on my favourite part of the day, I am going to wake up early to have pastries with Mat before I set off.
However, I’m going beyond plain croissants with jam this year. My all time favourite bakery pastry has always been an almond croissant, filled with a fragrant almond frangipane and topped with toasty flaked almonds. I spent years before I turned vegan trying to perfect the pastry at home. I tried marzipan and all sorts before learning that it was simply a rich frangipane which baked up into a cream like paste as it almost steamed within the dough. Linda Collister became my savior and allowed me to produce almond croissants at home identical to those I paid quadruple the price for and had no idea what the ingredients were. Then I turned vegan.
I have, more easily than I’d envisaged for an egg yolk rich mixture, been able to reproduce the filling in vegan form that tastes just as good as I remember. I mean, can you really go wrong with almonds, pastry and sugar?
Mat is not a fan of croissants however, and his favourite pastries are the cinnamon whirls I posted a couple of years back. So we will have a selection of the two with a big pot of tea and orange juice. I’m sure it will set me up well for a wintry morning out in the aviaries! Leftovers will keep us and any visitors in delicious pastries for a couple of days, they are good as fresh after five minutes in a moderate oven to warm and crisp up.
A couple of handy shortcuts will ensure a smooth breakfast delivery without having to run out of the house to work with half a croissant in hand and still in my pajama top. I use ready rolled puff pastry for the cinnamon whirls and ready made croissant dough for the almond croissants. Both are very readily available and vegan friendly here in the UK (Jus Rol brand is vegan along with many supermarket brands but to check). You can, of course, make your own dough if you prefer. Also, both the fillings can be mixed up the night before (or up to 5 days in advance), covered and kept in the fridge overnight. Just make sure the first thing you do when you wake up and click the kettle on, is to take the fillings out of the fridge to soften to room temperature or you’ll end up tearing your pastry before you get to spread it over.
Ingredients: Makes 12 croissants
- 60g/4tbsp vegan margarine
- 50g/1/4 cup unrefined granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp lemon zest
- 1/2 tsp pure almond extract
- replacer for 1 egg prepared (a powder works best here e.g Ener-G or Orgran)
- 50g/1/2 cup ground almonds
- 1/2 tbsp flour
For the croissants:
- Ready made or homemade croissant dough for 12 pastries (e.g 2 cans of Jus Rol)
- 2 tbsp almond milk
- 25g/1/4 cup flaked almonds
- 2 tbsp unrefined powdered sugar
- Start by making the filling. Use a wooden spoon or electric whisk to beat the butter until creamy, then beat in the sugar, lemon zest and almond extract for a minute until combined and fluffy. Mix in the prepared egg replacer until fully combined. Fold through the ground almonds and flour.
- When ready to make the pastries. Preheat the oven to 200’C/400’F (or the temperature suggested for the brand of dough you use).
- Unravel the dough and separate into triangles. At the short side (opposite the point) dollop a heaped teaspoon of filling then roll over into crescents. Be careful not to overfill as the filling will seep out.
- Place in a lined baking tray, brush with a little almond milk and scatter over the almonds. Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm from the oven or at room temperature dusted with powdered sugar.
Low in sodium
High in phosphorus
Adapted and veganized from Linda Collister