Lune: Croissants All Day, All Night – to which is there any other answer than, yes please? Making croissants is something I’ve always thought best left to the professionals. It’s a fine art and while not rocket science, there’s definitely crossover: one requires precision, delicacy and an intricate understanding of weight and heat distribution; the other is rocket science. Kate Reid, owner and author of Lune, originally worked as an aerospace engineer for the Williams Formula 1 Team before a trip to Paris convinced her to apply her skillset to making croissants. Over a decade later, Lune has multiple venues in Australia, queues of people willing to wait hours to try their products and as of last year, a debut cookbook.
Reid has talked at length at how the two seemingly distinct career paths have benefited one another. She compares Lune to a “croissant Formula 1 team”, being driven by a need for an experimental and results driven approach in the pursuit of excellence. The book wears its engineering influences quite literally on its sleeve: starting with the croissant-shaped spaceship logo, a sleek black and reflective silver design, high contrast photography and a rigorously assembled ingredients list and methodology. Recipes are broadly listed by what time of day to have them, from Breakfast to Dinner, all the times in between and interspersed with personal stories of establishing Lune.
The golden thread throughout the book is the croissant dough. Once made, it can be applied to numerous different pastry recipes ranging from croissants, cruffins, danishes, escargots and more. Alongside the classics, are inventive recipes like Chocolate Plum Sake Danishes or Beef Bourguignon croissants. The book gets this out of the way early and it’s only fair I should too: you will not be travelling at speed. It will take at least 48 hours over the course of three days and a decent amount of effort to produce a single batch. Croissant casuals need not apply.
Day one requires a morning making a poolish and an afternoon bringing the dough together. Day two is lamination, the process of layering butter and pastry that gives croissants their flaky layers and if laminated in the morning, can then be shaped in the evening. Day three calls for a 2am start (spoiler: I did not get up at 2am), proving the croissants for five hours before baking to have with breakfast.
It is as time consuming as the book assures you it is but the dough recipe is so exacting, with photographs accompanying every step and measurements to the centimetre and gram there is little scope to go wrong. It is entirely worth the effort. I bake mine at a much more reasonable 1pm, filling the house with croissant pheromones that continually entice us back into the kitchen to check on their progress. The results are ethereal wonders, so lovingly formed and delicate I consider making an application for a UNESCO heritage listing to preserve them forever. They taste even better, as if they descended fully formed, a divine aura sailing them gracefully into my mouth.
Thankfully, the dough recipe returns enough for five batches and leaves plenty of opportunity to explore other pastries. The Cacio e Pepe Escargot is as lavish as its namesake. Danishes filled with strawberries and a burnt miso caramel custard are a rollercoaster of sweet and savoury. Cruffins are surprisingly easy to assemble and, in less of a shock, absolutely magnificent when filled with a peanut butter crème pâtissière and jam.
There are some small barriers to entry, investments in both time and equipment being examples. If you’re already a home baker, you’ll likely have the essentials to make the dough but for certain recipes, you’ll need more bespoke items like small, square silicone moulds for danish pastries. However, I didn’t have some of these and used the best equivalent I could find. The results were, admittedly, misshapen but no less delicious for it.
One of the many joys of this book is its laser focus. All of the recipes start from the same place – the croissant dough – which you’re going to learn to do very well and then apply it in an abundance of wildly inventive recipes. It’s refreshing to be encouraged to hone a craft, that yes, this is a practice of patience and discipline but it’s worth doing well. And once mastered, it can be taken in any creative direction you like – the sky’s the limit as they say, though I think Lune makes me want to shoot for the moon.
Suitable for: Confident home cooks/professional chefs
Cookbook Review Rating: Five stars
Buy the book: Lune: Croissants All Day, All Night by Katie Read
£28, Hardie Grant Books
Review written by Nick Dodd a Leeds-based pianist, teacher and writer. Contact him at www.yorkshirepiano.co.uk
Lune has been shortlisted for the Andre Simon Food and Drink Book Awards 2022