Croissants are a delicious delicacy made with light pastry. They are most commonly believed to have originated in France, however, they are actually from Austria.
They can be great as part of a snack, or as a standard breakfast food. while they taste delicious warmed up, croissants are also great when you’re on the go as they can also be eaten cold.
For the health-conscious individual, they can be consumed in moderation. A small croissant contains around 170 calories, and can be high in fat. This is good for people who are following a ketogenic diet, but not for the general individual.
Croissants typically contain eggs, flour, butter, milk, salt and yeast. Due to the eggs, butter, and milk, croissants in the traditional sense are not vegan. This will rule out the majority of croissants that you will find at your supermarket. The only exception here will be in specialty food aisles, or shops themselves, which may stock items that do not contain animal products.
Alternative Ingredients for Vegan Croissants
As with a lot of specialty items, you may find that vegan croissants are more expensive than their general counterparts, so this may deter some people. That does not have to mean you cannot bake them yourself by substituting the animal-based ingredients.
Egg Wash Substitution
Eggs are generally used as a glaze in croissants. This makes them look shiny and turn that delightful golden-brown color that is generally associated with bread and pastry products. It is also an optional step. You can leave this out, but that means your croissants will stay pale and won’t have that extra crispness.
If you still want to try and recreate them as close to the traditional recipe as possible, these are some of the substitutions that may work for you.
Oil – Rather than using eggs to glaze your croissants, try using oil instead. Flavorless products such as olive oil work best. You want to ensure your dough is glazed, but not alter the original taste of your croissants.
Egg Replacer – Some specialist stores may sell a form of egg replacer. If you can’t find them on the high street, you can easily find products to buy online. These are vegan friendly egg replacement powders that you mix with water. They can be used within products to replace the egg itself. For croissants, they can be mixed with water and brushed over the dough the same way you would if you were using an actual egg.
Almond Milk – So long as you don’t have a nut allergy, almond milk is a great substitute. It may give the pastry a hint of nutty flavor, but will ensure that the golden-brown hue is there. Rice and soy milks can also be used, but again may alter the flavor of your product.
Flaxseed – Watered down flaxseed is an extremely popular egg substitute in the vegan community. It works the same way here as in any other recipe, by binding the products well and giving a browned finish.
Some recipes contain milk as their main liquid. This can cause problems for those who are vegan or who have a dairy intolerance or allergy. Luckily, there are other products you can use instead of cow’s milk to make croissants.
The substitute you use here can make a massive difference to your product, as common milk substitutes can have identifying flavors. The thickness of your substitute may also change the outcome of your croissants.
The best types to use would be products that are as close to cow’s milk without actually being the real thing. You should also use a milk that you would be happy drinking anyway, as this will be the best gauge on whether or not you will enjoy the difference in taste with your croissants.
Overall, the milk is present in croissants to bind the dry ingredients together, so it’s not optional. You need to find a way of including a liquid in your recipe.
Soy Milk – Soy milk is extremely popular, and has a similar consistency to cow’s milk. The flavor is not too strong, meaning this will aid your croissants in staying close to their original taste.
Almond Milk – If you like the nutty taste, almond milk is the perfect substitute for vegan-friendly, homemade croissants. You can also save time and money by using this both within the dough itself and as a glaze. You could also go one step further and include chopped or ground almonds on top for a truly nutty taste.
Water – If you don’t have, or like, any of the milk substitutes, then it is possible to replace them with water. This will also help to increase the healthiness of the product through removing calories. By no means does this make them healthy though.
The buttery taste and texture are a staple part of the croissant. They are normally described as being a buttery pastry. It is important that you keep this texture and, if possible, taste.
Due to the importance of the butter, and people’s different tastes, this substitution may need to be amended both in amounts and which product you use until you find one that makes them taste nice for you.
Margarine – Make sure you pick a margarine that specifies that it is vegan-friendly or dairy-free, and this is the closest you will come to real butter. Rather than being made with milk or animal fat, a vegan margarine will be made purely from vegetable fats. Margarine is a common baking staple in a lot of homes, even those that do not follow a vegan diet. It is a good butter substitute that tastes remarkably similar to the real thing and acts in the same way. Margarine will provide moisture to your croissants and aid with those all-important layers.
Vegan Butter – This is guaranteed to not contain any animal products, and can also taste great when baking. Ingredients within these such as coconut or rapeseed will ensure you have that buttery texture you need without the need to exploit animals.
Coconut Oil – This may give your croissants a slightly altered flavor, but can still be successful. It also may be slightly healthier than the other options, due to a lack of processed ingredients. The downside here is that, while the oil helps the pastry retain its moisture, you may find that your layers aren’t as defined. Overall, this shouldn’t affect the end result too much, especially if you are going for taste rather than look.
Cocoa Butter – Using cocoa butter will give your croissants a chocolatey edge. This can make them perfect if you want a vegan chocolate fix, or for children who are on a specialist, dairy-free diet. The cocoa butter will work the same way as the other butters, but there is no escaping the taste change here. Only use cocoa butter if you’re happy to (or trying to) make chocolate croissants.
Croissants, and pastry in general, do not have to be reserved purely for those who ingest animal products. You may find that you cannot buy them in-store, but the ingredients to make them yourself should be fairly easy to come by.
The luxury of croissants is that the substitutions can be adapted, and there are several of them. This means you can keep changing the recipe until you find one that works for you and your family. You can also find a number of recipes and reviews from people who have already experimented with vegan croissants, which may help you further.
However you choose to make them, also take note of the nutritional content of the ingredients you use as, just because they do not contain animal products, this does not mean they are good for you. From this, you will be able to work out portion sizes so you can enjoy your new tasty treat in a healthy way.