Food & Drink

Look no further for traditional, flaky, buttery croissants than this Fairhaven bakery

Good things happen at 4 a.m. while Bellingham is still asleep. Chef Miran Schang and her team at Iron Rooster Bakery are making fresh croissants to ensure you start your day off on the right foot.

Known for their buttery flakiness and as coffee’s best friend, let’s take an inside look at the three-day process that is croissant making at one of Bellingham’s French-inspired bakeries: Iron Rooster.

Day one:

Day one starts with mixing quality ingredients together to make the perfected yeasted dough. While under-mixing the dough will result in a product that has little-to-no structure, over-mixing the dough will make croissants that are extremely tough and chewy — think of a flat tire that you try to overfill.

At Iron Rooster in Fairhaven, the dough is mixed and rested under refrigeration overnight. During this time the dough relaxes and develops its flavor.

Baked croissants wait to be put on display and sold at the Iron Rooster Bakery in Fairhaven. Lacey Young The Bellingham Herald

Day two:

On the second day, a block of butter that weighs 45% to 55% of the weight of the dough is prepared.

Chef Miran uses high-quality European butter that is critical to creating a flaky end product. This “fancy” butter adds more flavor and is made in places like Ireland or Vermont.

The butter is pressed and rolled to create a rectangular butter block that is half the size of the dough.

The butter is then placed in the center of the dough, like a letter in an envelope, and thus begins a process called lamination. The dough is rolled and folded into thirds onto itself and placed in the refrigerator to rest. This process is repeated two to three more times and the dough rests overnight.

Baked croissants wait to be put on display and sold at the Iron Rooster Bakery in Fairhaven. Lacey Young The Bellingham Herald

Day three:

On day three, Chef Miran shapes the dough and proofs it in a humidity- and temperature-controlled environment to achieve the proper volume thanks to yeast.

The dough is then baked, where the butter melts and separates the dough using steam and creating the classic croissant flakiness. Then it’s time to enjoy!

But not all croissants look like the traditional ones that come to mind. Laminated dough can be cut into different shapes including the mama hen’s nest, where croissant dough is rolled in cinnamon sugar and when it’s done baking is filled with pastry cream.

Croissants are a labor of love and require a tremendous amount of time to master the skill. To check off a long list of everything that must go right in croissant making, it’s best to leave it to the pros. In their bakeshops, they benefit from a temperature-controlled environment, a large sheeter to roll out the dough, high-quality ingredients and a proof box.

Try not to ruffle your feathers at new flavors and pick something new next time you visit Iron Rooster!

Stacey Coates is a pastry chef instructor at Bellingham Technical College. She’s been mastering the craft of all things sweet and buttery since her first Easy Bake Oven and will write weekly about Bellingham’s blossoming food and cocktail scene.