James Beard Publication of the Year 2017

A Croissant Hybrid That Won’t Make You Want to Hit Someone

A Croissant Hybrid That Won’t Make You Want to Hit Someone

Laugencroissant in Düsseldorf

Sofort. Immediately. The tram stop display has been insisting that the tram is just around the corner for the past two minutes. From living in Düsseldorf, a West German city of 700,000 inhabitants, for the better half of three years, I’ve come to time things a little too closely when taking local transit.

Before moving here, I was led to believe, like many around the world, that Germany’s rail network is synonymous with punctuality. So unfalteringly dependable that you could set your Tissot to the Intercity Express (ICE) train’s departure.

The low rumble and screech of the tram rounding the corner finally sounds, and I’m on my way to the city’s Hauptbahnhof (central station) to catch the long-distance ICE to Koblenz. It’s going to be another tight connection between tram and train.

The tram doors punch open and I bolt to my train’s platform. I get sucked into the current of rushed commuters dodging stationary tourists. The latter idle dizzily in the mid-morning rush, confused by lingering jet lag and ridiculously long compound words. I climb two steps at a time to the train platform with the conviction that I can still make it.

My gaze is arched high towards the train platform departure panel at the top of the staircase. The “9:20 Koblenz HBF” entry is framed by white ticker text: 20 minutes delayed.

I duck below platform level to the train concourse to rejoice in the anti-climactic end to a 200-yard sprint. Obviously, the train delay is a sign that I should pick up a breakfast snack.

The Brezelbub (roughly, “pretzel boy”) stand shines with the oaky lacquer of soft pretzels. A selection of original salted pretzels, some slathered in butter, others dressed in chives, and a neat row of baton-shaped laugenstangen are the first thing to tempt me.

Fortunately, my go-to order is still in stock this morning: the laugencroissant. A lye-water croissant, or more simply put, a pretzel croissant, combining the shape and layered pastry of the croissant with the sturdier texture of the pretzel. I promptly unravel the wax paper bag and pull out the pretzel, reincarnated. I flake open the bronze crust of the crescent bread to expose the familiar buttery layers of dough. A Franco-German union of baking institutions, creating a product that breaks with tradition.

I chomp away and before climbing the steps back to the platform, I’m already dabbing the bottom of the bag to find the last salty flakes. There are still 14 minutes to go until departure, but I can now take it easy. The punctuality of Germany’s long-distance trains may be a myth—but this morning, I’m thankful.

Brezelbub – Düsseldorf Hauptbahnhof (Platform 10)
Konrad Adenauer Platz 14
6:00 to 22:00 daily

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