There are croissants, and there are croissants. The croissants produced by Kenny Curran and Tatton White from their bakery Camina, in Chico, are the real deal.
Crispy outside, plenty of light layers within, a buttery taste, smell, and feel: a fine combination of crunch and meltin- your-mouth. The two bakers are not just about baking the north state’s most perfect croissant. They also develop surprising and enticing, wake-up-your-mouth, sweet and savory fillings for that croissant.
Last November, Curran and White combined their separate baking ventures. White’s Bread Itself offerings at the Wednesday Chico farmers’ market had already developed a local fan base. The quality of the flours, mostly organic and stoneground, leavened with his sourdough culture, baked to yield a toothsome crust and soft, sour interior, brings weekly shoppers back. Curran’s bakery Takeaway Inc specialized in croissants. With experience at San Francisco Bread Institute and LA’s Clark Bakery, as well as in Europe, “you bring a little bit from everyone you’ve worked with,” says Curran, the force behind the croissants, who left off baking croissants at Tin Roof so that he could manifest his influencers in ways he wanted to express.
Describing his method, Curran points to “less sugar, low yeast, slow fermentation, and good butter.” Camina bakers use butter imported from New Zealand. “It’s about the emulsion when the butter is churned,” notes Curran. Small, well-dispersed bits of water among the butterfat help create a multi-layered, thinly laminated croissant dough.
On a still-dark morning, croissants filled the ovens in Camina’s commercial baking space in south Chico. Laid out on baking trays were plain and chocolate croissants (Camina bakers use Valrhona dark chocolate) and two types of savory, flat croissants. On one lay a tomato ricotta filling (the bakers make their own ricotta), and on the other lay Point Reyes toma cheese and a perfectly sufficient sprinkling of Wild West Ferments organic Root Kimchi, also made in Point Reyes. Curran and White fashion croissant dough into muffin cups. too. One type cups a layer of vanilla custard. The other, called the morning bun, is plain and, once baked, swirled in a mixture of sugar and mandarin zest, leaving a sparkle of sweet orange essence.
As of this writing, Camina croissants are available at the Wednesday Chico Farmers’ Market and the Saturday mid-town farmers’ market in Sacramento—the two early mornings their croissants are baked fresh in the ovens. The bakers are also negotiating with three of Chico’s newest coffee houses, Stoble Coffee, Daycamp Coffee, and Brave Coffee. Plans include ramping up to more baking days in order to supply these outlets. As well, the bakers are developing other fillings—housemade jams to top the vanilla custard, a paste like frangipane made from pistachios, not almonds, to layer on another croissant.
To enjoy these croissants fresh from the oven, arrive when the Wednesday farmers’ market opens at North Valley Plaza. Camina breads and croissants are also available in Chico at Chico Natural Foods Co-op, S&S, and New Earth Market. Check camina.com for updated info on where to buy.
Edible Shasta-Butte is the guide to local food, dining, and gardening in Northern California’s central valley from Butte County north to the Oregon border.