From the perfectly crunchy baguette tradition to a fluffy croissant, good bread is abundant in France, but Alex Croquet pushes the art of baking to a whole other level. Based in the small village of Wattignies in the outskirts of Lille, Alex Croquet has refused proposals to expand from all over the world whether it’s in London, Paris or Tokyo. In the style of a true artisan, a shokunin, he wakes early every morning to make bread at his boulangerie in Wattignies village, which also supplies the bread to his Lille bakery.
Every aspect is important in the art of bread making, from the “living water”, which is filtered, purified and dynamised to the techniques, flour and entire chemical-free long-fermentation processes. Bread in many ways starts with water, and as a true bread alchemist, Croquet is passionate about water chemistry. The water he uses is purified and energised by natural, mechanical vortices.
Yet, Croquet goes beyond bread to extend his skills and philosophy to an entire range of baked goods. One of the most famous one, tarte aux clémentines is all about the mastering the gesture. By shaping inverted puff pastry (pâte feuilletée inversée) in a circle to form the base of the tarte, turning the edges and adorning in a fan-like array 1 – 2 mm thick half-circles of clementines, Croquet allows for a delightful expression of zest, flesh and sweet, through only the best and essential ingredients. (The fruit is brushed with clarified butter and sprinkled with brown sugar.)