For breakfast, nothing beats a good piece of soft and flaky croissant — bread so good that all you need is to slice it open and spread a little butter on it, and each bite would be pure bliss. On other days, a nice slice of cheese to go with it would be equally rewarding on the palate. On more indulgent days, it would make a good canvas for tuna or ham and cheese sandwich lined with lettuce, tomato and cucumber. Good enough to enjoy on its own and so versatile you can actually add very little to it or load it up with ingredients to make sweet and savory treats, a croissant packs in all the goodness to make sure everyone enjoys every bite.
Banking on the versatility and the much-loved crunchy and flaky nature of the croissant, quite a few bakers have in the past challenged their own creativity to come up with such successful hybrids of the croissant as Cronuts (croissant doughnuts) and Cruffins (croissant muffins).
Now comes Croissaymada from the Croissant Lady PH. It’s a hybrid between a croissant and an ensaymada, made by using laminated dough to make a croissant and then loading it up with ensaymada ingredients such as Parmesan cheese, brown sugar and pure salted butter, and then toasting it for that exquisite toasted ensaymada-style croissant experience.
An idea turned into an actual product that works, the Croissaymada is actually the brainchild of Donnatella Chua, who loves a good croissant at any time of the day and knows a really good croissant when she encounters one. The idea came to her in a lightbulb moment in the afternoon of 24 August when she was having her favorite Earl Grey Tea and suddenly finding herself craving for ensaymada. She searched online to look for a place where she could have one, although on regular days, she would just conveniently go to Mary Grace for ensaymada paired with a cup of thick hot chocolate for merienda. That particular afternoon, however, she turned to the Net and when she could not find an answer, she thought, ‘Why don’t I make my own ensaymada using my own butter croissant?’ And so she did, since she had all the necessary ingredients in her pantry anyway.
“I did not make buttercream anymore, as I didn’t want to ruin the puffiness and flakiness of my butter croissants. So, I tested just putting ensaymada toppings on the butter croissants before and after baking — double toppings for double happiness. I got the trinity of sweet, cheesy and salty, which means a sweet crunch from brown sugar bits, cheesiness from Parmesan cheese and salty goodness from salted butter,” explains Donnatella who thinks her real name, Donna, is boring so she has taken on the name Donnatella.
Before Donna became the Croissant Lady, her day job was selling chef’s uniforms to chefs, restaurants and hotels. But when the pandemic happened, her main source of income was greatly affected. She searched for something else to do to put food on the table and discovered, by accident that baking croissants would empower her financially. Yes, she still sells chef’s uniforms, but her day job has become baking and selling really good French-quality croissants. A reversal of roles has happened.
Her online croissant business started with her craving. Not just for classic butter croissant but also for pain au chocolat, which is a laminated dough bread with a chocolate filling. She simply loves pain au chocolat, having tasted what she thinks is the best over breakfast at Farnham Estate-Gold and Spa Resort in Cavan, Ireland, during a business travel back in 2019.
“I remember wrapping up the pain au chocolat in a napkin, mommy-style, as baon to take home to Manila and see how long its goodness would last,” Donna recalls.
This memory made her crave for pain au chocolat so she searched for stores, pastry chefs and suppliers of croissants that would satisfy her craving. It took her only a week to find what tickled her tongue — and soul. Since then, she ordered croissants regularly in frozen form because she liked the idea of baking her own croissants and enjoying them fresh at home. That was the experience she was looking for. Happy that she finally found good croissants and pain au chocolat, she shared her personal foodie post on her social media account, and friends started asking her where she got them.
“I told them that a trade secret supplier was selling them to me, only for my personal stock, and that I did not sell them. They asked me to sell them some for them to try. So, I sent them frozen packs. The next day, I got positive feedback from these foodie friends. They said croissants and pain au chocolat were amazing, and they thanked me for sharing with them my foodie find. They said I should sell them online. I told them I had no plans, that I would stick to baking them for my own enjoyment, and that they could feel free and pasabuy stocks with me. But they kept convincing me, telling me that the croissants and pain au chocolat were so good it was selfish not to share them with foodies like us, so I gave in,” says Donna, who finally launched Croissant Lady PH on 7 April.
At first, Donna was baking part-time, usually in the afternoon, to meet her orders. Now, she bakes from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. From classic butter croissants and glorious pain au chocolat, which Donna sells in regular size and minis, the Croissant Lady PH’s menu now also includes not just Croissaymada but also Spinach puffs and peppered mushroom puffs. Both offer the option of having them in plain laminated dough or with Parmesan cheese topping.
“The Croissant Lady PH’s promise is that all our breads are always baked fresh from the oven when you get them. I only bake them à la minute once the order is confirmed and paid for,” Donna assures.
To order, fill out an order form at my.forms.app/croissantladyph/croissantladyph-order-form. A reply is usually made within 24 to 48 hours to confirm an order. Lead time is one to two days.
Customers may pick up orders or book a rider via delivery apps.