You’ll either love this recipe, or you’ll hate it. Such is the divisive power of Marmite.
Or so their ad men would have you believe. In reality, the lines of this savoury stand-off are slightly more blurred. Of course you get the obsessives who buy into the brand at every level – from crisps and cheddar bites to Marmite-flavoured chocolate – and the haters, who recoil at the mere mention of the word. But there are also a small percentage of people who fall into a murky middle ground, who’d never choose to spread it on their toast, but would nibble on a Twiglet or stir the occasional spoon into gravy.
This is because Marmite is rich in umami, that sensational savoury fifth taste which packs a punch way above its weight. Just a little bit of Marmite goes a long way, and its lip smacking saltiness can bring an amazing extra depth of flavour when added to certain dishes. Marmite on spaghetti? Anna del Conte does it. Marmite Bloody Mary? Gary Rhodes is a fan. And with their latest campaign, Marmite have picked up on this fact, positioning the spread as the ultimate ingredient for foodies looking to liven up ‘bland British meals’.
All very well, you might say, but surely to make a Marmite croissant I must fall into the first category of Marmite obsessives?
Well no, not really. Don’t get me wrong, I do love the stuff, but I’m a bit of a Marmite purist. Spread it on bread or buttered toast and I’m yours, but I don’t go in for the crisps and crackers, cheese or chocolate. It’s a texture thing as well as flavour; you need the bite of the bread, the salty spread and a smooth buttery finish for the ultimate in Marmite experiences.
Which is where this croissant comes in. Having made – and loved – my first batch of homemade croissants a few months back, I started to wonder what other flavour combinations might be possible. My recipe books were full of ideas, but pretty much everything was sweet; the closest nod to savoury being croissants stuffed with cheese or ham. I wanted saltiness without the heaviness of a filling, so decided to start from the very beginning, adding flavour to the dough itself.
A good spoon of Marmite is worked through butter (a la Nigella’s instant Marmite sandwiches) which is then chilled and folded through the dough. The aroma as you roll your pastry is rich and yeasty, and the smell as they bake has a distinctive note of Marmite. When you come to actually taste them, the flavour in these croissants is fairly subtle, which makes me think they shouldn’t just be the preserve of Marmite obsessives. Carniverous Boyfriend isn’t a Marmite fan, but that didn’t stop him digging in for a second serving of this flaky, buttery, slightly salty pastry.
So what would our friends across the channel think of this distinctive British product making its way into the quintessentially French croissant? Well, as you probably know, Marmite was named for the large earthenware cooking pot in which this spread was originally made, pronounced ‘mar-meet’ in French. We took their word to name our product, so maybe now it’s time to give a little something back. Love it or hate it, here it is.
What’s your position on Marmite? Do you love it? Hate it? Or are you one of those people that’s sits somewhere in between?
I’ve already written detailed instructions on how to make croissants here, using the fairly foolproof instructions of the River Cottage Bread Handbook. Gather all your ingredients and follow the instructions from this previous post, substituting the 500g butter with 500g Marmite butter, below.
Allow the butter to soften slightly, then stir through the Marmite until fully incorporated. Return your Marmite butter to the fridge and chill thoroughly before us.
Please note, this post isn’t sponsored by Marmite. Reading back, it does sound like it might be, but it’s not. I just really like the stuff. And bread. And butter. And any combination thereof.