Saturday, October 9, 2010

Weekend Pastry Adventure

People usually ask me what my favorite bakery in Seattle is, to which I usually firmly but gently assert that I've been spoiled by the great pastry shops in Paris* and refuse to visit any in Seattle. But when my friend Edilyn (of Le Cordon Bleu fame) came to visit, we went to a few local bakeries "for research". The results were rather surprising.

Can I find good pastry in Seattle? Why yes!

*Actually, I had my moment of ideological despair in Paris where, surrounded by half-eaten pastries from Pierre Hermé, I realized that I can no longer be enchanted by any pastry. I was saved by some ripe peaches and a deceptively humble teacake from Pain de Sucré, but that's another post.

I've been meaning to check out Hiroki bakery for a while now. I'm a big fan of Japanese/French fusion bakeries, their products are usually less offensively sweet and there are often interesting flavor combinations. Let's just say that I was really glad I went with another pastry aficionado, of course it was normal to order five things between the two of us so we can try everything!

From top to bottom: sweet potato custard roll, kabocha pumpkin cream puff, Gâteau Basque, Hawaii (coconut haupia with lilikoi jelly on top). We also got a peach cream cheese roll, shown on the bottom. In general, everything was subtly sweetened, so the flavor of the ingredients really came through.

The peach in the cream cheese roll really stood out, I'll have to use that idea myself...

I was surprised to see Gateau Bâsque on the menu. It's been making a comeback in France, but I didn't except to see it in Seattle. Hiroki's version didn't contain any fruit, just pastry cream. I rather liked my version with sour cherries better :) The pumpkin cream puff had a wonderful pumpkin filling, but the choux pastry itself was soggy and tasteless. I really enjoyed the Hawaii cake (to be fair, it's hard to go wrong with passion fruit and coconut) and the sweet potato custard roll. I learned that soft, custard-flavored cream and smooth sweet potato puree is a delicious combination; I'll be baking chestnut puree cakes come Christmas time.

The next morning, we headed over to Honoré Artisan Bakery on a pilgrimage for some kouign amann. (For the uninitiated, kouign amann is a delightful pastry from Brittany, a buttery, salty, caramelized cousin of the croissant.) Apparently there is a lack of kouign amann in San Francisco, because Edilyn was very excited to find a source in Seattle and wanted to bring back at least half a dozen for her friends.

When we got to the shop, however, there were only two lonely kouign amanns sitting in the display case. We got some other pastries (They had Gâteau Basque too! Is Seattle more trendy than I give it credit for?) and were ready to leave disappointed. Thankfully, the sweet saleslady (bless her heart) inquired in the back and told us that, if we were willing to wait two minutes, there was a fresh batch coming out of the oven.

Oh man. There's nothing better than a warm kouign amann... Except maybe a half dozen of them, neatly tucked into a box and exuding their heady smell all the way to the airport.

Yes, there is hope in Seattle.

1 comment:

  1. YUM! The best Kouign Amann I ever had! I can't believe how trendy Gateau Basque is in Seattle. Emerald City's pastry scene looks very promising!