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Bakery boom in Edmonton

By popular demand bakeries and pastry shops continue to open in Edmonton. As the capital of Alberta, the city of Edmonton is home to more than one million people. What Edmonton has, beyond a collective sweet tooth and an appreciation of fine bread, is a sense of community. The population proudly supports local businesses. 

Duchess Bakery
Garner Beggs is the founder and co-owner of Duchess Bakery, a classical French bakery that opened in 2009.  “People came out to support us in droves,” he remembers. “Today customers enjoy our mainstay staple items like croissants, chocolatines, madeleines and macarons.”

The top-selling macaron at Duchess Bakery is the pistachio salted caramel.

“Our top-selling macaron is the pistachio salted caramel,” says Patricia Pillar, kitchen manager at Duchess Bakery. When it comes to madeleines there are three top favourites: “Raspberry madeleines with Chambord glaze, chocolate olive oil madeleines and our honey madeleines with Calamansi glaze.” 

While macarons and madeleine flavours rotate continually customers are not open to flavour changes when it comes to scones. “We don’t change our scones anymore – ever. We tried but customers let us know they only wanted their favourites.” About the square-cut scones, Beggs says, “The three most popular are the cheddar pepper scones, raspberry white chocolate scones and the blueberry lemon glaze scones.”

When asked which cake is her favourite, Pillar quickly points to The Duke cake. It’s a sumptuous and regal combination. An intense chocolate sponge cake is layered with salted caramel and Valrhona chocolate ganache. It’s topped with a chocolate mirror glaze. For customers who prefer a tart citrus taste, the lemon chiffon cake is layered with salted caramel and thick lemon cream. Layers of billowing meringue are toasted to a golden brown.  

A French bakery must have tarts. The playful grapefruit lavender tart combines grapefruit curd and grapefruit marmalade. It’s decorated with star-tip piped lavender whipped ganache. Orange grapefruit and edible blue cornflowers add flair. 

As for cookies, Beggs says, “Every day for breakfast I have the triple chocolate chip cookie. I love the flavour, taste and texture.” Other beloved cookies include ginger cookies made with crystallized ginger and rounds of buttery shortbread. 

Vienna Bakery
Vienna Bakery opened in 1959. It changed ownership when Bernie Jaeger, a German-trained pastry chef, and his wife Brigitte bought the operation. The couple built upon what was already there and developed numerous other recipes. As often happens with long-standing bakeries the menu kept growing as loyal customers held fast to old favourites. Vienna Bakery has more than 70 different baked goods from pastry to bread. Today, second-generation son, owner, and head baker Brian Jaeger carries on the family tradition. 

Jaeger delves deeper into the Edmonton baking scene: “The landscape hadn’t changed much until the 2010s. Then, French pastry shops started to open, each with its specialties. Several niche bakeries also opened.” 

Vienna Bakery still has a loyal following. Showcases feature items customers just can’t resist. “Our best-selling pastries are the poppy seed slices, rum balls and the mini–Black Forest cakes. As for larger cakes, the top seller is the Black Forest cake. The secret is lots of Kirsch, a deep chocolate sponge cake, high-quality cherry filling and 100 per cent real whipped cream.” 

Streusel cakes in apple or cherry are pudding-style cakes that are moist, infused with the selected fruit and topped generously with streusel. Cookies appeal to the North American palate and include classics like chocolate chip, ginger cookies and oatmeal raisin.

Vienna Bakery customers enjoy the Central European-style thick and hearty breads. The top seller is the medium rye bread. A variety of sourdoughs quickly sell. “Our sourdough isn’t a strong flavour like a San Francisco sourdough. Instead, it has a mild taste. We make it in different flavours including cranberry walnut, olive with white cheddar, as well as jalapeno and cheddar.”

A variety of fresh-from-the-oven bagels, including cinnamon raisin and multigrain, draw customers in for breakfast on the run. 

Bonjour Bakery
Other glorious breads are available at Bonjour Bakery, a company specializing in sourdough or pain au levain. It’s made using wild yeast culture and local Alberta wheat. The whole wheat and rye are milled on location. 

Bonjour Bakery specializes in sourdough or pain au levain made using wild yeast culture and local Alberta wheat. Whole wheat and rye breads are milled on location.

“Of all our sourdough breads, my absolute favourite is the Pain Paysanne,” says Yvan Chartrand, founder, and master baker. “The freshly in-house milled flour that we use to produce it is from a local organic heritage grain farm. It has a distinctive nutty flavour. This bread has very few ingredients: just flour, salt, water and nothing else. Yet the process for making it is quite long and precise.”

“The secret for this bread is that the temperature and time must be controlled through each step. This includes making the levain, the slow mixing production, the long first dough fermentation, shaping and final proofing,” Chartrand says. “Roughly three days goes into the making process from start to finish.”

Bonjour Bakery will remain an Edmonton-based family business as Chartrand’s son Kenny stepped into the role as head baker a few years ago.

Destination Doughnuts
Every Canadian city needs a good doughnut shop. In 2017, Edmonton-based Red Seal baker Arlyn Sturwold opened Destination Doughnuts with his daughter Jill. The business sells its delicious baked goods as individual treats, for gifts, corporate events and even weddings. 

Red Seal baker Arlyn Sturwold and daughter Jill own and operate Destination Doughnuts selling doughnuts and other baked products as individual treats, and for gifts, corporate events and weddings.

“We make only yeast-raised doughnuts, no chemically aerated products here,” Sturwold says. “Every day sees a total of 30 different flavours/toppings on display. This is comprised of mostly rings. Second in number are the filled doughnuts, with seven varieties. Lastly the fritters with three varieties.”

Sturwold looks back on his early business venture days, “I opened the doughnut store with an initial list of 12 different toppings that I wanted to present. Almost immediately I went about trying to find new combinations of flavours, textures and colours,” Sturwold remembers. “Fortunately, one idea developed very early on. It was a ring doughnut, dipped in caramel sauce, sprinkled generously with Skor Bits, and finished with white chocolate line work. This one has proven to be a real crowd favourite. Even the name is enjoyed by customers. The toffee-topped-toffee became the ‘aha’ event.”

What is the key to crafting the perfect doughnut? “Pay close attention to dough temperature, mixing time and bulk fermentation time. Be consistent every day with these procedures. This gives great crumb texture, moistness and shelf life.”

Sturwold shares another secret. “If I had only one choice in life for a favourite doughnut, it would have to be a still-warm honey glazed. It just can’t be beaten!”


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