If the secret to French cooking is butter (and I’m pretty sure it is), that explains the succès fou of the croissants at Bohemian Bakery in Montpelier, Vermont.
Add a chic, luminous space with white walls and bentwood chairs, espresso worth standing in line for, and a wooden coffee bar that overlooks a modest side street—and you might think you’ve stumbled into a pâtisserie near the Canal St Martin in Paris.
In the French tradition, Bohemian’s croissants are made with butter. Their motto, “Tout le beurre…tout le temps, All butter…all the time” hangs on a chalkboard just inside the front door.
The alchemy that results from layering sheets of butter with yeast-infused dough and folding the layers over themselves again and again is what sets these croissants apart. The plump, flaky pastries have moist, multi-layered insides and deeply-toasted, crunchy outsides.
While Bohemian’s butter croissant is almost ethereal in its flakiness, their almond croissant is a more solid confection. Nearly twice the size and heft of its cousin, it’s filled with almond paste, studded with slivered almonds, and coated in confectioner’s sugar.
A third variation—and my favorite—is the kouign amann (pictured above, pronounced “queen ahmahn”). This little jewel is both delicate and lavish. Its secret? Le beurre, naturellement, and more of it.
Bohemian’s black-aproned bakers (another French tradition is an on-site bakery) fill the center of a square of croissant dough with additional butter, pinch the corners together to seal in the sweetness, and sprinkle top and bottom with sugar and bit of salt.
The pastry that emerges from the busy oven has an intensely caramelized, almost glassy outside, and an exquisitely tender, sweet, rich inside.
Ahhh, Paris… Bohemian does you proud!
Have you had the croissants at Bohemian? What did you think?