“Baking is, after all, meant to be shared.”
This quote comes from Giselle Courteau in the book Food Artisans of Alberta. Along with her business partners, Jacob Pelletier and Garner Beggs, Courteau has been sharing world class baking for 10 years at Duchess Bake Shop in Edmonton’s Westmount neighbourhood.
The trio also self-published an eponymous cookbook that shares many of their most beautiful professional bakery recipes. It garnered a Taste Canada Gold Medal and was since purchased by Appetite Canada – a division of Random House. They are very good at sharing their baking.
No matter the time of year or external temperature in Edmonton, you’ll always find a line-up outside their door on 124 Street. That’s why it’s fabulous news that Courteau and company will now open a second location on Edmonton’s south side in Ritchie Market.
AND… at the same time, they are also launching a new cookbook called Duchess at Home. Read on for a fabulous recipe from the new book and more stories about the tremendous success of this Alberta business.
“We are bursting with excitement to join the vibrant community of Ritchie,” says co-owner Giselle Courteau, alongside partners Garner Beggs and Jake Pelletier. “This will be a cute, petite version of ourselves, and we can’t wait to be part of Ritchie’s exciting food scene alongside our friends at Biera, Blind Enthusiasm, Transcend Coffee and Acme Meats.”
Along with all their fabulous baking, a curated selection of Duchess Provisions will also be available for purchase including Valrhona chocolates, vanilla, flours and jars of their soul-satisfying salted caramel. The first-come, first-serve counter service will keep lines moving, while coffee and drinks will be provided by Transcend Coffee next door.
This is going to be a food lover’s heaven. We’ll be able to enjoy a coffee from Transcend, pick up baking from Little Duchess, order fabulous meats at Acme Meat Market and then sit and have a beer from Blind Enthusiasm with chef Christine Sanford’s delicious food at Biera. I want to move to the Ritchie neighbourhood in Edmonton. But seriously…
The impact this business has on Alberta is significant. They employ 55 people and source all their eggs from one Food Artisan of Alberta, Four Whistle Farm and seasonal fruits from another – Sparrow’s Nest Organics.
With organic flour from B.C. and 22 tons of butter per year from New Zealand and Ireland they make incredible cakes, pies and cookies. They produce a whopping 1500 macarons a day and have garnered international accolades for their pastries and magical gingerbread houses, with profiles in Vogue, The Guardian and Monocle.
In May, 2018, co-owners Courteau and Pelletier were the only North-American team to compete on France’s hit reality TV show, Le Meilleur patissier-Les Professionels, the French version of The Great British Bake Off, to more than 3 million viewers around the world. And in 2015, Duchess Bake Shop and was named #4 of on Buzzfeed’s list of “23 bakeries to eat at before you die.”
I hope you all make it to Edmonton to try out the new bakery when it opens in late October. Until then you can attend one of their cookbook launch parties. If you live in Calgary, that will be on October 20 at the Cookbook Co. Cooks. Details and tickets info are here.
Until you can get your hands on this hot from the oven cookbook, as promised, here’s a fabulous recipe to tide you over.
Recipe: Chaussons aux pommes (Apple Turnovers)
Yield: Makes 8 chaussons
Giselle shares this story about the recipe:
“At 24 years old, I went overseas for the first time. Our first stop was Paris. Bleary-eyed and jetlagged, we checked into our hotel late at night with little awareness of our surroundings. The next morning when we left our hotel we found ourselves in the most charming neighbourhood (Le Marais) and across the street from a little bakery. We bought chaussons aux pommes, still warm out of the oven, and ate them as we walked towards Notre Dame Cathedral. I had never tasted anything so delicious. It seemed like for the first time I understood what it means to really taste butter. Ever since, whenever I travel to Paris I always buy a chausson aux pommes for my first breakfast.”
Traditionally, chaussons aux pommes are made using croissant dough, but that’s pretty tricky to make at home. I find that with good-quality store-bought frozen puff pastry, you can make a very delicious version in your home kitchen.
Equipment and Ingredients: You will need two baking sheets.
- 1 package frozen puff pastry (2 sheets), each sheet about 10 × 10 inches
- 400 grams (3 to 4 small) apples, Granny Smith or Honeycrisp
- 30 grams (2 Tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 50 grams (⅓ cup) packed dark brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoons ground ginger
- ¾ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 60 grams (¼ cup) water
- 1 teaspoons vanilla extract or paste
- 1 Tablespoon brandy or calvados
- 2 large egg yolks
- sugar, for topping
To prepare the apple filling:
- Peel, core, and dice the apples into 1 to 2 cm pieces. In a saucepan, combine all of the ingredients except the brandy and egg yolks. Sauté over low heat for 25 to 30 minutes, until the apples are very soft, stirring every 5 minutes or so.
- Once the apples have softened, turn the heat up to medium. Add the brandy and continue to cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. This should take less than 1 minute. Set the apples aside to cool, and then place them in the refrigerator. The apple filling needs to be completely cool before filling the puff pastry.
To roll, fill, and bake the chaussons:
- On a lightly floured surface, roll each sheet of puff pastry out slightly to make it smooth. Using a small bowl or saucer 4 to 5 inches in diameter as a guide (about the size of a yogurt lid), cut out 4 circles per sheet.
- Place 1½ to 2 Tablespoons of apple filling in the centre of a circle. Using your finger, dab a bit of water around the edges. Fold the circle over to make a half-moon shape. Using your fingers, press down on the seam edge to seal well. With a pizza wheel (best option) or a sharp paring knife, trim the edge of the puff pastry to create a clean line . Avoid using a fork to crimp the edges as this will prevent the pastry from puffing out as it bakes.
- Transfer the chaussons to a lined baking sheet. Using a pastry brush or your fingers, gently brush egg yolk over the whole of each chausson.
- Chill in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes. While the dough is chilling, preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
- When the chaussons are cold, brush them with another layer of egg wash. Using a small, sharp paring knife, score each chausson with a half-moon shape from corner to corner, making sure not to cut all the way through the dough. Score small diagonal lines on the inside and the outside of the half-moon to create a leaf pattern, again not cutting all the way through. Sprinkle generously with sugar.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the pastry is a deep golden brown. Don’t be alarmed if yolk that may have fallen onto the parchment gets quite dark. After the chaussons have cooled to the touch remove them from the parchment, cutting off any dark egg wash that might have baked around the edges. Serve warm for maximum enjoyment!
For Storage/Serving: Chaussons aux pommes are best eaten the day they are baked. They will keep at room temperature for up to three days.
Full Disclosure Due Diligence Note:
Thought you’d like to know my relationship with Giselle and Duchess. I’ve interviewed and included Giselle Courteau in the completely editorial book I co-authored, Food Artisans of Alberta. Giselle has graciously invited me as a guest to her new book launch in Calgary.