Appetizing Art: Review of The Duchess Bake Shop
By Lauren McMullen
The Duchess Bake Shop | 10718 124 Street, Edmonton AB | duchessbakeshop.com
Food is just one of the many ways that people share culture. And what’s not to love? Food is art that you can eat! In Canada, we’re known for several classic dishes (you know the ones—poutine, beaver tails, nanaimo bars, and the ever so stereotypical maple syrup), but a drive along Edmonton's streets is all it takes to discover a city rich with the influences of international cuisine.
One such establishment is the Duchess Bake Shop, a French patisserie well-known and well-loved by many Edmontonians. The patisserie is famous for its high-quality ingredients, elegant atmosphere, and French treats, such as macarons and financiers. But don’t let that fool you; the Duchess Bake Shop also serves classic Alberta favourites such as butter tarts, brownies, and chocolate chip cookies. I took a trip to their shop on 124th street and asked the server to choose three of their top-selling treats for me to review.
Almost Croissant | $4.00
Croissants: one of the most well-known French pastries, right? Well, kind of. Did you know that the earliest version of what we now know as a croissant has been traced to 13th century Austria, with older versions of similar treats potentially originating in Egypt? Basically, people have loved bread in all forms for a very, very long time, but there’s no doubt that France has since claimed its stake in this flakey, buttery treat.
The almond croissant at the Duchess Bake Shop offers a perfect balance of a crunchy outside and a soft, buttery inside, which is no surprise considering that the patisserie uses 84% churn butter to make these treats (basically, it’s extra fatty butter—yum!). If you’re the type of person who pays close attention to the texture of what you’re eating, the almond croissant is for you. Not only is the contrast between the layers of the croissant a delight, but the flavours offer subtle hints of almond to make the nut stand out without overpowering that classic butter croissant taste.
Raspberry White Chocolate Scone | $3.75
Back to my hypothesis of people loving breads of all kinds… scones are another baked good with a complicated birthplace. Likely Scottish in origin, scones quickly made their way around the United Kingdom and later the rest of the world.
I, for one, am usually wary of scones. Famously a dense treat, I have eaten too many desert-dry scones to approach one with anything but apprehension—especially since my previous attempts at making them resulted in nothing but blueberry-flavoured piles of crumbs.
The Duchess Bake Shop’s Raspberry White Chocolate Scone is, to put it modestly, the remedy to my scone-based misadventures. This scone was deceivingly moist and packed full of tart raspberry flavour perfectly contrasted by sweet white chocolate chips. The sugar topping added a delightful crunch, but I think the star ingredient in this recipe was the buttermilk, which lent a slight acidity to the scone that elevated the buttery flavour to a new level. My only complaint? I’m now hopeless that I will ever find a scone to top this one if I leave Edmonton.
Duke Cake (Small Version) | $8.75
So, I didn’t buy a full-sized cake for me, myself, and I to review, but this smaller version of the Duke cake is tasty enough to satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth. I am a chocolate lover through and through, so I was ready to be impressed, and I wasn’t let down. This cake offered chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate without becoming overwhelming.
The dark chocolate ganache paired well with the exceptionally light chocolate buttercream sandwiched between layers of moist chocolate cake. (Did I mention this cake is chocolate galore?) The Duke also incorporates feuilletine flakes around the edges, adding a layer of crunch to this dessert, and the salted caramel was key in cutting through the chocolate and offering an element of lightness to the cake.
I will say that even though the Duchess Bake Shop recommends splitting this cake between two people, my cake-tasting partner and I were unable to get through this ultra-decadent mini-treat in one sitting. But, really, who’s going to complain about leftover cake?
On top of the impressive selection of treats at the Duchess Bake Shop, the staff is always friendly and ready to help you find your next go-to dessert. The patisserie also offers a selection of teas, coffees, and savory items as well, so whether you’re looking to satisfy a sweet craving, grab a morning coffee, or meet up with a friend for lunch, the Duchess Bake Shop has something for everyone.