Boulangerie les Co’Pains d’abord (Montreal, Canada)
One of my favorite bakeries (boulangerie, to be exact) for my morning viennoiserie would be at Boulangerie les Co’Pains d’abord. This particular bakery makes their heavenly, buttery breakfast pastries from scratch in a compact kitchen in the back of the retail/café space.
I had the honor to observe and photograph the hard working, busy but friendly bakers and staff members during an early, busy Saturday morning. Everyone at the kitchen is at least busy rolling; moving sheet pans of baked pastries in and out of the oven; staff taking care of customers’ orders; walking down and up the stairs to fetch an ingredient or few from the basement. I’m astounded at the pace everyone is trying to keep up with the large influx of customers coming in and out ordering a bunch of pastries for the morning (individually or for families).
Of course, I did pick up several wonderful pastries before I left them and shared it with friends. Overall, they were beautifully made and the level of sweetness is controlled very nicely. All of these laminated pastries (various croissants, turnover and danish) were buttery and the wispy flakes make it the perfect texture. The plain croissant and almond croissant were delicious. The apricot and custard danish was sublime from the bright orange hemispheres of soft, mildly sweet apricots, the silky custard and the pastry was just sweet enough. The Grand Cru chocolate croissant is an indulgent chocolate lover’s croissant since it’s a mix of butter and chocolate croissant dough and filled with Valrhona 70% Guanaja chocolate stick.
The chassons aux pommes (French style apple turnover) had a wonderfully buttery crust and the filling was delicious and not heavily spiced with cinnamon (I prefer less cinnamon and clove). The plié au chocolat is a puff pastry filled with lightly sweetened, silky custard and dark chocolate chips. It’s decadent but it doesn’t hit you with too much chocolate like the Grand Cru chocolate croissant but this pastry is larger than the mentioned.
For something relatively unexpected from this boulangerie is the panettone. One of the owners of this bakery is obsessed with panettone. Panettone is a traditional sweet Italian Christmas holiday bread that’s a cousin to the broiche and tend to be baked with candied fruits and citrus zests. However at les Co’Pains d’abord, they make it with seasonal fruits since it’s early summer strawberries and rhubarb are at its peak. The panettone’s crumb is plush, pillowy soft and moist and just the right ratio of sweet-tart filling. When I shared this with my mother, she was enamored how good it was.
The matcha croissant was good texturally though I prefer my matcha flavor stronger (I expected to taste the grassy, bitter tea) but I guess it’s something the locals have yet to embrace completely. The cheese croissant was the perfect antidote to all of the sweet pastries I had.