French Corner Bakery & Patisserie review

Yesterday was my first visit to French Corner Bakery & Patisserie. I am now planning many more visits.  ^^

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French Corner is located at 1224 Dundas Street West, Unit 114, Mississauga, ON, L5C 4G7.  They have an active Facebook page and you can see many delightful pictures of their wares from Yelp reviewers.

My friend and I ventured forth in the aftermath of a freezing rain to sample the goods.  She has been there many times and told me about how much the bakery has expanded since she started visiting.

Review:

Another pasty gem hiding in plain site, what is with these amazing French patisseries in unexpected neighbourhoods?

We visited around 3:30 pm on a Thursday afternoon.  There were a few other customers but it wasn’t packed (thank you weather!), which was nice. Both counter staff were friendly and helpful. The food we tried was very good, and reasonably priced.

The front area is a long rectangle, with a counter running lengthwise and a large display case. You can see into the back where the staff are at work creating their works of art which is neat.

Aside from pastries and baked goodies, they also offer fresh breads, soups and salads, hot drinks, lots of lovely things.  The only thing I found odd was that the pastry displays are not labelled, this for example is obviously a lemon tart, but some other items were not so obvious to me what they were called. It was fine however, the lady behind the counter patiently explained each item that I was interested in.

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I had the lemon tart and the night and day mouse.  The tart was wonderful, the lemon curd was tangy and light, in a nice firm crust.  The mousse was amazing, I will definitely try both of these items again!

My friend had pistachio mouse and a red raspberry item, which I forget the name.

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The cup of hot chocolate was perfect for a cold spring day.

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I’m looking forward to bringing Boyfriend Unit to this bakery with me next time.

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Vegan banana muffins, experiment # 2

I didn’t set out to make a vegan muffin. It just happened during the course of testing out ingredient substitutions.  This muffin had some improvements over the previous effort, the inside was a lot closer to a regular muffin than the 1st healthy banana muffin experiment.  But I’ve discovered something disheartening during these substitution tests.

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An ingredient that reduces calories will up the sodium or the fat, or an ingredient to replace dairy will raise the values I’m trying to lower.  It seems you can have one or the other, but not both.  (Not that I’ve tried everything, but based on my experiments so far, when something goes down, something else goes up.)  It’s rather annoying.

These new muffins weight in at:

nutrition

This is still much better than a muffin from a fast food restaurant, but it has more calories, fat, carbs, sodium, and sugar than it’s non-vegan predecessor.  Wuah!

Before you get started: There’s a thorough explanation on substituting flaxseeds for egg whites on this great resource Vegan Baking.

Time required: 30 min

Yields: 12

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients:  $45-ish

Cost per muffin: 52 cents

Ingredients:

  • 4 large bananas
  • 188 grams organic sprouted spelt flour
  • 25 grams granulated Splenda
  • 60 grams red palm oil + 4 oz water
  • 5 grams baking powder
  • 4 grams pure vanilla extract
  • 10 g ground flax seed + 1.5 oz warm water

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 176°c or 350°f.  Grease the muffin tin well.

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2. Whisk warm water into the flaxseed and let stand 10 min.  It will turn into sludge. Yummy!

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3. Meanwhile mash the bananas, then beat in the Splenda, red palm oil, water, and vanilla.  Once the flaxseed sludge is ready, add it to the wet mixture and beat until combined.

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Wowzers this looks vile.

4. In a seperate bowl, stir the baking powder into the spelt flour, then add gradually to wet mixture.

5. Bake 24-26 minutes. Tah-dah!

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Verdict:

Loved these.  The consistency isn’t overly chewy like last time.  There’s a very slight graininess to them, which I suspect is the flaxseed.  The muffins rose quite high in the oven and collapsed to hockey puck height when they came out.

I let them sit out overnight and in the morning, the outside was firm but not hard, the inside was still moist.  This was definitely a muffin that impressed more when it was oven-fresh, but still good the next day.

I don’t foresee making them this way again due to the calorie and fat content. They were really good though!

Do you know of any ingredient substitutes that improve the nutritional values?

Healthier banana muffins, experiment # 1

I went back to the drawing to work on the treasured banana muffins.  I opted to cut the Splenda by 50%, eliminate salt, use red palm oil in lieu of butter, use egg whites, and spelt flour again.

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Unlike blueberry trial # 4 which had a very thick batter with spelt flour, this batter was quite runny.  They took an extra 2 minutes to cook through, and they do feel very moist, with a chewy consistency.  These muffins did not rise very high.

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Boyfriend Unit noted that this time, he can’t detect the Splenda aftertaste that was present in the 2nd blueberry trial. Perfect!  These muffins clock in at:

banana muffins Mar 8

I am quite pleased with these muffins, but not ready to post a recipe.  I’m still looking into cutting the sodium so stay tuned.

Success! Healthy muffins experiment # 4

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Very pleased to report the 4th experiment was a huge success!  I came up with a healthier alternative to a traditional blueberry muffin, and it tastes like a blueberry muffin.  It’s really good!  At this point I don’t even notice the odd colour.  I see one and think “delicious muffin get in my mouth”.

Thanks to Calorie Count I have the nutritional data again, and I notice the sodium is still fairly high, based purely on using baking soda.  No other ingredient has salt.  I want research further into leavening agents to see if anything can be done about that.

Just how healthy awesome is this muffin?

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The flavour not was sacrificed in the name of nutrition, to make this just required opening my mind to some new ingredients and getting more creative.  I compared my muffin to what you can buy at two popular fast food chains:

mcdonalds muffin

McDonald’s blueberry muffin

That is a lot of calories!  The salt in the next one is even more insane!

tim hortons muffin

Tim Horton’s blueberry muffin

After reading those charts, I’m even more excited about my muffins!  I learned a lot by experimenting to make a healthier muffin.  If you try this recipe, I suggest adding a little more water, my batter was very thick.

The spelt flour came from the Bulk Barn, and they have two types of spelt, the stone-ground spelt has way more calories (ha ha, get it?) than the sprouted spelt.  I used sprouted spelt.  I’m going to check what other brands are available locally though since there seems to be a big difference in the numbers of the flour.

Time required: 30 min

Yields: 12

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $45 ish

Cost per muffin: 52 cents

Ingredients:

  • 230 g frozen blueberries
  • 188 g organic sprouted spelt flour
  • 63 g egg whites
  • 60 g organic, unrefined red palm oil
  • 50 g Splenda granulated sucralose
  • 5 g baking soda
  • 4 oz water
  • 4 g pure vanilla extract, Lorann Madagascar Bourbon

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Instructions:

1.Grease the muffin tin.  (Grease it really well because mine stuck badly.)

2.Combine all of the wet ingredients (except the berries) with the Splenda.

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Something really awesome about baking by weight is that I used way less dishes!  All I needed to do was sit the mixing bowl on my scale, and add each ingredient one at a time until the desired weight. So easy!

3.Measure out the dry ingredients and add them to wet, gradually.

4.Stir in fruit and spoon into tray. They are an… alarming colour I’ve begun to refer to as “blinding chartreuse”.

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The batter was very thick.

5.Bake 20 min.

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6.Remove from tray immediately.

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So happy!

Verdict:

They tasted great!  We tried them with breakfast when they were fresh from the oven, and they were amazing.  However the real test of a muffin is once it’s cooled down.  I’ve yet to eat a baked good straight out of the oven that tasted bad.  These muffins were still very tasty once they cooled completely.

Boyfriend Unit says, “They’re delicious. Better eaten warm.  But still delicious.”

Once the muffins cooled the texture got crumbly. I believe this is caused by the spelt flour.  Future baking plans include looking into correcting the crumbliness, lowering the sodium content in the leavener, and find a flour with less calories.

Playlist: Walk the Moon – Shut up and dance

Healthier muffins experiment # 3

Well this looks… appetizing.  But looks can be deceiving.

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Research into a healthier muffin continues, and now only one more ingredient needs to be replaced.  These muffins were made without butter.  The fat is provided by unrefined red palm oil, sold by Nutiva.  Before you rush out and buy some, something to consider.

PSA:

Not all red palm oil is created equal.  The production of red palm oil is responsible for rain forest destruction and destroying the habitats of orangutans in Southeast Asia.

Nutiva’s oil is grown and produced in Ecuador on small family farms.  They partner with Natural Habitats to ensure the growth and production of their product does not contribute to deforestation or habitat destruction.  Before you buy please look into where and how the oil is produced.

I searched around to find the substitution ratio, and found two different options:

  • 1:1, for 100 grams of butter use 100 grams of oil
  • use an 80% and 20% split to mimic the water content of dairy butter

I went with the 80/20 split, and it turned out great.

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The baking time was the same.  The texture was light, and soft.  There was no weird flavour.  They were an unpleasant shade of greenish-yellow, but check out that nutrition content!

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Boyfriend Unit also enjoyed these!  I asked him if this tastes like a weird health food, he said no, it’s a bit different from the muffins I’m used to, but it’s really good.

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This is starting to get fun.  I like figuring out how low can I get those numbers while still making it taste good.