Food

Vancouver's Beaucoup bakery: Q&A with owner Jackie Ellis

By: Canadian Living
Canadian Living
Food

Vancouver's Beaucoup bakery: Q&A with owner Jackie Ellis

By: Canadian Living

Several months ago, Jackie Ellis, owner of Vancouver's Beaucoup Bakery stopped by our Test Kitchen to hand-deliver some of her baked goods. I had a bite of her buttery, flaky croissant and was immediately sold. Being from Paris, I've had my fair share of top notch croissants (as well as my fair share of not so great ones!) and can sincerely say that hers are up there with the best of them. I had the pleasure of catching up with Jackie this week: we talked best Paris bakeries, the secret to her croissant recipe and about a fun project she's currently working on. Beaucoup bakery Jennifer Bartoli: What prompted you to start up your very own bakery? Jackie Ellis:I studied fine arts and photography at OCAD and then went back to Vancouver to study graphic design and illustration. That lead me to get into marketing and branding work and I did that for about 10 years. I soon started to crave creative challenges and working with my hands so I started a farmers’ market bakery. And then, I thought to myself, I have to redefine the things that I really want in my life. I decided to shut down my design firm, go to Paris, study pastry, take a year to cross off everything on my bucket list. I traveled all around France and Italy, ate everything that I could get my hands on, went to Africa, hiked in the Grand Canyon .. it was one of those crazy years! And when I got back from the trip, I knew I wanted to start something that would really fulfill me personally. Beaucoup bakery ended up being that something! JB: Which item do your customers love the most at the bakery? JE: Our best seller is probably our croissant which is the happiest thing for me because when I got back from Paris I couldn't stop thinking about the croissant that I had every morning there. I missed it so much that I went on an obsessive quest to recreate that memory. It took me about 6 months and 60 different doughs. I went to the extent of driving down to the States and going to an unpasteurized creamery to make my own butter from unpasteurized milk and smuggled it back across the border thinking “maybe this will make a difference!” Developing that croissant was a real labour of love and the fact that it’s our best seller means a lot to me. beaucoup bakery croissant JB: What's the secret to your croissant recipe? JE: I started formulating my own flour blend in order to mimic French flour because Canadian flour is so different. I also train very few specific people at the bakery to make them. It takes about 3 months to train someone to make them. In the first month, they don’t even touch a dough, they’re just watching, in the second month they start helping and by the third month they start to make the croissants. But they really don’t get proficient until after 5 or 6 months. And not everyone gets to do it. It’s an evening shift, so it’s a real commitment! JB: I know you run pastry tours  (through The Paris Tours) when you're in Paris. What are some of your favourite bakeries there? I love Pierre Herm é, his beautiful finishing and his perfect balalance of textures and flavours are beyond. He does everything well. Most places have one thing that they do well, but with him, you can’t really go wrong. I also really love Pâtisserie des Rêves. I don’t love everything they have but their madeleines make me so happy. They make their madeleines pretty big because the concept of the pastry shop is to strike childhood memories. That’s why they make the madeleines so large – because everything feels big when you’re a kid. I know it’s probably not the best madeleine in the city, but there’s something about the concept of it that makes me so happy when I eat it. Sadaharu Aoki is, for me, on par with Pierre Herm é in terms of perfection of textures and flavours. JB: Have you been to Aux Merveilleux de Fred? Their meringues are to die for! JE: No! I'll definitely have to stop by next time I'm in Paris. JB: What are some of your best tips for anyone who is intimidated by baking? JE: Following the recipe word for word is essential. But when in doubt, never overmix, add a little less flour, a little more butter and a little more sugar and you should be fine! If you’re not measuring precisely, this is the general guideline to keep in mind. JB: You're working on a brand new baking app, what kind of recipes will it feature? JE: I wanted to merge beautiful visuals with all the current technological benefits of an app. There will be how-to demos starting with classic base recipes (like choux pastry) which will increase in complexity to move you up to more expert recipes. I'm hoping it will be available sometime in the Fall! Photography courtesy of Beaucoup bakery (top) and Joann Pai (bottom)
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Vancouver's Beaucoup bakery: Q&A with owner Jackie Ellis

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