My good friend, who is from France, knows how to entertain with ease and elegance, especially when it comes to desserts. Like the beautiful fruit tarts that concluded a dinner party or the croquembouche, a spectacular tower of cream puffs, in celebration of a milestone birthday.
Strawberry Bakery, led by Chef/Owner Jean-Pierre Bournazel, is her secret. Located in Malvern on Route 30, this is one place not to miss, whether you’re craving an authentic pain au chocolat or in need of a unique special occasion cake. I was lucky enough to sit down and chat with Chef Bournazel recently.
The special croquembouche Chef Jean-Pierre created for my sister-in-law's recent baby shower.
I was born and raised in a suburb of Paris. My grandmother actually had a restaurant in Paris. I was 15 when I started in pastry and it was good work for me. In France, you have to enlist in the army for one year, so I took a break for that, but came back to pastry. I had to do what I knew best. I worked in Paris, and in Mexico. When I came to the Main Line, I found the area charming and decided to stay.
I hear Strawberry Bakery offers pastry classes?
We do pastry classes once a month on Sundays, from 10am-12pm. There are about a dozen people, and they are welcomed back in my kitchen. I demonstrate from start to finish, provide the recipes, and the participants get to take home whatever we bake. Classes are popular and some people even reserve them a few months in advance. It’s $35 per person, and we cover recipes for bread, brioche, doughnut, tarts and more, concentrating on seasonal fruits and flavors.
Authentic French fruit tarts will make you forget the chill of winter.
What’s the most popular item here?
In the morning croissants are most popular. We do a lot of wedding and birthday cakes on the weekends. During the holiday season we feature a lot of pumpkin items, like our pumpkin cake rolled up with a cream cheese inside. Gingerbread is a big, big item in December. We do gingerbread houses; we have a general one that we sell, which starts around $35, but people can bring a picture in and we can customize the house.
Your croquembouche cakes are absolutely beautiful and so unique.
In France, croquembouche is popular for weddings, baptisms, or just as a party item. With cream puffs and sugar, I can build it into any shape that I want. Last week, for example, I did one in the shape of a baby stroller for a baby shower. After you fill the cream puffs with cream (vanilla, chocolate, kirsch, coffee), the cream puff is dipped into the cooked sugar, and I start to form a shape. You can go as high as you want, but the maximum I’ve made is for 90 people, because it has to arrive in one piece.
The entire croquembouche cake is edible, down to the nut brittle base. Some careful deconstruction required.
Strawberry Bakery seems like a hidden gem to me.
Well, we are right here on route 30! In addition to special occasion cakes, we are an everyday place for people stop by for coffee, espresso or cappuccino. We offer twelve different pastries in the morning, chocolates, cakes, baguettes and much more.
The deconstructed croquembouche of chocolate and vanilla cream puffs didn't last long...