Pastries: Brunswick versus France

By Susan Olcott

I recently returned from a bicycling trip in France with my sister – something we had been planning for several years and finally pulled off this fall. Part of our trip was focused on sightseeing, part on wine tasting, and then of course the local cuisine. And what better way to start the day than with a fresh croissant – plain, pain chocolate or pain raisin. I had looked forward to these for months ahead of our trip.

But . . . these authentic French fresh pastries honestly don’t compare to one of Barak’s flaky raisin or almond pastries at the Saturday Farmer’s Market. It is for these alone that I motivate to run seven miles to get to the market on a Saturday morning, arriving just as the gates open with a sweaty five dollar bill stuffed in my pocket. Zu Bakery has it hands down in the flaky pastry department. Their other breads are delicious as well from the basic Pan de Mie to the old grain varieties that change from week to week.

I find it hard to deviate from a Zu pastry, but the other members of my family are far more adventurous and have shared samples of other bakery items like the Farmer’s Daughters delectable popovers – I gave up trying to make popovers that popped and actually stayed “inflated” many years ago, so I have a great admiration for these. The apricot ginger scones from Dennis’s wife at The King and I are another favorite – I’ve been known to steal the crumbly morsels left in their crystalline box when my girls have demolished the pair of scones it once contained.

These are some of my favorites and I wouldn’t attempt to make any of them at home! So, for this post, I will focus on some simple baked items that you can make with ingredients you can buy at the market. The first recipe is for carrot bread that also uses applesauce that you can make from local apples this time of year. The second is an apple bread pudding, also featuring fall apples along with any of the lovely breads you buy at the market (if you somehow don’t manage to devour them before they go stale). And the last recipe is for blueberry muffins made with local yogurt and the summer’s blueberries that I freeze in great quantities to last through the winter. I hope you enjoy these as well as the ones made by the experts at the market. After all, a trip the market is a heck of a lot shorter than a trip to France!

Blueberry Yogurt Muffins

Ingredients (1 dozen)

1 cup white flour

1 cup white whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 egg

¾ cup sugar

4 tablespoon butter (1/2 stick)

1 ¼ cup yogurt

1 ½ cup frozen blueberries


  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray standard muffin tin with nonstick vegetable cooking spray.
  2. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl until combined. Toss blueberries with dry ingredients
  3. Whisk egg in second medium bowl until well-combined and light-colored, about 20 seconds. Add sugar and whisk vigorously until thick and homogenous, about 30 seconds
  4. Melt butter and cool slightly. Then, add melted butter in 2 steps, whisking to combine after each addition.
  5. Add yogurt in 2 steps, whisking just to combine.
  6. Combine wet and dry ingredients until just mixed. Scoop into muffin tins and bake 25-30 minutes, rotating pan halfway through.

TIP: I like to mix the wet ingredients and dry ingredients in separate bowls the night before and then combine them in the morning.

Carrot Bread

Ingredients (Makes one loaf)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup flour

1 cup shredded carrots (3 carrots)

2 eggs

1/4 cup vegetable oil

3/4 cup applesauce

1 t vanilla

1/4 cup brown sugar

¼ cup white sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 8×4-inch loaf pan.
  2. Whisk together salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and flour. Stir in shredded carrots.
  3. Whisk eggs until beaten, then add oil, vanilla, applesauce and sugars.
  4. Stir wet and dry ingredients together.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 40-55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Apple Bread Pudding

Ingredients (Serves 6-8)

2 cup milk

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

⅓ cup sugar

Pinch salt

5-6 cups of bread cut into 2-inch cubes

2 eggs, beaten

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon cardamom

1 cup finely chopped apple

Vanilla ice cream and maple syrup for serving


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a small saucepan over low heat, warm milk, butter, vanilla, sugar and salt. Continue cooking just until butter melts; cool. Meanwhile, butter a large baking dish and fill it with cubed bread and chopped apple.
  2. Add eggs to cooled milk mixture and whisk; pour mixture over bread. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, or until custard is set and the edges of bread have browned.
  3. Serve with vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of maple syrup.