Pop into a pâtisserie looking for a croissant, and you may have committed a faux pas. Worse yet—set up a bakery in France and call it a pâtisserie willy-nilly, and you’ve committed a crime. The vernacular surrounding French bakeshops and their technical classifications are much stricter than you may think. Brush up on your gastronomic jargon and read all about the differences between a pâtisserie, boulangerie, and viennoiserie.
Like ‘viennoiserie’, the word ‘pâtisserie’ can refer to both the classification of a bakeshop and the classification of goods sold at the store: just as a pâtisserie sells pâtisserie, a viennoiserie sells viennoiserie.
Though its international use is far less restrictive, the term ‘pâtisserie’ is legally controlled in France and Belgium—only pastry shops with licensed maître pâtissier (master pastry chefs) have the right to call themselves a pâtisserie. Therefore, even if a shop offers pâtisseries, they legally cannot advertise themselves as a pâtisserie unless they have employed a licensed maître pâtissier.
But which goods are considered to be pâtisserie? Elegantly delicate, these sweet treats are typified by the likes of mille-feuille and croquembouche. Furthermore, pastry chefs generally work with “exclusively cold materials”, distinguishing these craftsmen from the artisans who helm boulangeries.
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