Arts & Culture

Ellie’s Bakery welcomes spring to Providence

Easter menu features Parisian-inspired springtime treats including macaroons

By
Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, March 24, 2016

Splatter-painted pink marzipan almond and delectable nutty pistachio flavors lure macaroon lovers to Ellie’s Bakery in Providence.

Tucked away in a bread box-sized storefront just off College Hill, Ellie’s Bakery, a Parisian-inspired bake shop, is commemorating the arrival of spring with its Easter celebration menu.

With a staff barely the size of a “baker’s dozen,” according to manager Max Hodge, Ellie’s Bakery has carved a niche for itself in the Providence food culture bubble. The bakery builds on traditional family recipes with innovative baking techniques to create seasonal menus like the Easter menu, Hodge said.

The pastries featured in this year’s Easter menu — similar to the other seasonal menus — capture the essence of the holiday and springtime by incorporating vernal-inspired technicolor meringues and polychromatic embellishments. This year’s Easter theme is the “Golden Egg” — pastries are dusted with gold, garnished with a golden leaf or topped with an egg-shaped dollop of meringue, Hodge said.

“We are taking flavors everyone is familiar with and adding an Easter twist,” said assistant pastry chef Caitlyn McGuire.

The Easter selections include pastries such as splatter-painted pink marzipan almond macaroons, carrot roulade and flourless chocolate torte with a blood orange diplomat cream and dark chocolate curls.

“I’m most excited for the hot cross buns,” McGuire said. “We got to take this traditionally really unappetizing image of a product and turn it on its head. It was really exciting to do them justice and have a product I was really proud of.”

Hodge noted that though such seasonal menus are created for almost every holiday, what sets the Easter menu apart is the inventive, creative nature of the springtime theme. “This menu’s more whimsical,” he said. “The pastries are elegant, and the colors are obnoxious and pastel, which is something you can’t always get with food. It’s fun.”

Ellie’s passionate pastry philosophy has characterized the bakery since owner Ellen Slattery — who also owns four-time AAA Four Diamond restaurant Gracie’s — opened shop three years ago after taking an “inspiration trip” to Paris with executive pastry chef Melissa Denmark and the pastry team.

Slattery “has always loved Parisian culture, French bread and French macaroons,” Hodge said. “So our products are mostly Parisian-inspired, whether it be in flavor or by how much care is put into each product.”

This enthusiasm for perfecting pastries is evident in the bakery’s emphasis on fresh, high-quality ingredients. “We take our time in perfecting our products, and we hope people take the same amount of time in appreciating them,” McGuire said.

Using Vermont butter, stone-milled wheat from Maine Grains — showcased by the Honey Glazed Beer Bread — as well as local flour from King Arthur and produce from their rooftop garden, Ellie’s attempts to ensure freshness and top-quality ingredients for its consumers, Hodge added.

Ellie’s takes pride in its ingredients and in the creative pastry process itself.  Brioches, baguettes and other breads are made daily beginning at 2 a.m. after an overnight fermentation process. The popular French macaroons are strategically placed in the front of the store, where humidity and temperature are controlled to maintain the light and delicate nature of the cookies, Hodge said. Most notably, Ellie’s has been working on perfecting a croissant for the last three years. Hodge added that, after baking more than 50 test batches and enduring a labor-intensive baking process, Ellie’s will introduce the croissant to the menu April 1.