The blog of cooking-ez.com

What is the difference between bakery and patisserie?


What is the difference between bakery and patisserie?
This is a question that you may well have asked yourself and which I will attempt to answer. In France the two trades of "boulangerie" (bakery) and "pâtisserie" (patisserie and confectionery) have always been quite distinct, but where exactly do the boundaries lie?
96K 1 36 3.9
Grade this page:

Last modified on: February 7th 2017

What is the difference between bakery and patisserie?
If you were to ask any baker, they would be likely to give you a one-word answer: fermentation.

It's true that this sums it up well: the bread baker always works with fermented doughs made with yeast or leaven (sometimes called “leavened” doughs). These need time to rest and rise, often for many hours, and acquire particular flavours in the process. Mastery of this fermentation or “proving” – which takes a lifetime to acquire, according to one prize-winning artisan – is the baker's trademark, the expression of his or her know-how and skill.

Fermentation is used for bread, of course, but also for the items known as "viennoiseries" (Viennese pastries): french croissants, chocolate rolls (petits pains), brioche, Danish pasties, etc. As they are made with a leavened dough, they come into the baker's domain. Another sideline for bakeries that has grown in importance in France in recent years is the sale of hot or cold savoury snacks such as sandwiches, quiches, pizzas, etc.

bakery snacking



The "pâtissiers" take care of everything else – in short, all the sweet stuff: cakes, tarts, custards, chocolates, confectionery, desserts, etc. (but not ice cream – In France that's another specialist trade). It's worth noting in passing that there are two types of pâtissier (pastry cooks): the ones who work in patisseries (cake shops) and those who work for restaurants, who these days have taken over the all the desserts that used to be the domain of the cooks.

Boundaries are meant to be pushed, of course: it's pretty rare to find a French bakery that doesn't also sell cakes, possibly because there is a trained pâtissier employed, or because the baker has trained in both fields. Similarly, many patisseries sell viennoiseries.

As you can imagine, this naturally creates a certain amount of rivalry, and the corresponding stereotypes: French pâtissiers tend to see bakers as simple oafs, only good for handling 40 lb (20 kg) batches of dough. Bakers, on the other hand, look down on pâtissiers as fragile, weedy specimens, incapable of doing anything without weighing scales… And then there are the cooks who refer disparagingly to both these types as “flour-eaters” .
So, bakers are suspicious of pâtissiers who sell viennoiseries, and pâtissiers look down their noses at bakers whose windows are full of tarts or gâteaux. But this petty rivalry is probably a good thing, as it means that crossover products need to be up to scratch, excellent even, otherwise why bother buying cakes or pastries from the patisserie if the baker makes them better?

But all viennoiseries are not equal, unfortunately. It is scandalous that the emblematic French croissant, lovingly made by an artisan baker (a specialist viennoiserie baker is called a “tourier” ) in a proper bread oven, often has to compete with a poor, deep-frozen imitation. Unscrupulous shopkeepers – crooks, to my mind – merely unpack them from a carton and thaw them before selling to the unwary, in spite of a legal requirement to state that they are not “made on the premises” . Yes, I know, I'm ranting. But it matters: this sad state of affairs is depressing for bakers and devalues their trade – why bother working hard, even employing others, when industrial croissants can simply be thawed on demand? And consumers are being hoodwinked into believing that they are paying for the genuine artisan product.

On a happier note, maybe all is not lost. Here is a display showing what real bakers are still capable of:

bakery products



I'll finish by setting you a riddle: Why do wine, bread and cheese go so well together?
Answer: Because they're all produced by fermentation.


Back to top of page

Lasts posts
The right bread knife
The right bread knife
We almost all have a bread knife in our kitchen, that is to say the knife we use almost exclusively to cut bread. Is this knife efficient, is it really the one you need? Here is some information to guide you in your choice. .
1,127 September 15th 2022
Parmesan cheese crusts
Parmesan cheese crusts
If you use Parmesan cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano) in your recipes, you may have already noticed: when you grate it, it becomes (very) difficult near the crust, especially if it is a slightly aged parmesan, as the cheese gets harder and harder. So we stop grating, leaving some crust on top, and a...
4,0555 September 14th 2022
The gelling agent in a cream
The gelling agent in a cream
If you start making a Bavarian cream for example, or any other that contains a gelling agent such as gelatin or agar-agar, you will sooner or later be confronted with the problem: How to properly incorporate this gelling agent into my cream? (and we will focus on gelatin).
3,6334.9 June 18th 2022
The preservation of bread
The preservation of bread
Eating fresh bread is always a delight, the crust crumbles deliciously, you take full advantage of the taste of your bread (80% of this taste is in the crust), it is a fleeting moment to enjoy. Who hasn't already eaten the crouton or croutons of his baguette, on the way back from the bakery? ...
4,4203 June 11th 2022
Beans in primeur
Beans in primeur
As I write this, it is the beginning of the short season for fresh beans. If you've never made them before and you're just starting out (and that's a great idea) you'll find that it's a bit time consuming to prepare, you have to shell them once, remove the beans, scald them to remove the skin (and...
3,605 June 4th 2022
Other pages you may also like
Fruits which can ruin your jelly
Fruits which can ruin your jelly
There are many ways of making a fruit mousse, but one of the simplest is to prepare a fruit jelly (basically a fresh fruit coulis with gelatine) and then mix this jelly before it sets completely with whipped cream. The result is perfect for filling a charlotte, for example. But do beware;...
53K3.7 March 6th 2013
The right weight of pastry for a pie
The right weight of pastry for a pie
Let's try to solve a thorny problem: How much dough will I need when I make my next pie? You're planning to make a pie, you're going to use your favourite mould or circle, but how much pastry will you need to fill it completely with a well spread pastry, without being too thin, or on the contrary...
38K3.6 March 20th 2020
The window-pane test in bread-making
The window-pane test in bread-making
The home bread-makers often ask themselves “Have I kneaded my dough long enough?” . A good question, as dough that is insufficiently kneaded will not rise properly or will fall flat when the top is slashed, which is very frustrating. To know when the dough is ready, one can rely on the length...
77K 23.2 June 16th 2021
For well opened (puffed) cakes
For well opened (puffed) cakes
It's always nice to have a well puffed up cake after baking, not only will it taste good but it looks great too. Let's see how to get this beautiful shape almost every time.
18K3.4 January 23th 2019
A few tips for effective kneading at home
A few tips for effective kneading at home
When you have to knead dough for bread or some other recipe, you may well use a food processor or the type of machine known as a stand mixer. The best-known brands are Kenwood and KitchenAid. They are useful tools, but here are a few tips to help you get the best out of them.
235K 23.5 June 23th 2021
Follow this page (as 5 people already do)
If you are interested in this page, you can "follow" it, by entering your email address here. You will then receive a notification immediately each time the page is modified or a new comment is added. Please note that you will need to confirm this following.
I am not a leaving thing
Note: We'll never share your e-mail address with anyone else.
Alternatively: you can subscribe to the mailing list of cooling-ez.com , you will receive a e-mail for each new recipe published on the site.

Back to top of page