Cooking-ez.com

1,002 easy and fully explained recipes, with 12,216 photos and 79 videos

The blog of cooking-ez.com

What is the difference between bakery and patisserie?


27,961 14.1/5
Grade this page:

Last modified on: February 7th 2017

What is the difference between bakery and patisserie?

bakery vs 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?

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 3 essential knives
    The 3 essential knives

    You must have heard a chef or cook say: "There’s no good cooking without good ingredients". This ...

  • Using stretch food film effectively
    Using stretch food film effectively

    Maybe you use food film in your own kitchen. You know, the very thin, clear plastic stuff that you ...

  • The mock CAP baker's certificate exam
    The mock CAP baker's certificate exam

    The next instalment in my life as an apprentice baker at the French INBP professional school. I’m ...

  • Rosemary in recipes
    Rosemary in recipes

    Rosemary, as I’m sure you know, is a culinary herb: It is one of the famous French "herbes de ...

  • The Holy Grail of French bakers
    The Holy Grail of French bakers

    While browsing through the recipes on this site, you may have noticed that while I adore cooking ...

  • Is it really necessary to cream egg yolks?
    Is it really necessary to cream egg yolks?

    Let’s try and answer a question that crops up in cookery and patisserie, even if it verges on the ...

  • Egg yolks and caster sugar
    Egg yolks and caster sugar

    We often come across recipes where we need to mix egg yolks with caster sugar. This would appear to ...

  • The golden-brown finish on puff pastry
    The golden-brown finish on puff pastry

    Let's take a look at the tricky matter of producing puff pastry with an attractive, golden-brown ...

  • Other articles

  • See all posts
  • Random post
  • RSS feed

Other pages you also may like

Your 1 comments or questions on this page

Post your comment or question

You are welcome, if you wish, to comment on this page: why you like it or not, what you have changed, what results it gave, point out a mistake or omission, etc. You can also ask a question. I answer all questions (in a broken English, sorry) unless someone else does it before me.
Please feel free to say what you think, I'm always very interested in your opinion. Your comment will appear on line with the page, so please write in standard readable English, not SIM or only in CAPITALS, otherwise your comment may be rejected.

Please look at advice for submitting a comment or image (what you should or should not do). By the way, don't type your e-mail address in the comment, otherwise you might be spammed.

I am not a leaving thing

Follow this page

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 email 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