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French, Proud and Delicious at Ovens of France

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The croissants served at Ovens of France on Wednesday are started Monday. The croissants served at Ovens of France on Monday are started Saturday. Saturday croissants were started Thursday, and there’s the cycle.

Whatever day of the week a person is served one of these locally famous French-styled pastries, consider that it was started two days, plus a couple hours, earlier. But don’t be misled. The croissants aren’t stale. Instead, they are fresh, and buttery, and cushiony, and, oh my, kind of addicting.

For added value, they’re authentic. It purposely takes master baker Denis Niez, a native Frenchman and owner of the two-link Woodbury-Middlebury bake shop chain, more than 48 hours to complete a batch. The quality of his product depends on it, and in a sense, so does the reputation he’s built.

“The croissants are pretty much what we’re known for, that’s since we opened 14 years ago,” said Mr. Niez. “The people know what we do.”

What he people know is the painstaking measures he takes and that he doesn’t mess around with the methodology. They are the most popular baked goods he sells, and he estimate he moves about 350 every day. There are slow seasons and there are busy ones (think Christmastime) but he calculates daily sales of the handmade goods nearly match the number of days he’s open for business annually.

However, it’s not the numbers, but the fact that he makes them by hand that separates Ovens of France from most bakeries. Mr. Niez can name hardly another bake shop in the region—or beyond—that bother to take the more than two days.

It’s, indeed, a process, and here’s how it is done: Before sunrise sizable layers of dough, each one about two feet wide and long, are buttered, layered, buttered, layered, buttered, layered and so forth and so on. By the end he has a clearly defined multi-tiered block of buttery dough, made of 20 pounds of dough and five pounds of butter.

“When you can see the layers,” said Mr. Niez, examining one of the 25-pound blocks, “that means I did a good job.”

At this point the block goes back into the refrigerator and stays put for about 24 hours. This is an integral part of the process. If one were to immediately cut and roll and bake, the haste would compromise the whole mission.

So, it’s the next day before the dough block is sent through an industrial-sized rolling machine, flattening it and extending its dimensions. Then comes the knife. Continued…

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Mystic Maggie

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