Perenn Bakery in Reno’s Midtown offers exquisite pastries, breads and other baked bombshells. Aubrey and Tyler O’Laskey, the catering phenoms of Butter + Salt, first had the idea to open Perenn to more easily fulfill their catering company’s need for artisanal breads. Tyler leads the way in baking while Aubrey finetunes and finesses the flavors of their baked goods. The O’Laskeys run both businesses while raising two young children (begin standing ovation).
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Between a constant flow of dine-in and take-out patrons, Aubrey generously shared a bit of her time to speak with me. I asked her why she and her husband chose French pastries and breads.
“When we opened our catering company, we could not get a good baguette anywhere. It was really frustrating, because we wanted to supply really good bread along with our stuff, so Tyler started to make naturally leavened sourdough bread in our old cast iron lodge pans … ,” said Aubrey.
She continued, “It got to the point where he was making 40 a day. That’s a lot of lifting and a lot of batches, so it would take hours to make 40 loaves. We thought one day it would be kind of fun, since we were already making them, to have a tiny little shop where we just have some bread.”
Aubrey went on, “Then just this past Summer we saw that this place was opening, and we were like, “Let’s do it. Let’s do it right now!” Then we ordered an oven from Italy, so he wouldn’t have to bake all our bread in lodge pans. The oven that we’ve got allows us to make baguettes, finally. So, now we can actually get the bread from the bakery to supply ourselves [at Butter + Salt].”
She concluded by saying, “The croissants were a love of laminated dough and butter. It just kind of goes along with the French boulangerie style. We consider ourselves a vienoisserie and boulangerie. Vienoisserie meaning laminated doughs and boulangerie meaning breads.”
I’ve yet to travel to Paris or Vienna, but I’d like to think that Perenn gave me a taste of the baking styles from those legendary cities.
Perenn Bakery Offers a Dream Come True
Since first falling in love with the chocolate croissants of San Francisco’s Cinderella Bakery, I have been on the hunt for similar mastery in Reno, Sparks, Carson City and other northern Nevada locales. Without question, I lack the technical knowledge to assess baked goods the way a seasoned pastry chef can, but I count myself a pastry enthusiast of sorts. Claire Saffitz of Bon Appetit’s test kitchen and the bakers of The Great British Baking Show get an inordinate amount of air time in my household.
After years of searching, I’m happy to report that Perenn’s chocolate croissant was pulled straight from my dreams. These chocolate croissants ($3.75) possess all the characteristics of greatness. They have wonderful volume, distinct layers, fantastic crunch and touches of sweetness on their exteriors. A cylinder of chocolate runs lengthwise along the bottom of the pastry. Parts of the chocolate are melted while other parts retain their crunch. The chocolate contains just the right amount of sweetness. I wish I had the words to better describe these treasures.
It’s All Good at Perenn
Having had my chocolate croissant expectations exceeded, I was eager to sample some of the other goods. My wife and I enjoyed two coffees ($3.00 / each) and the squash tartine ($8.00) before parting ways with the bakery.
The tartine consisted of a toasted slice of their country loaf topped with sweet spice roasted squash, ricotta and pumpkin seed pesto. They garnished the dish with some fresh herbs and pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds of a certain variety). The squash and ricotta were superbly creamy. The toasted bread, herbs and pepitas brought all the necessary crunch. The herbs added some nice flavor as well. The saltiness of the pesto brought the whole dish together.
Upon returning home, we enjoyed the cinnamon pear muffin ($3.75), baklava croissant ($4.00), crème brûlée kouign amann (pronounced in English: queen amahn; $5.50) and the prosciutto & gruyère croissant ($5.00).
The muffin had a nice distribution of pear pieces and tasted of cinnamon and sugar. The muffin was moist and satisfying, but ultimately, I think it pales in comparison to their laminated dough offerings.
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The baklava croissant was as beautiful as it was tasty. It included pistachios, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, honey and rose water. They toast the nuts and throw them into the food processor, still warm, alongside the sweet spices and honey. They smear the baklava filling all alongside the triangle of the croissant before rolling and baking. Once baked, they top it with edible rose petals, pistachios and honey. The rose water flavor was prominent without overpowering the pastry.
Prior to today, I had never eaten a kouign amann. The laminated-dough pastry bared some resemblance to the four-finger paper fortune teller that some of us may know from our childhoods. The ornate structure of the pastry was further enhanced with edible gold flakes because according to Aubrey, “You’re worth it.” Perenn’s mashup of the kouign amann and crème brûlée is outstanding. The pastry housed just a touch of custard and the bottom tasted of caramelized sugar.
The prosciutto and gruyère croissant offers a little salt and funk for those who prefer savory pastries. The scents of the cured meat and pungent cheese permeated the pastry. The rolled prosciutto rested atop a thin layer of the gruyère in the bottom of the croissant. I enjoyed the bread-to-filling ratio with the filling taking the sidekick position. A deep inhalation of this croissant’s funky fragrance is well worth the salty shade it’s sure to solicit.
In addition to the loaves, baguettes, cookies, danishes, croissants, scones and muffins of Perenn, be sure to sample their coffee that gets roasted by Minden’s Alpen Sierra Coffee Company, caramels from Portland’s Jacobsen Salt Co., chocolate from Brooklyn’s Mast Brothers and reusable loaf and baguette bags from Quebec’s Dans le Sac.
Visit Perenn Bakery at 20 Saint Lawrence Ave. in Reno. They are open Wednesday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Give them a call at 775-451-7722. Visit them online at perennbakery.com.