So, let me start out by saying that if a pâtisserie has been around since the 1730s, clearly they are doing something right.
When Mary Leszczynski, daughter of King Stanislas of Poland, married in 1725 King Louis XV's pastry Stohrer followed at the court of Versailles. Five years later, in 1730, Nicolas Stohrer opened his bakery in Paris at 51 rue Montorgueil.
Nicolas Stohrer served his apprenticeship in Wissembourg in the kitchens of King Stanislas of Poland With a dry cake that the Polish King Stanislas had reported a trip, Nicolas Stohrer invented the Baba, made from enriched brioche dough which is basted with wine and finished with saffron and custard, raisins and fresh grapes. King Stanislas, when reading the tales of Thousand and One Nights, christened the new cake the ALI-BABA.
(CakeSpy Note: You know what that last part means? This is the place that invented the baba au rhum. Glorious!)
I know, magical, right? You're probably already enchanted, and you haven't even walked into the shop. Staggeringly, the shop itself is just as storied:
The shop is a historical monument in its facade and interiors. The murals illustrate the reputation of the house with a woman wearing and Babas Savarin, made on canvas and protected by glass. These designs were created in 1860 by the painter Paul Baudry, who also executed the decorations of the grand foyer of the Opera de Paris.
and it is beautiful. It has such beautiful detailing that it is hard to believe it is not an outpost of the opulent Versailles palace.
So it has history, and it has a beautiful interior. But what about the goods?
Let me first say that trying to decide what to get at Stohrer is sort of like trying to decide on a favorite child or sibling.
On previous visits, I've tried the religieuse and the tarte au chocolat. They were both exceptional.
But on this visit, when I saw the magazine article outside proclaiming that Stohrer was the home of some of the best eclairs in town, that sealed the deal. Bucking tradition slightly, I chose a cafe flavored variation rather than the classic chocolate (perhaps feeling homesick for Seattle?).
So, I don't want to sound overly dramatic, but this eclair was, in a word, exquisite. The perfectly piped pastry shell contained the most creamy coffee-toned pastry cream I'd ever encountered, and the icing on top was the perfect sweet complement to that coffee-rich, not too-sweet filling. "Perfect" may not be the final word, but it does come to mind.
Of course, you'd be remiss if you didn't explore some of their other offerings--perhaps the signature Baba au Rhum, a treat which "has survived the centuries without modification, it is still very popular in many countries. At Stohrer, you can find four versions: the classic Baba Rhum; the Ali-Baba, which has pastry cream and raisins; the Baba Chantilly, sometimes served with red fruit; and the Saffron Ali Baba, original saffron, made to order for the holidays? Or perhaps the over-the top cake version of the religiuse, the Religiuse a L'ancienne, another traditional recipe, as it was made in the 19th century, a cake made of coffee and chocolate and topped with two balls of choux pastry which are said to be where the pastry takes its name, resembling a nun's habit.
But no matter what you choose, making Stohrer a stop on your Parisian adventure is absolutely as vital as visiting the Louvre or the Notre Dame!
Patisserie Stohrer, 51, rue Montorgueil, Paris 75002; online at stohrer.fr.