Sweet Changes on Adams Street: Bleak House Coffee Introduces Pastries

. December 15, 2017.
Bleak House Coffee Original: Pate Choux shell sliced and filled with a coffee beam mousse piped delicately on top of a thin ganache layer, topped with a cocoa powder and white mousse. Featuring a beautiful Bleak House Coffee logo. Photos by Ashley Boardman
Bleak House Coffee Original: Pate Choux shell sliced and filled with a coffee beam mousse piped delicately on top of a thin ganache layer, topped with a cocoa powder and white mousse. Featuring a beautiful Bleak House Coffee logo. Photos by Ashley Boardman

In less than seven years, Bleak House Coffee has blossomed from an unassuming cafe to a downtown staple. First opened in 2012 on Madison Avenue in the Spitzer Building, the cafe briefly closed when the historic building shut down in December 2013.

Thanks to crowdfunding efforts, the coffee house, named for Charles Dickens’ famous novel poking fun at the legal profession’s inefficiency, reopened in July 2014 less than a block from the Lucas County Courthouse on Adams Street.

The cafe’s warm atmosphere, an artsy environment with friendly baristas and creative conversation, is complemented by the House’s rules — everything is fresh and organic.. This practice is evident through their latest effort, delicate, perfect pastries, made in-house daily.

Minty Mixed Fruit: Pate Choux exterior sliced and filled with a small layer of pastry cream and mint gelee. On top stacks a mixture of fresh berries, powdered sugar, and candied mint leaf.

Minty Mixed Fruit: Pate Choux exterior sliced and filled with a small layer of pastry cream and mint gelee. On top stacks a mixture of fresh berries, powdered sugar, and candied mint leaf.

Sweet dedication

In Dickens’s Bleak House, owner John Jarndyce proclaimed a simple truth: “Constancy in love is a good thing; but it means nothing, and is nothing, without constancy in every kind of effort.”

Sure, it might be a stretch to relate Dickens’ character’s words to pastries, but the hyperbole seems like an appropriately flowery description of the ornate eclairs, quiches, and other pastries that debuted this month. Like the gourmet brunches and artisan waffles that have made Bleak House a destination, this new addition follows the cafe’s code of reliably exceeding expectations.

Spiced Boozy Black Forest: Pate Choux exterior filled with a red-hot cherry custard. Topped with dark chocolate ganache, rum-soaked cherries, and a gold dusted chocolate plaque.

Spiced Boozy Black Forest: Pate Choux exterior filled with a red-hot cherry custard. Topped with dark chocolate ganache, rum-soaked cherries, and a gold dusted chocolate plaque.

With thanks to newcomer Kelsey Motoligin, a 21 year-old pastry chef trained at the Macomb Culinary Institute, Bleak House has directed their sweet dedication towards confectionary curiosities new to Toledo, such as lemongrass, earl grey, and coffee flavored eclairs, rich and custardy French canelés, and a sweet-and-spicy candied bacon quiche.

Hazelnutty: Traditional rum canele topped with a nougatine disc under a layer of hazelnut pastry cream. Topped with a unique candied hazelnut.

Hazelnutty: Traditional rum canele topped with a nougatine disc under a layer of hazelnut pastry cream. Topped with a unique candied hazelnut.

Motoligin relies on her background working with upscale bakers at The Home Bakery in Rochester, Michigan and the flavors of her unique pastries are fueled by inventiveness and newfound creative freedom: “You don’t see them (eclairs) a lot… especially with a lot of different flavors. Most places stick to traditional varieties, and Bleak House is everything but traditional. It’s really nice to be able to use my creativity and develop new ideas that click so well with this place.”

Earl Grey Orange Citron: Pate Choux shell filled with a smooth early grey infused pastry cream. Topped with citrus buttercream and finished with a candied orange peel.

Earl Grey Orange Citron: Pate Choux shell filled with a smooth early grey infused pastry cream. Topped with citrus buttercream and finished with a candied orange peel.

Steady support

For now, Bleak House is working with a set menu— six distinct flavors of eclairs, three varieties of quiche, canelés, madeleines— as well as treats to satisfy both vegans and customers with gluten allergies.

Crème Brûlée: Pate Choux exterior filled with a vanilla bean pastry cream dipped in ganache & topped with a beautifully spun sugar coil.

Crème Brûlée: Pate Choux exterior filled with a vanilla bean pastry cream dipped in ganache & topped with a beautifully spun sugar coil.

Motoligin says patrons should expect fresh donuts and cronuts— a combination croissant and donut— in February 2018, with new flavors coming next summer.

Until then? Taking it slow, getting everything right, and building a business of patrons ordering cakes, pastries, and eclairs, including off-menu flavors, for special events and parties.

Weekenders in love with Bleak House’s brunch should love the sweet change. General manager Dakota Cousino assures that you can still expect weekend waffles with brunch: “Right now, we just want to focus on the pastries, streamline the catering, and expand our offerings. We have a lot of cool ideas for the future, but today comes first. “

Lemongrass Meringue: Pate Choux exterior with a rosemary lemongrass custard filling. Topped with a light meringue swiveled on top, lightly toasted and finished with a few lemongrass strands.

Lemongrass Meringue: Pate Choux exterior with a rosemary lemongrass custard filling. Topped with a light meringue swiveled on top, lightly toasted and finished with a few lemongrass strands.

While candied daydreams provoke curiosity and appetites, flights of fancy are settled by the Bleak House rule — good finds meaning through constancy.

We can get used to this.

612 Adams St., 419-740-1125. bleakhousecoffee.com
7:30am-4pm, Monday-Friday. 9am-2pm, Saturday-Sunday.