In its five years in Los Angeles, Frogs Bakery has hopped into more than a dozen farmers markets from Calabasas to Laguna Hills. And for each market, an expansive spread of pastries and organic breads are freshly baked before dawn by a team trained in French baking traditions.
When the farmers markets first open for the day, the Frogs Bakery tables are covered from end to end with a dizzying array of croissants, muffins, cinnamon rolls, scones, morning buns, danishes, bread loaves, and more pastries in varied shapes and flavors. Latecomers may never even realize the vastness of the selection, especially on the weekends when items sell fast.
At the Saturday Torrance Farmers Market, for example, Eliza Arteaga starts setting up the Frogs Bakery booth at 5am, knowing to expect early bird customers an hour before the market officially opens at 8am. The activity tends to draw a curious crowd that lingers while deciding what to try.
“They get a little bit freaked because they’ll have a line behind them. But we always make them feel like they can take their time,” Eliza said. “Because you want everyone to have the experience, let them soak it in.”
It’s this kind of reception that has allowed Frogs Bakery to further expand the reach of its goods into local cafes, restaurants, and hotels. “We’re growing like crazy,” said owner and entrepreneur Marc Lory, who first started the business in Tucson, Arizona in 2010, simply because he craved authentic baked goods from his native France.
“I said alright, I have to make a small bakery. It was a vision. And then the small bakery became very big,” Marc said. “It was perfect timing to pioneer the very first French organic bakery.”
To meet Marc’s expectations of a French bakery, he not only brought on artisanal chefs from France, but also prioritized high quality and organic ingredients whenever possible. Romain Cloute is the head chef at Frogs Bakery who sources the ingredients and trains the bakers in French techniques.
“In America, you have very good stuff. Everything is almost the same as in France. Good milk, the butter is high quality. So, we can do good pastries and good bread,” said Romain. “And we have a very good team.”
Late in the evenings, the crew hustles to assemble and shape thousands of individual items by hand, baking through the night to make the pastries buttery and flavorful, the croissants flaky and crisp, and the bread fluffy and fragrant. Rows upon rows of impressively sized and beautifully presented pastries are boxed up and ready to send out by the morning’s twilight.
At the farmers markets, you’ll find a few modern twists on the classic croissant, with some bearing distinctively red, green, or brown stripes marking raspberry, pistachio and mocha flavors. Similarly flaky cinnamon rolls and swirly buns form huge pillowy coils, while danishes and tarts hold pockets of colorful fruit in mesmerizing shapes. Bulbous knots on each side of the raspberry chocolate danish may remind you of Princess Leia. The apricot danishes sport two rounded halves of the golden fruit that look back at you like C-3PO, or they’re often mistaken for egg yolks. A few savory pastries in the mix include ham and cheese, or spinach and cheese.
“Almond croissants are our best seller. They’re the first ones to go,” said Eliza, explaining the need to bring 40 to 100 of the almond pastries to every market.
The almond croissants perhaps draw more attention because they’re given extra attention in the making: they all get baked two times. First, the freshly handrolled dough is lightly baked like a regular croissant. Then each one is sliced and filled with rich soft almond cream, with a bonus dollop of cream on top. After the second bake, the pastry is finished with a sprinkling of sliced almonds and powdered sugar to amplify its flavor and textures.
Another rising star on the Frogs Bakery menu is the vegan croissant. Creating a butter-free croissant in a way that held to French baking standards was no small task, considering the buttery depths that distinguish most of Frogs’ pastries. After many trials and much due diligence, they found a high quality vegetable butter that produced fluffy croissants in small batches. Now the challenge is to be able to make far more croissants with the same consistency to meet demand from local vegans, and even requests from establishments in Las Vegas, Chicago, and New York.
“We’re the only ones who make a vegan croissant, at least in California,” said Marc. “Ten years ago, it would not have worked. Now everybody wants the vegan croissant.”
Frogs Bakery breads also get a warm reception from local cafes that serve sandwiches and toasts. Every loaf is made from the same organic sourdough starter that the business opened with, giving each batch a consistent taste and quality. It’s a process that takes three days between fermenting, rising, kneading, and baking.
“The bread is very light. It doesn’t make you feel that full, heavy feeling,” said Eliza. “I think the sourdough starter makes a difference in how you feel after you eat the bread.”
Amongst the bread varieties, all configurations of grains, seeds, flavors, loaf shapes, and preferences are considered. The bakery sells classic sourdough loaves and French Country, which comes in a loaf or a baguette. For a richer flavor and texture, you’ll find spelt, whole wheat, rye, buckwheat, pumpernickel, and fitness bread, which is a buckwheat loaf with a blend of organic seeds for protein and fiber. Five Seed bread is a fave for avocado toast. Brioche buns are popular for burgers and sandwiches. Olive and raisin walnut are two of the bakery’s regular flavored breads, and they frequently introduce new ones, such as pecan cranberry.
“Every month we do a new bread. For the pastries it’s the same,” Romain said. “We’re always changing and we listen to the customer. We’re very flexible. We try to do our best.”
To find Frogs Bakery in your area, look for them at the following farmers markets each week: Surf City Nights Street Fair (Huntington Beach), South Pasadena, Laguna Hills, Playa Vista, Calabasas, Cerritos, Irvine, Santa Monica (Saturdays), Torrance (Saturdays), Brentwood, Mar Vista, Pacific Palisades, Riviera Village, and Studio City.
In Gardena, you can pick up goods directly from the Frogs Bakery homebase at discounted prices on weekday mornings from 6am-12pm. Though the bakery is more of a production facility than a bake shop, Marc recently opened it up to the public to be able to connect with the neighborhood and serve the nearby community.
Several cafes offer yet more opportunities to get a taste of Frogs Bakery items, including Cafe Crepe, Espresso Cielo (both Santa Monica locations), Greentree Cafe, Insomnia Cafe, Middle Bar, and Roman Aroma Italian Gran Cafe. Select breads are also available as an option in subscription boxes from Farm Fresh To You.