Review: Esperance bakery full of hope for downtown Jenks

Oct 11, 2016

I couldn’t decide which to eat first, the apple-Brie rose or the pear with ginger-caramel sauce. I almost hated to cut into either, they were both so visually appealing, but duty called.

These delicate goodies came from Esperance, a new bakery near downtown Jenks.

Though not technically a tart, apple rose pastries often are called apple rose tarts. They are made with thin slices of apples wrapped in a pie crust or puff pastry, often sprinkled with flavorings such as cinnamon and sugar, and baked.

They come out looking like a rose and almost too pretty to eat. This one also had a filling of Brie cheese, and it was delicious.

The pear item was more like a Danish with the flaky pastry molded into the shape of a pear and topped with a flavorful but not too sweet ginger-caramel-pear sauce.

Esperance in French translates to “hope,” and the bubbly owner of the 4-month-old bakery is Hope Alexander.

“I’ve had a lot of jobs, but I wanted to do something that really makes me happy,” she said. “I like to feed people. That makes me happy.

“I was a baker a long time ago, but what I did then was nothing like what I’m doing now.”

What she is doing, along with her mother, Rosanna, and employee, Flo Pace, is putting out an array of pastries daily. The lineup is focused on croissants, but the shelves also hold a variety of scones, cake rolls, cakes, bread puddings, cookies and cheesecakes.

The flavors range from savory to sweet, and the offerings change daily. Some are simple, such as ham-and-Swiss croissant, while others are more complex, such as chicken andouille with apple and Gouda.

“We don’t hold anything over until the next day, unless we freeze something for bread pudding,” Alexander said. “It’s all fresh every day. We also use as many organic products as we can, and we use cage-free eggs.”

Among other items I liked during a tasting frenzy were bierock — a German-style turnover filled with ground beef, onion and cabbbage — a strawberry-Brie croissant, spinach-and-artichoke croissant, a chocolate croissant, one with goat cheese, honey and pine nuts, and a luscious almond meringue cake.

Except for cookies, most items are priced $3 to $6.

Esperance is located in a strip center on the west side of downtown Jenks. It’s bright and shiny with new wood floors and granite counter. It has four tables graced by sunflowers in small bottles and four counter seats that look into the open kitchen.

Large orders and special orders — specific items, gluten-free, paleo — require two days’ notice.

“We see new faces every day,” Alexander said. “It’s been kind of impressive. I think people like knowing about a little hole-in-the-wall place that not everyone is aware of.”

Alexander said during planning for the bakery she ran across some messages and writings that were inspirational or made her smile. She printed them on little brown pieces of paper, wrapped them with twine and now hands them out to customers.

In part, mine read:

“Be present. Make tea. Avoid small talk. Embrace conversation. Buy a plant, water it. Make your bed. Make someone else’s bed. Have a smart mouth and quick wit. Make art. Create. Swim in the ocean. Swim in the rain. Take chances. Ask questions. Make mistakes. Love freely. Forgive quickly. Let go of what doesn’t make you happy. Grow.”

Amen, brother.