Pastry chef Marisa Kroes never intended to open her own bakery. In 2019, after she left an in-house pastry chef role at Facebook Headquarters to move to Portland, Kroes started Orange & Blossom as a passion project. Since then, it’s grown into a sensational farmers market stand, selling dreamy treats and holiday cookie tins.
Soon, customers craving matcha sticky buns and cardamom carrot cakes can enjoy them with sandwiches and coffee at Kroes’s forthcoming patisserie. Portland is home to several patisseries — Artisserie and Jinju Patisserie, to name a couple — but there is one major detail that sets Orange & Blossom apart: the shop is entirely vegan.
Opening at Northeast 16th and Killingsworth in late September, Orange & Blossom patisserie will offer a rotating dessert collection, made with seasonal ingredients like rhubarb and peaches, iconic Oregon-grown items like hazelnuts and berries, and floral accents like elderflower and rose petals. Regulars will be able to find their favorites — including cardamom-orange blossom buns, pistachio olive oil cakes, almond butter red miso cookies, and Oreo-style creme-filled cookies — at the bakery and markets.
Kroes wants to pull inspiration from her Italian American heritage and years in Tuscany, creating a European-style cafe with rotating sandwiches on freshly baked in-house bread, house-made ice cream and sorbets, and coffee and tea to pair with the sweet and savory goods. Modeling the interior after the grandeur of old-school patisseries and 20th century ice cream parlors, Kroes envisions a curved white marble counter, dark wood display case, brass fixtures, and burnt orange velvet curtains for Orange & Blossom. The almost 1,400 square foot corner space, lined with floor-to-ceiling windows, will seat 20 customers and offer outdoor seating, as well.
Previously limited to what she could easily transport to markets, Kroes will offer more classic patisserie desserts, like Meyer lemon elderflower tarts and chocolate hazelnut cake with passionfruit mousse. She’ll also dig into a wider selection of laminated pastries, with vegan croissants and danishes — a relative rarity in vegan food world, as they rely heavily on butter and egg washes. Opening her own shop gives the chef the opportunity to scale up her gluten-free offerings too; the goal is for the menu to be 25 percent gluten-free.
Classically trained at the California Culinary Academy, Kroes began her career mostly in Euro-centric fine dining before landing a dream executive pastry chef position at San Francisco’s James Beard Award-winning Vietnamese restaurant, the Slanted Door. Along the way, the chef fell in love with the local organic slow food movement. However, as a longtime vegetarian who became an ethical vegan as she gained a better understanding of food systems, Kroes says it was tough to be around animal products in restaurant kitchens.
However, in the vegan bakery world, finding a fine dining-caliber dessert can be a challenge. In her perspective, the vegan baking realm as a whole — not just in Portland — often revolves around homestyle baked goods, like cookies, brownies, and quick breads. With Orange & Blossom, Kroes wants to create a space serving beautiful desserts with the culinary artistry of traditional patisseries, without relying on animal-based ingredients. “Why must good dessert be centered on eggs, butter, and cream?” she writes on her website. “I knew there had to be another way.”
The use of animal products wasn’t the only issue she had with the pantries and fridges in restaurant kitchens: Kroes found that even at upscale restaurants using seasonal, locally sourced ingredients in their savory menu items, desserts were largely made with frozen purees, imported ingredients, and lower-quality flours. That nudged Kroes to where she is today, sourcing organic ingredients from local flour mills and farms — Camas Country Mill, Baird Family Orchards, Pheasant’s Eye Farm, and Freddy Guys Hazelnuts, for instance — as well as growing her own organic edible flowers to use as cake garnishes. One particularly fun local ingredient Kroes uses in her seasonal creations: Pacific Northwestern citrus, mostly sourced from Groundwork Organics in Junction City. As her vegan bakery and patisserie concept has blossomed, Kroes has explored the world of citrus through various applications: Meyer lemon poppyseed buttercream, candied loquat slices, kumquat marmalade, orange almond chiffon cake, and Tahitian lime-graham cracker tarts.
Setting up initially at the Hollywood Farmers Market, she was in a strong position to source exceptional Oregon and Washington produce; over time, her vegan treats, baked in small batches within four hours of the market, made their way into farmers markets throughout the Portland area. Kroes settled into the Saturday Portland State University Farmers Market as her year-round mainstay, and plans to continue appearing at the market — even after opening the cafe and patisserie.
Orange & Blossom will open at 5470 NE 16th Ave. Follow the bakery’s Instagram for more updates.