If you were to create a croissant that represented a certain city, which ingredients would you use? Pastry chef Andrew Corrao explored that question as he created the recipes for Capital City Croissants, a new concept that’s part of his Salt Lake City business, Forty Three Bakery.
Some of the ingredients are obvious, like the raspberry-and-rose jam in the Rose Park croissant, but others are more clever, like the addition of Ikea lingonberry jam to the Draper croissant. But all of them are what Corrao calls “playful interpretations” of cities in Salt Lake County and neighborhoods in Salt Lake City.
Continuing that sense of place is the name of the bakery itself. Corrao said Utah’s capital welcomed him when his conservative hometown didn’t. For the award-winning LGBTQ pastry chef, Salt Lake City was a place of acceptance and safety that “was the escape I needed to figure out who I was and what made me happy and fulfilled,” he said.
So he named his bakery after Salt Lake City’s elevation of approximately 4,300 feet, as a “love letter” to the city, a place he said “saved his life.”
Forty Three Bakery was previously housed in ComCom Kitchen, a commercial commissary kitchen in Salt Lake City, but for about a month it has been open at its new spot at 733 W. Genesee Ave., just off 900 South. Corrao struck out on his own to open Forty Three Bakery in its first brick-and-mortar location, after an extensive buildout in a renovated warehouse.
Competitions and commissaries
Corrao has been baking since he was about 14, when he would make dough in his great-aunt’s pizzeria. After he graduated from culinary school, he started working in kitchens with the goal of learning as many new skills as he could.
He worked back-to-back full-time morning and night shifts, traveling between jobs at restaurants in Provo and Salt Lake City. After that, he worked at a country club, doing banquets and baking and eventually becoming the pastry chef. While working in the Utah Valley University culinary department, he “fell in love with the precision of baking.”
At the time, he was also traveling all over the country, competing in pastry competitions; he displays his medals on a wall inside Forty Three Bakery.
In 2016, as he was working at Bambara in the Hotel Monaco as the pastry chef and banquet chef, he competed for the title of Western region pastry chef of the year and went to nationals to compete for best pastry chef in the United States. That endeavor launched him into being a part of the American Culinary Olympic team; he competed in Luxembourg in the Culinary World Cup in 2018, and his team won a bronze medal.
That year, Corrao launched his business, originally named Streusel, in Square Kitchen. But he outgrew that space after about five months, and moved into another commissary kitchen, which he outgrew after about a year.
“Commissaries are a wonderful place to start,” Corrao said. “... But as a bakery, we are a vastly different business than food trucks or caterers, in that we require a lot of space and a lot of kitchen time.”
When he moved into ComCom Kitchen, Corrao focused on his wholesale business, supplying products to hotels, country clubs, resorts, food trucks, coffee shops and restaurants in Park City and all over the Salt Lake Valley, as well as operating a grab-and-go pastry counter in the commissary kitchen space.
In 2022, Corrao rebranded Streusel as Forty Three Bakery. He found his current space in Poplar Grove in August 2022, and left ComCom Kitchen this July. He opened Forty Three Bakery in the new spot almost exactly a year after he found it.
Corrao said he believes people are coming to the west side for the same reasons he came to Salt Lake City from southeastern Utah, “because they’re not finding the community or the space elsewhere. ... And so they’re coming here, and they’re kind of giving the west side a new life.”
There aren’t many places like it on the west side, Corrao said, spaces where people can hang out during the day, working on their computer or spending time with friends. “It’s a void in the community that I’m hoping I can fill,” he said.
Classic but modern pastries
The first thing you’ll probably notice when you walk into Forty Three Bakery is the row of decadent pastries lined up on the counter instead of encased in glass, showing which baked goods are available to order.
It’s a modern presentation for classically created pastries, and that mashup between traditional and contemporary is how Correo said he approaches everything he bakes.
“I have such great respect for traditional baking, like classic French techniques and processes. I think that there’s so much value and beauty in it,” Corrao said. “I think that, though, tastes are evolving, expectations are changing.” So, it’s important to “push the envelope a little bit,” he continued, while not being trendy for the sake of being trendy.
Take the s’mores Danish, for example. The pastry features a small slice of housemade chocolate cake on top that’s soaked in a little pumpkin spice syrup, so it gives you that “fall warmth,” Corrao said. And then there’s vanilla bean pastry cream inside and toasted meringue on top, so it eats like a s’more, “but I think it’s just a bit more sophisticated and a bit more interesting,” he said.
There’s plenty of familiar items as well, including the cinnamon roll, the chocolate croissant and the pecan sticky bun, with a few not-so-familiar items sprinkled here and there, like the cloud-like cinnamon-sugar croissant donut and the raspberry Danish, made with fresh berries, housemade raspberry jam and vanilla cream.
But the Capital City Croissants are another level of special, not only tailored to the city they represent but seasonal to the time of year. Only a few of them are made every day, so arrive early to snag one.
October’s croissant is for Riverton, and the flavors inside it are inspired by The Kinlands, a farm in Riverton that sells pastries from Forty Three Bakery in their on-site shop. The croissant is “an ode to them, and our relationship that we have with them,” Corrao said.
Every year, The Kinlands have a huge pumpkin patch, so inside the croissant is pumpkin cream, and on top are maple buttercream and spiced pecans. “It’s both seasonal, and it makes sense for the city,” Corrao said.
For November, Corrao is going to be making a croissant with an apple-and-caramel filling for Poplar Grove, playing off the word “grove” in the neighborhood’s name and imagining a grove of apple trees.
“We’re always throwing new things out and playing with it and having fun,” Corrao said. “So I don’t feel bound by like a specific menu. ... I like the innovativeness. I like the inspiration that you can get just from anything, or anywhere.”
Forty Three Bakery is open Tuesday through Sunday, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.; brunch is Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, and to see the ingredients in some of the other Capital City Croissants, visit FortyThreeBakery.com. For tasty pastry photos, follow the bakery on Instagram at @fortythreebakery.