Veronika’s Pastry Shop is easy to walk by. From the sidewalk, the small storefront is unassuming. White outline sketches of France’s Eiffel Tower and Russia’s Basil Cathedral mark the front window. However from the street when driving by, a red awning emblazoned with the shop’s name marks its location on Montana Avenue.
Inside, Baker and owner Veronika Baukema focuses on goods with origins from France, Eastern Europe and Russia. Her Uzbekistan origins inspire many of the offerings. The French influence show in her offerings of Almond Croissants, Pain au Chocolat and Chocolate Bouchon. The southern French and Eastern Europe inspirations come with her naming Pain aux raisins, Raisin Escargot. (Escargot is the French word for ‘snail’.) Baukema said, “The on my pastries like hazelnut snail or escargot. There are not really escargots in my pastries, just how it looks.” Closer to her heritage, Baukema shared, “I do the traditional Vatruski in Russia. In Poland, they call it Kolaczki.” (A Vatruska is a Russian/Ukranian bun that is filled with fruit or cheese on the outside.) Then not on the shelves, but hidden in a refrigerator behind the counter is Honey Cake, a traditional Russian dessert. The multi-layered spongy honey cake and sour cream frosting according to Baukema convinced once customer who consumed the cake as she was heading out of town to turn around to buy another slice.
Baukema’s husband and daughter convinced her to open the shop. “My daughter lives in Portland and in Portland there are so many funky, cute little places we don’t have in Billings, maybe not enough. That’s why I decided to bring something new to Billings.”
From Tuesdays to Saturdays, she works 18-hour days though on the weekend, her husband comes in to help. During the week she opens at 8 and then at 9 on Saturdays. But her closing times vary for she shutters the front door when she is sold out. On most days so far, she is sold out around lunchtime. Everyday she makes only 100 pieces of pastries. For the time being she is getting a sense of the demand for her goods and hopes in the future to bake more varieties and accommodate special orders.
Baukema has captivated my palate as she has baked in the ingredients of passion and care. I will never walk by Veronika’s Pastry shop again.