The aroma of freshly baked delights mingles with an air of excitement as Amanda Bankert, the chef and owner of the Parisian favorite Boneshaker Donuts and Coffee, releases her cookbook Voilà Vegan.
The American/Irish pastry chef and business owner grew up in Virginia and came to France to study at Le Cordon Bleu. Upon graduating she moved to Dublin and worked for a decade as a pastry chef. Bankert returned to Paris in 2015 and opened Boneshaker, which is France’s first artisanal donut shop. In 2020 the shop went 100% vegan in (guerilla fashion!). First it was donuts, then brownies, macarons, and profiteroles. All made without dairy and egg. All devoured by Parisians who didn’t even notice.
Voilà Vegan is a celebration of gourmet plant-based desserts that will tantalize taste buds and ignite imaginations. From classic favorites to daring innovations. We recently interviewed Amanda to discuss the launch of the book and her journey thus far.
What inspired you to create vegan recipes and how did you make the transition?
We always offered a few vegan options at Boneshaker, but at the beginning I was using eggs, butter, and milk in my dough. I decided to go vegan myself in 2019. Once I changed my diet, I knew my bakery had to do the same. It was such a fun challenge to create recipes that were indistinguishable from the traditional counterparts we had been serving at Boneshaker up until then. The transition was pretty sneaky – one by one, I would work on each recipe until I was confident that you couldn’t taste the difference between the original and the vegan version. The test, of course, was putting it out on the bakery counter and seeing if regulars noticed – and they never did!! The recipes that took me the longest to modify were the salted caramel and the pastry cream – I’m particularly proud of those.
How do you think Paris has influenced your work as a baker who is known for making quintessential American treats?
My techniques (and many of my recipes) are based in the traditional French style, since I learned how to bake here. Like many pastry chefs, my recipes are rooted in childhood memories. So although I’m making quintessential American goodies (donuts, brownies, and cinnamon rolls!) I’m doing them with a little bit of a French touch. I think that French influence comes through in things like a lighter glaze on our cinnamon rolls, and the sharpness of Boneshaker’s lemon curd, for example. Our pastries aren’t too sweet.
What challenges have you faced creating vegan treats in Paris?
Vegan food doesn’t have the reputation as being the most delicious – and I’m working to change that. I think especially in France – where veganism is still relatively new, people have very strong preconceived notions about what a vegan dessert will taste like. I tried to avoid that at first by simply not pointing out that my pastries were plant-based!
What are your favorite go-to spots for vegan and vegetarian food in Paris?
There are so many amazing places to go nowadays!! I love Land and Monkeys for classic French boulangerie fare. Mao Dumpling Bar is my favorite dinner spot. You also can’t go wrong with a burger from Les Tontons Veg, or a falafel from Maafim.
If there was one recipe in the book that represents you the most as a baker, what would it be and why?
Such a good question! I’m really proud of the cherry clafoutis recipe. I love that it is such a traditional French dish – seasonal, boozy, creamy, fruity. A vegan custard dish is a victory.
What inspires your creations and what is the process for creating vegan recipes?
I get inspiration from EVERYWHERE. The vast majority of my desserts are recreations of my favorite memories: fruit at the Jersey Shore in the summer, raw cookie dough at childhood slumber parties, mince pies at Christmastime in Ireland. Creating vegan desserts is the same as creating any dessert: you’re looking for a variety of textures and flavors that complement each other.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to other bakers who aspire to one day release a cookbook
Think about what makes your idea unique and how you can present something fun and informative that will hopefully inspire people. Get an agent, and get to work on a damn good proposal.
Voilà Vegan is out now, published by Avery.
- Need something healthy and vegetarian after all of Amanda’s delectable recipes? Meet chef Julien Sebbag at his vegetarian restaurant Créatures at Galeries Lafayette Paris Haussmann.
- Which city has the best sweet treats: New York or Paris?
- Catch up with our previous discussion with Amanda when she discussed the ins and outs of running her business Boneshaker in Paris.
- This one is for butter fans (though still vegetarian – which means they’re healthy right?): here are the best croissants in Paris.
Written by Joanna Todorova for HIP Paris. All photos by Joann Pai. Looking to travel? Check out Plum Guide and our Marketplace for fabulous vacation rentals in Paris, France or Italy. Looking to rent long or short term, or buy in France? Ask us! We can connect you to our trusted providers for amazing service and rates or click here. Looking to bring France home to you or to learn online or in person? Check out our marketplace shop and experiences.