America's best bakeries
Theresa Velazquez’s D.C. bakery business is thriving, yet she has no interest in expansion. “We own this one place, and we really make ourselves part of the neighborhood,” says the co-owner of Baked & Wired in Georgetown, where hazelnut ganache cupcakes are playfully displayed in upside-down coffee beakers.
Photo by courtesy of Sugar Bakeshop
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At Standard Baking Co. in Portland, ME, Alison Pray recently debuted Maine miche, an organic whole-wheat bread made with 100 percent single varietal wheat grown by a local farmer. “You couldn’t have imagined this 18 years ago when we started,” she says.
Great bakeries are not afraid to evolve or experiment, reinventing classic desserts as well as offering lesser-known European treats. So on your next trip, head to one of these bakeries for a sweet start to the day—whether an apricot puff pastry tart with almond cream or the gibassier, a French citrus-flavored bread.
Proof, Los Angeles
Photo courtesy of Proof Bakery
The owner and head baker at this pared-down Atwater Village bakery has a self-described “low sweet threshold,” but that may just be her secret to success. Na Young Ma’s seasonal-fruit-packed pastries like plum herb galettes and mango hand pies never verge on cloyingly sweet and have attracted celebrity fans like Kristen Wiig. The offerings change daily and often include unorthodox ingredients. Black sesame financiers, for instance, are flavored with nutty black sesame powder, brown butter, and fresh raspberries or candied orange.
Must-Try Item: The flaky twice-baked almond croissant filled with a thin layer of almond cream. proofbakeryla.com
Photo by Hanna Marie Pageau
Originally a stand at Chicago’s Green City Market, Floriole is now a buzzy café in the Lincoln Park neighborhood with expanded offerings of sandwiches, salads, and wood-oven-fired pizza. Baker Sandra Holl’s caramel pecan sticky buns, fruit galettes, and crème fraîche tea cakes use the finest ingredients, from Valrhona chocolate to European-style butter. She has a knack for turning mistakes into inspired treats; a botched batch of pistachio brittle became pistachio croissants with a lemon glaze.