Flour to the People
Meet Seattle's best new confectioners.
Seattle has never hurt for good bakeries, be they Norwegian, Chinese, or the first West Coast salvo of the cupcake boom of the early aughts. We have enough worthy patisseries that a friend of mine once spent a brief stint of unemployment consuming and meticulously comparing the city’s croissants. This being Seattle, he compiled the results in a spreadsheet.
But lately there’s been a bona fide sugar rush afoot. Seattle still appreciates a finely crafted croissant (to the point of lining up on the sidewalk for a good one), but other practitioners of the pastry arts are dedicating their talents to comfort confections like cookies and ice cream. And then there’s the pastry craze we’d love to talk about, but we don’t want to get slapped with a lawsuit.
Here, our favorite new spots for baked goods.
Hello, Robin 522 19th Ave E, Capitol Hill, 206-735-7970; hellorobincookies.com
A trim white-paneled shop on the now-happening stretch of 19th Avenue gives plum-size cookies the same glorious attention that we’re accustomed to seeing lavished on cupcakes or pie (a partnership with Molly Moon also means there’s lots of ice cream…and cookie ice cream sandwiches). The dozen-odd flavors include a whole wheat flour chocolate chip rendition garnished with a sprinkle of fat sea salt flakes and a flourless Mexican Chocolate flavor, because gluten-free folks have cravings, too. The big butcher block is home to regular cookie-making classes.
Totally Sweet The Mackles’more on a Grammy. Could we truly have called ours a civilized society before someone thought to incorporate a chocolate chip and marshmallow cookie into a s’more?
Totally Savory The habanero-chocolate chip is surprisingly balanced.
Ice Cream Cakes for Grownups
Parfait 2034 NW 56th St, Ballard, 206-941-4679; parfait-icecream.com
When Ballard scoop shop meets Parisian-inspired patisserie, the ice cream (made from scratch right behind the counter) shows up in grown-up settings like a chilly s’more pie. The sherbet push-up pops
are technically for kids, but what happens after you buy one is your business.
Totally Sweet Owner Adria Shimada’s pastry background means plenty of non-ice cream confections like canneles and rugelach.
Totally Savory Ice cream flavors like Ballard Bee Honey serve as filling in the sublimely chewy, crisp-shelled lavender macarons—voila, the world’s most sophisticated ice cream sandwich.
KRINGLE ALL THE WAY
Byen Bakeri 15 Nickerson St, Queen Anne, 206-218-1000; byenbakeri.com
Every morning, owner Brian Morck cuts pastry dough into long strips, fills it with Swiss almond paste and raisins, and twists it into the platter-sized pretzel shape that defines Scandinavia’s signature kringle. Nickerson Street’s new Scandinavian bakery has cookies and cream puffs aplenty, but the sugary cardamom- and almond-fragrant confections of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden are the real draw.
Totally Sweet If an entire kringle is too much for you, the bakery cuts them into more manageable strips.
Totally Savory Ask to be put on the hot breads list; you’ll get a text message alerting you to the precise moment when fresh loaves of sourdough or ciabatta are due out of the oven.
Short Supply, High Demand
Crumble and Flake Patisserie 1500 E Olive Way, Capitol Hill, 206-329-1804; crumbleandflake.com
The opening crowds have subsided, and an hour-long wait and a folding chair are no longer required to get your hands on one of Neil Robertson’s croissants. But the baker still won’t make more items than he can physically lay hands on, so the elevator-size shop’s pink peppercorn shortbread and macarons in playful flavors like balsamic still sell out regularly.
Totally Sweet Robertson’s a master of the kouign amann; don't miss the chocolate version.
Totally Savory The smoked paprika-and-cheddar version of those textbook-perfect croissants.
More Cream, Less Goo
La Toscanella Bakery and Paninoteca 116 Westlake Ave N, South Lake Union, 206-682-1044
An Italian bakery that manages to feel almost Old World while occupying a stark new building in the heart of Amazonia. Crisp cannoli are the thing here, but it’s easy to be distracted by the eclairs and artful tarts.
Totally Sweet If you have room for more than cannoli, the deeply fudgy flourless chocolate tart topped with seasonal berries, or a cakelike Italian apple tart correctly billed by one cheery staffer as “more apple, less goo,” than the American rendition
Totally Savory Speaking of tube-shaped delights, the housemade cannelloni is filled with chicken, spinach, and ricotta, and drives a formidable lunch rush each afternoon.
Bars—Not the Boozy Kind
Madison Kitchen 4122 E Madison St, Madison Park, 206-557-4640; madison-kitchen.com
Madison Park, consider yourself lucky to have this dear breakfast and lunch spot—particularly its pastry case filled with feathery scones and grown-up bar cookies like a sesame shortbread topped with Valrhona ganache and crunchy roasted pistachios.
Totally Sweet The raggedy bar recipe dates back to a nurse owner Jim Goodall knew during his social worker days; it tastes like pecan pie.
Totally Savory We didn’t personally try the peanut butter and pumpkin dog biscuits, but they’re housemade, too.
The Thinking Person’s Chocolate
Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery 5427 Ballard Ave NW, Ballard, 206-420-3431; getyourhotcakes.com
Some might call this inviting haunt a chocolate shop, though instead of truffles, the shelves are stocked with chocolate chips that have been cold smoked and caramel sauce made with rye whiskey. The pastry case and menu of drinkable desserts share that sense of adventure.
Totally Sweet Owner Autumn Martin, formerly head chocolatier at Theo, built her business on the massively chocolatey molten cakes with gooey middles.
Totally Savory The butter beer, essentially liquid butterscotch lightened up with pressed apples, ginger, and sparkling wine—hold the booze for underage Harry Potter fans.
Croissants a Deux
Bakery Nouveau 1435 E John St, Capitol Hill, 206-858-6957; bakerynouveau.com
The new Capitol Hill outpost of West Seattle’s beloved Parisian bakery has the same breathtaking lineup of macarons, cookies, pastries, breads, sandwiches…and customers. The security line at SeaTac has nothing on the weekend crowds. But at least the wait gives you time to narrow down your order.
Totally Sweet The twice-baked almond croissant has a devoted fan base, but the chocolate croissant will also haunt your dreams.
Totally Savory Owner William Leaman is literally a champion bread baker—he brought home a trophy in the World Cup of Baking a few years back.
I, Uh, Made it Myself
Kringles Bakery 16727 Redmond Way, Redmond, 425-558-3688; kringlesbakery.com
Redmond’s newest bakery, a lemon-hued former house on a busy commercial strip, traffics in muffins, danishes, and cinnamon rolls so sweet and earnest that you could almost pass them off as homemade. They’re all from family recipes, and while Kringles is still getting the hang of scaling these up, the cakes are consistently charming.
Totally Sweet Daily flavors of cake, pie, and ring-shaped kringle—recents include apple rum or brown sugar.
Totally Savory The fresh-baked breads include a feisty cheddar jalapeno loaf that needs nothing more than a toaster and the lightest smear of butter.