In my house, it’s long been tradition to eat cinnamon rolls—warm from the oven, with a mug of hot coffee—on Christmas morning. My mom used to spend hours the night before slaving over the dough and wrestling it into perfect swirls; I’ve since taken over that responsibility, but with no less cursing and hand-wringing.
Why do we waste our precious few hours of holiday vacation and family time attempting to perfect something that trained professionals already do so well? This year, I’m taking my own advice: skip the stress, and pick up Christmas morning baked goods—not just cinnamon rolls, but kringles, croissants, and more—at these fine bakeries.
Before the cronut, there was the kringle—a pretzel-shaped hubcap of a pastry that’s filled with almond paste, dotted with raisins, and dusted with sugar. Old Kris Kringle would love this Scandinavian sweet at relative newcomer Byen Bakeri, where they’ve got prettily boxed kringles (they’re even willing to ship them) big enough to feed a crowd, alongside squares of colorful fruitcake, and an assortment of holiday cookies. Byen’s Queen Anne bakery will be open 6am-6pm on Christmas Eve, and closed on Christmas Day.
Boat Street Cafe
Though this intimate eatery just off the waterfront generally serves its signature bread pudding with rum sauce for dessert, they’re pre-packaging it in to-go servings for 4 to 6 people—so who’s to say you couldn’t heat it up to enjoy with your Christmas morning coffee? For that matter, who’s to say you have to share it with 3 to 5 others? Boat Street will be open until 3pm on Christmas Eve; you can swing by and chance that you’ll score a pudding, or reserve yours at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Crumble and Flake
This is a bit of a stretch, since Crumble and Flake isn’t open Mondays and Tuesdays and will be closed Wednesday for Christmas—it’s not recommended buying hand-crafted pastries of this caliber and letting them age three days before eating. But the Capitol Hill bakery’s cinnamon rolls—made from laminated brioche, with a restrained smear of cream cheese frosting—are the gold standard that my own pathetic attempts will never live up to. Owner Neil Robertson has also recently rolled out seasonal specialties like chocolate gingerbread cookies, bourbon plum ginger cakes, and eggnog cream puffs—all recommended. Just start your holiday binge early.
Owner Robin Wehl Martin has partnered with ice cream empress Molly Moon Neitzel to open this delightful cookie shop—with ice cream sandwiches!—on the newly buzz-worthy corner of 19th and Mercer. Though her official opening day probably won't be until after the new year, she'll be softly open in the days leading up to 2014, including on Christmas. The breakfast cookies—oatmeal, shredded carrots, and tiny chocolate chips—are perhaps the most suitable, but this is a carte blanche kind of day when snickerdoodles are totally acceptable breakfast fare as well.
For an old fashioned European Christmas, Bakery Nouveau has everything you could hope for, from fruit-studded stollen to chocolate-hazelnut panettone to bûche de Noël, the yulelog-shaped cake that probably makes a better dessert than a morning meal (though one of your rights as a grownup is to eat cake for breakfast). There’s also plenty to pick up in the way of pastry—including some of the best croissants around—if you’re going for delicious over traditional. Both Capitol Hill and West Seattle locations will be open Christmas Eve from 6am-6pm, and closed December 25 and 26.