Unlike Western-style baked goods, breads and pastries that emerge from this famous Taiwanese bakery and cafe chain are subtly savory and sweet, with a light, pillowy texture. In the Seattle area—Tukwila, Lynnwood, Federal Way, and now the Chinatown–International District—gluten gluttons queue up, tray in hand, to get in on the likes of coffee bread and marbled taro paste.
After years of running Le Gourmand with her husband, Sara Naftaly opened her own bakeshop in Chophouse Row, drawing from her British upbringing and years in France—croissants, a brownie macaron the size of a slider, sultana malt loaf smeared with butter. The shop itself has minimal seating, but go up the rear stairs and you’ll find the perfect laptop-working hideaway on the mezzanine. Amandine shares its space with Empire Espresso, where the housemade cashew milk latte is straight-up decadent.
Whether by the slice or in glorious loaf form, a babka of deeply rich Theo chocolate swirled with tahini in a sweet, yeasted dough is a benevolent act of the gluten gods. Bakers Kendra Grieco and Alana Gidycz put a gently modern touch on the eastern European foods of their childhoods. Other eastern promises to make bubbe proud: frozen pelmeni, potato pierogi, cheese-filled dumplings to bring home by the two dozen from this SLU Market booth.
Laminated croissant dough reaches its highest expression with the twice-baked almond croissant, a luxury upgrade from the already-stellar traditional version at this three-outlet bakery. The crescents are sliced lengthwise here and spread with a rich filling that incorporates, among other things, almond meal, powdered sugar, and rum, then soaked in simple syrup and re-baked. Owner William Leaman has branched out into fine chocolates and other treats since opening in West Seattle in 2006. His desserts are all notable, but this croissant, over-the-top without toppling into excess, is a reminder that Leaman was once on the winning team at the World Cup of Baking.
Inspired by their Scandinavian heritage, founders and dough whisperers Brian and Michelle Morck stock their Nickerson Street bakery with breads and pastries like limpa, lefse, stollen, semlor, croquembouche. Indeed a whole lineup of cakes and treats await, ready to unlock flavors from Denmark, Sweden, and Norway.
Down in Georgetown, on a quiet street off Sixth Ave, lies this cafe that, ever so briefly, transports you to a warmer and decidedly laid-back place. Hawaiian reggae music gently booms out of the speakers inside its recently expanded space, where a case full of cakes and pies of all sorts, both whole and by the slice, make you think dessert for lunch is gravely underrated. Nab something like a slice of their passion fruit cake or coconut cream pie, or go the full-on pastry route with custard-filled Long Johns, aka America’s eclairs, and a lineup of malasadas. Malasadas, a holeless, Portuguese-style yeasted doughnut, will come coated in sugar, dusted in cinnamon sugar, or filled with various custards. And one is rarely, if ever, enough.
It’s easy to zoom past this unobtrusive new pastry shop on Phinney Ridge. Doing so, however, means you’d miss out on Nutella croissants, a rainbow of macarons, monkey bread, and galettes both sweet and savory. The flaky dough manages to be both ethereal and up to the challenge of supporting seasonal fruit, bacon and egg, or goat cheese with sweet tomatoes and pumpkin seeds.
Mariela Camacho honed her skills at Amandine Bakeshop, but her monthly pop-up draws on Latin America’s rich pastry traditions. Pig-shaped puerquito cookies resemble gingerbread, but with mole spicing; cookie-topped brioche conchas are chewy happiness; canela rolls are rich with cinnamon, brown sugar, and dulce de leche. And yet it’s the memory of Camacho’s rounds of mesquite sourdough—with an aroma almost like raisins—that still makes you sigh with longing. Comadre usually surfaces at Amandine the last Sunday of the month, and elsewhere on occasion.
The Brits know rainy days, so it’s fitting they’d invent crumpets—the comfort-food cure for wet-weather blues. In 1976, Crumpet Shop owners Gary Lasater and Nancy McFaul brought their just-right recipe to Pike Place Market, and soaked Seattleites have been raising their teacups to the spongy griddlecakes ever since. Discover warm refuge in the nooks and crannies cradling butter, pesto, or melted English cheese—or try one Seattle-style, with smoked salmon and cucumber.
If a bakery is an exercise in eating with your eyes first, then Cubes Baking Company is the kind of workout we can get behind. It’s all too easy to—with the unchecked voracity of a blue, cookie-obsessed puppet—pillage the shelves of this Wallingford bakeshop, a place where the likes of cupcakes and scones take on a boxy silhouette. Indeed the baked goods here are square. But don’t get it twisted; they’re not the slightest bit boring. Half of the treats inside Cubes are inspired by the pastries of owner and baker Kevin Moulder’s heritage and childhood. He grew up in San Antonio, where panaderias bless nearly every corner with Mexican goods—conchas, or seashell-shaped sweet breads; marranitos, or cookies that look like little pigs; and a puff pastry filled with fruit that takes the form of a soup pot, a cazuela. He’s taken a bit of nostalgia and baked it into a quadratic snack.
Husband-and-wife power couple and pastry pros, Keiji Koh and Etsuku Minematsu, supply their beloved bakeries—four in all across Seattle—with many a Japanese-inspired pastry, among them: yuzu macarons, azuki bean mini bars, and black sesame tea cookies.
This Japanese bakery slings matcha macarons and savory curry buns, but the sugar coated hero is the Crunchy Cream: filled with vanilla custard and covered in cereal cornflakes—the real breakfast of champions. Then there’s green tea danishes and green tea cookies, as well as a cache of glossy tarts and treats touched with a bit of Asian influence, all of which issue from the ovens of Fuji Bakery in Bellevue, Interbay, and Chinatown–International District.
For the uninitiated, ube sounds more like a car-sharing app than the sweet, violet yam that it is. Yet, it’s the exact ingredient that helped amass a cult following for Hood Famous Bakeshop, a small, subterranean bakery off Shilshole Avenue in Ballard. Owner Chera Amlag bakes cheesecake, but tempers its classic Americana with a Filipino touch. She makes them with ube, which lends its jewel-toned hue and subtle, earthy sweetness to baked goods. The result, a perfect specimen of Instagram bait that’s topped with ripples of ube jam and sits on a coconut-butter biscuit crust. In 2016, Amlag created a permanent home for her heretofore “hood famous” cheesecakes, which these days are known citywide, and will soon open an offshoot cafe and bar in Chinatown–International District. She bakes a whole slew of flavors beyond the signature ube that are rooted in the Filipino palate: white chocolate with rosy-pink swirls of guava, mango with calamansi (a ubiquitous citrus in the Philippines squeezed onto just about anything), and a whole lineup of other non-cheesecake delights.
Almond croissants spring forth from many a local oven, but few as masterful as the flaky and fluffy and chewy ones with the intense nutty flavor at this Eastlake French bakery. Beyond a lineup of the aforementioned laminated dough–based pastries, find classic French breads such as baguettes and rounds of boule, plus a smattering of custard fruit tarts.
Beneath strings of colorful papel picado, lives shelf after shelf of bright pink sweet rolls known as conchas, plus a myriad of other Mexican treats: sugar-dusted butter bread, puerquitos, flan, and more. But be warned, if you want to go home with any of these baked goods, it’s cash only.
Two doorways down from the Original Starbucks lies a line often longer and worthier. Piroshky Piroshky’s Russian pastries—a cinnamon cardamom braid with just enough acid and heady aromatics to balance the sweetness, or a savory Uli’s sausage and sauerkraut—are grandmotherly food elevated with gilded crusts and harmonious fillings. You’ll wait, but that only guarantees a fresh piroshky. The company's been on a hot streak, opening a handful of locations around the city.
Sweet barbecue pork buns, durian pastries, egg custards, spongecake, and a whole manner of Hong Kong–style desserts reside inside this Chinatown–International bakeshop—you can’t miss its lemon-yellow awning.