Bakeries and pastry shops are nothing new. No matter the city, we’re never too far away from a cupcake shop, ice cream parlor, or grocery store stocked with shelf upon shelf of cookies, cakes and other sweet delights. In Los Angeles alone, Yelp turned up nearly 2,000 results for the search term, “cupcakes.”
But let’s face it, not all desserts are created equal and today’s consumers have too many options to settle for your run-of-the-mill baked good. Still, the bakery scene is booming, especially in cities like New York, where a slew of new pastry shops have opened up, all within the last year.
So what does a bakery have to do these days to stand out? Create dessert options that are as unique in flavor as they are pretty to look at.
Let’s take a look at just a handful new school pastry shops that are satisfying their customers’ sweet tooth in a major way.
Mr. Holmes Bakehouse
Move over cronut, there’s a new dessert in town that people are obsessing over, thanks to this San Francisco pastry shop that opened up in late 2014. Allow us to introduce you to the Cruffin — a croissant/muffin hybrid that’s got social media in a frenzy. Based on an old French pastry, the Mr. Holmes Bakehouse Cruffin is the brainchild of the shop’s pastry chef and co-owner, Ry Stephen. “it's the unicorn of pastries," Stephen told CNN, explaining that making the dessert, which he’s created in a flavors like cherry tart, blood orange, and root beer float, is a strenuous process that takes skill. “It’s 80 percent technique,” Steph says about how he cuts down the dough several times, in order to get that perfect flaky consistency. It’s a labor of love that certainly seems to be paying off. According to CNN, customers here have waited up to 90 minutes to get their hands on a Cruffin. Talk about commitment.
It may look like your average neighborhood coffee shop, but customers who have been visiting Atlanta’s Proof Bakeshop since it first opened in 2015 know that there’s much more here than meets the eye. The sister restaurant of Cakes & Ale in Decatur, GA, Proof Bakeshop specializes in coffee, tea, and all things baked. Open for breakfast and lunch, customers here can enjoy a wide array of light fare options like vegetable quiche, salads and pressed sandwiches. There’s also a menu of sweet treats like scones, muffins, doughnuts, coffee cake, and cookies. But the real star at Proof? The fresh baked bread. On a sandwich or by the loaf, the honey oat, french baguette, and country sourdough is what keeps people coming back for more.
Fluff Bake Bar
Under the direction of pastry chef Rebecca Masson, known to some as the Sugar Fairy, Fluff Bake Bar has been charming the hearts of dessert lovers in Houston since 2015. From the cookies to cakes, everything on the menu at fluff is truly unique, blending the art of traditional French pastry with nostalgic homemade favorites from childhood. “The lack of really good pastry in this town is kinda sad,” Masson, who, through her bakeshop is giving opportunity to younger talent, told Houstonia. “I want to give them time to work on something, come up with an idea, present it to the team — and if it flies, it goes on the menu.”
The result: signature sweets like the Star Crossed Lover (rice krispie treats with salted caramel and dipped in chocolate), the Couch Potato (cookie made with potato chips, pretzels, cornflakes, marshmallows and chocolate chip), the PB&J cupcakes (made with brown butter cake, peanut butter cream, Concord grape jelly, and candied peanuts), or the famous Fluffernutter (peanut butter oatmeal cookies sandwiched with peanut butter cream & marshmallow fluff). “I always said the Fluffernutter would put my kids through college if I ever have them,” Masson jokes.
HARBS Coffee and Cake
Nearly two years since opening its doors in NYC’s Chelsea neighborhood, this Japanese bakery chain is still drawing a crowd. Harbs, a derivative of the word "herbs," is the first U.S. location for this 33-year-old chain, which has opened 30 successful locations throughout Japan. The menu offers a unique selection of cakes, which blend French technique with Japanese flavor like red bean and matcha, Sakura (Japanese name for cherry blossom), and green tea mousse. There’s also a selection of coffee and Japanese tea.
“Harbs cakes are good in that they are not overly sweet, Ming X from Pittsburg shared on Yelp. “During my recent visit we ordered the strawberry cake and the royal milk tea cake, both having just the right amount of sweetness to not overpower the delicate flavors of the fresh strawberries and milk tea. I also ordered a pot of their seasonal lemongrass green tea, which was a good palate cleanser in between bites.”
Brioche Pastry Shop
Named after the dough used for its signature product, Brioche is a brand new bakeshop looking to sweeten up the desserts scene in Kansas City.
“Our cinnamon roll is made using brioche dough that gets its unique characteristic by it being laminated — combining the dough with the butter to create multiple layers,” explains Brandon Kelley, who owns the shop with his wife, Ida. “in the end, gives you a flakier cinnamon roll, like a croissant,” pastry chef Brandon Kelley, who owns the shop with his wife, Ida, told the Kansas City Star.
Besides its signature cinnamon rolls, Brioche serves up other classic desserts, including It will serve such items as cinnamon rolls, pecan sticky buns, croissants, danishes, muffins, coffeecakes and cookies. “Pastry-making goes back centuries,” Brandon Kelley said. “I want to help preserve that and carry it on.